The best mountain bike gloves are one of those items of kit that you don’t really think about until you’ve got a lousy pair on your hands. Some riders choose not to wear them. However, the best MTB gloves can improve grip on your bars, add warmth on cold rides, protect your hands from branches and sharp plants and also prevent the ever-dreaded gravel rash on your palms if you happen to come off.
Gloves come in various shapes and sizes but the best mountain bike gloves are usually full-finger in execution, as this arrangement offers the best balance between protection, grip and insulation. Of course, there are short-finger MTB glove options available but these are usually reserved for the summer months or mountain bike events/marathon races that aren't as demanding in terms of technical terrain.
Scroll down for a look at our pick of the best mountain bike gloves or – if you're after buying advice – you can skip to our guide on how to choose mountain bike gloves.
Best mountain bike gloves
Troy Lee Designs has been producing some of our favorite, super-thin gloves for a long time. While the range and naming have changed over the years, Troy Lee Designs has stuck to a simple formula of great fit, lightweight and great bar feel.
The uppers use a light mesh and the palm is made from a single layer which is perforated for better hot weather ventilation. If you're looking for some added comfort or extra layers of protection, then these aren't the gloves for you though as there is zero cushioning or armoring on the back of the hand. However, it does mean they are super light and offer a superb, distraction-free bar feel that's perfect for everything from XC to trail riding.
Check out our full review of the Troy Lee Design Ace 2.0 Solid glove.
Easily some of the thinnest gloves we have ever slipped over our hands, the MTB 2.0 Flow gloves feature a full mesh back for ultimate breathability. There's molded padding over the top of the two outside fingers, which serves as more of a brush guard than for blunt impact forces.
The palm is one of only a few not made with synthetic leather, instead, Leatt opts for what they call NanoGrip. The fabric offers a superior grip in all conditions and a great bar feel but can leave your hands feeling a bit tired after a long ride. It's also touch screen compatible so you can use your phone.
Being so light and thin, they are far from the most robust gloves out there but hold up well considering the weight of the materials used. The mesh backs also mean if the weather gets cold, you will want to switch to something thinker and warmer.
Read why we think the Leatt MTB 2.0 X-Flow are some of the best mountain bike gloves we have used.
Gloves are made on their fit and POC's Resistance Enduro gloves have nailed it when it comes to sizing. We have been riding these for the last few months and while initially tight they have worn into the perfect fit. Most brands opt for a slip-on design when designing a lightweight glove so if you are looking for a thin palm with an adjustable cuff, these are a great option to go for. POC does offer a slip-on version too, which we have also had great experiences with.
Thin vented palms give a close comfortable bar feel while avoiding any heat build-up and are paired with moisture-wicking top material. There is a terry cloth on the thumb and a silicon print on the braking fingers. As with the Resistance Pro DH POC's touchscreen compatible thumbs are ineffective, so if you like to catch quick insta-clips at the side of the trail a glove will need to be removed.
Check out our POC Resistance Enduro glove review for more information.
100% Hydromatic gloves sit alongside the brand's already well-established Brisker glove range as a wet weather glove for when temperatures arent as cold. Rather than the Brisker's insulation, the Hydromatic uses a mock mesh construction for better breathability whilst still remaining waterproof. It's got a high cuff that will stop any gaps for rating to get in between the gloves and your jacket and the inner lining is anchored to make them easier to get on and off.
The palm is decently thin so despite being a bad weather glove, bar feel is still pretty good. The added material of the liner can make them feel tight across the knuckles though, so if possible, try before you buy to make sure you have full dexterity.
Read our in-depth review of the 100% Hydromatic gloves.
There is nothing worse than having cold hands on a bike ride and once the temperature gets down towards freezing a good set of gloves is vital. If you find yourself riding in sub-zero conditions then you need all the insulation you can get. Giro's Proof gloves are designed to withstand temperatures down to 25 degrees Fahrenheit which is pretty impressive considering how much dexterity and bar feel they have, allowing you to still change gears and brake confidently.
The waterproofing is a proper membrane, rather than DWR treated, and inside there are two layers of insulation. The fleece liner has a long cuff too that plays well with jacket sleeves to maintain a gap-free barrier from the cold. The fingers are also touch screen compatible which is a bonus for such a thick glove.
For more info, read our review of the Giro Proof winter cycling gloves.
Gear from Swedish outfit POC usually occupies the upper end of the pricing spectrum. However, for the most part, the clever features, fit and style make them well worth the extra cash. With well-articulated fingers and a snug fit, the Essential DH gloves offer surprising dexterity despite the EVA padding on the outside of the hand and over the thumb.
With the padding and plenty of double stitching, these mitts can take a beating but still breathe pretty well. The silicone strips on the index and middle finger seem to have good staying power, but the stitching on the thumb designed to be smartphone-friendly is pretty useless without a lick.
We've got a full POC Essential DH gloves review if you want to learn more.
While Giro is best known for its best mountain bike helmets and mountain bike shoes, the brand also continually produces some of the most comfortable mountain bike gloves around. The palm and knuckle pads are made of Poron XRD, one of the many non-newtonian foams which harden on impact for better absorption properties. With AX suede synthetic leather making up the palm, the three-piece construction has a lot of seams but makes for a snug fit with no bunching.
The four-way stretch mesh on the rear of the hand and lightweight see-through mesh on the sides of the fingers makes them comfortable in warmer temps too. In my experience, the sizing on these gloves does run a bit small, so I’d recommend trying a pair on before you buy.
Free of padding, the Fox Ranger is a lightweight, versatile glove that doesn’t break the bank. With a compression molded cuff, the upper is made from four-way stretch polyester and is completely padding-free. A 'microsuede' nose wipe is strategically placed on the back third of the thumb panel, keeping the soft material on the part you actually wipe your nose with, and nowhere else.
The Clarino palm is seam-free and finished with silicone bands on the thumb, index and middle fingers, as well as a touchscreen-friendly thread on the fingertips. If you prefer a bit of padding on the palm, Fox makes a gel version, too. Even better, they are pretty crash-resistant and can be found pretty cheap.
The previous version of 100%’s Ridecamp featured a small bit of molded ‘armor’ which, beyond looks, didn’t have a whole lot of function. The latest version, however, sees the strip of rubberized plastic removed giving the nylon spandex upper that little bit of extra movability. 100% have also nailed the finger length, and the top fabric is exceptionally comfortable against your skin.
The palm is made from single-layer Clarino, and fingers feature silicone grippers to prevent your hands from slipping. The previous version of the glove also featured a similar cut, but the pull tab on the wrist had a seam that rubbed like crazy. 100% has wholly redesigned the Ridecamp and removed the culprit, which is good news!
With a mesh back, the Boundary gloves are super-airy and ideal for scorching hot temps. The majority of the palm is made using a silicone-infused mesh, which offers plenty of grip, while the heel of the hand is shod with 2mm gel padding to help relieve pressure and dampen some of the vibration coming through the bars. The index finger and thumb are also finished in silicone and are touchscreen friendly.
If you’re anything like us, gloves always seem to evade the washing machine, only to be found after a load of riding clothes is nearly finished. To prevent the Boundary Gloves from becoming overly funky for the extended period between washes, Dakine uses a 'Polygiene Odor control treatment', which seems to work pretty well. There is also a plush nose wipe on the thumb, something the hayfever sufferers and runny nose types greatly appreciate.
How to choose the best mountain bike gloves
How tight should mountain bike gloves be?
Just like anything else, the fit and cut of a glove will vary by brand, however, the overall sizing is based on the same basic measurements: the circumference of your hand at the widest point (just below the knuckles) and the length of your middle finger.
From there, it comes down to your personal preferences of snug or loose-fitting glove - everyone is different. I tend to err on the side of tighter gloves, knowing they will stretch out over time.
What is the purpose of mountain bike gloves?
Ultimately there are two reasons to wear mountain bike gloves, grip on the handlebars and protect your hands. The best mountain bike gloves come with different levels of padding and protection both around the knuckles and fingers and on the palm.
With everything from wispy mesh-backed gloves, to fully armored mitts, what suits you will largely depend on your style of riding and the climate of the region you call home.
While lightweight mesh gloves breathe well and offer some degree of abrasion resistance, they don’t provide much in the way of impact protection. Gloves shod with knuckle and finger padding help to stave off impacts but are likely to leave you with sweaty palms.
When it comes to what gloves you should wear for specific styles of riding, there are no hard and fast rules; it all comes down to personal preference.
Options can come with a variety of different levels of padding on the palms. If you find yourself with overly sore hands at the bottom of a long descent, it might be worth looking into a pair of gloves with padding along the heel of the hand - this could also stem from a myriad of other variables like your grips, brake lever position or suspension setup, of course.
What type of palm material?
The best MTB gloves feature synthetic leather palms because the material efficiently wicks sweat without compromising grip and is resilient against hands-first slides in the dirt.
Many brands add patterns and silicone details to the palms, which may provide a marginal increase in purchase depending on the glove and your chosen handlebar grips. The staying power of the silicone details is also brand-dependent, and quite often these will wear away well before the gloves are ready to be retired.
Most gloves also feature touch-screen-friendly thread sewn into the tip of thumb and index finger which work with varying levels of success.
Pro Tip: if you can’t get your touchscreen to work with your gloves on, lick your finger! It sounds gross, but it works without fail and is considerably more efficient than using the tip of your nose or trying to rip your glove off to answer a call.
Are fingerless gloves good for mountain biking?
Our friend Fat Cyclist put it best when he said fingerless gloves are stupid. When it comes to mountain biking, fingerless gloves tend to bunch up between your fingers which causes discomfort, and even blisters - we would recommend you opt for full finger gloves.
Velcro or elastic wrists?
If a glove fits well, an elastic wristband should keep it exactly where it needs to be, however, some riders prefer those with a Velcro closure. We find these straps are more functional on cold weather gloves as they help to keep chilly air from sneaking in through the cuff.
It may seem like an afterthought, but a glove without a nose wipe can leave you looking like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Usually, on the thumb, brands will make nose wipes out of fleece or terry cloth and I prefer the latter as the material is softer on the skin and seems to better camouflage dried snot.