Whether you’re bombing down a hill or racing through some singletrack, having the right tools for the job is essential. And that’s why mountain bikers need to make sure they’re using the best mountain bike gloves they can get their hands on.
They’re more than a statement that you know what you’re doing; gloves help riders do a better job on the trail by increasing grip and avoiding blisters. While some riders may forgo MTB gloves, they’re an essential part of trail riding and help keep your hands safe.
With so many options out there, finding the right fit for a pair of gloves requires a little bit of research. Questions about padding and the cost of full-finger versus half-finger gloves are things to consider. So we’ve done the homework. Take a look at the gloves we’ve picked to protect the hands of every rider.
You can scroll through our list of recommended buys or jump to the category you’re looking for:
Best Mountain Bike Gloves of 2020
Best Overall: Dakine Cross-X Gloves
It’s hard to beat Dakine Cross-X Gloves ($35). The silicone grip helps you hold on during your ride while the moisture-wicking technology keeps your hands dry and ready to hit a few more miles.
Riders get a lot of use out of these full-finger gloves, and you won’t see much wear and tear after a few months of riding. Dakine Cross-X Gloves also use an odor-control treatment called Polygiene. The chemical solution is applied to the fabric to keep smells off the glove, even when riders are sweating. So though you begrudgingly have to wash your favorite riding shorts every now and then, Polygiene helps these gloves to stay fresh and keep bad odors off your hands.
The one complaint some MTB riders have is a slight lack of padding in the palms of the gloves.
- Pros: Very durable with great grips
- Cons: Could use some more padding in the right place
Best Budget: Seibertron Dirtpaw
As many mountain bikers learn, the sport costs a lot more than the essential price of the bike, and it’s not cheap. So sometimes you need to pinch pennies where you can. That’s why we’re taking a look at Seibertron Dirtpaw, which comes in at $20.
Don’t be fooled by the low price. The glove still has its perks, like touchscreen compatibility so riders don’t need to worry about taking off the gloves to use their phone while on trail.
The Dirtpaw comes in a wide range of sizes and colors, and it can work for kids and adults depending on sizing.
However, these gloves came with some complaints regarding durability. They’re probably not the best option for winter riding, especially if you primarily bike in a cold part of the country.
- Pros: Great for your wallet, touchscreen capabilities
- Cons: Not very durable
Best Downhill MTB Glove: Royal Racing Quantum Gloves
A great pair of MTB gloves for downhill mountain biking is essential. The Royal Racing Quantum Gloves ($28) have a very minimalistic look, but it doesn’t take away from a great grip that keeps riders on their bikes. Sometimes less is also more. These simple gloves purportedly stay in a good shape months after purchase.
It’s important to note that the Quantum Gloves are fairly thin. They may not be for folks looking for extra padding, but the thin design does keep them breathable.
- Pros: Great grip and very breathable
- Con: Fairly thin material
Best Protective Glove: Fox Racing Defend Glove
Fox is a household name when it comes to anything on two wheels. The brand’s products are recognizable for a reason, and you’ll find that reason in the Fox Racing Defend Gloves ($36).
If you’re looking for protection to keep your hands safe from crashes, tree branches, and anything else that may come your way, this is the glove for you. The Fox Racing Defend Gloves are basically a modern gauntlet. There’s strong protection on both the inside and back of your hand.
Even with all that protection, these mountain biking gloves do remain fairly light. They’re even somewhat breathable, so there are no concerns that they will slow you down.
These full-finger gloves have Velcro closures and also come with touchscreen compatibility.
- Pros: Unbeatable protection
- Cons: Will cost you more
Best for Cool Weather: GORE Wear C5 GORE-TEX Glove
Many glove designers are focused on keeping gloves light and breathable, but there’s a downside to that with cooler weather. Picking up a second pair of gloves for half the year will keep you warm and on your bike year-round.
The GORE Wear C5 GORE-TEX Glove boasts a protective shell to keep your hands dry and avoid the elements. On the inside, a moisture-wicking polyester material kicks these gloves feeling snug while on trail. GORE Wear also uses touchscreen compatibility, so you don’t need to remove your gloves in the cooler weather.
The biggest downside for these is probably the price; they come in at about $80.
- Pros: Keep your hands warm and dry
- Cons: Expensive
Best for Extreme Winter Riding: SealSkinz All-Weather MTB Glove
Riding in the winter is not for everyone. But for those that do, we recommend the SealSkinz All-Weather MTB Glove ($70).
These winter gloves are triple-layered to keep your hands warm while avoiding bulk. They also have silicone grips that help with bar feel and can aid in braking when you need it most.
The biggest difference compared to some other sizes is a lack of padding, which may not be for every rider.
- Pros: Keep hands warm with decent grip
- Cons: Some riders will want a more aggressive and burly design
How to Choose Mountain Bike Gloves
Gloves are easy to overlook, especially with so much of the sport focused on the bike and getting the best components that help improve your ride. But making sure you’re also equipped with the best apparel can make a difference.
Gloves protect your hands when you wreck your bike, as your natural reaction is to put your arms out when you fall. They aid in gripping your handlebars and avoid slipping off your bike leading to a crash. And they can add warmth in cold conditions.
Fit & Sizing
There’s no point in getting gloves if they don’t fit right. The wrong size glove could lead to blisters and cramped hands. But this is preventable. Most companies share hand measurements when it comes to different sizes.
According to bikeglovestore.com, there are a few steps you can take to get an accurate measure of your hand. They suggest making sure your hand is flat and measuring from the tip of your middle finger to the base of your hand to get an accurate measurement. When in doubt, it’s best to size up.
While riding, the last thing you want to deal with is uncomfortable hands. In fact, for mountain biking, you probably don’t even think that much about your hands versus the throbbing pain your legs are feeling while going uphill, so comfortable gloves are key.
Like most things, one of the best ways to find out what’s comfortable is to try them on. Order more than one pair and return what doesn’t stick. Or if you have an option for in-store purchase, you can always get a feel for many gloves that way.
Padding & Protection
The main goal of gloves is keeping you safe, so finding the balance of padding and protection while still feeling comfortable is a must.
Where you ride can be part of this factor. If you’re in a place like the Pacific Northwest where there are a lot of tree branches ready to scrape you as you ride by, using a glove with extra protection can be seriously protective.
The same is true for any rocky terrain and how much padding exists in your glove. The more your bike bounces up and down, the greater the chance you’ll end up with some blisters on your hands. Adding something like a glove with gel pads goes a long way in that terrain.
Full-Finger vs. Half-Finger Gloves
All of the gloves mentioned in this list are full-finger gloves, but when you’re shopping around, you’ll probably see a good handful of half-finger gloves. So what’s the difference?
Half-finger gloves are more popular for road cycling — and for good reason. According to Have Fun Biking, half-finger gloves give riders a better feel for switching gears and controlling their ride, but they don’t provide the same level of protection you need off road if you were to take a fall. For mountain biking, most recommend full gloves.
As we addressed earlier, one of the first things people learn when they get into mountain biking is that it’s not cheap. Gloves are another expense; therefore, durability goes a long way. You want to find something that can last and take a few spills. Because, as anyone who rides enough singletrack knows, it happens.
What Are the Best Mountain Bike Gloves?
As outlined, there’s a lot that goes into picking the best glove. What works for you might not work for someone else.
Ask yourself a few questions. What kind of riding do you do? Are you doing more downhill riding that will require something more aggressive or are you more of a casual rider? What is the climate like that you bike in? There’s a big difference between staying warm in the cold and finding relief from the heat.
Finally, think about the terrain you ride in. What are the trails like in your backyard? Do you need extra padding to deal with rigid limestone, or are you more likely to get snagged by a tree? You might need something with protection on the back of your hand to avoid a thorn in your knuckle.
Are Mountain Bike Gloves Necessary?
While not required, gloves can keep you safer by providing protection in harsh landscapes.
On a basic level, gloves protect your hands from trees and the ground when you wreck on your bike. But in a more complex way, they allow you to have better control over your ride and might help you avoid taking an unnecessary crash in the first place.
How Should Mountain Bike Gloves Fit?
As discussed earlier, it’s a good idea to get a measurement of your hand when shopping for gloves. Similar to finding the right shoe, a little too big is better than too small. A glove that’s too tight will end up leaving blisters on your hand and negate the only reason you wanted gloves in the first place. That being said, you do want a glove that’s also relatively snug to avoid your hand slipping.
The goal of finding the best MTB gloves is to improve your overall ride. So be sure to try some on and get a good feel for what will increase the fun you’re having on trail.