I hate gloves. Which makes me the ideal tester for them. For a glove to stand a chance of being worn by me for more than one ride it needs to be a good one.
I actually prefer to ride without gloves. Yes, I am one of those people. During the nominal British Summer Time period, I ride bareback. Well, barehanded. I just prefer the more direct feel. And yes, it’s deeply unwise from a safety/injury point of view. I usually endure at least one painful iodine-tastic palm-injury clean-up a year.
I do wear gloves sometimes though. When the brambles and nettles are in full speight, I wear some Fox Bomber LT gloves (see below) to help protect my fingers and knuckles. When the temperatures get a bit too chilly, I pull on a pair of 100% Brisker gloves. I don’t often go ‘deeper’ than that. If the conditions are really bad, I pack a spare pair of Briskers. And I have been known to pack a pair of ‘trigger’ 1-and-3 finger split mitts for certain epic adventures (Dakine Fillmores).
Thankfully, for the purpose of this guide, there are numerous more-normal people who work at Singletrack who do wear gloves on every ride all year round. And they’ve put forth their suggestions for what they think are the best mountain bike gloves currently available.
Having said that, there is a general consensus amongst a lot of us here that – outside of winter – you can pretty much go for any mountain bike glove from a reputable brand. A lot of folks’ simply buy in bulk whenever they see a half-decent looking gloves in a half-decent sale. Lightweight/thin/summer gloves simply do not seem to last very long. You have a pair for a year and then something fails on them. Usually the stitching gives up on one of the fingers/thumbs.
(Having to keep buying new gloves, or ‘repairing’ them with insulation tape etc, was probably one of the main reasons I went down the gloveless route!)
What to look out for (besides good sales)
But whilst it’s almost as simple as ‘buy whatever decent brand’s gloves are in the sales’, there are a handful (ha!) of small pointers we can give as to what to look out for.
Get padding from your grips, not your gloves. Thin palms FTW. The new generation of fake leather/suede fabric palm gloves are excellent for both fit and feel.
Avoid simple pull-on grips with no adjustment on summer/lightweight gloves. Velcro wrist closures all the way. Pull-on gloves always lead to baggy palms, shifting contact points and thus vague handling.
Things that are nice but can be lived without: nose wipe panels, phone screen fingertips.
Above all though, once you find a brand that makes a glove that fit your hand like a… er, glove. Stick with ’em.
Best Mountain Bike Gloves
In a nutshell: pretty much standard issue for the UK Mountain Biker. Thin palm for feel. Insulated back for battling the cold. Loads of colours. Can ALWAYS be found in a sale somewhere.
Fox Bomber LT CE
You that period of a few weeks every year where the brambles and nettles go bananas and every ride ends with you having knackered knuckles? These just-armoured-enough gloves are great for that/then.
Oakley Drop In MTB
Now then, the Fox Bomber LT CE gloves can be hard to find. So we’re listing these Drop In MTB gloves from Oakley as the next best option for bramble battling. Bonus point for the retro 90s aesthetics too.
POC Resistance Adjustable
What’s good about these? There’d better be something compelling about them – look at the price tag! They cost pretty much twice as much as non-winter gloves!! Thing is, they last at least twice as long. Super well made items.
Giro Xnetic H2O
Whilst the aesthetic may scream roadie (and so what?), there’s no denying that ostensibly simple gloves like these deep cuff pull-on jobbers from Giro make a great option for wet conditions. They can be a bit of a wrestle to get on/off, but whilst riding they’re lovely.
Troy Lee Designs Air
I think it may technically be Actual Law at this point to include a Troy Lee Designs product in any ‘Best MTB Glove’ guide. Joking aside, TLD do still make exceptionally nice riding gloves in their typically… well, Troy Lee style.
Fox Ranger Fire
When you don’t want to go ‘full roadie’ (“never go full roadie” – Kirk Lazarus) with the Giro Xnetic H2O gloves mentioned above, these chill-battling Ranger Fire gauntlets from Fox are a sound choice. You don’t have to get the orange ones (but you should).
Dexshell Thermfit Neo
Hannah’s review summary: “These are a useful addition to my wet weather riding gear. They’re not warm enough to stave off extreme cold conditions, but the merino inner adds a reasonable degree of warmth without being too sweaty. Make the most of the long cuffs and conductive fingers to keep the gloves on and the damp out, and I think some other part of your body will be complaining about the conditions before your hands give you grief.”
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