Which gloves you wear for enduro can make or break a day’s riding. Protection against weather, venting, layering for blisters and knuckle protection weighed up against feel and control – there's a lot to consider when buying gloves.
Like much of the best riding kit, gloves have evolved in recent years. An increasing range of designs, materials and constructions suit different climates, riding conditions and rider preference.
It’s not like the old days! For us riders that is great news – no more one glove suits all conditions with slippery as hell when wet palms or zero ability to cope with different temperatures.
Glove features to consider for when buying:
- Your riding climate
- Riding conditions (sand, dusty, woods, rocky etc)
- Thickness of palm material for feel
- Rubberised coating on palms and fingers for added grip
- Thickness of palm material or extra layering for blister protection
- Double layering around the thumb
- Knuckle armour
- Venting on the palms or hand top
- Wrist strapping
When buying a set of gloves you have a lot to choose from: thickness of palm and backing material, different ventilation, double thickness on callus areas, padding on knuckles, armour on knuckles, different wrist strapping and types of material can all vary.
Don't just choose the set which matches your riding kit. There are too many options out there and for certain one set is going to suit you better than the rest – regardless of fashion.
We’ve taken a look at the different aspects of some of the best gloves on the market right now to help guide you to what’s out there and make you think what you might want from your riding gloves.
If you’re dealing with the cold weather during winter then, quite obviously, you might want a different glove than for hot weather.
The type of material on the glove uppers varies as does different layering. The palm material and any ventilation will affect hand temperature.
Some gloves, like this FXR 'Cold Cross' set (above), are designed for colder climates with thicker outer material with a small but insulating layer on the backs. They also have details like a wipe patch on the fore-finger for wiping goggles.
Ventilation comes in different forms from holes in the palms, the type of material used on the upper or hand backs, plus some have scoops in the knuckles to catch air flow and send it inside.
At the other end of the scale to thicker, cold weather gloves are the thin type. Increasingly popular, many manufacturers are adding thin gloves to their ranges.
Deliberately ‘barely there’ this type favours feel above all else. The key to the thin gloves is light material on the palm and backs plus they often have improved venting.
Some gloves offer more protection for the palms and thumbs – the points of contact with the handlebars and where people are prone to blisters. Look across the palms and thumb for extra layering or padding.
Knuckle armour features on some gloves and is designed to partly absorb or deflect impacts. These Leatt GPX 4.5 Lite gloves (above) have light, impact gel knuckle protection which works but doesn’t feel bulky.
Wrist strapping varies across different gloves types and manufacturers. Some offer a wrap-around strap, others a small tab and most fix with Velcro. There’s an increasing trend for no wrist strap, particularly on the thinner gloves which are constructed from stretch material.
How do your hands suffer most when you ride? It is important to know your own hands and how they suffer: where do you get blisters? The knuckle of your thumb? Across your palm? Choose a glove which addresses your issues.
This Acerbis Enduro-One set (below) are particularly good with padding across the callus area plus double-layering on the palms and thumbs contact points.
Check out the range
Check out different gloves from different manufacturers but also check out one manufacturer’s range. Gloves get R&D like any riding kit and manufacturers know different riders have different needs so produce different designs to suit.
Make sure your gloves fit well. Too loose can cause blisters and make it harder to hang on because your hand can move inside the glove instead of gripping the bars. Too tight though and you’ll restrict movement and blood flow. Bear in mind they can ‘give’ a little with use.
Jon PearsonEnduro21 Editor and Bike Testerjon.firstname.lastname@example.org