Mention full-finger gloves to many bicyclists and they immediately picture bulky, winter models. That’s what I used to think, too. That is, until one of my favorite trails became overgrown with shoulder-high vegetation during an unusually damp summer. Riding that jungle-like trail made it painfully obvious that traditional mitts would no longer suffice, and it was time to make the switch to full-finger gloves. Even after the foliage withered away, though, I still found myself opting for full-finger gloves during the remaining summer months. Now, several years later, you won’t find a single pair of half-finger gloves in my closet.
Why choose full-finger gloves over conventional cycling gloves? Protection, for one. It goes without saying, but even the most lightweight full-finger gloves offer protection that’s simply not available on fingerless cycling gloves. Then there’s control; most full-finger gloves feature some form of sticky coating on the digits that’s designed to improve grip when braking or shifting. Lastly, advances in materials and construction methods have made long-finger gloves more comfortable over a wider range of temperatures than in years past.
|Model||Sizes (Tested)||Price (USD)|
|100% Brisker||S,M,L,(XL), XXL||$29.50|
|Castelli CW 6.0 Cross||S, M, (L), XL, XXL||$49.99|
|G-Form Pro Trail||S, M, (L), XL||$49.99|
|Handup Braaap||XS, S, M, (L), XL, XXL||$28.00|
|Kitsbow HiLine Midweight||XS, S, M, (L), XL, XXL||$49.95|
|Lizard Skins Monitor SL||XS, S, M, L, (XL), XXL||$29.99|
|Showers Pass Crosspoint Knit Wool||S, M, (L), XL||$49.00|
As with most cycling gear, glove sizing can–and often does–vary greatly between brands (and sometimes within a single brand). When laid flat, my hand measures approximately 4-1/4″ (108 mm) wide. More often than not, I wear large gloves in most brands. Looking at the above chart, however, you’ll see that I had to bump up to the extra-large size in a couple of models. Bottom line: try before you by whenever possible (or shop online at retailers with good return policies).
If there’s such a thing as a perfectly named product, it would be 100%’s Brisker. The gloves’ lightly insulated soft-shell tops provide protection against wind and cooler temps without adding unnecessary bulk. Single-layer Clarino palms feature silicone graphics for improved grip, and the Brisker’s moisture-wicking microfiber interior helps keep your hands dry. While ideal for those tricky, in between weather conditions, riders seeking wet weather protection would be better served by 100%’s Hydromatic model. Like the company’s other cycling gloves, the Brisker has a slim, form-fitting profile. If you’re like me and find yourself between sizes, you’ll probably want to size up.
Castelli CW 6.0 Cross
In cyclocross there’s no such thing as too much grip. Whether it’s tires or shoes, a little extra traction can often mean the difference between remaining upright and an unplanned mud bath. Designed specifically for ‘cross, the aptly named CW 6.0 Cross gloves from Castelli boast micro-perforated Clarino® palms that feature silicone printing for tenacious grip in wet and muddy conditions. With their ventilated finger inserts and embossed neoprene backs, the 6.0s are versatile enough for summer mountain biking and mild fall weather. The gloves’ hook-and-loop closures provide a secure fit and the palms’ strategically place padding offers additional cushioning without without sacrificing bar feel.
G-Form Pro Trail
At first glance you might think that G-Form’s Pro Trail model is just another lightly armored MTB glove. But unlike many gloves that rely on rubber or urethane for their protective elements, G-Form utilizes the company’s proprietary RPT® pads. What exactly is RPT? Reactive Protection Technology™–aka, RPT–allows the pads to remain flexible, but hardens on impact. Does it work? I didn’t crash-test the G-Form gloves, but I can say that ease-of-movement and breathability was on par with more minimalist gloves. Although I generally prefer gloves without padded palms, I found the G-Forms’ padding comfortable with both drop and upright handlebars.
Handup Braaap / Grit
In an era where hyper-specialization has crept into nearly every product category, it’s refreshing when a company sticks to a single, versatile (and affordable) design. With their lightweight mesh backs, single-layer Clarino palms, and stretch cuffs, Handup gloves are a minimalist’s dream come true. And while the gloves’ unique patterns and colorways get a lot of attention, Handup sweats the details with silicone printed graphics on the palms for extra grip and a full-size towel sweat cloth on the thumb. Don’t let the gloves’ light-and-airy design fool you, though. I inadvertently crash-tested a pair of Handups a few weeks before publishing this article, and the gloves–and my palms–came through essentially unscathed.
Kitsbow HiLine Midweight
For the company’s Kitchel and HiLine gloves, Kitsbow enlisted the help of their friends at Mechanix Wear. Unlike most gloves that utilize synthetic materials, the HiLine Midweight is unique in that it’s constructed largely from goat leather. While it takes a few rides for the leather to break in (and for the palms to lose their slippery sheen), the resulting personalized fit is worth the effort. Even with the HiLines’ extensive use of leather, the gloves’ mesh fabric offered plenty of ventilation for this year’s unseasonably warm fall riding. While the HiLine and Kitchel gloves have a similar, true-to-size fit, I found the HiLine’s Velcro wrist cinch strap far more convenient than the Kitchel’s neoprene cuff.
Lizard Skins Monitor SL
Known for their extensive lineup of grips and DSP handlebar tape, Utah-based Lizard Skins also offers a wide range of road and off-road gloves. Suitable for just about any type of riding, the Monitor SLs‘ airy mesh fabric and perforated palms deliver plenty of ventilation, while the silicone printing provides the necessary grip when braking or shifting. Even with their minimalist profile and lightweight materials, the Lizard Skins proved very durable, showing virtually no signs of wear after several months’ use. Fit can be a bit tricky, however, as the SLs’ sizing runs toward the small side (which put me in an extra-large).
Showers Pass Crosspoint Waterproof Knit Wool
The folks at Showers Pass know a thing or two about riding in wet weather. Based in Portland, Oregon, where the average yearly rainfall is just shy of 36 inches, the company has built a reputation on waterproof gear and apparel. Based on their top-selling waterproof knit glove, the new Crosspoint Merino model swaps the original version’s Coolmax liner for an antibacterial Merino wool liner (but keeps the microporous membrane). Silicone grippers on the palms and fingers provide the necessary wet-weather traction, and extended cuffs help keep out the elements. The result is a breathable, waterproof glove that fits, well, like a glove.
Summary & Recommendations
While there’s definitely some overlap in these gloves’ functionality and features, some are better suited to certain conditions than others. If you want for a minimalist glove for summer riding, either the Handup or Lizard Skins would be good choices. For the times when more protection is needed, but temps are high, G-Form’s Pro-Trail is my go-to glove. In chilly weather, it’s hard to beat 100%’s Brisker, and for damp conditions, the Crosspoint from Showers Pass is a natural. Riders seeking the ultimate in grip need look no further than Castelli’s CW 6.0 Cross model. For traditionalists who who favor leather’s fit and protection, Kitsbow’s HiLine is an excellent option.
Disclosure: Each of the aforementioned companies provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.