No question about it, climbing is rough on the hands. Thankfully, you can keep them protected with a great pair of climbing gloves. We have rounded up all the best options from Outdoor Research, a company known for making high-quality adventure gear.
To make things easy for you, we have broken down our recommendations by type, so whether you want full-finger, half-finger, fingerless or ice climbing gloves, you can go right to the relevant section.
One of the first decisions to make when choosing a pair of climbing gloves is which kind to buy. Other than ice gloves, which are generally reserved for winter climbing, full-finger gloves offer the highest level of protection. This design does require sacrificing some dexterity, but your skin will thank you. Many people choose to use full-finger gloves for belaying since climbing ropes can be very abrasive.
If you don’t want anything interfering with your feel of the rock, fingerless gloves are the way to go. They cover the back of the hand to offer protection against scrapes and cuts when jamming cracks but leave the palms and fingers completely exposed.
For many people, half-finger gloves are the perfect compromise. They leave the fingers free to feel the rock but cover the palm and back of the hand. It is also much easier to tie knots and place gear when wearing half-finger gloves than full-finger options.
The build materials are going to determine how tough gloves are. Cow leather is the most durable but can be stiff and takes a while to break in. Goat leather is only slightly less durable but noticeably more flexible, so it won’t hinder your dexterity.
The downside to both kinds of natural leather is the cost, so budget-friendly options are usually made from synthetic leather. You should note that synthetic leather is less breathable than natural leather.
If choosing a pair of ice gloves, you want to consider the insulation and shell materials, as both of these will significantly determine how warm they will keep your fingers. Unlike some other winter gloves, ice climbing gloves cannot be too thick, as they need to allow you to work with your gear. You should also make sure that any ice climbing gloves you consider are both water- and wind-resistant.
With complete leather construction, these breathable gloves become more flexible as they break-in, which helps preserve your dexterity. They are reinforced in the palm with split suede to ensure they last through plenty of belaying without wearing down.
The half-finger construction on the Fossil Rock is ideal for those who don’t want to lose their feel for their rock. A polyester material on the back allows for good airflow, while the goat leather palm protects the hands from abrasion.
Thanks to pull tabs on the middle and ring fingers, it is easy to pull off these gloves quickly. They are crafted from materials to balance durability and breathability and feature gel padding on the palms for comfort.
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Those looking to add a bit of protection to the back of the hand when jamming cracks but who don’t want anything interfering with their grip will enjoy these Splitter gloves. With a complete PU construction, you can toss them in the wash for convenient cleaning.
The Mixalot are designed for winter climbing on sunny days when the temperatures are still somewhat mild. Their construction is perfect for working with tools and setting ice screws, and they feature Gore Windstopper to block out those periodic gusts of frigid air.
If you climb in very low temperatures, you’ll be happy to have the Inception on your hands. The shell features a three-layer construction composed of nylon, spandex and fleece, and PrimaLoft Aerogel insulation is added for extra warmth. They are conveniently touchscreen compatible too.
The Ouray was explicitly designed to fit the female hand, and a female-led team also developed them. They have Aerogel insulation on both the palm and back of the hand and feature a gore-tex Xtrafit insert.
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The Lodestar is an older Outdoor Research model but is a favorite among Alpine climbers because of its softshell material that is somehow highly breathable while simultaneously being highly water and wind-resistant.
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If you are climbing ice routes, you’ll probably want a pair of non-insulated gloves that won’t affect your dexterity much. The Alibi II fits the bill. As an added plus, they are one of the company’s more affordable winter climbing options.
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The shell of these touchscreen-compatible gloves is made with 94% nylon and 6% Spandex, and the palm is reinforced with leather for durability. For warmth, they have a Tricot lining and an elasticized zippered cuff that keeps out drafts.
The Alti is designed to stand up to the harshest mountaineering conditions with reliable waterproofing and warmth. Though pricey, they come with removable touchscreen-compatible liners that you can use independently around town.
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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.