Protect your hands and keep them warm with a pair of the best mountain bike gloves. Here's our pick of the market.
Looking for the best mountain bike gloves to keep your hand protected, warm and dry in the winter or cool in the summer? We’ve tried and tested loads to find the best to suit every budget and taste.
While it’s tempting to choose a glove that looks like it has thick padding and lots of protection, for serious mountain biking we’d recommend going as minimal as possible. The more padding on the palm, the less precise the bike feels.
If anything, choose a set of the best mountain bike grips with more squidge and/or girth to them, rather than gloves with more padding.
The best minimalist gloves for ultimate control
Colours: 6 colours including Black, Pear Yellow | Sizes: S-XXL | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: ‘second-skin’ feel, palm perforations help wick sweat, touchscreen compatible.
Reasons to avoid: Minimalism will affect durability.
The Flexair is Fox’s thinnest, most minimal glove designed for maximum feel. It uses stretchy materials all over with extra flexible mesh between fingers, that’s also perforated for extra air flow and cooling, and based on extensive testing it’s one of the best mountain bike gloves out there. These Flexairs are exceptional in terms of perfect fit due to stretchy materials in every direction and the ventilation is superb too; so palms never get too sweaty and greasy inside and slime about on grips.
They obviously won’t be as durable as some thicker (bulkier) gloves, but have held up well to ten days of Alpine descending without losing shape or splitting seams. Fit is critical for MTB gloves in my opinion, and with a superb cut these Fox Flexairs have the edge on anything else I’ve tried for that invisible feel.
Minimal features, maximum contact with the grips
Colours: Back, grey | Sizes: S-XXL | Weight: 47g | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: Great connection to the grips thanks to the Clarino palm. Perfect fit, with stretchy mesh back and Airprene cuff.
Reasons to avoid: Not the cheapest glove out there, especially considering the minimal design.
The Blitz is built to keep you cool and in contact with the grips rather than fend off wind and cold. As a minimalist glove though, there are few better, it’s the perfect blend of light weight, comfort and protection.
3. 100% Geomatic glove
Fits like, well, a glove
Sizes: S-XXL | Weight: 58g | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: Perfect fit. Unobtrusive.
Reasons to avoid: Rubberised protection is a bit of a gimmick.
Like a lot of gloves with knuckle dusters, they ones on the 100% Geomatic are more cosmetic than practical. That said, the rest of this glove is absolutely superb. The fit is easily the best here. The Geomatic has a single Clarino palm and it literally hugs the contours. The fingers are anatomically shaped, there’s no bunching, you get a decent-sized sweat wipe and, while the touchscreen stitching is a little high on the thumb and finger, it works.
The best gloves are the ones that don’t feel like you are wearing them, and out of the 12 gloves here, the Geomatic has the most natural fit and ride feel. A truly stunning trail glove that’s fully recommended.
Bare-skin feel from these skimpy and feature-laden paw protectors
Sizes: S-XXL | Weight: 40g | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Lightweight and packed with features.
Reasons to avoid: Cuffs are a bit tight and stitching not that durable.
You can read the name of the Troy Lee Designs Air glove in two ways – it’s lighter than air or it’s highly breathable. Either description works, because these are both minimal and well-ventilated. What we like about the Air is its figure-hugging fit, and the mini Velcro closure that lets you pull it apart to plug your hand in. There’s also a grip tab on the heel of the hand to help pull it on without tearing the material. The sizing is small and it’s a little flimsy – don’t expect it to last forever – but there’s no bunching at the palm and it almost feels like you’re not wearing a glove at all. In that sense, it does feel like you’re riding on air.
5. Leatt MTB 3.0 Lite glove
Sizes: S-XL | Weight: 32g | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Great feel. No bunching. Light.
Reasons to avoid: Tight to get off.
The Leatt MTB 3.0 is so light it’s almost like you’re not wearing a glove at all, but Leatt boosts ride feel by using its MicronGrip palm material. This is ultra-thin, but it moulds easily to the contours of your hand and offers an unparalleled level of grip, both in the dry and wet, and for such a thin layer, it also wears extremely well. To keep the weight low, the MTB 3.0 Lite is a pull-on design, but pulling it on is really tricky – we went up a size and it was still a struggle.
For such a lightweight glove there are a lot of features crammed into the MTB 3.0. It’s tricky to pull on, but the fit and feel are superb.
Sizes: S – XXL | Weight: N/A | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Thin palm gives great feel and feedback without bunching. Durable (so far).
Reasons to avoid: Palm isn’t preformed, so takes a bit of time to wear into shape.
The Scrubs not only fit well, they kept chill winds off without getting too hot, and have lasted longer with stitching and seams intact than other similar minimal, thin-palmed models we’ve really rated such as the discontinued Troy Lee Sprints.
Nothing comes close to this classic glove
Colours: Black, fluo orange, fluo yellow, white, camo, grey, neon pink | Sizes: S-XXL | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: Amazing glove at a great price. Unimpeded dexterity, yet toasty warm.
Reasons to avoid: Not fully waterproof. Needs to be under 5ºC or they’re too hot.
As winter spreads its icy tentacles across the trails, it is now time to wrap your hands up all nice and cosy inside a pair of superlative 100% Brisker gloves. There’s just enough insulation to ward off the cold without leaving your fingers numb of feel. So you still get maximum feel through your palm and fingers to tell you what’s going on beneath your wheels. A winter must-have at a bargain price.
So comfortable you won’t notice you’re wearing them, even if everyone else does
Sizes: XS, M, L, XL, XXL | Weight: 57g | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Extended cuff. Touch screen compatible. Underneath Velcro closure.
Reasons to avoid: If you’re rocking long nails then the fingers are too short.
If you want to stand out from the crowd, Fist has you covered. But if we ignore the design for a moment, what you have here is a quality riding glove. The back of the glove is made from a four-way stretch twill spandex, which fits really well across the knuckles but also feels supportive. The palm is hard-wearing Clarino leather, or rather synthetic leather.
Priced at the going rate for a high-spec riding glove, the Fist Aerobix has some neat details. The fit, feel and durability (so far) are all good too. What Fist has got going for it is the absolute variety of different designs available, from plain Jane to Kim Kardashian, there’s something for everyone.
Toasty alternative from the mighty Fox head
Colours: Black, fluo | Sizes: S-XXL | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Better for Baltic temps than the 100% Brisker.
Reasons to avoid: Not quite as dexterous.
Ranger is well articulated to hand shape and finger lengths, and snug with an unobtrusive palm feel and solid grip connection. The weatherproof outer fabric has a semi-neoprene feel and fends off freezing wind and wet effectively, and the extra fleece inside makes these slightly toastier and better insulated than 100%’s Brisker glove.
Great UK any-weather option
Weight: 66g | Sizes: M – XXL | Rating: 8/10
Reasons to buy: Designed in the UK – and the details show.
Reasons to avoid: Not available in smaller sizes.
Madison make a lot of Durable Water Repellent (DWR) garments. And most of them are called Zenith. These are the Zenith DWR gloves and, unsurprisingly, they are designed to be worn when it’s wet. Not necessarily cold and wet – Madison being a UK based company know full well that it’s more often mild and wet conditions that prevail here.
As such, these aren’t winter warmer gloves (use liner gloves with them if you require), they are excellent any-temperature wet weather apparel.
How we tested the best mountain bike gloves
Comfort, fit, durability and control are the key criteria for testing, and we also look at what additional features are on offer such as knuckle protection, nose wipes etc.
Each glove has been ridden extensively in the conditions for which it was designed. That means we tested the winter gloves in cold, wet conditions, and the summer gloves when it’s warm, to gauge how well they perform for the purpose for which they were intended.
How to find the best mountain bike gloves for you
There are literally hundreds of mountain bike gloves out there, from super-simple basic models designed to provide the barest of cover, to fully-insulated, fully-waterproof gloves to help you ride through the coldest of winter weather.
What you need depends on personal preference, where you’ll be riding, what time of year and the weather and temperature conditions. There are also some particular features to look out for.
What size mountain bike gloves do I need?
While fit will vary from one brand to another, the basics of sizing are standardised.
- To work out your glove size, run a tape measure (or piece of string you can then lay alongside a ruler) around your palm at its widest point. Use your dominant hand for this.
- Now spread your fingers and measure from the tip of your middle finger to the base of your hand, where it meets the wrist. You should now have two measurements in inches.
- Take the larger of the two numbers and round it up. So if your larger measurement is 8.5in, then round up to 9. This is your glove size.
- Refer to a brand’s size chart if it uses small, medium, large instead of numerical sizing.
In terms of fit you want a glove that’s not too tight to take on and off, but you don’t want the fingers or palm to be baggy, as this introduces movement to your control inputs and can cause bunching and chafing. Gloves will stretch slightly with use, but washing usually shrinks them back slightly again.
Glove construction uses what kind of materials and fabrics?
Look for two or four-way stretch materials on the back of the glove for maximum dexterity and less bunching. Go for thin materials or highly ventilated designs for hot climates, and thicker backs for cooler environments. Modern synthetic leather/suede palms are superbly comfortable and provide excellent grip, even when your hands are hot and sweaty. Perforations in the palm will help let your palms breathe.
Do I want an elasticated cuff, or velcro?
When it comes to wrist closures, elasticated and Velcro both have their pros and cons.
Elastic is lighter and simpler, and mean the gloves have a pull-on design, but can make getting your hand in and out difficult and end up causing stitching to loosen or come apart.
Velcro cuffs usually have a Velcro strap around the wrist so that once the gloves are on you can secure the cuff. This makes it easy to take them on and off, but the Velcro hooks can scratch if not well positioned, and they always end up sticking to other garments in the wash so make sure you wash them separately!
Do I need a nose wipe?
Nose wipes are a fairly gross topic to discuss, but an inevitable part of mountain biking. These usually take the form of a patch of terry or towelling type fabric on the thumb or forefinger, giving you something soft to wipe your nose with if it starts to run.
While good on winter gloves, their inclusion or omission on a glove is never a deal breaker for us. Much better to get the fit and feel right before worrying about occasionally useful features.
Will a glove work with my smartphone?
Taking your gloves off on a ride to answer an important call or check your Strava can be a pain, so lots of gloves have metallic thread woven in to work with touch screens. However, in our experience they don’t often work that well and obviously don’t unlock finger print ID, so you still end up having to take them off. In other words, they’re not a dealbreaker.