MTB gloves are an integral part of your protective gear. It’s like how you use shoes for foot protection and pedal performance. You would have a helmet for head protection and shorts (or pants) for comfort. Similarly, gloves protect your hands and also provide performance-oriented benefits for better control of the bike.
You get a better grip on the handle, and it is easier for you to use your hand with proper protection. A sense of full-fledged preparedness also gives you peace of mind that you’re ready. MTB gloves mean ‘mountain biking gloves,’ which means we will be covering a specific spectrum of bike gloves, not all of them.
Thanks to modern technology, you can find various designs, materials, and much more, even for a single category. Therefore, this guide presents you with multiple factors to consider and tips to keep in mind when selecting MTB gloves next time or for the first time.
As you start with the guide, you will notice that vital considerations are given to material in almost every segment. It’s because the fabric of your gloves will determine almost everything. The longevity of gloves, maintenance, care, comfort, fitting, and performance all rely on the material.
More importantly, as you go ahead, you will become more well-informed about various aspects and attributes that matter. By the end of the article, you will know exactly the kinds of MTB gloves you require. With that, let’s begin the guide:
Many dealers and manufacturers categorize gloves in a specific category. They manufacture MTB gloves and road bike gloves in two different types. However, many experienced bikers like to cross the preference. In other words, you might see many road bikers using MTB gloves and vice versa. Why’s that?
They believe that a person should choose the gloves according to their riding style and comfort. Whatever you feel comfortable with should be your first choice. Still, it’s never a bad idea, especially as a beginner, to check for the ‘activity-specific’ gloves. To give you a better idea about the different types of gloves, here’s a quick overview:
You will see many manufacturers selling road bike gloves as MTB gloves, as well. These gloves come with a typical fingerless design. It enables your fingers to be free and brings you the added firmness of your natural grip. Furthermore, the lack of fabric also helps in temperature regulation and breathability. Thus, making these gloves better for a warmer climate.
If you’re mountain biking in a tropical or warm climate, this could be the right choice. Many cross-country mountain bike riders love these gloves. There is a more breathable but durable material, after all. More importantly, these gloves have added padding, almost like a protective shield, around the palm and sometimes at the hand’s backside.
This is where things get a little funny or even confusing for some. Mountain biking gloves, by category, don’t come with additional padding. It is a strange notion because mountain trails are often full of bumpy roads, and your hands might need more protection. However, it’s because your mountain bike’s handle usually has a better grip and cushioning for your hands.
While the gloves are thinner with padding, the primary objective here is to bring you comfort. The added comfort with proper grip is a priority of the gloves here. Therefore, many MTB gloves ditch padding and protection to give you more ‘gel’ coating. It is soft, adds to grip, and still absorbs shock to work like padding.
These gloves are full-fingered and full hand design by default and appear to be sleekier. You can easily store them and carry them without too much space consumption. The material consideration may differ, but they mostly feel like a second layer of skin on your hand. Thus, you maintain proper grip and control over your mountain bike. The full-finger design also prevents any chances of abrasion and cuts that are common for mountain bike riders.
MTB gloves are a product with a combination of different types of materials. You won’t get any with a single material construct. It adds a layer of comfort and boosts other aspects in the areas where they are pivotal.
Polyester is a prevalent material that you will find because of its cost-efficiency. It is highly resistant to various elements, like water and moisture. Moisture-wicking and breathability are also on point. Therefore, many mountain biking globes come with this as a choice for durable and affordable fabric.
Nylon is a low-end synthetic material available for cost-efficiency and excellent moisture-wicking, quick-drying, and waterproofing capability. These are very lightweight, even elastic, and you won’t even feel like you’re wearing gloves. Therefore, these often come with added padding and other essentials.
Leather is available in almost every type of clothes and accessories. It’s no exception in mountain biking gloves. Leather gloves are highly-durable, naturally insulated, or ‘warmer’ than polyester, at least. They have a great fitting, grip, and snug to them. However, to add breathability, you will see them with tiny dots in specific areas. These dots can sometimes compromise the integrity of the gloves, but they are still a great choice.
You will also find synthetic leather available in gloves. It’s for vegan-friendly individuals who want to enjoy the appeal of leather. Similarly, it has many qualities of leather, except for durability. While very durable, these vinyl-materials can’t stand the heavy-duty performance of leather. They will also wear out faster in sunlight.
For the best fitting option, almost like skin, many bikers would prefer spandex gloves. The breathability of these materials depends on the quality and type of spandex. Most of the time, to add to the elasticity of the gloves, spandex is utilized. Therefore, you won’t find many stand-alone spandex gloves because that’s like having a pair of rubber gloves. Due to their tight-fitting without and fiction, many speedsters use spandex in some form.
These are high-end materials, highly waterproof, and commonly used in snowy mountains or frigid climate. Neoprene gloves aren’t breathable at all. You have to give up the notion that you will find any level of breathability in them. That’s why they are better for the frigid climate. You will also get high-temperature resistance and proper heat insulation in them.
Once you know the right material for you to use, it’s time to get into the quality consideration. In this segment, you will learn about various attributes of the gloves that make them useful. Additionally, there will be some mention of different materials that complement these qualities to make for a better pair of gloves.
The breathability of your gloves determines how easy it is for them to regulate the air inside. If you sweat more, then you need higher breathability gloves. They will prevent moisture build-up and keep your hands dry. In turn, it will avoid unnecessary friction production due to sweat, and you won’t get blisters or other problems. Often, breathability plays a massive role in determining the comfort of the gloves.
Mesh is a production of almost any material woven together, almost in the form of a net. If you choose a mesh-like design, you will get a high level of breathability. However, the mesh would also mean a lack of insulation. Some gloves come with a mess for the vital areas like the finger webs.
Mesh on gloves add to the ventilation and can be something great for a warmer climate.
You get what you pay for, and durability will primarily depend on the type of material you get. The second factor would be to consider the kind of production and the construct your gloves are. You might want to check for the sewing and see if it is reinforced. Many gloves come with reinforced seams, which add to the durability, and often, waterproofing capabilities.
The durability will also determine how long the gloves will last. If you have high-grade, like polyester or leather, it can last for quite a while. Low-end materials won’t make your gloves last for long, but they are highly cost-effective. So, if you’re someone who often changes gloves, then low-end is what you should get.
Remember, you can compromise with durability, but never with protection.
There’s a trendy addition of polyurethane coating in the gloves. It is almost like a layer of lamination that brings you added protection. Polyurethane acts as a primary defensive layer to prevent abrasion and cuts. Sometimes, it is so excellent that it even adds to water resistance. You can look for polyurethane coating in any MTB gloves if you want added durability.
The gloves, whichever you choose, shouldn’t feel like they are heavy on your hands. They should be very breezy to wear and lightweight. It will enable you to have better movement of hands and added dexterity. Of course, if you get insulated gloves, lightweight is hard to choose. However, in general, you already have a lot to take care of while riding. You wouldn’t want to add to it with some heavy pair of gloves.
The tip here is to find the balance between the material and attributes of your gloves. For example, leather MTB gloves won’t need too many features. All you need for them is breathability, some padding, and that’s all. Similarly, nylon gloves might be too light, but they will need some form of padding or even coating to reinforce their durability.
It won’t suit you if you decide to have nylon gloves without any additional feature or leather gloves full of heavy padding, gel coating, fitting options like cuffs and velcro, and so on. There needs to be a balance. That’s what it means to have a lightweight choice.
Like the material and other qualities, there’s one more aspect that will determine your gloves’ quality and performance. There are different types of layerings and coatings in the gloves. These layers determine various qualities like waterproofing, insulation, and so on. Before you begin their consideration, remember the lightweight advice.
The more layering you have, the bulkier your gloves will get, which wouldn’t be a great thing because it will make them rigid. Rigid MTB gloves mean it will be stiff or more inflexible for you to move your hands conveniently. With that, here are the layering and factors to consider.
Your glove’s grip is paramount to maintain a proper hold on the handle. It will enable you to move it around as you like. As you’re mountain biking, your road will be full of bumps, and you are prone to releasing the handles. That’s where grip comes into play. An anti-slip and firm grip are paramount. Similarly, to control your handle better with quicker response, the grip of your gloves can assist.
Most of the gloves come with padding that has a rubber layer to add to the gripping. They fit into the handle and almost ‘lock’ themselves in position. However, it can backfire as mountain bike riding requires you to change the hands’ position and placement consistently. However, if you’re experienced enough, it won’t be too challenging.
Gel coating has taken over the former rubber grip or even foam padding. Gel coating is often very soft and has enough cushion to withstand sudden shocks from the bumps. More importantly, the grip is firm and almost feels like your skin. Therefore, many riders prefer gel coating for their MTB gloves.
As mentioned earlier, the durability of the gloves matter. Similarly, shock-proofing matters for you. Many people complain about aching hands, even development problems like arthritis or tunnel syndrome because of proper hand protection. Foam padding is a prevalent choice available in gloves to help you absorb shock and avoid problems.
These paddings will be in the right places like the palms and the finger rolls (joints) to ensure that your hands don’t sustain too much shock. While get-coating is well-versed, if you ride on a bumpy or rocky mountain road, then foam padding would be a better choice. For any heavy-duty MTB riding, always prioritize foam paddings.
Waterproofing has become an ‘ace’ of considerations for anything related to the outdoors. It is pivotal in jackets, pants, clothes, backpacks, and everything else. Similarly, if you don’t want your hands to drench and bring you a considerable level of discomfort, you would like them to at least be water-resistant. However, as you would be using your hands to wipe the water from most of your body, face, and so on, proper waterproofing might become essential.
Rubber layers, seams, and shields do a remarkable job at resisting water. It doesn’t compromise the breathability of your gloves (like neoprene) while it maintains outstanding waterproofing. More importantly, elements like UV rays also won’t take a toll on your gloves. So it is the right choice, overall.
Insulation would be paramount, especially if you’re going mountain biking in winter. For a frigid climate, you would need anything around 500 to 1,000 grams of insulation. However, for a cold environment, you can pass with 200g.
Primaloft is a synthetic, wool-like material that is lightweight, sleek, and an excellent choice for your Other woolen materials that would be a little too bulky or even uncomfortable. You can also consider merino wool. It is quite a fantastic material for layering but might not be available in MTB gloves.
Here is a quick list of other factors that matter and might even act as an additional perk. These are not indispensable, but certainly add to comfort, features, and much more:
Apart from waterproofing, moisture-wicking and quick-drying capacity of MTB gloves would be an admirable choice. However, these factors will depend on the type of material and their blends your gloves use. Don’t let any manufacturer fool you with advertising schemes that state their gloves bring you better moisture-wicking or quick-drying capacity.
There isn’t any magical ingredient or passive technology. You would have to depend on the material. For example, polyester, nylon, and such are highly moisture-wicking with quick-drying. Leather is moisture absorbent, not wicker.
Some gloves come with a cuffing option for the wrist that adds to better fitting. Similarly, you will find hoops around the fingers or wrist. It enables you to pull the gloves better for fitting.
Many gloves come with velcro or strap adjustments that allow you to tighten them or loosen them as per your requirements. Others may even come with a zipper closure around your thumb and index finger. Inside, the zipper is meshed to loosen the gloves and for ventilation. It is rare but available.
Just like the gym gloves, you would most likely appreciate the wrist support. It will enable your hands to be more well-protected. More importantly, sudden falls or crashes won’t damage your wrist. It’s similar to getting wrist support for the gym or other athletic activities.
A: Regular gloves have the purpose of providing comfort and layer for your hands. They are not performance-based or heavy-duty. You can use them for short and quick trips, like going to the nearby market and whatnot.
However, extensive use may cause blisters and other problems. They don’t have proper material, fitting, or breathability. More importantly, they will wear out and get damaged. Overall, they are not suitable for anyone looking for serious mountain biking performance.
A: If you are wondering about the cost, both types of gloves have similar pricing. So, getting finger-less won’t turn down the price. However, the primary consideration here is breathability, comfort, and ventilation.
Many people find fingerless gloves more comfortable and breathable in a warmer climate. For added protection, especially against shocks on finger joints, cuts, and other problems, it would be better to get full-finger gloves. In winter, you might want to stick to full-finger gloves.
A: Any fitting that brings the utmost comfort for you is the best. You need to look for a snug fit around your hands that won’t slip off and hug your hand’s skin. More importantly, it should fit your fingers down and adequately to the palms. Added wrist coverage is appreciated. They shouldn’t feel tight around finger webs, either. You should be able to form a fist comfortably.
A: It's the ability of the moisture to drain any form of liquid, mostly water and sweat. Wicking allows for more extended and lasting dryness. That's why many athletes prefer moisture-wicking in almost everything they wear. The same applies to backpackers, hikers, or campers.
A: It can be challenging to use your smart and touch-devices with gloves on. For this, you can buy gloves that come with an added layer around an index finger and thumb. It allows you to operate your touch devices with a proper response. Some people prefer it for their MTB gloves liners. But if you don’t wear liners, it’s better to have them for your MTB gloves.
As a final tip, don’t forget to consider your style and color preference. There are countless designs and color options available, and you don’t have to compromise on them. Washing and maintenance will depend on the material. However, anti-microbial or anti-odor qualities are admirable.
With that, you have the complete guide on how to buy the best MTB gloves. Hopefully, you found the information valuable and worth consideration. So go ahead and find the perfect companion for your mountain biking gear and explore the trails to your heart’s content!
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