Best Mountain Bike Gloves
Best Overall Mountain Bike Glove
Giro continues a long run of bringing top-notch mountain biking gloves to market with the new Xen. This model replaces our former Best Overall award winner, the Remedy X2 at the top of our test, with a lighter, more breathable construction, more precise protective padding, and the same sleek, accurate fit. These gloves provide the best of both worlds with thin fabric that offers great dexterity and doesn't mute trail feedback, along with well-placed protective padding that will keep your hands safe when the inevitable crash occurs. Giro's Superfit system remains one of the best fits on the market, and the velcro wrist closure allows you to adjust the tightness to your preference. Luckily we didn't get the chance to test the padding while wearing these gloves, but Poron XRD Crash Pads on the last two digits, across the knuckles, and on the outer edge of the palm are perfectly placed to protect from tree and rock strikes while riding and baseball slides across the ground. Their lightweight and protective build make these great gloves for almost any style of riding, but we recommend them most for gravity-oriented applications.
Xen also comes with a lower price than our old Best All-Around award winner, which puts this model right around the average cost of gloves we tested. They're available in sizes S-XXL, and have touchscreen compatibility. Our one concern with this model is their long-term durability. While we didn't have any problems with our test gloves, there were a few small frayed seams straight out of the box, and we think that the lightweight construction could easily fail in a relatively short period of time with any small manufacturing defects. Additionally, we're not huge fans of the velcro wrist closure from a durability standpoint. Regardless, if you're looking for the most comfortable, versatile glove available, the Xen is the model for you.
Best Bang for Your Buck
In our latest round of testing the Giro Trixter unseated our longtime best buy, the Giro DND, and became our go-to value recommendation. This new model is Giro's latest take on a basic, minimalist glove that won't cost a fortune to replace after a rough crash or extended use. We found it super convenient and comfortable. The strapless design with a flexible lycra cuff is both easy to get on and snug over the wrist, and the glove fits close to the hand without much excess material. The flexible AX Bolt fabric allows for a full range of motion without feeling restrictive or binding. A perforated mesh between the fingers keeps air moving, and Giro claims that the AX Bolt fabric's Instachill technology cools your skin once you start sweating. Like most modern gloves, the Trixter also features touchscreen-capable index and thumb tips.
Out on the trail, these gloves do exactly what we want from a minimalist model—they disappear. The comfortable fit, thin palm material, and breathability meant that we never had to fuss or fiddle with our test gloves while on the bike, and they easily slipped our minds as we made our way down the trail. Like any minimalist glove, we wouldn't recommend the Trixter for use in cold weather. We took these on a few early-morning rides and found ourselves wishing for something a little bit warmer. Likewise, this model isn't our top pick for wet rides. The fingertips don't have any texturing or grip for brake lever traction when things get wet. For general trail-riding use in temperate conditions, however, you won't find a better value out there.
We tested a size-large set of gloves in the Olive colorway, but the Trixter is currently offered in five different colors and sizes from XS through XXL.
Most Durable Construction
The recently-redesigned Dakine Covert thoroughly impressed us in testing. As soon as you pull these gloves out of the box it's clear that they're a well-made product. Not a thread was out of place, and the internal seams are far cleaner than most gloves we've tried out. By the time we were done with them after a month of testing and hundreds of miles of riding, they looked as good as the day we got them. Riders looking for a single pair of gloves that should span the test of time should look no further than this model. If you're hunting for a similar quality of construction with a little bit more padding, take a look at the Dakine Cross-X.
Whereas the old version of the Covert was more of a mid-weight glove, the updated version has been slimmed down to a true minimalist construction. The four-way stretch shell at the back of the glove is super thin and breathable, while the synthetic suede palm remains the same as the old version. The glove features no extra padding and a slim fit that ensures that you feel connected to your grips, and the index finger and thumb each have silicone pads to help traction with shifter and brake levers. They're stretchy enough to easily pull on despite the lack of velcro closure at the wrist. The touchscreen-compatible index finger works well for mid-ride selfies and text messages. The minimalist design means that we wouldn't recommend these for cold or wet weather, but for fair weather trail riding, they're great.
Best Protective Glove
100% Cognito D30
Of all of the padded gloves we tested, we felt that the Cognito D30 provided the best protection. This model provides all of the standard features of a good mountain bike glove, like silicone fingertip patches, touchscreen capability, and abrasion-resistant material, along with some nifty protective padding. The knuckles are protected with a row of impact-absorbing D30 pads that will keep your precious digits safe from all but the hardest of tree or rock impacts. Unlike many padded protective gloves, the Cognito D30 doesn't feel clunky or stiff on your hand and allows the same range of motion as any of the non-padded gloves we tested. We didn't find any weird proportions or extra material with our size large test gloves and found the fit to be true to size. When we first put the gloves on, we did notice the top of the knuckles felt a bit tight, but this quickly subsided as the gloves warmed up and broke in a little bit.
We enjoyed the extra confidence out on the trail provided by the D30 knuckle protection. Tight trees, heavy rock gardens, or overgrown single track all seemed a little bit less daunting with these gloves on. On long climbs and hotter days, we were pleasantly surprised with their ventilation. Typically we would avoid too much climbing in a heavy protective glove, but the Cognito D30 handled warmer temperatures with aplomb. The Cognito D30 comes in multiple colors and 5 sizes, S-XXL.
Best Glove to Stand Out From the Crowd
Handup Summer Lite
The Handup Summer Lite is a lightweight, minimalist glove for those who like a little bit of flash in our kit. Gloves are a great way to add a little bit of flair to your riding gear without going full pajama suit, and the Summer Lite is available in enough color and graphic options to suit almost any rider's taste. After getting our hands in our pink and black test model, we quickly found more to like than just the color. The thin mesh shell and perforated palm breathe well on hot days to keep your hands cool, and a large cloth section on the back of the thumb works well to wipe the sweat away from your eyes. If not for the loud colors, the Summer Lite would all but disappear on your hands out on the trail. The fit is refined and well proportioned, and the inner seams on the fingertips and sides of the hand are small.
Like any super-lightweight glove, we wouldn't recommend this model for its protective qualities. Sure, it will do your hands some good and avoid scuffs and scrapes in a minor slide or brush with the trailside bushes, but we would recommend more protective gloves when it comes to large impacts or touch-downs in rocky areas. Additionally, this model's touchscreen capability left us feeling underwhelmed. The fingertips were inconsistent when we would try to unlock a phone or take a photo. The Summer Lite gloves are unisex and come in a huge range of colors and graphics in sizes XS-XXL.
Best for Technical Riding in Cool Weather
Fox Racing Ranger Fire
The Ranger Fire provides a great combination of warmth and dexterity that is rare in an insulated mountain bike glove. On a chilly day, these gloves hardly feel bulkier than a standard set of trail gloves, but they do a much better job of keeping your hands warm. Oftentimes when mountain biking in cold temperatures bulky gloves can be a limiting factor in technical riding, but the Ranger Fire allows for a similar bar and brake lever feel to many of the non-insulated models we tested. The fit is sleek and close-fitting without any extra fabric in the fingers or on the back of the hand. We were hugely excited the first time we wore these out for a chilly, early-morning ride and didn't have to adjust our riding at all. That said, the sleek fit does come with a warmth penalty compared to some of the heavier insulated models we tested. We would recommend these gloves for temperatures from about forty to fifty degrees. Any colder than that and your fingers might not be happy.
Beyond the fit, the Ranger Fire also offers a number of critical features for cold-weather riding. The palm material is made of Fox's water-resistant Ax Suede material that maintains grip well in wet conditions. Additionally, the thumb, index, and middle fingers each have textured silicone pads that provide exceptional brake lever and handlebar grip, even when completely soaked. A soft nose wipe on the back of the thumb helps with the cold-weather sniffles, and the extended cuff integrates well with arm warmers or long sleeve jerseys. We appreciated the strapless slip-on design, but also found that there was a tradeoff when taking these on and off. Donning and removing these gloves with cold hands can be a little bit cumbersome, but the wrist pull loop helps. Overall, we were very impressed with these gloves, and we feel they are a great option for technical rides in cool weather.
Best for Glove-Averse Riders
For those among us who can't stand the feeling of fabric between our palm and the handlebar but recognize the need for protection in the event of a crash, the 100% Celium is one of the best options out there. Riders who tend to leave the gloves at home in favor of a more solid-feeling connection between their digits and the controls will find the feel of the Celium's single-layer palm pad and ultra-thin, perforated back panel pretty close to the feeling of gloveless riding. These gloves slide on easily and practically disappear on your hands. The fit is snug, but the flexible fabric keeps them from feeling restrictive, and the interior seams are small enough to not be distracting. Additionally, the touchscreen-capable fingertips work well, and the ultra-light construction breathes as well as any model we tested.
We didn't have any complaints with the Celium out on the trail. This minimalist glove obviously doesn't pack the same protection as padded models, so if you're looking for protection from rock and tree impacts you'll want to look elsewhere. We found them more than adequate for trail riding, though. One of our testers even had a high-speed washout on a loose corner while testing these gloves and his palms came away unscathed. For that reason, we think this is the perfect model for a rider whose hands have been torn up by one too many crashes and is ready to start wearing gloves. 100% offers the Celium in three colors and sizes ranging from small through extra-large.
A Longstanding Tester Favorite
The Giro DND has established itself as a popular mainstay in Giro's mountain bike glove line-up. One of our testers claims to have been riding with various pairs of the DND for the past eight seasons. This classic glove returns relatively unchanged over the previous versions with a comfortable combination of 4-way stretch breathable mesh on the back of the hand and AX Suede synthetic leather on the palm. The fit of these gloves is dialed in and enhanced by the 4-way stretch mesh, as well as the "Super-Fit" engineered three-panel palm construction, which reduces material bunching and improves bar feel. From the moment you put these DND gloves on, they are instantly comfortable, just like the other Giro gloves in this test. We found they were suited best for warmer temperatures of roughly 60 degrees and above. The gloves feature a large soft chammy on the thumb that is great for runny noses and wiping sweat, as well as two wide silicone strips on the tips of the thumb, index, and middle fingers for extra grip for the brake levers and shifter paddles. Conduction threads are stitched into the tip of the thumb and index fingers to offer compatibility with touchscreens for all those selfies and shred shots you're sure to be posting while out on the trail.
The DND has a minimalist design and doesn't feature any additional padding for the knuckles or back of the hand, so they aren't the best option for riders who seek extra protection. We found the DND to stand up to our abuse with minimal signs of wear, even after a couple of full-speed washouts onto the palms. Overall, the DND was one of our favorite all-around gloves in our test selection, and we enjoyed riding in them. They come in multiple color options in both men's and women's (known as the LA DND) versions. Men's are available in sizes S-XXXL while women's are available in sizes S-XL.
Another Great Cool Weather Glove
Specialized Trail Thermal Gloves
The Trail Thermal Glove is a new mountain bike-specific cool weather glove from Specialized. Made from a 3-layer softshell material, these gloves are highly wind-resistant with just enough insulation to keep the hands warm in cooler temperatures. Unlike some cool weather gloves, they have a relatively low profile that isn't bulky, and they have just the right amount of stretch to allow for great dexterity. These comfortable gloves are nicely articulated with a snug fit and a velcro wrist closure. The AX Suede palm provides a great bar feel and features silicone dots on the pointer/middle fingers and thumb for grip on the shifter and brake levers, even when wet. The tips of the pointer finger and thumb also feature Wiretap touchscreen compatible material that works surprisingly well on your phone.
While we loved the Trail Thermal Glove in the right conditions, we found them to have a relatively narrow temperature bandwidth. They aren't quite warm enough for temperatures much below 40-degrees Farenheight, and they feel a bit too warm when the mercury rises above 55-degrees or so. When the temperature rose, we found our hands would get quite sweaty inside these gloves, although the softshell upper and AX Suede palm were quick to dry back out. Beyond that, we were quite impressed by this new glove and wouldn't hesitate to ride with them when appropriate. They come in black (tested) and redwood in sizes S-XXL as well as a women's version.
Best Shoulder Season Glove
Hestra Bike Long Sr. 5-finger
Hestra isn't the first brand name that comes to mind when searching for mountain bike gloves, but they have a proven track record of high-quality winter gloves for skiing and snowboarding. Their Bike Long Sr. 5-finger mountain bike gloves offer high-quality construction, durable materials, and enough warmth for cool days in the fall or spring. They pack a full list of features including touchscreen compatibility, silicone textured grips on the index and middle fingers, a large nose wipe, and a padded palm for comfort on the bike and protection in case of a crash. They aren't insulated like some of the other cool-weather gloves we tested, but the clarino and polyester mesh body is thicker than a standard warm weather glove. As a consequence, these gloves keep your hands a bit toastier on cool days but they also lack the breathability and dexterity that you get from a thinner glove.
Out on the trail, we found a lot to like about this model. Despite the thicker fabric, they're comfortable and easy to get on and off. The palm padding helps absorb trail chatter but was divisive among our testers, some of whom prefer a closer connection with their handlebar grips. The back of the glove is breathable enough to keep them from turning into saunas. The fit is sleek, but the thick fabric means digging through a pack or fiddling with your phone is slightly more difficult than most of the standard summer gloves we've tested. That said, we hugely appreciated the extra warmth on crisp days.
A Classic Minimalist Glove
Fox Racing Ranger Gloves
The new-look Fox Ranger tops our list of minimalist models for its quality construction, versatile fit, and all-day comfort. Fox recently re-designed the Ranger, and its sleek new look adds to a longstanding reputation for quality and durability. The four-way stretch polyester construction combines with a small velcro wrist strap to ensure a snug fit for a wide range of hand shapes and sizes. Our test gloves were a true large with good proportions for the fingers and palm, and we found them easy to pull on and off quickly. The thumb, index, and middle fingers have three large silicone strips across their tips that add some grip for brake and shift levers. Its small, sturdy seams had no excess material, boasting some of the best construction among all of the products we tested. After putting a month of hard riding on our test gloves, we didn't see a thread out of place. For one of the least-expensive gloves in our test, we think that's pretty impressive.
While the Ranger's material is soft and comfortable, we found the convergence of seams at the fingertips to be less than ideal. Four panels of material come together at the tip of each finger, creating a small bulge in the interior of the glove that can be irritating against the skin. This is a common issue with many gloves, and the Ranger's well-made seams minimized the discomfort. There are other gloves in the test, however, that avoid the issue altogether with clever workarounds. Also, like any minimalist glove, we wouldn't recommend using the Ranger in anything colder than around 60 degrees. Fox makes both men's and women's versions of the Ranger. The men's version is available in 6 color options in sizes S-XXL, and the women's version comes in 4 colors and sizes S-L.
Most Bling Factor
Troy Lee Designs Air Glove
Troy Lee Designs is well known for their flashy, stylish, and high-performance apparel, and the Air gloves live up to that reputation. This model will turn heads out on the trails with bright colors and the iconic TLD logo, but it will also keep your digits happy and protected in a variety of conditions. The gloves are made up of a thin, breathable fabric but offer more protection than a standard minimalist glove. The index and middle fingers each have small rubber pads running along their back for knuckle protection, and the thick TLD logo acts as a basic pad for the back of the hand. The perforated palm has a silicone TLD logo as well as textured silicone pads on the index and middle fingers for brake lever grip. We aren't completely sold on the velcro closure system, mainly because velcro tends to wear out quickly when combined with dirt and sweat. We didn't have any issues with it in testing, though, and the strap does make it a bit easier to get the gloves on and off than most strapless designs. If you're looking to make a statement on your next ride, these are the gloves for you.
The Air is a good option for temperate riding conditions. They aren't the most well-ventilated gloves we tested, but they're well-suited to temperatures in the sixties and above. We appreciated the extra protection out on the trail but found that they were a little bit more noticeable on our hands than some of the other lightweight models we tested. These gloves are best used for technical trail and enduro riding. We tested a solid red pair in size large, but Troy Lee currently offers this model in numerous color options and sizes from SM-XXL.
Best Mid-Weight All-Mountain Glove
In Dakine's recent revamp of their mountain bike glove line the Cross-X received a complete redesign. Similar to its sibling, the Covert, it has been slimmed down slightly with a tighter fit, but whereas the Covert is a minimalist model, the Cross-X is a full-featured mid-weight trail smasher. Complete with protective neoprene padding on the last three knuckles and the outside of the palm, a reinforced synthetic suede palm, silicone index and thumb fingertips, and a microfleece thumb wipe, we found these gloves suitable for any and all gravity-oriented riding styles. The slightly thicker fabric backing and reinforced palm mean they don't breathe quite as well as the more minimal models, so we wouldn't recommend them for hot XC rides. Otherwise, though, we think that riders looking for a bit of extra protection from their gloves should give this model a shot.
In testing, we were very impressed by the quality of Dakine's glove construction. Both of the recently redesigned models we tested, including the Cross-X, are very well-made with hardly a thread out of place, small seams, and well-thought-out designs. If you want to be sure that your gloves are going to last, we think these ones are the way to go. As usual, though, we worry about the velcro wrist closure on the Cross-X. We've had otherwise-durable gloves give up the ghost in the past due to a worn-out or gunked-up velcro strap that just won't latch well anymore. The Cross-X is available in four colors and sizes from S-XXL.
Best for DH Riding
POC Essential DH
We've had a rocky relationship with POC's mountain bike gloves in the past, but we found a lot to like with the Essential DH. It's a full-featured mid-weight glove with precisely placed protection, a good handlebar grip feel, and a breathable, moisture-wicking back. The thumb, index, and middle fingers each have a silicone tab for brake and shifter lever grip, and the thumbs are touchscreen compatible. There is no padding on the palms, but a precisely placed EVA pad over the outer two knuckles to protect from rock and tree strikes while riding. The gloves are well made, with small interior seams, and clean stitching, but they're among the most expensive mountain bike gloves on the market.
Out on the trail, the stretchy lycra back of the gloves makes them easy to slip on and off while keeping the glove cool. The finger fit is slightly shorter than average, which reduced our dexterity and applied pressure to the fingertips for the first few rides, but after the gloves had a chance to break in and stretch out a bit the problem subsided. Otherwise, the fit is true to size and sleek, with hardly any loose fabric. POC offers the Essential DH in black only and sizes XS-XL
Why You Should Trust Us
Our lead mountain bike glove reviewers are Jeremy Benson and Zach Wick. Benson is our Senior Mountain Bike Review Editor and a bike racer based in South Lake Tahoe, CA, who rides obsessively while training for endurance gravel and mountain bike races throughout northern California. He began mountain biking in the early nineties and has become more addicted to the sport over the years. Whether riding for fun, work, or training, Benson spends lots of time on the bike in all seasons. From the sweltering heat of summer to below-freezing rides on fat bikes, Benson appreciates the right glove for the job. In addition to putting all types of gear through the wringer for GearLab reviews, Benson is also the author of Mountain Bike Tahoe, a guidebook published by Mountaineers Books.
Zach Wick is a riding fanatic who has spent years working in product development and testing in the cycling industry. He has experience testing new equipment both in the lab and in the field, and he has developed a keen sense of what makes a good product. Over the past fifteen years, he's spent time riding and racing most two-wheeled disciplines you can think of at an elite level. These days he spends most of his time mountain biking on his local trails in Santa Cruz and taking part in the occasional mountain, gravel, or cyclocross race while testing gear for GearLab.
What to Look For In a Mountain Bike Glove
As is the case with most riding gear, the fit is one of the most important things to consider when hunting for a new pair of mountain bike gloves. A glove's fit plays an important role in its comfort and performance. Of course, getting the appropriate size is crucial, but other factors also affect the way a glove fits. We examined things like the shape, length, and articulation of the fingers, ease of getting them on and off, stretch of materials, or if there was any unwanted bunching. Padding can also play a role in a glove's fit by restricting movement or adding unwanted bulk. We also paid attention to whether the various models ran true to size, as it can vary from brand to brand. Most of the models we tested fell within a reasonable fit range for their size, but certain models spanned a more dynamic range of hand proportions.
Comfort is somewhat subjective by nature, but there are a number of objective factors that influence the comfort of a mountain bike glove. The materials used to construct a glove play a major role. The material's breathability is important to keep your hands cool in the warmer months, and insulation is necessary to keep the blood flowing in the winter. Almost all gloves use stretchy polyester fabrics in their construction for a precise fit, and some simply feel better than others.
A glove's construction also plays a big role in its comfort. Most gloves have interior seams that run along the sides of the palm and fingers. We quickly found that there's a big comfort gap between a small, well-made seam and a bulky, sloppy one. Additionally, over time poor seam placement can create hotspots or blisters on the hand. The most comfortable gloves avoid seams in the palm area and have found clever ways to keep seams away from the fingertips where they can be most distracting.
While most gloves generally look pretty similar, there are a number of features that differentiate between the various models. We examined and tested each model's useful features, including, but not limited to, the nose-wipe chammy, touchscreen compatibility, silicone fingertips, padding, ventilation, and moisture-wicking capability. We wanted to know not only that the feature was there, but whether or not it actually works. In the process, we discovered that not all of a brand's claimed features are created equal.
Touchscreen compatibility has become a mainstay in mountain bike gloves, and it comes standard on most gloves these days. Every time you need to take a picture or text your significant other it can be a pain to pull your gloves off, so we paid close attention to how well each model's touchscreen-capable fingertips worked. Brands achieve touchscreen compatibility in different ways, but we didn't find any style that consistently worked better than the rest. We did, however, find individual models that performed more reliably than others.
Any glove offers more protection than a bare hand, but when it comes to keeping your fingers safe and sound, not all gloves are created equal. Some gloves are designed to be minimalist, providing your palms, the backs of your hands, and knuckles with only a thin layer of coverage. This style does a decent job of keeping your palms and knuckles scuff-free in the event of a quick dirt slide or brush encounter but won't help with much more than that. Thin and lightweight gloves like the 100% Celium are so minimal that it barely feels like you're wearing anything at all. Other models like the Giro DND, Giro Trixter, and Handup Summer Lite are no-frills lightweight options but feel a little more substantial than the super-light Celium.
Other models are designed specifically to provide more protection and will have features like rubber, foam, or gel pads integrated on the knuckles, back of the hand, and parts of the palm that can help out in the event of an impact. The Giro Xen and 100% Cognito D30 both feature knuckle protection. The Xen gloves have foam padding on the knuckles and outside back of the hand, while the Cognito has a substantial D30 layer across the top of the knuckles that hardens on impact.
Gloves designed with cool or cold weather riding in mind offer protection in the form of wind or waterproof materials and possibly insulation. Due to the variable nature of protective components like padding between the different models we chose to weight this metric less than the others. Cool-weather gloves like the Fox Ranger Fire and Specialized Trail Thermal are great for cooler temperatures that are still above freezing.
Mountain bike gloves are subject to some serious abuse. Between constant contact with your grips, close encounters with bushes, trees, and prickers, and taking the brunt of an impact when you hit the deck, they won't last forever. Barring any major crashes, you hope to get at least a full season of riding out of any pair. We rated the durability of each model by carefully examining the quality of craftsmanship and materials, the stitching, silicone fingertips, and all the usual weak points of a glove to see how they handled the abuse of our field testing. Of course, the durability of any pair of gloves may vary depending on what kind of abuse you put them through.
How We Test
For the most part, we tested each pair of gloves by simply going out and mountain biking in them on our regular rides. Over the course of several months, each pair of gloves was put through its paces on rides of various lengths on a variety of trails of Lake Tahoe, Santa Cruz, and the surrounding foothills of northern California and Nevada. During field testing, we scrutinized each model and rated them on five different performance metrics: fit, comfort, features, protection, and durability.
To test each model's fit versatility we handed them off to as many friends and family as we could. Feedback from a variety of hand shapes and sizes provided us with a range of fit for each model.
We put these gloves through months of testing including hundreds of hours and thousands of miles on the bike to help you narrow down the myriad mountain bike glove options on the market. We hope this detailed and comprehensive review helps you decide which mountain bike gloves are best for your needs, your riding style, and the weather conditions you encounter.
— Zach Wick, Jeremy Benson
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