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How to Choose Mountain Bike Gloves

by Jim Bartlett May 13, 2016

How to Choose Mountain Bike Gloves


Mountain bike gloves offer both protection and cushioning for your hands. After several hours of gripping the handlebars, your hands can take a beating. Here are just a few reasons to wear mountain biking gloves:

  • Cushioned mountain bike gloves offer protection from the vibrations of the bike, reducing pressure and numbness
  • Mountain bike gloves help you maintain your grip even when your hands get sweaty
  • Protect your bike... MTB gloves keep sweat from dropping on derailleurs, brake pads, and shifters, moisture that could otherwise cause these components to deteriorate
  • When you get too close to a tree or a random branch, mountain bike gloves can protect you from scrapes or punctures
  • In cold weather, mountain bike gloves keep your hands warm
  • Our instinctive reaction when we fall is to put out our hands to break the fall; wouldn't you rather have something between your skin and the ground?

Features to Look For

The finger length, amount of padding, and amount of insulation you need depends upon the type of riding you'll be doing and where/when you ride.

You'll probably want full-length mountain bike gloves if you:

  • Are riding in cold or windy weather
  • Are doing downhill, dirt jumping, or any riding with a high risk of crashing and need protection from cuts and abrasions during a crash
  • Prefer having your full hand covered

You'll probably want to go with short-fingered gloves if:

  • You'll be riding in hot weather
  • You're going to be riding trails or cross-country
  • You feel disconnected from the bike if your fingers aren't in contact with the handlebar

MTB gloves: How much padding do you need?

Most cycling gloves will have, at minimum, a small amount of gel padding on the palms to absorb vibrations and cushion your hands. The amount of padding goes up from there. If you're doing MTB trail or XC riding, light to moderate palm padding is probably all you need. If you're the sort of rider who doesn't think twice about taking an aggressive approach to a trail ride or are a downhill mountain biker, you may want to look for mountain biking gloves with full-length fingers and some knuckle padding. Look for full-length mountain bike gloves with beefed up padding and knuckle protection for downhill, dirt jumping, and other aggressive riding.

Mountain bike glove price comparison

What you'll find in MTB gloves under $20:

  • A basic all-purpose glove
  • Primarily short-finger, with a few full-length gloves
  • Light gel padding/cushion on palms to absorb vibrations while riding
  • No or minimal padding on back of hands
  • Fabric wicks moisture away from skin
  • Generally will be gloves best suited for warmer weather riding

Additional features you'll find in MTB gloves from $21-$39:

  • May use higher-grade materials, such as leather palms
  • Water-repellent materials/finishes
  • Insulated gloves for cold-weather riding
  • More sophisticated designs
  • High-tech cushioning materials
  • Some back-of-hand padding

Additional features you'll find in MTB gloves over $40:

  • Designed for most aggressive riding
  • Knuckle and back-of-hand padding
  • Best insulated cold-weather gloves
  • Advanced protective materials
  • Some may have wrist support

Jim Bartlett
Jim Bartlett


Founder of XSportsProtective, snowboarder, mountain biker, father of four young kids who love action sports.

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