Your hands take on a lot of use and abuse from rock climbing. They face the elements, sharp rock, and sometimes difficult to manage equipment. Since healthy skin is necessary to climb your best, it’s worth taking some time to research and buy a pair of the best climbing gloves to protect your hands.
While it’s not common to don a pair of gloves for face climbing, gloves come in handy when crack climbing, belaying, rappelling, ice climbing or mountaineering. A good pair of gloves can be versatile enough to wear in a variety of weather conditions and offer some much-needed relief during long belay sessions, jumaring or aid climbing. Although you’ll need to buy a dedicated pair for ice climbing.
Gloves can be a game-changer in cold or windy weather. Instead of having two (mostly) useless frozen hands, you can keep your hands warm and ready to go to work when it’s time to climb or clean gear.
We’ve reviewed our top 7 gloves for rock climbing and also share some tips for choosing the right pair for you. Most climbers can benefit from a pair of all-around gloves, and those who do a lot of crack climbing may also want to pick up a pair of crack climbing gloves.
If you don't have time for the details, here are our picks for the best rated climbing gloves:
- 1Best Ice Climbing Gloves: Arc’teryx Alpha FL Glove
- 2Best Overall Crack Climbing Gloves: Ocun Crack Gloves
- 3Best Budget Crack Climbing Gloves: Climb X Super Crack Gloves
- 4Best Overall Climbing Gloves: Petzl Cordex
- 5Best Value Gloves: Black Diamond Crag Gloves
- 6Most Durable Climbing Gloves: Metolius Climbing Glove
- 7Best Fingerless Climbing Gloves: Outdoor Research Fossil Rock Gloves
Table of Contents
- How to Choose Climbing Gloves?
- Key Features in Climbing Gloves
- Best Climbing Gloves on the Market Reviews
- 1. Best Ice Climbing Gloves: Arc’teryx Alpha FL Glove
- 2. Best Overall Crack Climbing Gloves: Ocun Crack Gloves
- 3. Climb X Super Crack Gloves
- 4. Best Overall Climbing Gloves: Petzl Cordex
- 5. Best Value Gloves: Black Diamond Crag Gloves
- 6. Most Durable Climbing Gloves: Metolius Climbing Glove
- 7. Best Fingerless Gloves: Outdoor Research Fossil Rock Gloves
How to Choose Climbing Gloves?
Whether you’re planning to climb in cold weather, are expecting to do a lot of aid climbing or jumaring, or are a crack aficionado, there are many reasons why you should consider buying a pair of climbing gloves. Crack and ice climbing each require their own specific types of gloves, and then there are general all-purpose gloves that are good for pretty much everything else.
Still, there are options. There are different types of materials, the decision to go with a full fingered or fingerless option, and many additional features to consider. First, we’ll cover the four main types of gloves for rock climbing then we’ll look at a few features to consider before we dive into our 7 top picks for rock climbing gloves.
Full Fingered Gloves
Full fingered gloves offer maximum protection for your hands. But you’re sacrificing some flexibility and dexterity. Some full fingered gloves are bulkier than others, so if you do your research and try on a few pairs you may be able to find an option that offers the best of both worlds. Full fingered gloves are best reserved for times when you’ll be belaying, jumaring, or rappelling for long periods of time. Depending on the material, most full fingered gloves also offer some protection from cold and wind, but most climbing-specific gloves aren’t rated for cold weather protection.
Fingerless, or half-finger, gloves leave your fingers exposed. This allows for more dexterity and flexibility than full fingered options. Since you have more control over your movements in fingerless glove, it is easier to go about your normal climbing activities like tying knots, placing gear, and grabbing small holds. You can still operate more or less the same as if you weren’t wearing gloves, but your palms will be better protected with the gloves. Fingerless gloves are also nice to have during warmer weather since they offer more ventilation than full fingered gloves. One more added bonus of fingerless gloves is that you can still use your phone and snap pictures (only when it’s safe to do so!).
Crack Climbing Gloves
If you’re tired of making tape gloves every time you climb crack, consider buying some dedicated crack gloves. They can be easily slipped on and off and are endlessly reusable. They protect your hands from cuts and scrapes when jamming. There are a few options on the market, and price doesn’t necessarily define the quality of gloves so make sure to research and check out a few options before committing to purchase one.
Ice Climbing Gloves
Unlike other types of gloves on this list, ice climbing gloves are an absolutely essential piece of gear that will protect you during an ice climb. As such, you should dedicate a considerable amount of time to finding the perfect pair for you. Here are a few tips to point you in the right direction. You’ll want to make sure your ice climbing gloves are waterproof and well-insulated to keep your hands warm in frozen conditions. Additionally, you’ll need your gloves to be agile enough to give you the dexterity you need to climb, place screws and belay.
Key Features in Climbing Gloves
Once you decide on which type of gloves to purchase, it’s important to consider their features to make sure that your glove will adequately perform on the rock. Here are a few key features to look out for:
Best Climbing Gloves on the Market Reviews
Now that we’ve covered what to look for in climbing gloves, it’s time for the reviews! Here are the top 7 choices of gloves on the market today.
1. Best Ice Climbing Gloves: Arc’teryx Alpha FL Glove
The Arc’teryx brand is commonly associated with producing the best possible climbing gear, and the Alpha FL Glove is no exception. If you’re looking for the best glove with the perfect blend of dexterity, insulation and grip, then look no further than the Alpha FL.
The Alpha FL features a slim profile that is still well insulated and durable. The glove mimics the shape of your hand when holding an ice tool, which helps improve circulation and increase grip. The waterproof Gore-Tex liner ensures you’re always dry and the cuffs extend further up your forearm to prevent any unwanted moisture from trickling in.
Of course, all of these premium features come at a premium price tag. This is one of the most expensive gloves available, but for anyone wanting the best, this is it.
2. Best Overall Crack Climbing Gloves: Ocun Crack Gloves
Ocun Crack gloves provide a thick layer of padding around your knuckles and thumb, allowing you to take on cracks with little fear of shredding your skin. They are bulkier than other crack gloves on the market or tape gloves, which means you’ll suffer less pain when climbing. The downside to this is that they may not work on thinner or more delicate cracks, where you may still need to reach for your trusty tape to get by. They’re also extremely durable.
3. Climb X Super Crack Gloves
Priced at just $20 a pair, these gloves are a great budget buy for anyone who wants to try out crack gloves. They are made out of X-Factor Climbing Rubber, the same stuff Climb X uses on their climbing shoes. These gloves are great for beginners who aren’t ready to invest in an expensive pair of crack gloves or anyone who wants a budget pair of gloves to wear for training sessions in the gym or when doing laps outside. They lack the craftsmanship and fit of more expensive crack gloves, but they still get the job done.
4. Best Overall Climbing Gloves: Petzl Cordex
The Petzl Cordex gloves offer the best balance between durability an flexibility. The full fingered gloves rival some of their fingerless counterparts in dexterity but offer full coverage and protection for your hands. The palm and area between the thumb and index finger are reinforced with a double layer of leather for extra protection, and the back of the glove is made from stretch nylon to aid in breathability.
The gloves are undoubtedly a bit burly, and some climbers with smaller hands complain that they can’t fit even the size XS in the Petzl Cordex. Also, some complain that they don’t offer the best grip, and are best suited for rappelling.
5. Best Value Gloves: Black Diamond Crag Gloves
If you’re looking for the best blend of quality and value, then look no further than the Black Diamond Crag Gloves. By far the cheapest option on this list, the Crag Glove costs only $20 and doesn’t skimp on any of the features that you look for in a good all-around climbing glove.
It’s lightweight and dexterous, and the stretchable mesh fabric allow for breathability. The synthetic material fits a variety of hand shapes and sizes, but isn’t as durable as genuine leather. It also comes in a fingerless option.
6. Most Durable Climbing Gloves: Metolius Climbing Glove
If you’re looking for a burly, durable climbing glove that still allows you to use your fingers, the Metolius Climbing Glove may be your answer. It is one of the most durable gloves on the market, but with that added durability comes a small sacrifice in dexterity. It’s not as noticeable in the fingerless option as it is in their full fingered gloves.
These gloves break in over time and will last forever. They are significantly more expensive than other glove options, but for some it’s worth it to splurge on one pair that’s built to last.
7. Best Fingerless Gloves: Outdoor Research Fossil Rock Gloves
These gloves are protective, flexible, and offer a sleek design. The palm is made of reinforced goat hide leather, and the back is breathable, stretchy polyester. There are also two small tabs on the ring and middle fingers that provide extra protection. There is even a gel-lined palm that dissipates heat. Overall, they offer a snug fit and extra protection without sacrificing any dexterity.
No matter what type of climbing you do, a simple pair of the best climbing gloves can give your hands a much-needed break from wind, weather, and sharp rock. Whether you’re crack climbing, belaying or rappelling, your climbing gloves can save your skin so you can continue to climb day after day.