Mountain Bike Gloves: How to Choose the Right Ones?

Mountain Bike Gloves: How to Choose the Right Ones?

A good pair of bike gloves is much more than some fashion accessory. It is a crucial piece of equipment that ensures optimal comfort and protection from weather elements as well as accidents. We all know that when biking in cold conditions, keeping extremities warm is all the more important. What is more, gloves give cyclists better grip and prevent sweaty hands from slipping from the bar grips and then getting grazed. Now that we are clear on their importance, we should acknowledge that there are plenty of quality products out there— something for every budget, need, and taste. That variety and sheer volume might also be a problem, but this guide will help you make the right call.

A wide spectrum

Mountain biking puts higher demands before manufacturers than other disciplines. In general, they have to focus on tougher materials and sturdy build that increase impact protection. This is one common thread, but gloves do vary wildly in terms of price, quality, and application. Lightweight summer mitts, for instance, offer basic protection and cushioning. On the other hand, heavy and fully-waterproof winter gloves keep the hands warm with extra layers of insulation. So, you always need to consider weather conditions in which you want to cycle.

Main features to keep an eye on

The weather factor also determines other key features of the gloves, such as breathability, wicking, protection, grip, waterproofing, and warmth. Sometimes, you need to compromise between them. Sturdier waterproofing, for example, decreases breathability.  Likewise, thick insulation of the glove hampers your dexterity and control over the bike. As you can already see, finding the best mountain bike gloves is not as simple as it may seem. The first thing to do is to get your priorities straight and think about how you are going to use the gloves.

Intended use

It goes without saying the product should suit the type of biking you mean to enjoy. Namely, note that mountain bike gloves have some features that are not necessary for runners alike. Full-finger MTB gloves for gravity disciplines boast additional reinforcement, external armoring, and rigid panels that mitigate the impact of crashes. After all, contestants often come into contact with the ground. For casual trail riders, though, such a level of protection could be overkill. They spend long hours biking and need to prioritize lighter and more breathable products like SuperGel XC.

Getting a grip

At the same time, there some general rules to follow. First off, the grip is always an important consideration as it affects performance and injury prevention. Most products have leather or synthetic palms that improve handlebar grip, although I would check out those that have additional silicone grippers on specific fingers. Also, bear in mind that mountain bikers exclusively wear full-finger gloves. This is an absolute must regardless of the factors like the season. Other bells and whistles like touchscreen compatibility need to take a backseat for a moment.

The right fit

Whenever shopping for biking gloves, the most important aspect is fit. Naturally, you never know for sure until you try it. That is why you need to be very careful with online shopping. It is preferable to visit as many specialized local shops as possible. Also, pros always underline that they have to be snug enough and feel like a second skin. However, they also remind us that we need to avoid purchasing a product that is too tight. If you go too mug, you end up with a cumbersome glove. Go too small and you impede freedom of movement and circulation.

Material considerations

Moreover, it is curial to pay close attention to the material glove is made of. Most often, mountain biking gloves involve synthetic materials like acrylic, polyester, fleece, and polypropylene. It is not uncommon to see blends of different materials, whereas individual panels are designed based on their location and desired properties. Some top-notch brands even utilize high-tech materials that are flexible, but solidify on impact. Of course, different materials have their specific pros and cons, which relate to the aforementioned features like breathability. Make certain to weigh them.

Exploring your options

Now we need to dwell into specifics. If you do not need any padding, you can check out an all-rounder like Tory Lee Designs XC. These gloves are lightweight, extremely comfortable, and highly breathable. Then again, you cannot expect them to protect you against roadside menaces like thorns. If you do not like that, maybe you are better off sticking to sturdier pairs. LEATT DBX 4.0 Lite has armor gel protection on the knuckles and nano grip material on the palms. They are even sold to motocross riders, which speaks volumes about their great quality.

Take your pick

Furthermore, lightweight full-finger gloves are a sound choice if you seek protection from thorns and hostile vegetation along the trail. They can also be used in autumn, spring, and summer. A close-fitting and comfortable profile is essential for downhill, enduro, and XC mountain bikers. Palms are usually highly durable with these products, but there is no extra padding. Hence, maximum handlebar control is ensured. At last, if you want to bike in winter condition, you have to opt for something windproof, water-resistant, and well-insulated. Features like knitted cuffs help as well.

Top of the line

Finally, let us assume you want the best MTB gloves money can buy. Pairs are not that expensive to begin with, so you could splurge a bit. But, the question remains: what do you look for to get the most bang for your buck? Well, I would keep my eyes open for products that keep up the pace with rising standards. One brand that deserves spotlight is GripGrab because it utilizes EUROBIKE award-snatching technology called InsideGrip. It entails silicone dots inside the glove, a feature proven to improve the friction between the glove and the palm. You cannot go wrong with it.

Different strokes for different folks

Mountain bike gloves serve important purposes and they must not be an afterthought for any serious biker. There are so many gloves to choose from and they are all but created equal. So, take your time when shopping around.

Start by assessing your own needs and intended use, including weather and road conditions. Do you want to hammer down a technical trail, cruise the nearby hills casually, or something else? Whatever the answer is, you want nothing short of a pair that allows you to stay in control of the bike and protect your hands. Optimal grip and fit are paramount, so something not too clunky or skimpy.  

Ultimately, it should fit, well, like a glove.

Sean Lockwood

Sean is a programmer with a passion for extreme sports. Favourite extreme sports discipline is biathlon. Started this blog because of the great love for nature and adrenaline which results in something extreme like Extreme Sports Lab (ESL).

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