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What are Hand Protection Options for Mountain Biking?

A woman holding a smartphone riding a mountain bike.

Mountain biking is one of America’s favorite past times, but it is not a sport that you can just jump into. There is nothing that I love more than the feel of the wind against my face and on my back as I am coasting down my favorite trails. Still, preparation is key to everything. After the bike, the first thing I bought was a good pair of biking gloves. You’ll need these for a few reasons.

Grip, crash protection, and climate control are the leading reasons you will need hand protection for mountain biking. Here are some of my picks for hand protection options for mountain biking.

Dakine Cross-X Bike Glove Men's Black XS

Get a Good Grip

The grip is frequently cited as the main reason you need hand protection for mountain biking. You can’t get the same grip on your bike without gloves as you can with them. Mountain biking is a workout, and you will sweat or freeze when you are biking, regardless of the climate. The goal is to keep your hands on the bike.

I need to wear gloves so that my hands stay on the handles during every terrain as well, it isn’t even always about the climate and sweat from the workout. When there are choppy trails, good gloves will help you to navigate them. One brand that I really like is the Dakine Cross-X Gloves with a silicone grip and knuckle guards with foam padding on the palms.

A glove like this is going to help you to maintain a good grip on the bike, and also keep your palms dry.

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Fox Racing Men's PAWTECTOR Motocross Glove, Black, Small

Crash Protection

A firm grip on your handles is key with hand protection for mountain biking, but I also like to have something that comes with some built-in crash protection. This is more important for the experienced biker. If you are a casual mountain biker and your terrain isn’t too complex, crash protection may not be a key priority.

However, mountain bikes can crash on any terrain, so I always say it never hurts to have an extra pair. A pair of mountain bike gloves should keep crash protection in mind. Not only can you protect your hands against road rash or injury from hitting pavement or terrain, but you can also protect them from calluses and blisters when you are cycling.

If you fall without gloves on, you run the risk of serious permanent injury to your hands. GORE WEAR C5 Gore-TEX Gloves, Black, X-Small

Another form of injury protection that gloves offer is terrain protection. You may bike through trees, bushes, or woods that can injure or scrape your hands.

One brand that every biker, including myself, always marvels at is the Fox brand. This is a name in the biking world that every avid biker would know. Fox makes bikes and accessories for some of the most competitive athletes in the world and for the everyday housewife that wants to take on the challenge of mountain biking.

Their gloves offer price protection in the way of offering hand and knuckle protection while still providing airflow through the gussets so that you can enjoy a comfortable ride, every time.

I find that a good pair of mountain biking gloves can also give you some excellent shock absorption in order to prevent crashes as well. The Fox brand will offer this, but so will many others. For shock absorption, which will help you to prevent crashes and falls, a little bit of padding in the palms is all that you need. Try different padding levels for yourself and you will see the difference it makes.

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Fingered or Fingerless Hand Protection

Red and black gloves for hand protection.

Another key feature that every serious biker considers when looking at hand protection for mountain biking is whether or not the gloves have fingers or are fingerless. Fingerless gloves seem counterintuitive to some bikers, and you might find that every biker has their own die-hard preference. Fingerless gloves are good for bikers with a GPS screen or a phone that they need during their rides but could be difficult to remove if they don’t have hooks or tabs.

Personally, I like to have both a pair of fingerless gloves and those with fingers, as I like to go biking in all seasons and live in a seasonal climate. In the winter, fingerless gloves just aren’t conducive to a good ride, but work well in the fall, spring, and summer. A full-fingered glove that offers waterproofing is an ideal choice if you bike in the winter as well.

In the end, you need to be comfortable to have a safe ride on your bike, and full-fingered or fingerless will be a personal choice.

I like the Gore TEX Glove as it has a protective shell in the winter but is still very light to wear and breathable at the same time. You can also find touchscreen fingertips with this glove that comes in handy when you are on the trails, whether you are using a GPS or another device when you are riding. Warm and dry are key markers of these gloves.

Research Your Hand Protection

A person looking at a his smart phone on a mountain bike.

When you are a mountain biker, hand protection is essential. It can help to keep you comfortable on the trails, and it will also help you to stay safe. A good pair of mountain biking gloves will offer you crash protection and crash protection, while also serving as good climate control when you are sweating it out on the trails.

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If you are a serious mountain biker like me, whether you compete or not, you may want to invest in a few different pairs of mountain biking gloves. Have one as your favorite pair, another for various climates, and a backup pair in the event you damage or lose a glove during your biking adventures.

Take your time doing your research, and you will enjoy the process of picking out the gloves that will work the best for you.