Best Rappelling Gloves
Rappelling can be a really fun way to travel down a mountain, but it isn’t without its risks. Keeping your hands protected is one of the best ways to prevent errors that might hurt you or one of your partners. When shopping around for the right pair of gloves to suit your climbing needs, it is important that you keep a few things in mind. We've done the research and put together this buying guide so that you can find a lot of your answers in one place and also read detailed reviews of our favorite rappelling gloves. Read on to get a grip on how to choose the best glove for you!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 18 hrs of research
- Brand recognition
- Lightweight and flexible
- Black Diamond Crag Half-Finger
- Petzl CORDEX PLUS
- Black Diamond Crag
- Black Diamond Transition
- Caiman 2984-5
- Rapdom Tactical Rope Rescue
- Outdoor Research Ironsight
- Mechanix Wear
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Black Diamond Crag Half-Finger
- Brand recognition
- Lightweight and flexible
No grip on palms
Black Diamond is one of the best brands on the market when it comes to any type of climbing gear. Users love that they use high-quality materials that are able to hold up to whatever you throw at them. The Crag Half-Finger design still gives you a lot of dexterity by keeping your fingers free but gives you a lot of structure and padding in the palm.Read more
The Crag is offered in two sharp colors- black and blue. The fabric cuts off just at the knuckle so the base of your fingers is protected but you will still have your fingertips to get into tight spaces or to be able to tie knots without needing to take them off.
There are two types of fabric that serve two distinct purposes. The top of the hand has a breathable fabric that will keep hands nice and cool even on hot summer days, and the top of the knuckles are padded. The inside of the palm is constructed from a synthetic leather to protect your palms while still offering you maximum flexibility.
There are many sizing options available for this model, so you can be sure that you are getting the right size for your hands. Sizes range from extra small and go all the way up to extra large. About 90 percent of past users find that the sizes are true to fit.
Not only does the Crag sport the quality name Black Diamond, but it is also offered at a really affordable price point. If you wanted to buy a name brand but didn’t want to dish out a lot of money- this is going to be your best bet.
For users that want to maintain maximum flexibility without sacrificing protection and support- this is a really great option. Plus, it comes with the superior Black Diamond brand name and is set at a really affordable price point.
2. Petzl CORDEX PLUS
- Trusted brand
- Made from leather
- Fits snugly without limited mobility
Petzl is a name that you are going to want to keep an eye on because they are another favorite brand of veteran climbers. The CORDEX PLUS utilizes the best quality materials from your wrists to the very tips of your fingers to ensure that your hands are protected and you maintain a superior grip.Read more
Users can select from two neutral colors options with this model- tan and black. This design has breathable panels that are located on the knuckles as well as the top of the hands. It also has a wrist strap that is held in place by a layer of velcro that sports the Petzl logo in big black letters.
This product is made from 100 percent leather, so you know that is it going to be tough and durable as you make your way down the mountain. Plus, it has a double layer of leather in areas that see a lot of extra wear such as between the thumb and index finger and your palm.
There are enough sizes available that you can be sure to find the perfect fit for your hands. Sizes range from extra small and go all the way up to extra large. You want to make sure that you find a pair that fits tight but not too tight that it begins to limit your range of motion in your hand.
These carry quite the hefty price tag- most likely because they are made from leather instead of synthetic leather. However, if you want to make sure that you buy something that will be able to keep up with you in the long run, these are well worth the price.
For those that are looking to spend just a little bit more to purchase something that will hold up in the long haul and will keep your hands protected and comfortable- this is going to be your best bet.
- Made from 100 percent leather
- High durability
Some discovered it turned their palms black when used
These are really great if you want something that is simple and that is also fingerless. Rothco makes products that not only look sleek and sharp but are also incredibly durable and will last you a long time. Plus, they are set at an affordable price point so you have few reasons not to give them a try.Read more
The outward appearance of these are pretty simple, and they only one in one color- black. Unlike some fingerless designs that stop just below the knuckle- these are great because they stop at the base of your nail bed. This design feature means that you will get all of the protection from a fingered glove, but still have your fingertips to do basic tasks without trouble or the need to take them off.
The front and back of this design are made from 100 percent leather, so you know they are going to be in it for the long haul. The outside of the hand is covered in a smooth leather that is pliable as well as breathable, and the inside of the palm is lined with suede to offer you a flexible hold while still giving you a superior grip. There is also pillowed padding along the fingers to keep your knuckles from getting scraped.
You are sure to find the perfect size for your needs with this design. They offer sizes that range from small and run all the way up to extra large. About 70 percent of users found that they fit as expected, and some find that they run a little large. It’s best to keep that in mind when purchasing this product.
Typically, when you see a piece of gear is made from leather- you brace yourself for a hefty price tag. That’s not the case with this product, it is set at a really affordable price point. While they are not the least expensive designs out there on the market, they are far from the most expensive- especially for leather.
If you are looking for something that is simple in its design, but incredibly effective when in use- this is going to be an excellent addition to your next trip to the mountain without breaking the bank.
4. Black Diamond Crag
- Trusted brand
- Breathable material
- Some find that they run a little small
Black Diamond is making the list yet again with their variation on their Crag design. This design is just a little bit different from the Crag Fingerless because it comes with fingers. There are a few other design changes that were made in this design to make it stand out from its fingerless counterpart.Read more
The most notable feature of this design is that is that it is not fingerless. It comes in two stylish colors- black and blue, and is accented with grey features on the palm as well as the fingers.
The materials used for this design are quite similar to that of the Crag Fingerless. It utilizes a lightweight mesh fabric that runs all the way to the end of the fingers. The tips of the fingers, as well as the palm, are covered in a synthetic leather that provides a lightweight grip but is also offers a lot of traction for the times that you will need it.
There’s no need to worry about not having the right size for your hands, no matter how big or small that they are. Sizing options include extra small, and they run all the way up to extra large. Almost 80 percent of past users found that they fit as they expected they would, so there should be no surprises when you take this design home.
Black Diamond is known for being made from really great and dependable materials, but they are also known for being incredibly affordable- and that’s exactly the case when it comes to this product. They are not the least expensive out there on the market, but they are far from being the most expensive.
If you want to purchase something for a trusted brand, but you also don’t want to pay a hefty price tag- this is going to be an excellent option for all of your rock climbing goals.
5. Black Diamond Transition
- Trusted brand
- Durable exterior
This design from Black Diamond is just a little bit more structured and offers added stability over some of the others making this list. It also uses more high-end materials that will be sure to last a pretty long time, but come at the cost of a higher price tag than most.Read more
Users can select from two colors- either black or tan. Both colors feature sharp white double stitching along the seams, as well as gray accents and the Black Diamond logo located on the wrist strap.
This is where it gets a little expensive, and a little different than many of the other designs that you might find out on the market. The exterior is composed of goat leather on the top and palm side of your hand. There are panels on the top of that hand that serve as vents to allow air to circulate to your hards. These panels are composed of 92 percent nylon and 8 perfect spandex to give you maximum airflow without sacrificing flexibility.
Just like any other Black Diamond design, there are a lot of size options available to ensure that you get the right fit for your size hand. Sizes start out as extra small and run all the way up to extra large. About 70 percent of past customers felt that they were satisfied that the size they selected fit their hand.
Many Black Diamond products are reasonably priced, but this particular design carries quite the price tag- due in part to the use of goatskin. It isn’t the most expensive pair out there on the market, but it will set you back a little bit more than those priced in the middle of the road.
If you wanted something that is constructed with superior craftsmanship, uses materials that are a little more high end, and feels comfortable and light on your hands- this is going to be your best bet.
6. Caiman 2984-5
- Incredibly durable
- Neoprene knuckles and wrist cuff
Only offered in large
While many designs out there try and offer maximum protection while still maintaining range of motion and flexibility, the Caiman 2984-5 sets out to provide users with the most stability and protection you can get with this type of gear. It is built like a tank and performs just as well, too. Plus, it is set at an affordable price point.Read more
These are just a little bit bulkier, and a little bit more flashy than some of the others that we have shown you. They have a bright yellow exterior that stands out from the side of a mountain and a rich brown palm area. The wrist straps travel just a little farther down your arm that most ensures a very secure fit.
Caiman utilizes a few different materials to ensure that you have to most protection as well as the ultimate grip. The outside of the hand is covered in a mesh material that has a reflective coating so that your hands will stay cool, and you won’t blend into the side of the mountain. On the palms and fingertips lies a thick and durable layer of goatskin and pig grain leather to hold up to whatever you can throw at it. If you were looking for vegan designs, you might want to keep looking. It also has the added benefit of neoprene lined the cuff and knuckles for additional comfort and protection.
Whereas most brands offer a variety of sizes- this style is only offered in a large. However, due to its bulky design as well as its adjustable wrist straps, this model could possibly fit a wide variety of hands.
No need to worry about a high price tag, because the price of this model sits right in the middle of the road. It is by far the least expensive out there on the market, but it is also far from the most expensive.
If you are looking for something that has a bit of a bulky design to keep your hands safe and protected, and you didn’t want to spend a whole lot of money- these are going to be a wonderful addition to your next outdoor adventure.
7. Rapdom Tactical Rope Rescue
- Made from durable materials
Some had trouble with the velcro coming unattached to the wrist
Taking a little bit of break from the heavy-duty Caiman options, and swinging in the complete opposite direction- the Rapdom design offers climbers a lightweight design that won’t hinder range of motion, and are made to move fast. If you wanted something that can keep up with your top speeds, this is a great option.Read more
If you want to look like a stealth ninja climbing and swinging down the side of a mountain- this is going to be the gear for you. It is offered only in solid black, and it doesn’t have any pops of color in the stitching of even in the logo.
Rapdom utilizes quite a few different types of materials to provide a lot of comfort and grip without sacrificing range of motion. The exterior is composed of 100 percent goatskin, and the topside of this unit is breathable and flexible and composed of a stretchy nylon. The wrists are able to be adjusted utilizing a velcro strap.
There shouldn’t be much of a problem finding a pair that will fit your hands. Sizes that are offered include small and run all the way up to extra large. They fit a little bit tight, so if you are on the fence as to what type that you should buy, it’s always better to go up a size.
The cost of these are incredibly affordable and will likely set you back about the same amount that you might spend ordering a pizza after a long day up on the mountain. Considering the high-quality materials that are used- this is a really great deal.
If you are in the market that is a little bit more lightweight so that your hand will always feel nice and cool, and you will always have a full range of motion, these are a really great deal that won’t disappoint.
8. Outdoor Research Ironsight
- Trusted brand
- High-quality materials are great for summertime and wintertime
- Excellent rubber grips
Outdoor Research has been making great quality gear especially for climbers since 1981. Their Ironsight design is a perfect marriage between durability as well as flexibility, and they make you look really sharp while you are out there. What makes these even better is that a cap is included with the purchase.Read more
There are two color options that are offered from this model- black and tan. It doesn’t have any additional color accents or reflecting surfaces, so you can zip down the mountain undetected like an assassin. There are unique designs that can be found both on the pal, and the top of the hand that looks a little different than some of the others that you might see on the market.
Outdoor Research utilizes synthetic leather to ensure a comfortable fit that is durable as well as comfortable. It also uses rubber grips on the palms of the hands to ensure an even better grip- something that isn’t utilized by many of the other designs that are out there on the market. If you wanted something that is really good at gripping- this is the perfect pair for you.
Sizing is a little bit of an issue because it is only offered in large and extra large. However, due to the fact that it is made from a stretchable material might make it a good fit for the majority of hand sizes.
Considering that this design is made with high-quality materials that will hold up over time, and also comes for a trusted brand- the price tag is a little hefty. In fact, this is one of the most expensive designs that is currently out there on the market.
If you are in the market for something that is a little stiffer and heavy duty and comes from a trusted brand in the industry- this is going to be a great addition to all of your outdoor adventures.
9. Mechanix Wear
- Provides a lot of padding
- Comfortable fit
- Machine washable
Small size not available
Fingerless designs might seem appealing, but you are probably are a little reluctant because it might not have enough stability and padding for your liking. The Mechanix Wear Tactical M-Pact allows you all of the use of your fingertips while still offering a lot of padding.Read more
Like we mentioned earlier, this is a fingerless option. The fingers stop around mid finger, which leaves a little bit more of your fingers exposed than many of the other models. It is offered in two neutral colors that include black and a rich brown.
The use of various materials makes these incredibly sturdy as well as comfortable. The entire unit is made from synthetic leather. D30 palm padding is made to absorb a lot of impact to keep your hands from becoming overly tired too quickly. The materials that compose this pair is so durable that when it’s time to wash it, all you have to do it throw it into the washing machine.
If you have smaller hands, you might have a problem finding a pair that suits you perfectly. Sizes that are included are medium, large, and extra large. Many previous users rave about how well that they fit on their hands, however, so that might be something that you will want to keep in mind.
The cost of this unit runs about in the middle of the road. This will likely set you back the same amount of money that you might spend on a large pizza at the end of a long day on the mountain.
For those that want something that has a little bit more structure while still being fingerless, and is offered at a really great price point, Mechanix Wear is going to be a great addition to your collection of outdoor gear.
- Some find that they run a little big
If you want something easy, simple, lightweight, and incredibly affordable, the FTEOX is worth checking out. It doesn’t offer a lot of bells and whistles that you might find on some of the other brands. If you didn’t want to spend a lot of money, this is going to be the best option for your needs.Read more
Simple is the name of the game when it comes to this design. It doesn’t come in any extra colors- it is only offered in a solid black design. It also doesn’t have the benefit of any pops of color or reflective surfaces to make you more visible.
The exterior of this model is composed of extremely flexible materials that will move right along with your hand. It uses elastic on the outside with a grip that is composed of non-slip silicon. If you wanted something that is lightweight but that can also provide you with a great grip- this is a great option. Plus, it has a material on the tip of the index finger that makes it possible to still use your cell phone.
While there are more limited sizing options as some of the other designs on the market- small, medium, and large- the materials that make it up are really flexible and should fit the size of most hands.
The cost of this design is where it really shines. It is one of the most affordable designs that are currently out there on the market. It will likely cost you about the same amount that you spend on breakfast this morning.
If you are in the market for something that is as lightweight as it is affordable- this will be a welcome addition to your next outdoor adventure.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Your hands are arguably your most important assets when it comes to this sport. We made sure to take a look at the palm area of each pair that we researched. The palm needed to exhibit two features: it had to be composed of really strong material- such as leather- and it had to offer a little extra padding in the points that would receive more wear than others. Leather and goatskin are excellent materials to use because they are incredibly durable, but they often come at a higher price point. Some companies cut costs and provide more affordable options by offering synthetic leathers. Both materials are strong and will be able to hold up to whatever you can throw at it- but synthetic leather is significantly cheaper, and would appeal to all of our vegan friends.
The phrase ‘fits like a glove’ exists for a reason. No one benefits from a style that is too small or too big- especially when dealing with leather. We know that everyone has different shapes and sizes of hands- which is why one of the first things we looked at when examining a product was the size options that were available. We really liked designs that offered styles that had extra small as well as extra large options on their list. To ensure that they would fit right out of the box, we also checked to see what users were saying about how well the size they selected to fit their hands. If less than 50 percent of users felt they did not fit as expected, we looked elsewhere.
Everyone likes additional features, and it was something that we kept an eye on when conducting our research. Some companies added neoprene to the wrists so that you could ensure that you got a great fit that felt comfortable against your wrist. No climber likes the feeling that their gloves are going to fall right off of their hands. Another thing that we liked was products that were able to be thrown into the washing machine. After a long day out in the hot summer sun, these things are going to be pretty gnarly on the inside, and it’s nice to be able to easily wash them after every use. Making sure they have the features that you are needing is very important when it comes to rappelling.
While you want to make sure that you have a lot of support and padding to keep your hands safe, you don’t want to limit your flexibility and range of motions. It’s often a fine line that climbers walk when determining what types of gloves will suit their needs perfectly. We liked some of the fingerless options because they allowed a lot more padding to be placed in the palms and on the knuckles, but users still had 100 percent use of their fingers. Of course, we liked products that used leather because it is incredibly strong and will not limit your range of motion. Some users found it takes a few times to really break in the leather, so be prepared for them to be a little stiff on your first few runs.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Sure, maybe they are made out of really tough materials, but if they aren’t held together well then they aren’t much help. While climbing, your hands are going to be under constant pressure, and they are going to be contorting in ways that aren’t exactly natural. If you don’t have a pair that has taken extra care in securing the seams- there is going to be tearing. The number one indication that a brand took the time to address this problem is in how it is stitched. Products that have double stitching along the seams are what you want to look out for. These products know the problems that climbers often run into, and have taken adequate steps to fix it.
Other Factors to Consider
If you live in a particularly flat part of the country, making your way to the mountains for a weekend of climbing can be quite an expensive endeavor. While there were some products out there that had quite the hefty price tag, some of them used the exact same materials that the more reasonably priced brands, such as Black Diamond- used. We tried to keep the price reasonable, while also still keeping our eye on quality. If you have to keep buying the same pair over and over again because they keep wearing out, you will actually be out more money than if you just bought a quality pair right out of the gate.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What is the difference between mountain climbing and rappelling?
To put it simply, climbing is up, and rappelling is down. Many climbers will climb up the side of a mountain or a steep cliff, and then anchor themselves at the top and swing down while on a harness. In other parts of the world, this is referred to as abseiling. It has been documented that most climbing accidents happen on the descent down. It is really important that you take a lot of care when it comes to tying knots and fastening your harness.
q: Should they have a lot of padding?
This is where things get a little tricky. While you what to make sure that they have enough padding to keep your hands protected, you don’t want so much that they limit your range of motion in your hands. If you don’t have a full range of motion, you are going to be prone to making clumsy mistakes. And clumsy mistakes on the top of a mountain can break bones. A lot of users prefer to use leather options that virtually have zero padding. The leather is great because inhibits rope burns and minor scrapes. However, padding in the knuckles and on the palms will keep you from dunking your hands in a cold bucket of ice water at the end of the day.
q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of fingerless?
At the end of the day, it all boils down to personal preference. Some climbers simply hate that the tips of their fingers are covered by bulky materials. If you want to tie a good knot, use your phone, or fish anything out of your pockets, you are going to have to take your gloves off to do so. The fingerless option lets you take on tedious tasks without having to take off your gear. However, this advantage comes at a risk- and that is that your fingers are not protected.
q: Which is better: leather or synthetic leather?
Different climbers will tell you different things. Some are leather-purists, and they feel like there is no other material on the planet that will hold up as well as leather. However, others will tell you that synthetic leather is just as good as actual leather. What do we think? In our experience, synthetic leather works just as well as real leather- and what’s best about synthetic (aside from the point that no animal had to die for you to climb a mountain) is that it is priced to be significantly less than real leather. In fact, some companies claim that their synthetic leather is even more durable than real leather because they have the option to coat it with substances like PVC.
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