For the most part, I try to avoid wearing gloves whenever I can. There’s just something to be said for the feeling of your skin against the bar, and I don’t think anything beats it.
That said, sometimes you either wear gloves, or you don’t work out. If you’d rather be in the gym than on the sidelines when your hands are torn up; it’s time to throw on a pair of gloves.
Beyond people who feel like I do, there’s also plenty of people who rely on a solid pair of gloves for every workout they do. Whichever side of the line you stand on, this post is for you.
Today, we’re going to cover the ins and outs of seven of the best CrossFit gloves that are available today. We’ll also drill down some of the different criteria you should evaluate any pair of gloves you look at by, so you can be sure you’re picking the perfect gloves for your workouts.
Whether you wear gloves all the time, or only when you have to, the fact of the matter is you need a pair of gloves. They say that the only guarantees in life are death and taxes. I’d argue that there’s a third: CrossFit is going to tear up your hands sometimes.
When your hands are torn up, throwing on a pair of gloves often makes the difference between getting your WoD in and needing to take the day off. A solid pair of gloves will protect any cuts or tears on your palms.
Besides protecting your hands from the pain of working out when your hands are a mess, they’ll also protect against infection. Think about how many people touched that bar today before you did. Do you really want to be gripping that thing with tears on your hands?
Plus, there are going to be plenty of times when a pair of gloves comes in handy on days when your hands are in good shape, too.
When you’re deep into a workout and your hands feel like they’re literally made of water, throwing on a pair of gloves will help you power through your workout with your grip intact. Plus, when your hands are at their sweatiest, this is when you try and overcompensate with your grip and end up tearing your hands up because you’re over-gripping the bar.
Another bonus of wearing gloves is that they’ll keep your hands in somewhat presentable condition for the real world.
Some guys are still wearing their cuts, callous’ and blisters like a badge of honor, but if you’d like to be able to shake someone’s hand without them feeling like they just met Thing from the X-Men, gloves are the answer.
Now that we’ve established why you need a pair of CrossFit gloves let’s take a closer look at what your options are.
In the past, it was virtually impossible to find gloves specifically designed for CrossFit. This fact led us to find alternatives, some of which are very good. For years, people at the gym have been wearing everything from batting gloves to handball gloves and pretty much every other sport-specific glove you can think of.
Nowadays, there’s more choice than ever, so it’s helpful to break down the different kinds of gloves on the market so you can identify the best CrossFit gloves for you.
These are gloves designed specifically for CrossFit. These gloves are born from the old days when you’d have to pick up batting gloves or football gloves to use in your workouts. These are similar to a pair of leather work gloves, looks-wise, but they incorporate features specifically designed for CrossFit workouts.
CrossFit grips are an evolved version of the grips gymnasts have been using for decades. They protect your palms, and wrist support, while still allowing you uncompromised use of your fingers.
These are a solid fit for anyone who feels like they lose their feel for the bar if they wear gloves during a workout since your fingers are free.
I call them “CrossFit wrist wraps,” but there’s nothing that separates these from the wrist wraps that powerlifters have always used. Wrist wraps don’t offer much in the way of palm protection, but they offer ample wrist and joint support and can help prevent sprain injuries during heavy lifts.
When it comes to CrossFit, there are no hard and fast rules about which type of apparel you should put on your hands.
Some people feel comfortable wearing gloves for every single workout. The truth is, each type of glove has its place in the gym, and some are better for certain workouts for others. Some people will even keep all three in their gym bag and switch between them depending on the workout they’re doing.
CrossFit gloves tend to perform best for exercises like the rope climb, chin-ups, kettlebell work and other AMRAP exercises, and muscle up on rings. They’re also your best bet for bar work, provided you can get used to the feel of the bar when we’re gloves.
Grips are great for bar work as well, but depending on the particular workout, you may find that you prefer full gloves or just wristbands or wraps.
Wrist wraps are probably the least useful of the three. Wraps are great for any Olympic-style workouts you do, like clean and jerk, snatch, deadlifts, and overhead squats.
Thankfully, all three types of hand gear are relatively inexpensive, so it’s fairly easy to try them all out and decide which is best for you, or rotate between different types of handwear during your workouts.
There are a few key features that differentiate the different products on the market, and these features are the key to nailing down the best CrossFit gloves for your style.
One of the most important factors to look at is durability. What good is a pair of CrossFit gloves if you’re going to wear through the palm in a month?
Just as CrossFit can be hell for your hands, the same goes for your gloves, too. The fact is, most general-purpose gloves just can’t stand up to CrossFit workouts. Look for a pair of gloves that feature things like a double-layered palm and reinforced stitching, as they’ll stand up much better.
Most CrossFit gloves rely on several different materials to get the job done. A good pair of gloves offers support and protection where you need it, they’re breathable, and they allow you to still “feel” when you grip something. Look for materials like leather, neoprene, silicone, and lycra, as these fabrics are regularly seen in the best CrossFit gloves.
Breathability is vital, as it will determine how comfortable the gloves are to wear, and how they’re going to stink after a few months of regular use.
Gloves that are designed with breathability in mind are more comfortable because you won’t be dealing with sweaty hands inside the glove, and they’re also more resistant to odors.
Even the most breathable gloves are going to stink eventually. When you get to that point, being able to pop your gloves into the wash with the rest of your gym gear is key. Before buying any hand gear, make sure you can wash it.
Have you ever considered how often you pull your phone out in between workouts? If you’re like me, you do it a lot. Whether you’re trying to fire off a quick text or enter your PR into your favorite CrossFit app, being able to use your phone while you’re still wearing gloves is a big plus.
This is a non-factor when it comes to wraps or grips, but if you’re in the market for a pair of full-fingered gloves, this may be an essential feature for you.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the seven best gloves on the market right now.
These grips feature a full grain leather palm and quadruple stitching throughout to ensure durability. The design is also extremely breathable, so you won’t have to worry about your hands sweating more than usual. Since there are no fingers, you’ll also be able to use your phone while wearing them.
The wrist straps use the same material as the palm of the glove, so they provide ample wrist support, and the wrist straps are adjustable to ensure a perfect fit for everyone.
Bear KompleX makes these grips in five different colors and four different sizes. You’ll be able to find the perfect grips for you regardless of your style or the size of your hands.
These grips are designed to ride a little higher up your hand, so they protect your palm and the bottom of your fingers as well. They’re made from durable nubuck and feature a neoprene interior and wrist strap.
The hand holes have some stretch to them, so they’re a good choice for people with large fingers.
Comfort wise, these grips are among the most comfortable options on the market. While they aren’t as breathable as some other grips, they do offer ample breathability.
One gripe we have with these is that the stitching isn’t reinforced enough, which may lead to durability issues. They also feature some extra padding in the palm area, which may limit your feel during bar workouts.
WODies may be the most well-engineered gloves on the market, and they possess some characteristics that make them the perfect gloves for many CrossFitters.
The palm features JerkFit’s GripRidge technology, a textured finish that absorbs more chalk than other wraps, allowing you to get a better feel during your workouts. The fabric glides over your hand during workouts, which reduces friction and helps prevent tears and calluses.
WODies have 3” wide elastic weightlifting straps for superior wrist support during high-weight workouts.
As for fit, this is where WoDies separate themselves from the pack. The finger holes can be customized for a perfect fit, and they’re available in four different palm sizes to fit the needs of any size hands.
They’re also arguably the most stylish option on the market, and they’re available in tons of cool colors and patterns to help you express your personality in the box.
Most importantly, the thin yet supportive material allows you to power through your workouts without ever feeling like your grip or feel is compromised. Even people who hate wearing gloves or grips are going to like WODies.
These gloves provide full protection for your palm and the lower half of your palms. The entire glove is made from neoprene, with silicone impregnated into the fabric at crucial points, like the balls of your hand and the palms. Extra wide wrist straps protect your wrist from sprains.
However, the interior of the glove is also made from neoprene, which some people find to be slippery. I wasn’t bothered by it, but I could see some people feeling like the neoprene against their hand makes them question their grip.
Fit wise; these gloves are tough to beat, as they’re available in six different sizes from XXS to XL. Whether you have hands like a gorilla, or hands like a child, FitActive has you covered with these gloves.
While these gloves offer a great fit and incredible comfort, they do leave some to be desired in the durability category. Neoprene just doesn’t stand up to workouts the same way other fabrics can, and you’re bound to wear through these gloves if you’re using them every day.
As someone who doesn’t like to wear gloves on most days, I love being able to break these out occasionally, on days when my hands really need a rest. They’re also one of the most affordable options, so buying these to stash for occasional use won’t break the bank.
These gloves are made from breathable nylon with a double-reinforced palm. The palm has a silicone pattern for added grip. These gloves also do a great job absorbing chalk, which should further improve your grip and feel for the bar.
Like the Emerge grips, these also ride higher on your hand, so they should protect you from blisters and calluses along the lower part of your fingers. Extra wide wrist straps provide ample support to protect you from sprains during your heaviest lifts.
Since these grips are so similar to the Emerge set, they also fall victim to the same issues. Some people aren’t going to like the way the silicone grips on the palm feel. While these appear slightly better constructed than the Emerge pair, the stitching on the finger holes does seem a bit suspect, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it started to rip after a few months of regular use.
That said, if you’re interested in the Emerge grips, these may be an even better choice, as they’re a bit cheaper.
One of the first things you’ll notice about these grips is they’re exceptionally thin. This is perfect for those of us who have a hard time getting a feel during their workouts when they’re wearing grips or gloves.
The exterior (the part that touches the bar) of these gloves is untreated suede, which improves with chalk absorption, and provides a feel that’s about as close to bare hands as you’ll get with any grip or glove.
Like all the other grips we reviewed, these include wrist straps. However, they’re about half as wide as the rest of the competition, so they don’t provide quite as much support during Olympic style workouts.
While these gloves provided hands-down the best feel during my workout, the two finger design leaves a large portion of your palm vulnerable to tearing and blisters.
Overall, these might not be your best option if you’re nursing some severely torn hands. But, they do provide an unparalleled feel and the most durable design on the market. PHERAL FIT is also the only grip we’ve covered that offers a money-back guarantee if your grips fail you within six months.
This classic model from Mechanix may be designed for the guys at the auto shop up the street, but they’re also ideally suited for the box, too.
The Covet glove features a single layer suede palm with double reinforced thumb and index finger, which provides added protection from blisters and tears to your fingers. The rear of the glove is breathable nylon, and Mechanix’s Trekdry lining keeps your hands cool while wicking moisture away from your hands.
These gloves are also machine washable, so you’ll be able to toss these puppies in the wash whenever they smell less than fresh.
On the downside, these gloves aren’t explicitly designed for CrossFitters, so there are some inherent design issues here. For one, while the single layer palm provides an excellent feel, it leaves something to be desired when it comes to durability.
Whether you wear gloves full time, or only when you need to, the fact of the matter is that you’ll want to keep a set of them in your bag at all times. You never know when a tear or blister is going to ruin your workout.
Finding the best CrossFit gloves for your style can be a daunting task, but it’s far from impossible. If possible, try out a bunch of different styles and brands and don’t settle until you find the best option for your workouts.
For us, our favorite pair is the Bear KompleX. While they may not be the most durable grips on the market, but if you’re like me and only throw them on occasionally, you should get plenty of good workouts from them.
Whichever gloves or grips you choose, I hope you’re wearing them the next time you achieve your PR!