Not all gloves are created equal. Some gloves are just better than others. What makes these gloves so great? Our team of mountain bikers have looked into this question in depth over the past few years, scouting out the best of the best MTB gloves.
The conclusion we have come to? It depends on two things- what you are riding and when you are riding. The best MTB gloves are so comfortable and breathable that you barely notice they are there- until you need them! A lousy pair of gloves will pinch, rub and make your hands super sweaty, in which case you tend to just avoid wearing them all together!
- What to Look for in the Best MTB Gloves?
- What are the Best MTB Gloves?
- Final Thoughts
A pair of mountain bike gloves is a pretty essential part of your daily riding kit. Gloves essentially have two purposes. The first being to provide protection from abrasions in a crash. And the second is to provide a bit of cushioning and grip while riding.
What to Look for in the Best MTB Gloves?
As mentioned earlier, the two largest factors when deciding on the best pair of mountain bike gloves depended on when and what you were riding.
Winter and Summer riding differs. In winter, lower temperatures and wind chill can make mountain bike rides pretty unenjoyable if you don’t have the right gear. But wearing these lovely thermally insulated, windproof gloves will leave you sweltering beyond anyone’s business.
If it is cold, you are going to want to keep the extremities nice and toasty- including your fingers. Hands should be adequately covered when riding due to consequences such as frost bite if they aren’t kept warm.
But on the other hand, on the sweltering summer days, having a warm pair of gloves simply is not appealing. Hence, you are going to want a nicely ventilated, thin and lightweight pair of gloves. The difficult aspect here is making sure the gloves are still very durable and won’t stretch out of shape given they are incredibly thin.
What you ride is particularly important for how much protection you need, and how much padding you are going to want.
The best mountain bike gloves will keep your hands protected, whether it is a crash or a quick encounter with a low hanging branch. You will find that some gloves provide protection on the top of the hand for this very reason.
If you often ride for hours on end, with little breaks, you may want to consider having padding in your gloves. Gel padding in mountain bike gloves provides a bit of relief to the hands in areas that cause numbness in the hands, allowing you to have a much more pleasant ride! Otherwise, many mountain bikers find that having padding in their gloves takes away from the feel in the bars.
Other things to keep an eye out for
- Fit- you want the glove to fit your hand and fingers. Give the glove a quick test by curling your hand into the shape it would be on the handle bars. If there is a heap of excess material on your palms, it is likely going to rub your hand while riding.
- Durability- get a good durable palm material, and a material on the top of the hand that isn’t going to immediately stretch out of place!
- Closure System– typically either a velcro hook and loop closure, or elastic band. This is up to personal preference, but velcro tends to become less sticky over time.
- Finger Length– You can get either full finger gloves or half finger (also known as fingerless) gloves. We’d recommend staying away from half finger gloves for mountain biking as they do not provide the protection you need if you come off, or pass by a low hanging bush.
- Little extras– the nose wipe, a softer absorbent material on the thumb which is handy for nose or sweat wipes.
What are the Best MTB Gloves?
We have divided up the categories of best MTB gloves to make selecting the best pair for you nice and easy! We give you a brief low-down on what’s good and what’s not with the best gloves on the market.
Best MTB Gloves for the All-Rounder
If you ned a glove that does it all, these gloves below are the best MTB gloves for hitting the trails anywhere and anytime!
Fox Ranger Gloves
Pros: The Fox Ranger MTB Glove can handle a bit of dirt. The quality is excellent, the feel is great, and you can expect the gloves to keep you protected for a long time yet. The synthetic leather palm helps with ventilation, and moisture wicking material keeps the sweat away from the body.
With touch screen capabilities and a soft nose wipe, you really have it all with the Fox Ranger Glove!
Cons: The only pinch point is that the gloves aren’t the breeziest on the list. While this does mean you can wear them year round in milder climates, and the durability is much better, your hands can get a little sweaty when you’re working hard.
TLD Ace 2.0 Gloves
Pros: The Troy Lee designs Ace 2.0 is a durable set of gloves for any kind of rider. The palm is thin and comfortable, allowing you to have optimum control over the bars. The synthetic leather palms are breathable, and are perforated to maximise ventilation.
They are even touch screen capable, and have silicon grips to keep your hands on the bars even on wet days.
Cons: While the Ace 2.0 is great for the warmer temperatures, the ultra light and breathable materials can be a little too well ventilated for winter riding.
Endura Hummvee Plus II Gloves
Pros: The Endura Hummvee Plus II offers a bit of protection on the knuckles, and a bit of padding on the palm. Both of these factors contribute to making a comfortable, high performing minimalist glove.
The mesh back panel allows for great air flow. Fortunately, the Endura has excelled in this department, making the material thick enough to be durable and last you a good few years.
Cons: Some will find that they fit a little small. If you are between sizes, make sure you go for the larger size.
Best MTB Gloves for Warm Weather
In the summer months gloves simply aren’t appealing. In hot temperatures the last thing you want is sweaty hands while out on the trails. Hence we have rounded up the best ventilated, lightest weight gloves to keep your hands cool!
Giro DND Gloves
Pros: If you are out on a ride on a summer’s day, no doubt you will come across someone in the Giro DND gloves. These ‘Down N Dirty’ gloves have been a consistent number one choice for mountain bike riders in the past few years- and for good reason.
Giro have made a top quality glove that is durable and lightweight, yet not expensive at all. The 4-way stretch breathable mesh backing, as well as the synthetic leather palm, allows you to keep your hands dry, and able to stay in control of the bars. The glove comes with a soft wipe on the thump to get rid of that pesky sweat or runny nose.
The Giro DND gloves will still be sitting at the forefront of the gear draw for every ride for years and years to come!
Cons: If protection is what you’re looking for, we wouldn’t recommend the Giro DND’s.
POC Essential Mesh Gloves
Pros: For an ultra lightweight and stylish glove, the POC Essential Mesh will be your go to. The 4-way mesh and breathable palm allows for plenty of airflow in the scorching summer temperatures.
The glove closure system is not velcro, but is an elastic band that slides over the wrist to secure it which makes the glove a little more comfortable. The thumb, index and middle fingers are embedded with touch screen capable threads, allowing you to use your phone pretty easily on the go!
Cons: They provide pretty minimal protection. The palms are so thin you couldn’t really expect to come out of a gnarly crash with the gloves still intact. Probably better to wear on trail rides where coming off wouldn’t typically be expected.
Tasco Recon Ultralight Gloves
Pros: This glove is the minimalist’s dream. Engineered to feel like they aren’t even there, the Tasco Recon Ultralight is one of the most comfortable gloves on the market. The glove feels secure and durable, and provides plenty of grip on the bars.
The Tasco Recon is kitted out with a micro-fibre thumb wipe, silicon grippers on the finger, as well as touch screen thread on the thumb and index finger. A very handy feature is the neoprene cuff that keeps the glove secure on your wrist, and prevents water seeping into the glove.
Cons: Very very thin gloves, that do feel like the kind of glove that will only last a couple of seasons. However, if they are only worn for the summer months, you will get a bit of use out of them!
Best MTB Gloves for Cooler Temperatures
Riding in winter months presents a few challenges for mountain biking. One is the wetter cooler climate may mean more crashes, hence more protection is required for your hands. The second is the cold temperatures present a risk to hands and fingers. Keep the hands warm, and you will keep better control of your handlebars.
100% Hydromatic Brisker Gloves
Pros: Warmth without weight is the 100% Hydromatic Brisker slogan, and it lives up to it. The glove is insulated, with a soft exterior and plenty of grip on the palms. The inner material is breathable so you won’t end up with clammy hands.
100% has thought of everything, from touchscreen capabilities though to reflective exterior for a little extra visibility. The extended pull-on neoprene cuff allows you to
Cons: While the Hydromatic Brisker is a great winter glove, it isn’t waterproof. For the waterproof version (see here) you do pay a bit extra. But it could be worth it if winter in your area means wet weather rides!
GoreTex Universal Thermo Gloves
Pros: The GoreTex Universal Thermo is the winter go-to. It’s warm without being bulky, and they will keep your hands nice and dry.
The GoreTex Universal Thermo is no ski glove. The dexterity of the glove allows you to change gears and break with ease, instead of flailing about with the bulkiness of it all. The glove has a built in liner that fits well with the glove, and won’t slide around separate to the outer layers.
They have a fair amount of grip on the palms, and are exceptionally comfortable to ride in!
Cons: The Universal Thermo isn’t the most breathable of the bunch. While you likely won’t notice the lack of airflow while you ride (you’ll probably just be grateful that the brisk air isn’t getting to your hands), you might notice when you take the glove off. Having damp hands from a bit of condensation may not be ideal in the freezing temperatures when you are trying to fix a tyre
Fox Ranger Fire Pro Gloves
Pros: Fox’s winter glove is a good choice for any rider in the in-between temperatures. Where it isn’t cold enough for a full fledged ski-glove kinda glove, but cold enough that the summer glove won’t suffice.
It is waterproof and warm, which is the two main parts of a winter glove. But it gets better than that. It has a micro-fibre nose wipe, touch screen conductive threads, and an extended cuff to prevent water seeping into the glove.
The glove is lined with a brushed fleece interior for insulation, and also allows for a bit of breathability. There is plenty of grip with a faux leather palm and silicon grippers on the fingers.
Cons: It’s not as easy to get on for the larger handed riders. The extended cuff means that you really don’t want to be taking your gloves on and off more than once in a ride, as it isn’t easy work.
The range of temperatures that this glove is ideal in is pretty limited. If you sit in the range of 3-15 degrees C (38-60 fahrenheit) then it’ll be perfect- which is pretty much the winter temperatures here in New Zealand. Much colder and you’ll need something along the lines of the GoreTex Universal Thermo, and much warmer and your hands will start sweltering.
Best Padded MTB Glove
Having a bit of padding in your glove can make a world of difference if you get numb hands or you feel the vibrations a little too much on rides. For those that do get numb hands, check out this post for a bit more in depth discussion as to why it happens, what can fix it, and recommendations on gloves to prevent hand numbness.
POC Resistance Pro DH Gloves
Pros: The POC Resistance Pro DH has gel padding at the base of the thumb, and on the outside of the palm to protect the main nerves that run through your hand.
Despite the gel, it is still a very well ventilated palm. The top of hand material is also breathable which helps keep your hands from becoming clammy, and optimising grip on the bars.
You also get a bit of additional protection with the Resistance Pro DH. The knuckles, as well as the entire length of the finger, is protected by POC’s VPD material. This material, while seemingly soft and flexible, will harden on impact keeping your carpals and meta-carpals safe.
Cons: The velcro wrist closure makes an appearance on the POC Resistance Pro DH glove. I’m personally not a fan of this, as the strap is prone to catching and coming undone when you least want it to.
Giro Bravo Gel Gloves
Pros: With a lot of technical aspects going into the Giro Bravo Gel you can be sure you have a well thought out glove on your hands. With plenty of breathability and dexterity, the Giro Bravo Gel will be a pair of mountain bike gloves you want to keep on!
Gel padding is situated on the base of the thumb, outer part of the palm, and the top of the palm to reduce pressure to the nerves passing through your hands. While there is no silicone grips, the Ax Suede microfibre palm allows plenty of grip and prevents slippery sweaty hands detracting from your ride!
Nothing can be said against the comfort of these gloves. The wrist, even around the velcro strap, is streamlined to make the experience that much more comfortable. They are super easy to get on and off with the pull tab at the base of the palm
Cons: The closure system uses a rather large velcro strap. Velcro straps in my experience tend to become less effective over time, especially when placed over the top of the wrist (rather than on the side or underneath) as there is a lot of movement here when riding. And there isn’t many things more annoying than having your strap come undone just as you send it into a trail.
Fox Ranger Gel Gloves
Pros: The Fox Ranger series of gloves has made a few appearances on this list, and for good reason. The Fox Ranger Gel is another comfortable and high performing glove of the ranger range. If inexpensive, high quality gloves are what you are after, go no further than the Fox Ranger Gel.
The Ranger Gel unsurprisingly has gel padding on the base and top of the palm. This is placed strategically to prevent hand numbness and increase comfort while riding. The silicon grippers on the thumb, index and middle fingers help with keeping a hold of the bars and breaks, and also reduce the amount of pressure on your hands in doing so.
Conductive threads on the thumb and index finger work exceptionally well, which save a lot of hassle with taking gloves on and off during rides to send texts or to check maps. The microfibre nose/sweat wipe is a welcome addition to the glove too! Another great aspect of the glove is the neoprene
Cons: The silicon grips on the fingers typically don’t last all that long. While this isn’t the be-all and end-all, don’t expect the little grip assists to last much longer than a season or two.
Best MTB Gloves with Protection
For some rides, you just need a little more protection. This generally comes in the form of more durable materials, knuckle protection and often some palm protection.
Giro Remedy X2 Gloves
Pros: The Giro Remedy X2 is the top of the range Giro glove. They aim to provide maximum protection while still being comfortable and actually usable! The Remedy X2 is packed with features, including Poron XRD knuckle protection (light and flexible protection) which is also added to the palm for a bit more protection.
One of the ways Giro has made these one of the best pairs of gloves out is the three piece construction technique. This basically works to reduce the chance of bunching around the palm- and it works!
These gloves are made to fit very tight. The idea is for them to act as a second skin while you are riding. This also allows them to be much more breathable, utilising 4-way stretch mesh and moisture wicking materials.
Cons: Again, the only negative of the glove is the velcro closure system which can start to wear and come unhooked at very inconvenient times!
100% Cognito D30 Gloves
Pros: The 100% Cognito D30 is a protective glove, made for the minimalists and those who hate wearing gloves. They are thin, breathable and yet still very protective.
D3O is a flexible and comfortable material that hardens on impact. Effectively it means it can absorb hard impacts with a small amount of material. It is very popular in mtb protection- particularly knee and elbow guards. With D3O material over the knuckles, you will barely feel the protection until you need it.
With a perforated palm, 4-way stretch fabric, mesh between the fingers and a neoprene cuff, the minimalist feel of this glove is great. Very breathable and comfortable to wear, even on warm days.
Cons: While the Cognito D3O is designed to protect you from a gnarly fall, the material on the palm is so thin it is unlikely to withstand a good crash. In saying this, I haven’t actually crashed wearing the Cognito D3O, so I can’t actually attest to this!
Troy Lee Gambit Gloves
Pros: The Troy Lee Gambit glove is very similar to the 100% Cognito Glove. It has the D3O knuckle protection for added security while riding. It also has a perforated palm, 4-way stretch material, and a neoprene cuff.
What is does a little differently is it has a couple more layers of fabric. This will improves the durability of the glove- particularly over the palm which is a dual layer perforated material. Having this extra layer will help improve the comfort while riding, and also
The Troy Lee Designs Gabit has excellent grip. The silicon fingertip provides extra grip to reduce hand fatigue while out on the mountain bike (can’t have you gripping the bars too hard!).
It is a great value for money glove, with plenty of features and protection to keep any mountain biker pretty happy while riding out on the trails.
Cons: I haven’t yet come across a con with the TLD Gambit. They are comfortable, durable and fit for purpose. As soon as I do come across a negative with these gloves, I will be sure to update this post!
Technical Features Explained
Gloves, while seemingly simple pieces of equipment, seem to have a few technical terms thrown around. For more info, also check out why do I need MTB Gloves?
4-Way Stretch Mesh
The material stretches lengthwise and crosswise. In doing so, it provides a better fit, and is less likely to stretch out of place. It also helps with breathability as the material can ‘open up’ in both directions.
Gel pads are polymer gels that absorb impacts and vibrations so you can have a more comfortable ride. The main downside is that many riders (including myself) find that it can cause the material to bunch or pinch your skin. It also takes away from the ‘feel of the bars’. But for some riders, they would rather have the gel than feel the ongoing vibrations from the bars.
The gel pads tend to be placed to prevent compression of the nerves in your palm. Compression of the nerves leads to hand numbness which is generally not ideal.
Moisture wicking fabrics help prevent your hands getting sweaty. They are generally high-tech polyester that draws moisture away from your body. A great feature for those in warmer climates or with sweatier hands.
While I feel I have mentioned this quite thoroughly throughout the reviews, I thought I’d reiterate it. I am not a fan of velcro closures. Over time they do get less sticky, and come undone at very inconvenient times.
Velcro closures on the top of the wrist are the worst as this is where the fabric is trying to pull the velcro tab open. Having a velcro closure on the sides of the wrist and slightly underneath I can live with. They don’t seem to come undone as often.
The primary advantage of having a velcro closure is that it makes it easier to get the glove on and off- especially for larger hands.
While there is a lot to take in here, finding the best MTB gloves is simplified significantly by the ‘when’ and the ‘what’ you ride.
Ride in winter, in the rain? The Goretex Universal Thermo is likely going to be the go to glove. Ride in pretty mild temperatures (such as here in New Zealand), a good allrounder glove such as the Fox Ranger or the Endura Hummvee II is going to suit very well. Or if you ride rough terrain, where a bit of protection is necessary, we’d highly recommend the Giro Remedy X2.
We have simplified the search for the best mountain bike gloves so you can find what is going to best suit you and your needs.