Spring is here and summer is close, and although it seems like there’s a thick screen of fog between us and the riding season, I am optimistic. It is time to get our kits and our bikes dialed, and sometimes the best thing for grabbing hold of a new season is a fresh pair of gloves. They’re a relatively inexpensive purchase, and your old pair of gloves is probably tarnished with chain lubricant and energy gel anyway. Sure, they’re easy to wash, but why not pick up another pair that will match your new bike, or a jersey?
Gloves are usually one of the first pieces of mountain bike apparel that are torn or worn, so it only makes sense to think about a new pair every year or two. Sure, there are inexpensive ways to get around buying a mountain bike specific glove, but they are mountain bike specific for a reason. Mountain bike gloves are designed with bike-related behaviors and needs in mind and have features that a cheaper pair usually miss out on.
We got a handful of gloves (zing) to try out this spring and have some of our favorites to talk about in this review.
Dirt Gloves, $25
Oil slick. So hot right now. Don’t lie, you want a pair of gloves to match your oil slick colored cassette, chain, grips, decals, and every other multi-colored component out there. Dirt Gloves is a new brand as of last year making simple, yet effective mountain bike gloves.
Their flagship pair has a moderate amount of material — not too thick, not too thin — and they’re also breathable. There is a synthetic leather palm, with laser cut holes high up, and a mesh backhand, delivering fresh air to sweaty hands.
A nice pull tab on the underside makes it easy to get the gloves on, and so does the elastic opening. The underside also doesn’t have any padding, something I prefer, for an easier time handling the grips. The thumb and fingers don’t work the best for swiping through a phone, but it’s not impossible.
There are other colors available, but not a lot. The Dirt Gloves have a rubberized logo on the palm, and rubber stripes around the thumb and fingers for stickier contact points.
These gloves have become one of my favorite gloves to strap on before a ride. They’re simple, and feel like the right amount of fabric, and the color is also pretty sweet. At $25 (available at Amazon.com), the Dirt Gloves are also a great deal.
Gore C5 Gore-Tex Infinium Gloves, $60
I’ll preface this glove review by saying that the Gore products I have tried have been on the pricier end of the scale, and often the priciest. But, it’s also some of the most exceptional apparel I’ve worn. The products are usually light and perform extremely well.
These C5 Infinium gloves (available at JensonUSA) are meant for cool weather, spring or fall rides between 41° – 59°F. They maintain a line between breathability and water resistance, have reflective details for safety, and the ability to use touchscreen devices.
The Gore gloves are a little trickier to get into and have a Velcro closure. Personally I’m a fan of Velcro-free, or elastic-banded gloves, as they’re easier to get on and off. These do feel like a spring glove for colder days. The material underneath the palm can also feel thick and warm compared to other gloves.
The C5 Infinium gloves feel best for climates with surefire wet weather, and days without sun, like the Northwest, and feel like they’ll take some time to wear in. They can feel like a lot of material between your hand and grip at first. However, the silicone underneath the fingers is a nice touch to increase friction.
Norrona Skibotn gloves, $69
Holy cow. These Norrona gloves cost $70 a pair (available at Moosejaw). That’s no joke, and almost three times as costly as the Dirt Gloves up top. Do they feel like that much more of a glove? No. Will they automate braking for perfect cornering? No.
But there are a few things that set the Norrona Skibotn gloves apart, and it could be why they are more costly. Norrona, a brand out of Norway, is focused on sustainability and uses recycled materials for their product. They also have a five-year warranty on all of their products against manufacturing defects, although that doesn’t cover what might fall under normal wear and tear.
Norrona also repairs products for consumers to restore them to fully functional condition. The downside is that the repair center is in Oslo, Norway, there is a typical 14-day turnaround, and rips, tears, or holes are priced as a $50 repair.
I did enjoy wearing the Skibotn gloves, for what it’s worth. They take a different approach to mountain bike gloves and feel like they double as a set of gloves for backyard landscaping. They fit a touch baggy but don’t feel like too much material. For being a big, all black glove, they aren’t too hot or stuffy either.
The Skibotns are easy to get in and out of without being too loose or annoying between the grip and your palm. The touchscreen enhanced thumb and finger work better on electronics than the other gloves in this review, if that is important to you.
Overall, I like the approach to the Skibotn glove, and I thought I would be bothered by its bagginess, but it was a nice change. I still think that a lot of buyers will find that $70 is too much for a mountain bike glove, even if they are supposed to last five years.
POC Essential Mesh Glove, $45
The POC Essential Mesh is a minimalist glove, with comfort and airflow aplenty. POC made these for hot summer riding and they feel very light. They feel like they are the right amount of protection for every day rides, ranging from gravel to enduro.
The Essential Mesh gloves (available at Performance Bike) have a fully vented palm for even more airflow, and a Velcro-free closure, with a rubberized and integrated pull tab. On the thumb, middle, and forefingers there are rubberized tips that also work with touchscreens, and the functionality seems to be enhanced with some sweat.
The Essential Mesh gloves are definitely the lightest, softest, and most comfortable gloves in the bunch, but are the wrong choice if you’re looking for enhanced protection, or a glove that works in the rain. Otherwise, they are a solid choice for warm trail rides.
POC Resistance Enduro Glove, $50
The POC Resistance Enduro gloves (available at Amazon.com) are a beefed up version of the Essentials above. The palm is also ventilated, but the material feels thicker. The top of the glove is also much thicker, erring on the side of protection.
The Resistance Enduro gloves have a four-way stretch for a better fit and the mediums feel like a solid fit. On the entry into the glove, there is a thick, silicone pull spot to make it easier to get them on, although these are the toughest pair to don because of the tight-fitting opening. For that reason, they’re not my favorite for every day trail rides where you might need to pull off a glove to use your phone.
I do like the extra stitching around the thumb, and that they have a lighter material on the sides of the fingers for better airflow and the simple design.
Tasco Recon Ultralite Glove, $38
Words by Jeff Barber
The Recon Ultralite gloves from Tasco are light and tight, if that’s your style. These minimalist gloves offer tons of grip with silicon printed across the palm, index finger, and thumb. The index finger and thumb each feature a few stitches of conductive thread for use with a touchscreen. I was surprised that I could tap out a short, mostly mistake-free text message without taking off my gloves.
These thin gloves feature a little added protection on top of the thumb for gripping comfort at the controls. The sides are ventilated and oh-so-soft with tight-ish elastic cuffs.
I don’t expect these gloves to last more than a full season of riding, but I also don’t really want to wear any others because the Recon Ultralites are just so dang comfortable. Available from Tasco and JensonUSA.
Thanks to the respective brands for providing these gloves for testing and review.