They say the best offense is a good defense, and the same goes for shielding your most valuable tool: your hands. These belay and rappel gloves protected testers’ mitts from rope burns, cold weather, and other abuse during cragging from Ten Sleep, Wyoming, to Eldorado Canyon, Colorado.
Climbing Glove Reviews
With thick palm leather, Kevlar stitching in high-friction areas, and a breathable, wicking synthetic polyester-Spandex material on the back, “These gloves made me a convert to always using belay gloves, whether it’s gym, sport, or trad,” said one tester of her six months with the gloves in Yosemite, Red Rock, and Shelf Road.
Any climber who runs lap after lap on that yellow route at the gym knows the other side of it— belaying your partner lap after lap on that yellow route. Belaying is a necessary evil that can lead to rope burn, more flappers, and general pain. Check out the Outdoor Research Air Brake Gloves ($49; outdoorresearch.com) for a skin-saving alternative.
After using them for most of a winter, our tester felt these close-fitting gloves must be named for temperatures in Celsuis, not Fahrenheit—they weren’t warm enough for traditional ice climbs or extended use below 25° to 30°F. But the Minus One gloves ($95, mountainhardwear.com) come into their own on single-pitch mixed routes—where dexterity is paramount—and during warm-weather ski tours and three-season alpine climbs.
A year and a half ago, I noted in our leashless tool review that the designs then available were only a precursor of shapes to come.