The easiest way to cool off your hands when it’s hot is to remove the gloves. However, when the grips get slippery and there are tree trunks to punch, a light layer of protection can make a heavy difference. Our testers took a spin with nine different pairs of mountain biking gloves to see what’s so great about each of them, and what’s not.
Bluegrass Prizma 3D
Bluegrass is the Enduro, Downhill, and BMX protection affiliate of the Italian helmet company MET. The Bluegrass Prizma 3D gloves were created for protection against obstacles on gnarly trails. The 3D alligator-esque hand protectors really are 3D; they stick up on the back of the hand and fingers. This type of armor is unique to me. I have yet to encounter another glove with ninja turtle scales on the outside.
Practically speaking, this “scale style” protection is suspect. It’s hard to think of a reason to armor gloves this way; do hard scales really protect better than lower-profile rubber or knuckle padding? How can you wipe your nose or face comfortably? Rather than feel protected against obstacles, I felt a little scared of hurting myself with the Prizma 3D gloves. However, in an effort to expand my mind, I put together a little “crash test” of my own to see how much protection these gloves would provide in the event of a crash. I purposely crashed into obstacles, “accidentally” punched rocks and trees, and fell hand first into roots. The verdict: these do protect your hands from scratches and trail rash. However, the abrasive nature of the Prizma 3D “scales” didn’t do much for preventing bruises. It is worth noting that I did not fall at high speeds while performing these tests.
Aside from the interesting protection style, these gloves felt great and fit true to size (I ordered an XS). The scales are raised so the top of the gloves are quite breathable, which suggests this may be more functional hand protection than padding. Personally, I prefer an elastic wrist on a glove, however the Velcro wrist fasteners on the Prizma 3D are soft and sturdy and easily accommodate different size wrists. The palm construction is seamless with perforated holes for maximum breathability and the touchscreen digits worked well when operating a phone.
If you like the look of these gloves and the security the Prizma 3D provides, then perhaps they are the piece of flair you’ve been looking for. The unique aesthetic is definitely personal preference; they function similarly to other protection-focused gloves, however at a price point of $53, you’d better love how they look.
- Adult Sizing XS-XL
- $53, available at MET.
DHaRCO Women’s Glove
The DHaRCO Women’s Glove is specifically designed with women in mind. The sizing tells you as much, ranging in women’s specific sizes S-L. I typically wear a medium in women’s specific sizing, but based on the size chart, I ordered a small and they fit perfectly. The “Camo Blades” color (tested) matches the DHaRCO Women’s Gravity Shorts (pictured) and the Camo Blades gravity jersey. The women’s glove also comes in stealth (black), flamingo, and leopard. One thing I appreciate about DHaRCO as a brand is they match their accessories to their kits with just the right amount of flair.
The DHaRCO women’s glove is a lighter, more minimalist summer glove, constructed with a breathable nylon upper, and soft synthetic leather palms that curve around the thumbs and index finger to reduce friction, similar to a road cycling glove. The palms themselves read “no ordinary life” in cursive, a nice feminine touch, however a little less clear than other “palm phrases” I’ve seen. The smartphone-capable digits are a tiny skull, which I was happy to see and delighted to use; it also functions well. Entry to the glove is velcro-less and tracks a little higher on the wrist than others. This doesn’t bother me, as it flows nicely with the aesthetic and is comfortable to ride in.
One downside to the DHaRCO women’s glove is the finger construction seems a little “off.” The seams on the tips of some fingers are more square than round and a few had some loose strings sticking out that I had to cut off with scissors.
Overall, the DHaRCO women’s glove hits the mark in the summer style department, especially paired with the matching DHaRCO kits. They are lightweight, easy to slip on, and grip well even when the sweat starts rolling.
- Women’s Sizing S/M/L
- $32, available at evo.
Handup Most Day Gloves
At this point, who hasn’t heard of HandUp Gloves? They are known for their ever-changing, lighthearted, fun styles as well as their signature silicon “palm phrase,” which changes by style and is very photo-friendly. Bonus: They also collaborate with organizations and clubs to create custom gloves.
Handup Most Day Gloves come in a wide range of sizes. Most Day gloves are available in adult (unisex) sizing. With a 7.5″ palm circumference, I ordered an XS and they fit, dare I say, like a glove. I adore the fit and feel of these gloves.
The 4-Way stretch fabric, elastic cuff, and silicon palm graphics make them easy to slide on and off and to prevent slippage even when your hands are sweatier than an ice-cold beer on a hot summer day. The updated version of these gloves comes with seamless touchscreen capabilities; meaning you can snap a photo of your riding buddy by touching any part of your palm to the screen, instead of just the tip of one finger. Magic! Isn’t technology awesome?
Magic aside, my favorite feature is the sweat cloth on the thumb. This terrycloth thumb allows you to easily wipe away that “lip crud” (you know what I’m talking about), wipe the sweat off your face, or clean your glasses on the fly. Just don’t wipe your glasses with the same thumb you wiped the lip crud.
Overall, you can’t go wrong with Handup gloves. The seamless touchscreen palms, excellent grip, 4-way stretch, and lip crud cloth, coupled with eccentric and unique color combinations make for a primo ride. At a price of $29, you may opt to pick up several pairs to match every outfit in your mountain bike wardrobe.
- Adult Sizing XXS-XXL
- $29, available at Handup.
IXS Carve Gloves
The IXS Carve is the only female-specific glove offering from IXS. They come in two colors, black and grape. However, there is an equivalent unisex model of the Carve which might work if you wear a larger glove. I prefer tight-fitting gloves, so rather than choosing my usual medium-sized glove, which would have had a 7.5″ hand circumference, I opted for a small and I found that worked well. The recommended circumference for a small glove is 6.5-7″.
The Carve gloves are a lightweight choice with a slip-on design perfect for spring and summer rides. They don’t come with any padding or armor but the material on the top of the gloves feels tough and tear-resistant. The synthetic palm is quite thin, and the gloves feel good when gripping the bars. However, they would probably not do a lot if you are intending to Superman onto rocks or gravel. Another great feature is the touchscreen fingertips, which actually work and allow me to litter every ride with photos.
I have been using these gloves for the last three months and they are standing up well to a range of conditions. Considering that I prefer smaller gloves, it’s great to know that the seams stay intact.
If you are looking for a lightweight and durable glove for trail and enduro riding then the IXS Carve should be on your shortlist.
Leatt DBX 1.0 Glove
Leatt’s latest women’s collection includes the DBX 1.0 Glove which is the lightest-weight glove in the range. The gloves come in two color options to match your Jade or Onyx Leatt 2.0 outfit.
With a hand circumference of 7.5 inches, I opted for a size medium but I do like a tighter fit so if I was trying them out again I would probably go for a small next time.
The gloves perform as expected. They are very trail-focused, with a grippy palm, built-in lens wiper, and an overall light weight both in actual weight and feel. The protection is pretty minimal but that is to be expected for this kind of glove. Similarly, they are not particularly warm or insulated so if that is what you’re after it’s probably best to look elsewhere.
The only disappointment for me was that the other gloves in the wider Leatt range (i.e. those not marketed for women) do not come in size XS, and I wish my fellow small-handed women and men could benefit from the complete selection of Leatt gloves.
- Women’s sizing XS-M
- $29, available at Backcountry.
SHRED. MTB Protective Lite
SHRED. That’s the most important part, right? If you’re an all-mountain or enduro rider looking to protect your hands during your ride, look no further. The SHRED MTB Protective Lite gloves will do just that. SHRED are known for their protection in general, offering a few different levels across their MTB line. In my opinion, the other glove styles are a little too beefy for everyday rides and best suited for downhill only. The Protective Lite, however, is the least padded of the bunch and the most padding I’d want for an enduro or trail ride. They do a nice job of providing impact energy absorption without compromising dexterity and comfort.
The SHRED MTB Protective Lite are the perfect gloves for riding gnarlier trails, or wearing when the temperatures are on the chillier side. The thick, super stretchy nylon fabric and SLYTECH™ Foam knuckle padding provide scrape and abrasion protection in ways that other gloves on this list cannot. Thanks to the knuckle padding, I was not worried about those tree punches, and, for better or worse, haphazardly rode faster than normal through tight, wooded areas. Some of this confidence may come from the fact that the knuckle literally reads “SHRED” which made me feel a little more bad-ass than normal.
The SHRED. Protective Lite are available in men’s sizing only, so even the smallest glove available (small) was a touch big on my woman-sized hand. I could still comfortably wear the small, but the fingers are a bit too long and the material is not tight on my hand or palm. After many hours on the bike, I found that the larger fit began to chafe and create hot spots, though I suspect that with the correct fit, this would not be an issue.
The glove construction is top notch. The material is surprisingly comfortable, and the reinforced thumb and finger tips make these gloves feel indestructible. Even though the material is thick, SHRED has added sport mesh vents along the sides of the fingers to maximize airflow. As with most MTB gloves, the Protective Lite comes with silicon digits to allow for easy phone use and a MicroFleece nose wipe, which I absolutely cannot live without. I’m not in love with the velcro wrist fasteners, however. Most protective gloves come with this feature in order to tightly secure the gloves to your wrist — certainly something you’d want in the event of a major crash.
These wouldn’t be my first choice for trail gloves, but they would be my first choice for the bike park. The SHRED Protective Lite gloves are thick enough to withstand dirt rash, and the knuckle padding gifted me with more confidence on the trail.
- Men’s Sizing S-XL
- $39.95, available at SHRED.
The TASCO Fantom Glove is the perfect glove for summer. These are ultra-lightweight with a full vent mesh top hand and feature open-hole mesh between the fingers to maximize airflow. The Fantoms truly fit like a second skin.
As a caveat, I’m not generally a fan of ultra-light gloves, as they tend to rip easily and at best, provide minimal scrape protection in the event of a crash. However, the second I slipped the Fantom gloves on, I changed my mind. The fit and feel is astounding. They are easy to slip on and the fitted infinity cuff (sans velcro) makes them feel like they are a part of me. Truth be told the Fantom is not going to provide protection from hard impacts, but that’s not what summer gloves are for. They certainly provide protection from the sun and in the event of a crash, protect your skin from getting ripped open as easily.
I tested these in humid and arid climates and they performed well in both. The increased ventilation on both the top hand and palm provides for maximum airflow and comfort while riding. Even in the humidity, with soaked hands, these gloves did not break their grip. As with all the gloves in the TASCO lineup, the Fantom comes with silicon finger digits for increased grip and touchscreen use, as well as that coveted MicoFiber thumb for wiping off sweat.
As the summer months have crept in, I’ve found these to be my go-to gloves. Of course, they are not suitable for bike parks or rides where you’re concerned about thumping your knuckles on obstacles. (Yes, I hit trees from time to time). However, they are perfect for XC rides when you want maximum ventilation and protection from the sun.
- Men’s Sizing XXS-XXL
The TASCO Ridgeline Gloves are one of many glove designs from the TASCO line. They are touted as “the perfect balance of fit, breathability, and protection with no compromise on comfort or durability” and by golly, they deliver. TASCO gloves come in men’s sizing only, so based on the size chart I ordered size XS and they fit quite nicely.
I absolutely love the fabric of the Ridgeline glove, which is different than some of the others on the list. It’s somehow stretchy and soft, and it uses my favorite fabric of the bunch. The elastic wrist construction isn’t extremely tight, which makes it easy to slip these tie-dye stunners on and off, yet they are still comfortable and secure. The seamless palm construction, coupled with palm ventilation and fourchettes (sides finger vents) allow for maximum grip and breathability and keep my hands fairly cool even on long hot days.
The conductive threads on the index finger and thumb allow for touchscreen phone snaps and also prevent slippage on the brake levers even when fingers and palms are wet. At this point, you may have gathered that I love a good terrycloth sweat wipe, which the Ridgeline gloves do not have. However, TASCO has come up with an alternative by placing a microfiber sweat wipe on the thumb panel instead. To be honest, I was apprehensive about this feature at first but found that the MicroFiber allows for a comfortable nose wipe and reinforces the part of the thumb that rubs most on the grips.
Overall, the TASCO Ridgeline gloves are the most comfortable gloves of the bunch. Soft, durable and not too tight, these gloves will serve you well on trail rides and protect your hands from catastrophe at the bike park. The Tie-dye design is by far my favorite; it doesn’t really match anything, which means it matches everything. Understandably tie-dye is not for everyone, so the Ridgeline is also available in Rising Sun, Black Flag, and Grey Camo.
- Men’s Sizing XXS-3XL
- $32, available at Tasco.
TrailManos is more than just a glove company. Based in Arizona, they are deeply rooted in the mountain biking community and dedicated to giving back to local trail organizations and partnering with local artists to create designs (which there are a-plenty). The OXDX pattern (pictured up top), for instance, is a collaboration with OXDX clothing, a Tempe AZ-based Native American designer. Ten percent of each pair purchased goes back to Silver Stallion Bicycle and Coffee, a nonprofit in Gallup, NM whose mission is to get kids and young adults on bikes and to empower vocational skills through bike repair. In fact, a portion of the proceeds of each specific design goes back to a specific Non-Profit, including but not limited to, NICA and local trail building organizations. This point alone makes it much easier to purchase these moderately priced, beautifully designed gloves.
TrailManos gloves are the perfect riding glove for most conditions. They are constructed with mid-weight upper stretch fabric and a seamless perforated palm that provides the comfort and breathability you’d expect in a do-everything glove. I primarily tested these in HOT Arizona and never found my grip to slip, despite the fact that I was literally dripping in moisture. The construction and fit of the TrailManos gloves are similar to HandUp. Based on the adult (unisex) sizing, I ordered an XS and they fit great. They were a little snug at first, but the 4-way stretch molds to your fingers quickly as you start riding. The velcro-free wrist allows you to slip the gloves on and off easily and they sit low and neat on the wrists. Bonus: when you flip your palm, you will also notice a fun yeti riding a bicycle on the other side. It’s the little things.
Aside from the plethora of eye-catching designs, my favorite feature is the terrycloth sweat wipe on the thumb. I may be biased here, but the terrycloth sweat wipe is an absolute must for trail riding gloves and TrailManos nailed it.
If you’re looking for a quality, inexpensive, everyday riding glove that gives back to youth organizations and underserved communities you can’t go wrong with TrailManos. At the low price of $27, your wallet and all of the charities involved will thank you.
- Adult Sizing XS-XXL