Best Gloves for Climbing, Belaying or Bouldering




Best Gloves for Climbing, Belaying or Bouldering

What are climbing gloves?

They’re specialized gloves designed to provide protection and grip while rock climbing, bouldering, or enjoying other types of climbing activities. They're mostly designed to wear while belaying, abseiling and securing. Offering abrasion resistance, grip, and dexterity, they allow you to maintain a secure hold on rock surfaces while protecting your hands from rough surfaces, sharp edges, and blisters. ​

Common features and uses of climbing gloves: 

Protection: climbing gloves provide protection for the hands against rough rock surfaces, sharp edges, and abrasive holds. They help prevent cuts, scrapes, and blisters, particularly during crack climbing, off-width climbing*, or when climbing in rugged terrain.

Grip: many gloves feature specialized materials on the palms and fingers (rubber, synthetic leather, or silicone) to enhance grip and traction on the rock. This allows you to maintain a secure hold on holds, cracks, and ledges, even in challenging or slippery conditions.

Dexterity: designed for dexterity and flexibility as well as protection, they allow you to perform intricate movements, clip ropes, tie knots, and manipulate gear without being hindered by bulky or restrictive gloves.

Warmth: in colder weather or alpine climbing conditions, climbing gloves provide warmth and insulation to keep your hands comfortable and functional. Some gloves are insulated or fleece-lined to help retain heat and prevent frostbite.

Crack Climbing: specialized crack climbing gloves are designed with padding specifically placed to protect the back of your hands and knuckles from bruising and abrasions during jamming and hand crack climbing.

Via Ferrata: when you traverse fixed routes equipped with cables, ladders, and iron rungs, gloves offer protection against sharp edges, aid in gripping the metal, and protect your hands from abrasive surfaces.

Work Gloves: you may opt for good'ol work gloves for rope work, belaying, or handling rough equipment. While not specifically designed for climbing, they offer protection and grip suitable for many tasks.

Climbing gloves are not necessary for every climbing situation. You may prefer to climb without gloves to maintain direct contact with the rock surface and improve sensitivity and feel. I that case, consider chalk...

Chalk vs Climbing Gloves?

Using chalk or gloves while rock climbing depends on the type of climbing you’re doing, the conditions, and your personal comfort & climbing style.  


Chalk is a magnesium carbonate powder widely used by climbers to keep their hands dry and improve grip on holds especially in bouldering, sport climbing, and traditional climbing, where maintaining grip is crucial. It absorbs moisture from the skin, reducing sweat and preventing slipping.

Chalk is kept in a chalk bag, typically worn around the waist or attached to your harness for easy access during climbs. A fleece lining in the bag is best, as it holds down the chalk dust and helps distribute the chalk evenly on your hands. Loose chalk is an option, but a chalk ball is preferable and often mandatory to prevent the mess and residue that loose chalk can leave on the rock. This is of special concern in climbing areas that are designated as environmentally sensitive.


Climbing gloves protect your hands and reduce friction and abrasion when climbing rough rock or during long routes. Gloves can also provide additional grip on holds and cracks, especially in situations where the rock is sharp or abrasive.

It’s a good idea to wear gloves for special types of climbing, like crack climbing or off-width climbing, to protect the back of your hands from cuts and abrasions when you wedge them into tight crags. Look for a contoured construction for a hand-hugging fit, and a thin, breathable, synthetic base layer. These gloves will allow for maximum grip and protection while maintaining good dexterity & feel, and they’re more abrasion resistant than leather.

Crack Glove | Metolius Climbing

Climbing gloves designs include full-fingered, fingerless, and specialized crack gloves with padded or reinforced sections.

It’s important to note that while gloves offer protection, they can reduce sensitivity and dexterity, which may affect your ability to feel holds and perform precise movements.

Whether you use chalk or gloves depends on your preference and the specific demands of the climb. You can use a combination of chalk and gloves, depending on the type of climbing and the conditions. Experiment with different techniques and equipment to find what works best for you in order to improve your climbing experiences. 

What are belay gloves?

Belaying is where one person manages the rope to protect their climbing partner in the event of a fall. Belay gloves are necessary to protect your hands from fast moving ropes (resulting in blisters & rope burns), hot belay devices, aluminum oxide flakes, dirt, cactus spines, and spiky bushwhacks that can all take a toll on your skin and could even result in losing control of the belay.

Grip: the palms and fingers of belay gloves are reinforced or made from materials with enhanced grip (leather or synthetic materials). This improves your ability to control the rope and provide a secure belay for your climbing partner.

Durability: typically made from materials that can withstand the rigors of belaying, including repeated use and exposure to abrasive surfaces.

Weather Protection: some gloves are insulated or water-resistant, providing protection against cold temperatures, wind, and moisture… particularly important in winter climbing conditions.

Comfort: they’re designed to be comfortable to wear for extended periods, with features such as padding, adjustable wrist closures, and breathable materials to prevent overheating and discomfort.

Bouldering: tackling short, intense routes without the use of ropes

Some climbers prefer not to wear gloves at all during bouldering, as they can reduce sensitivity and grip on holds. However, if you're looking for gloves for bouldering, here are some options to consider:

Fingerless gloves: provide some protection for the palms and back of the hand while still allowing for maximum dexterity and sensitivity. They can be useful for protecting the hands during rough or abrasive climbs without sacrificing grip on holds.

Crack Climbing Gloves: if you frequently boulder in areas with sharp or abrasive rock, such as granite, crack climbing gloves with reinforced palms and fingers can provide additional protection against cuts and scrapes. 

Bouldering Specific Gloves: some gloves are specifically designed for bouldering, with features tailored to the demands of short, intense climbs. These gloves offer a balance of protection, grip, and sensitivity optimized for bouldering movements and techniques.

Minimalist Gloves: made of thin, lightweight materials, they can provide some protection for the hands while still allowing for maximum sensitivity and grip on holds.

Warmth and Weather Protection: if you boulder in colder climates, consider gloves with insulation or water-resistant materials to keep your hands warm and dry. Look for gloves with breathable and moisture-wicking properties to prevent overheating and sweat buildup during intense climbs.

*Off-width climbing is a particular style of rock climbing that involves cracks that are wider than the typical hand or fist size, yet too narrow for a climber to fit his or her entire body into. These cracks often require a combination of techniques that are different from those used in standard crack climbing.

Read more in Sendypedia: Off-width Climbing

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