Besides essential safety gear, your hands are the most important tools you have for climbing. Being able to feel what you’re gripping is crucial for climbing, which is why it might be surprising to see gloves in the climbing section at your local outdoor store. After all, won’t gloves get in the way? But climbing gloves can actually serve an important purpose.
Climbing gloves are typically used to protect your hands while belaying, which, for those unfamiliar, is basically like spotting in the gym. If you’re belaying a partner, you’re supporting them as they ascend. Proper belaying is heavily dependent on proper technique and effective communication, so it’s obviously crucial to properly train and take classes before using this equipment in a real-world setting. Climbing gloves are available in full finger or half-finger styles, with full finger providing more warmth and coverage and half finger offering greater dexterity and breathability
Climbing gloves are also useful while rappelling, and they can keep your hands warm, protect them from the rope, and give you more control. In short, most climbing gloves aren’t actually used while you’re actively climbing, but in situations such as belaying and rappelling. The exception is crack climbing gloves.
As the name implies, crack climbing refers to climbing using a crack in the rock. You’re repeatedly jamming your hands into the rough rock, which can obviously be painful. Crack climbing gloves are to gloves as flip flops are to shoes — they leave your fingers almost completely exposed, allowing you to retain dexterity, but the back of the gloves have coverage to provide some protection for your knuckles and the backs of your hands.
Read on for some good options for climbing and crack climbing gloves. And if you’re new to the world of climbing, be sure to check out our articles on the best indoor climbing shoes, as well as the best climbing ropes!
1. PETZL Cordex Plus Medium Weight Gloves
Petzl is one of the most reputed brands when it comes to camping gear, and they make a variety of belay and rappel gloves, like the Cordex gloves. The Cordex gloves are available in several configurations, and these are the medium-weight options. They’re made from a blend of goat leather and synthetic materials for comfort and durability. The neoprene cuffs have Velcro, making them easy to put on and take off, and the reinforced palms provide protection.
2. Metolius Half-Finger Climbing Gloves
BEST HALF-FINGER GLOVES
If you’re looking for half-finger gloves, this option from Melotius is a good pick. It’s surprisingly stylish, too, somewhat resembling classic driving gloves. It’s made from cowhide with cowhide splits on the palms for grip, which are triple-stitched for durability and wear resistance. The gloves have a convenient hook and loop (the generic name for Velcro) closure.
3. Outdoor Research Splitter Glove
BEST CRACK CLIMBING GLOVES
If you’re looking for crack climbing gloves that won’t get in the way, these gloves from Outdoor Research are a good bet. They feature loops for your fingers and thumb and a hook and loop closure, allowing them to provide protection for the back of your hands while leaving the palms and fingers free.
4. Petzl Cordex Lightweight Belay Gloves
BREATHABLE FULL FINGER GLOVES
Petzl also makes a lightweight version of their popular Cordex gloves, and these can be a good option if you don’t want anything too heavy. Like the heavy gloves, the lightweight Petzl gloves are made using premium goat leather for durability and abrasion resistance, and there are grommet holes to easily clip the gloves to your carabiner when not in use. They available in five different sizes, making them a good unisex option.
5. Black Diamond Crag Gloves
BEST BEGINNER GLOVES
Simple and affordable, Black Diamond’s Crag gloves are a great option for beginners or any climber who wants to prioritize more important gear. These gloves have a convenient hook and loop cuff, making it easy to take them on and off, and also to adjust the gloves to ensure a comfortable fit. The back of the gloves have a breathable mesh to prevent sweat from building up.
6. Outdoor Research Splitter Work Gloves
BEST HEAVYWEIGHT GLOVES
Built for cold conditions, these climbing gloves from Outdoor Research are good options for dedicated climbers. They have a unique textured grip on the back of the hand, and the palms of the gloves have suede patches to aid in grip. The rest of the gloves are made from goat leather, ensuring long-lasting performance. These gloves are available in sizes between XS and XL, so you can find the one that works best for you.
7. Black Diamond Crack Climbing Glove
MOST PROTECTIVE CRACK CLIMBING GLOVES
If you’re looking for crack climbing gloves, Black Diamond’s options are among the more protective options that still ensure you have full dexterity in your fingers. They extend all the way to your wrists for more protection, and they also have pads on the palms, covering the more sensitive parts of your hands while leaving your fingers free. The hook and loop closure allows you to tighten and loosen the gloves.
8. Black Diamond Stone Glove
Black Diamond’s Stone Glove is a good half-finger style glove that’s suitable for a variety of conditions. They’re made from goat leather and feature Kevlar stitching, allowing them to resist abrasion while providing durability. They have reinforced patches at the palms and knuckles for extra protection.