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Better Tape Gloves

Taping up... with a twist

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Better Tape Gloves
Illustration: Chris Philpot

A gnarly fissure will rip the skin off even the best crack climbers. Protect your hands with a layer of tape so you can keep trying hard until your strength gives out instead of failing from pain or blood loss. Here’s how I make thin, reusable tape gloves, using two neat tricks to make the job easier.

  1. I use 1.5-inch-wide athletic tape. Cut two or three pieces of tape the width of your hand, and carefully place them across the back of your hand, perpendicular to your fingers. Make sure the first piece is over the knuckles; this way they’ll be well protected.
  2. Take a piece of tape that is twice your fingertip-to-wrist length, and wrap it between the thumb and index finger, and then back around the outside of the thumb. Both ends should reach the wrist so this piece will be locked in place when you secure the glove at the wrist.
  3. Now wrap similar tape strips around the rest of your fingers. To make it easier, here’s my first little trick: After you’ve cut a piece of tape that is twice your fingertip-towrist length, make a “bow” with it by squeezing the middle together. Then place the squeezed section between the pinky and ring finger and wrap the piece around the pinky. The two ends should lie across the back and side of your hand, but not cover the palm. Now do the same with your index finger, and then finish with the two middle fingers, as shown. Again, make sure both ends of each piece reach the wrist.
  4. Cut a piece of tape twice the circumference of your wrist. Wrap this around your wrist so it secures all the other glove parts. Be careful not to make this piece too tight, or you’ll get pumped in an instant when you start climbing.

Tape Glove Tips

The Right Tape

I don’t have a favorite brand of tape, but Patrick Kingsbury, a master of wide-crack climbing, recommends Kendall Curity tape, “hands down.” It’s available at top climbing shops or online. “Preferred on offwidths everywhere,” Kingsbury says.

Baby Smooth

Here’s my other trick for wearing tape gloves: I shave my hands first. It looks really weird, but the tape sticks better to the skin, and when you remove the tape at the end of the day, it won’t hurt. If it’s crucial that the tape doesn’t slip or roll, I Super-Glue it to my skin.

Reuse ’Em

If you didn’t trash your gloves too much while climbing, you can reuse them by cutting the wrist tape and then peeling off the glove. Next time you’re crack climbing, thread each finger and your thumb through the appropriate holes in the glove, and then secure it with a fresh piece of tape around the wrist.

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