Which gloves are best for climbers?

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Even if you choose not to wear gloves during your climbs, it is wise to wear them for hand protection when belaying.

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October 31 2021 11:59 pm

The best gloves for rock climbers

Without gloves, climbing can cause significant damage to your skin over time as your body builds up calluses to protect itself. However, a pair of climbing gloves allow you to tackle your climbing goals without the need for calluses. 

Whether belaying, jamming cracks or simply grasping rough rock, a good pair of climbing gloves can offer protection without hindering dexterity. We’ve rounded up some great options in every style to make it easy for you to find the best pair.

What to consider when buying climbing gloves

Finger length

The first decision you need to make is whether you want full-finger, half-finger or fingerless gloves. Each of these styles offers unique benefits.

Full-finger gloves offer the most protection but require you to sacrifice some dexterity. They also provide the most warmth, which can be welcome on chilly days but not as much on warm, sunny outings.

Half-finger gloves won’t hinder dexterity much, making tasks like tying knots, placing gear and grabbing small ledges easier. They also allow you to use a phone to snap a few shots of your climb without much hassle. However, you’ll sacrifice protection and may still wind up with callouses or cuts and scrapes on your fingers.

Fingerless gloves simply cover the back of the hand to offer a little bit of extra protection when jamming cracks. They don’t interfere with your grip, but they also don’t protect the fingers or palms.

Durability

The materials are essential in climbing gloves because they are subjected to so much abuse. Cow leather is one of the most durable options, but it is stiffer and can affect your feel more than goat hide. Natural leather gloves are often the most expensive, so those on a budget may need to opt for a synthetic material instead. While they aren’t as durable, they won’t break the bank.

Strategic reinforcement in the palms and double or triple-stitching are good signs that a pair of gloves will last through plenty of use without failing. If climbing in cold weather, you should choose a pair that offers wind and water resistance and a level of insulation commensurate with the conditions you are expecting.

The best gloves for rock climbing

Top full-finger climbing gloves

Petzl Cordex Belay Gloves

Petzl Cordex Belay Gloves

Crafted with a combination of natural leather and abrasion-resistant nylon, these gloves are both durable and breathable. A handy carabiner hole in the tough Cordex cuff makes them easy to hook onto your gear when not in use.

Sold by Amazon and Backcountry

Black Diamond Crag Gloves

Black Diamond Crag Gloves

An affordable pair suitable for casual climbers, the Black Diamond Crag gloves aren’t the most durable but get the job done. They offer a tight fit in the fingers to preserve your dexterity and have reliable hook and loop closures.

Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Metolius Belay Gloves

Metolius Belay Gloves

These gloves are thick enough to provide a lot of protection and feature a triple-stitched construction to ensure longevity. They are also reinforced with split cowhide on the palms but are slightly lacking in breathability.

Sold by Amazon and Backcountry

Black Diamond Transition

Black Diamond Transition

The Black Diamond Transition are smartly designed with strategically-placed woven nylon to add some breathability and leather knuckle patches to protect the backs of the hands when jamming them into cracks.

Sold by Amazon

Top half-finger climbing gloves

Black Diamond The Stone

Black Diamond The Stone

Made from thick goatskin leather, The Stone gloves are tough enough to stand up to regular use yet reasonably supple and continues to get more flexible over time. With Kevlar stitching, you won’t have to worry about the seams splitting either.

Sold by Amazon

Black Diamond Crag Half-Finger

Black Diamond Crag Half-Finger

A nice, inexpensive pair, these half-finger gloves are suitable for casual climbers who need a bit of extra protection but don’t want anything too thick to interfere with their ability to feel the rock.

Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Metolius 3/4

Metolius 3/4

The Metolius 3/4 come in sizes ranging from X-small to X-large, so there should be a pair that perfectly fits every user. They have split cowhide palms and are reinforced at all wear points.

Sold by Amazon 

Top fingerless climbing gloves

Outdoor Research Splitter

Outdoor Research Splitter

Those who want to preserve full dexterity but still need a bit of protection for the back of their hands when jamming cracks will like this pair from Outdoor Research. They are conveniently machine washable for easy care too.

Sold by Amazon and Backcountry

Ocun Crack Gloves

Ocun Crack Gloves

Made from a slightly stretchy microfiber material that creates more friction against the rock than your skin, these gloves might just help you get up that challenging and elusive route.

Sold by Amazon

Singing Rock Jamming Gloves

Singing Rock Jamming Gloves

The Singing Rock Jamming Gloves have very thick leather covering the back of the hand that offers protection and can stand up to some severe use without tearing. Unfortunately, this can make it difficult to fight your hands in very tight cracks.

Sold by Amazon

Top cold weather and ice climbing gloves

Camp USA GeKO

Camp USA GeKO

Constructed with heavy insulation and a waterproof membrane to keep out moisture, the GeKO will keep those digits toasty in most conditions. To ensure they are never dropped, they feature a safety leash that keeps them on your hands.

Sold by Amazon and Backcountry

Arc'teryx Alpha SL

Arc’teryx Alpha SL

Few other gloves balance warmth and dexterity like the Alpha SL thanks to their lightweight shell that is wind resistant and weatherproof and the brushed fleece lining.

Sold by Amazon and Backcountry

Black Diamond Punisher

Black Diamond Punisher

The pre-curved fingers on the Punisher help you keep a secure grip on your ice tools, while the extra-long cuff keeps those chilly drafts out of your jacket. Some may find them a bit too thick, though.

Sold by Amazon and Backcountry

Black Diamond Arc

Black Diamond Arc

If you are searching for an ultralight option that offers a waterproof barrier and a reasonable level of warmth, these Arc gloves fit the bill. They are more affordable than you would expect considering their quality too.

Sold by Amazon

 

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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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