Which gloves are best for climbers?
Gloves can be a great accessory for climbers and can help at all skill levels. However, depending on the type of climbing you do, they may not be necessary. For some, gloves interfere with the tactile aspect of climbing, making gloves problematic when getting a good grip on vertical surfaces.
For other climbers, gloves are almost as essential as wearing the right clothes and shoes. You may also need gloves depending on the weather, especially if you need some warmth, dryness and overall protection out in the elements.
What it ultimately comes down to is personal preference. If you’re thinking about using climbing gloves, here’s a guide to help you choose the right ones for you.
Features of climbing gloves
There are as many styles and designs of climbing gloves as there are types of climbing. That said, you should look for these features to find the best climbing gloves.
Climbing gloves can be made with synthetic or natural materials. This includes leather, mesh, polyester, polyurethane, spandex and nylon. These materials work with one another to make the perfect glove, based on the activity and wearer. Mesh, spandex and polyester, for instance, usually result in a lightweight, breathable glove. Leather, meanwhile, offers more durability.
Glove liners provide a wide range of benefits. They can wick away moisture and provide warmth for your hands and fingers. Wool and fleece liners work particularly well when it comes to providing warmth in cold weather. This prevents sweat and moisture from penetrating the material, making the skin cold or the grip slippery.
Some liners can add more grip to the existing gloves, though this type of liner is not generally recommended for climbers. Other liners allow the wearer to use touch screen devices so they don’t have to take off their gloves to use their phone. Either way, liners should provide a snug fit without restricting mobility.
Grip and feel
Some climbers only need chalk and direct contact with the climbing surface to have the tactile feedback required to grapple a rocky edge. But those who want some extra protection from the elements need to make sure their gloves offer excellent grip. Some gloves are too thick, which can lead to a higher risk of falling or slipping.
Certain gloves may help by delivering flexibility, dexterity and a solid grip, which climbers need. Because of this, you can use them in place of climbing chalk.
There are several types of climbing gloves, ranging from fingerless gloves to full coverage. A few options are even convertible. But the structure of the glove depends mainly on what type of climbing you’re doing. For instance, alpine climbers may choose to wear fingerless gloves that are streamlined, well-fitted and durable enough to withstand scraping.
However, those who climb in snowy, cold regions should opt for a pair of gloves with an outer shell for additional warmth, durability and waterproofing. These gloves should not be overly thick since they can increase the risk of losing grip while climbing. Climbing gloves are also helpful for those who enjoy climbing with a rope (belaying) or rappelling because they protect the palms without limiting dexterity or grip.
When to wear climbing gloves
Although not always suitable, gloves can be useful in the following situations:
- Cold, brisk weather: gloves keep the fingers warm so they don’t lose sensitivity or go numb.
- Belaying, rappelling and crack climbing: all of these climbing styles could all benefit from gloves.
- Climbing sharp rocks: gloves will protect the skin from getting scratched or cut up.
- Climbing smoother surfaces: gloves with a secure grip or rubber on the palm can make it easier to grab hold of smooth rocks.
Cost of climbing gloves
Most climbing gloves come at a reasonable price. The options on this list range from $15-$60.
Best climbing gloves of 2021
Here are the top recommendations for climbing gloves in 2021.
PETZL Cordex Light-Weight Gloves: available at Amazon
These full-fingered gloves have reinforced leather for warmth and protection, especially around the index fingers. They are breathable, durable and flexible enough for rappelling and belaying.
Vinsguir Workout Gloves: available at Amazon
This versatile, ergonomic pair of gloves excels in comfort and mobility. Because they are open-tipped, they do not interfere with the tactile feedback of gripping onto a rock edge. They also have a sticky hook loop and anti-slip technology.
Black Diamond Crag Climbing Gloves: available at Amazon
These full-fingered climbing gloves utilize synthetic leather to protect the palms and fingers, as well as strong, stretchy mesh for mobility and ventilation. They are best used for rappelling or assisted climbing.
Ocun Crack Climbing Gloves: available at Amazon
Lightweight, flexible and comfortable, these open gloves allow full use of your fingers while protecting the backs of your hands. This makes them most suitable for crack climbing.
Metolius Belay Full-Finger Gloves: available at Backcountry
Designed for belaying and rappelling, these gloves grant ultimate control over the rope for climbers. Made of durable cowhide, they allow for dexterity and have a snug fit.
Inta-FIT Climbing Gloves: available at Amazon
Made with breathable spandex and reinforced goatskin on the palms and fingers, these full-fingered gloves deliver a comfortable balance between durability and dexterity. They are best for rappelling, rock and mountain climbing but can also be used for other outdoor activities.
Black Diamond Stone Climbing Gloves: available at Amazon
With dexterity and durability at the forefront, these 3/4-finger leather gloves have jugging, belaying and aid climbing in mind.
Outdoor Research Splitter Gloves: available at Amazon
For crack climbing or indoor wall climbing, these open-palmed, minimalistic gloves are lightweight and have excellent grip.
Other important climbing gear
Here are some other important accessories to consider when starting out climbing.
Tontron Adult Hiking, Climbing & Caving Helmet: available at Amazon
This lightweight, adjustable helmet is sturdy enough to protect the head while providing good ventilation.
Sukoa Chalk Bag: available at Amazon
A great addition to fingerless gloves, this chalk bag is meant to improve friction and grip while climbing. It also comes with zippered pockets for storage.
GM Climbing Accessory Cord Rope: available at Amazon
Sturdy and moisture-resistant, this double braided rope works great when climbing out in the elements.
Singing Rock R44 NFPA Static Rope: available at Amazon
This high-end rope is compact and durable, making it ideal for regular rappelling and belaying.
PETZL Belay Device: available at Amazon
For assisted climbing or belaying, this easy-to-use, lightweight device is compatible with single ropes.
Matawi Yunek Loose Chalk: available at Amazon
Capable of absorbing moisture to improve grip, you can combine this chalk with fingerless gloves or use it alone when climbing.
XINDA Screwgate Locking Carabiner Clip: available at Amazon
Designed for professional rock climbers, mountaineers and more, you can use this heavy-duty clip with or without gloves.
Angela Watson is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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