Hands-on Gear Review

Mad Rock Belay Glove Review

Mad Rock Belay Glove
By: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief  ⋅  Mar 18, 2010
Price:  $30 List
Pros:  Great dexterity, rubber on palm makes it less likely you will drop stuff, relatively breathable
Cons:  Interesting look, overkill knuckle protection, hard to find
Manufacturer:   Mad Rock

Our Verdict

The Belay Glove from Mad Rock is Discontinued as of 2016
Mad Rock's Belay Gloves were some of the most head-turning belay gloves we tested they look more like mountain biking gloves than climbing gloves. These synthetic gloves are the only ones tested with rubber on the palms. At first I was not sure about this, but they actually offered some of the best dexterity and handling. Also, it was surprising how well the rubber held up; I had expected it to be gone after a few climbing sessions.

My first reaction to these gloves was that they looked funny. But after belaying with them, I came to like the rubber on the palms. It gives great control both with the rope and with handling biners and belay devices. That said, once you start thinking about paying $30 for climbing gloves, these have stiff competition. It all comes down to how much you like the feel of the rubber on the palm and like the fact this can also be used as a mountain bike glove.

Our Analysis and Test Results



The thin layer of rubber on the palms gives these great grip on the rope, belay device and carabiners. You have confidence you are not going to drop things. You don't have to grip the rope as hard when paying out slack, which gives a nice feel to it. There are big protectors for the knuckles that are nice if you are jumaring. These also work well as mountain bike gloves in cold conditions. They do not breathe well enough for really warm conditions.


The plastic on the knuckles seems a little overkill. It would be better if the gloves didn't have it and were therefore a little lighter and more streamlined. The knuckles on belay gloves don't wear out that fast; it is almost always the finger tips that go long before anything else.

Best Application

These are ideal for belaying, whether on a multi-pitch route or at the crags. I would also use them for cleaning on big walls because of the rubber on the palms that makes it less likely you will drop stuff. I would not use these for heavy rappelling situations because they are too thin. They also double as mountain bike gloves in cooler conditions (they don't vent well enough for really hot conditions).


At $30 these are toward the higher end of the price scale. They are for people that like the feeling of the rubber on the palm and are willing to pay a little extra for it.

Chris McNamara

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: October 27, 2010
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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Average Customer Rating:  
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100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (2)
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1 star: 0%  (0)

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   Oct 27, 2010 - 11:53am
Matt M · Climber · Alamo City

Between CMac's reviews and some posts by rgold on holding high FF falls with gloves, I decided to re-visit this gear category. I never liked belaying with my Metolius fingerless gloves because they were too think and felt like they reduced my gripping power. Only good for lots of raps.

CMac's review got me to order a pair of these to check them out. So far, I'm impressed. They're essentially a climber-fied pair of Mechanix work gloves. Nice, thin palm that gives you a LOT more feel and dexterity than the thick raps gloves. The look is a bit goofy but I don't really care about that. The holding power of this glove is significantly more than the thick rap gloves. Not quite as much as bare skin but not an issue either. Good to go.

As Chris said, when you see the rubber on the palm you think that'll be gone in a second. Not true so far after a session at the gym with at least 16 routes belayed and lowered.

Only question mark so far is that the leather doesn't extend around and through the thumb/index finger area. Might be a future wear point unlike the Metolius gloves.

If I know I've got a lot of raps, I'll probably still bring my old gloves but these Mad Rocks will now be my "go to" for the rest of the time.

Fit: I got a size LARGE and it fits fairly snugly but not skin tight. A good fit. My hand = 9 3/8in circumference and 9in tip of middle finger to wrist.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

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