black climbing gloves for rock climbing

Complete Guide to Buying Gloves

An often-overlooked piece of gear important for any adventure is your gloves. There are many different types of gloves out there, from gloves for snowboarding to gloves for climbing.

As adventurers, we’ve used lots of different gloves over the years for many different purposes like climbing, workouts, snowboarding and more. The importance of a quality pair designed for your needs can’t be understated. 

blue climbing gloves for rock climbing

In this complete guide to buying gloves, we’ll share everything we know about what to look for in a new pair for your next trip. 

Gloves Usages and Purposes

Before you start to look for gloves, you need to determine what type of gloves you need. Every activity has its unique needs, and gloves are no exception.

Check out this example list to see the types of things to look for in a pair of gloves depending on the adventure you’re going on:

Hiking & Mountaineering

Picture this – you’re ascending a snowy peak, and your gloves are neither insulated nor waterproof. Not fun, right? For these activities, you’ll need gloves that tick both these boxes.

Rock Climbing & Bouldering

Durability is key here. Tight-fitting gloves, or sometimes even fingerless ones, give that much-needed grip while climbing.

Skiing & Snowboarding

Skiing and snowboarding are all about warmth and water resistance. Lobster-style gloves (yes, they’re a thing) and mittens work well in these icy realms.

Water Sports

Anything that gets your gloves wet, be it kayaking or rafting, calls for quick-drying or waterproof materials. Neoprene gloves often work best in these scenarios.

Cycling & Mountain Biking

A comfortable ride needs gloves with padded palms and breathable material. There’s flexibility here, but keeping cool is the most important.

Camping & General Outdoors

Touchscreen-compatible, multi-purpose gloves are our go-to when it comes to camping. No more taking off gloves to snap that perfect sunrise photo!

white shoe person on white skateboard black gloves

Features to Consider

Before buying a pair of gloves, there are many different features to consider. From material to fasteners, here are the most important things to consider in any pair of gloves. 

Material Type

The type of material your gloves are made of dictates their comfort, durability, and more. Here are the most common materials found in outdoor gloves:

Leather: Luxurious, durable, and often waterproof, leather gloves are often a top choice. They mold to your hand over time and provide a classic aesthetic. They’re also easy to care for in the long run. 

Synthetics: Materials like nylon, polyester, and spandex offer flexibility and often come with water-resistant or moisture-wicking properties. They also tend to offer breathability depending on the build of the glove, so there’s a lot of variety with synthetic materials. 

Fleece: Seeking cozy comfort? Fleece gloves are soft, warm, and great for light adventures in chilly weather. Some gloves may have a fleece lining inside, so the outside is waterproof while the inside is nice and toasty. 


Insulation is incredibly important in winter gloves. If you plan to go snowboarding, you don’t want to risk it with a pair of gloves with little to no insulation!

The most common insulation materials are down and synthetic:

Down: Lightweight and supremely warm, down insulation is great for cold conditions. However, it can lose its insulating power when wet. It also tends to be much more expensive. 

Synthetic: Synthetic insulation offers warmth even when damp and dries quickly. It’s perfect for those unpredictable weather adventures. It also tends to be more affordable. 


Nothing dampens the spirit (pun intended) like soggy fingers on a chilly day. Luckily, waterproof gloves can prevent this. 

Typically crafted with membranes or coatings, waterproof gloves are designed to keep water out while still letting moisture (like sweat) escape. Some might even have a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish, causing water to bead up and roll off. 

Leather gloves, for example, often have a finish like this on them for more natural waterproofing. 

Remember, while all waterproof gloves are water-resistant, not all water-resistant gloves are waterproof! So if you’re planning to take on torrential downpours or snowfall, make sure your gloves are made right for those conditions.


While we’re on the topic of moisture, let’s talk about the unsung hero of comfort: breathability. It’s a delicate balance, keeping water out while letting sweat escape, but many gloves do it successfully.

Breathable gloves are often made with specialized membranes to keep your hands hands dry from both external rain and internal perspiration. This means no clammy palms or uncomfortable dampness, even during intense activities. 

Materials like Gore-Tex or eVent often work well for this. These are specially designed materials that offer a high degree of both waterproofing and breathability. But there are many other breathable fabrics, such as certain nylons or polyesters, which can be used in conjunction with breathable membranes to enhance glove performance.

Some gloves go the extra mile and incorporate ventilation features like mesh panels or zippered vents. These can be opened or closed based on the conditions, giving you direct control over airflow and breathability.


Dexterity is often not considered when buying gloves, but it directly impacts your ability to perform tasks with your gloves. 

Gloves with excellent dexterity are all about movement and precision. They’re crafted to move seamlessly with your fingers, allowing for intricate tasks like tying knots, handling tools, or even adjusting camera settings. 

Some gloves have features like like pre-curved fingers, flexible materials, or segmented padding to enhance your hand’s natural movement. If dexterity is important to you, look for these features.

black fingerless gloves

Cuff Types

The cuff of your gloves may seem more like an aesthetic choice, but they actually do have a purpose too. The cuff often has to do with your comfort while wearing them, in addition to potential warmth, so its important to consider which cuff to get:

Short Cuffs: These fit under your jacket sleeves and are ideal for activities where bulk and weight need to be minimized. They’re also easier to put on.

Long Cuffs: Offering extra protection against snow and cold, long cuffs fit over your jacket sleeves to eliminate any chilly gaps. They take longer to put on, but are very effective in cold weather. 

Fastening Types

The type of fastener you get is also an important decision. Your fastener ensures your gloves stay on all day. You don’t want to lose a glove flying downhill on skis!

Here are the most common fastener types to choose from:

Velcro Straps: The tried-and-true Velcro is a beloved classic in the glove world. Quick to adjust with that satisfying “rip” sound when opened, it’s the go-to for many adventurers looking for full customization.

Zippers: More commonly found in long-cuffed gloves designed for snowy or windy conditions, zippers offer a more secure fastening mechanism. Their pull tab ensures that you’ll be able to unzip them with ease later on.

Elastic Cuffs: Elastic cuffs are the most simple and automatically adjust to the wrist’s size for a snug fit. They’re especially popular in lightweight or liner gloves.

Drawstrings: Perfect for those snowy escapades or chilly mountain treks. Gloves with drawstrings allow adventurers to tighten their cuffs to keep out cold air, snow, or debris.

Snap Buttons: Found occasionally on gloves, snap buttons provide a firm closure and a touch of style. They’re not as adjustable as some other types, but for gloves that are a perfect fit, they add an elegant touch.

Buckles: For those who desire a bit of flair, buckles, often seen on high-end or fashion-forward gloves, not only secure the glove but also serve as a statement piece. They might take a tad longer to adjust, but the style and security they offer are unparalleled.

Glove Grip

Grip is essential for many sports, like rock climbing. You don’t want your hands to slip up on the wall!

Here are the most common glove grips you may see advertised:

Silicone Grips: These grips are commonly found in modern gloves, especially those meant for sports or outdoor activities. The silicone patterns (often dots or lines) on the palm and fingers offer a sticky grip so objects don’t slide off easily.

Leather Palms: Leather, especially when slightly textured, offers a naturally good grip. It’s durable and provides a firm hold, making it a popular choice for many hiking and climbing gloves.

Rubberized Grips: For activities where wet conditions are a concern (like fishing or kayaking), gloves with rubberized grip patches are a great choice. They offer a solid grasp even when wet.

Textured Fabric: Some gloves come with textured fabric patches (like reinforced nylon) on the palms and fingers, enhancing grip without adding too much bulk or stickiness.

Padded Grips: For activities that involve prolonged pressure on the hands, like cycling, some gloves might have padded grips. These not only enhance your hold but also provide cushioning.

Tacky Grip Finish: Some gloves come with a special tacky finish, providing an extra sticky surface. This is especially useful for sports where you need a firm grip on equipment, like baseball or golf.

black climbing gloves for rock climbing

Size & Fit 

Your gloves should fit just right, as if they’re designed for you. Otherwise, you could end up with cut-off circulation or gloves that slide off too easily.

Start by measuring your hand, both in length and width. While most brands graciously offer sizing charts, it’s important to remember that sizes can differ, so always keep your measurements handy. 

A glove should feel snug, almost like a second skin, but never restrictive. Pay close attention to the fingers – they shouldn’t drown in excess material or feel cramped. And for those of us who appreciate an added layer of warmth, considering a bit of room for liners might be a good idea. 

If possible, always try the gloves on. It’s the only tried-and-true method to ensure they fit perfectly.

Special Features

There are some specialized features that gloves may offer. Here are some of the most common innovations you may see advertised on a new pair. 

Battery-Operated Heated Gloves: Some gloves now come equipped with a built-in battery-powered heating system. With adjustable temperature settings, you can tailor the warmth to your liking. 

Convertible Mittens: For those moments when you need your fingers free but also don’t want them to freeze off, convertible mittens are a blessing. They’re mittens that have a hinged finger cover, which can be flipped back, turning them into fingerless gloves. Perfect for photographers or anyone needing quick access to their fingers without exposing the whole hand.

Reinforced Palms and Fingers: Especially for rock climbers and mountain bikers, where grip is crucial, some gloves are designed with reinforced palms and fingers. These reinforcements, often made from durable materials like leather or synthetic patches, ensure longevity and a sturdier grip.

Wrist Leashes: Ever taken off your glove on a ski lift to check your phone and then watched in horror as it plummeted to the ground below? Some adventure gloves now come with wrist leashes to ensure they stay with you, no matter what.

Glow-in-the-Dark or Reflective Features: For those who venture out in low light conditions, be it night hiking, camping, or early morning runs, some gloves now feature glow-in-the-dark or reflective materials. This not only looks cool but also increases safety.

Built-in Compass or Gadgets: Believe it or not, some gloves come with small built-in compasses or other adventure-oriented gadgets to help you always find your way back home. 

Odor-Resistant and Anti-Microbial Features: For those extended trips where washing facilities might be limited, some gloves are designed with materials that resist odor build-up and prevent microbial growth. Take Merino wool, for example. It’s not just about comfort, it’s about freshness too!

Care & Maintenance

Another part of wearing gloves is making sure you take care of them properly after buying them. Every glove will have different requirements according to their material, but here are the basics ways to do it. 

General Wash: Use a gentle detergent and lukewarm water. Remember, harsh chemicals are a glove’s worst enemy. For leather gloves, there are specific leather cleaners that do the trick.

Spot Cleaning: Got a stubborn stain? Try spot cleaning with a mild soap. A soft brush can help tackle those persistent dirt patches, especially around the fingertips.

Drying Dos and Don’ts

Air Dry: The best way to dry gloves is the old-fashioned way: air drying. Lay them flat to help them retain their shape.

Avoid Direct Heat: As tempting as it might be to toss wet gloves on a heater or use a hairdryer, direct heat can damage the materials, especially leather. Not to mention the potential for shrinking. Patience is key!

Use Glove Dryers: Yes, these are a thing! Glove dryers gently circulate air, helping gloves dry uniformly without damaging them or shrinking them. A nice little investment for those using gloves regularly.

Budget & Pricing

The price of your gloves will vary depending on material and additional features. In general, you can expect to pay in one of the following ranges depending on what you’re looking for:

Budget-Friendly: Often found in the range of $10 to $40, these gloves offer basic protection. Ideal for casual outings or if you’re just dipping your toes (or fingers!) into a new adventure hobby.

Mid-Range: Falling between $40 and $100, this category offers a balance between quality and price. These gloves often feature advanced materials, better insulation, and perhaps a few nifty features like touchscreen compatibility.

High-End Luxury: Above the $100 mark, we venture into the premium territory. These gloves are for the serious adventurer. Think top-of-the-line materials, cutting-edge technology, and unparalleled durability.

anti slip riding gloves covered

List of Gloves Recommendations

If you’re looking for a new pair of gloves, check out our reviews below to find some of our top-recommended pairs. 

Climbing Gloves

Longboarding & Slide Gloves

Golf Gloves

Weather Specific

Feature Specific

Motorcycle & Driving Gloves

Feature Specific

Usage Specific

Weather Specific

Final Thoughts

Remember, the right pair of gloves can be the difference between a memorable adventure and a not-so-great one. Choose wisely based on the information above, from material to features. 

Before you go, be sure to check out our list of glove reviews below to find your next favorite pair!