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The top 6 best downhill MTB gloves

In this article you’re going to find a list of the best downhill MTB gloves.

Mountain biking is a dangerous sport, there’s no doubt about it. And the most risk is involved with going down the mountain, not up. When you do it helps if you have the perception that you at least are offered some protection in case of a crash, or when you whip lightning fast through tight trails with overhanging branches.

At the same time you want to receive feedback from the back and feel as much a part of the machine that’s hurtling you down the trail, as be in control of it.

That’s the reason that for this list of the best downhill MTB gloves, I’ve selected those gloves that offer both characteristics of control and protection.

All of the entries have protection across the knuckles. Some offer more on the upper part of your hand and fingers. It’s where technologies like EVA foam, D30 knuckle protector, and impact gel play their part.

As for grip and bar feel, high-quality, durable, and breathable materials like Cordura, AX Suede, and Clarino can be found.

No matter which gloves entices you the most, all of them will give you the edge on your next exhilarating run down the mountain.

100% Cognito Gloves

Cognito glove
Cognito glove
Cognito glove
Cognito glove
Cognito glove
Cognito glove

The 100% Cognito Gloves are lightweight MTB summer gloves with knuckle protectors.

Like a number of other gloves featuring added protection, these gloves use D30 material, which is a multi-density foam meant to harden with impact.

Furthermore the gloves have a Clarino™ synthetic leather palm with silicone on the index and ring finger.

The cuff is closed using a velcro strap. Naturally the gloves are touchscreen compatible.

A simple enough set of gloves in a number of attractive colors to protect you against a quick whip of a branch across the knuckles. Don’t expect them to save you from crashing into a rock though (no glove will).

Pros and Cons

Fox Defend D30 Gloves

Defend D30 glove
Defend D30 glove
Defend D30 glove
Defend D30 glove
Defend D30 glove
fallback

The Fox Defend D30 Gloves is very similar to the 100% Cognito Gloves.

It features the same type of knuckle protection, made from the same D30 impact foam.

Its design is just as understated with a glove coming either in black or steel-blue.

The slip-on cuff sits underneath a Cordura durable palm with zero seams except for an added panel in the lower palm.

A minimal summer MTB glove for those who want some protection above riding gloveless.

Pros and Cons

Leatt 4.0 Lite Gloves

4.0 Lite glove
4.0 Lite glove
4.0 Lite glove
4.0 Lite glove
fallback
fallback

The Leatt 4.0 Lite Gloves are gloves that feature Airflex impact gel across a large top section of the gloves and the outer two fingers.

The grid-like structure is meant to absorb and disperse the energy of a possible impact, lowering the risk of injury, which has earned them an official certification for protective equipment.

It won’t mean you can prevent a boxer fracture when slamming into something immovable. No glove can. But it does mean that Leatt has taken the subject of protection seriously, with these gloves as a result.

The rest of the glove is anything but bulky with a virtually seamless Nanogrip palm for excellent bar feel and grip. So these gloves are excellent for maintaining maximum control in combination with protection for downhill riding.

Pros and Cons

POC Essential DH Gloves

Essential DH glove
Essential DH glove

The POC Essential DH Gloves are pure-bred downhill mountain bike gloves with EVA foam impact protection covered by four-stretch lycra.

A seamless vented palm with virtually no cuff ensures maximum grip and dexterity because that’s what you’d want flying downhill.

Touchscreen compatibility and silicone strips on ring- and index finger come with the territory of being a summer cycling glove for mountain biking.

With only black to choose from and a hefty price tag for this functional glove, it means you prefer function above form for your downhill adventures.

Expert Experience

David Arthur | Freelance tester – August 26, 2021

They’re no bargain but they are made to be nearly everything you want in a downhill-orientated glove. Thicker and harder-wearing materials, double stitching in key places and useful impact padding in strategic places make them undeniably appealing for gravity riding over a lighter weight, and potentially flimsier, glove. They are extremely well made and comfort is generally good and the one color option looks understated and smart. I’d personally like a bit more armor across the fingers and padding on the palm to improve protection and comfort on long downhill runs.

Pros and Cons

POC Resistance Pro DH Gloves

Resistance Pro DH glove
Resistance Pro DH glove

The POC Resistance Pro DH Gloves are padded gloves for downhill mountain biking. Every mountain biker has had sudden crashes that come out of nowhere, leaving you wondering what just happened.

The EVA foam padding is sturdy enough on impact to protect your hands in these cases, but still offer flexibility so you don’t get the feeling you’re using a winter glove. The padding sits underneath a highly abrasion-resistant ceramic fabric covering the knuckles and outer three fingers.

The thin seamless vented palm offers silicone padding to take out the sting of jarring downhill sections, or for longer trail rides, which provides a perfect combination of grip and comfort.

It’s not my favorite design-wise. But design-preference notwithstanding, the quality and comfort of the glove is undeniable.

Expert Experience

Julian Mat | Contributor – February 12, 2022

After having used countless different pairs of MTB gloves, I decided to buy the POC Resistance Pro DH Gloves for both downhill mountain biking and trail riding. And I’m glad I invested in a quality pair, as for me, they offer unmatched quality and durability.

Their protection is made up of a VPD knuckle and finger sections, and padding on the palm while remaining lightweight. I’ve been really happy with them for the last 2 years and will get another pair when they finally need a replacement, since there is nothing like them on the market right now. They cost a little more but are totally worth it in my opinion considering how long they last.

Pros and Cons

Troy Lee Designs Gambit Gloves

Gambit glove
Gambit glove
Gambit glove
Gambit glove
Gambit glove
Gambit glove

Don’t be fooled by all the motocross pictures. The Troy Lee Designs Gambit Gloves are perfect fleece-lined soft-shell cold-weather gloves with D30 knuckle protection.

Though not designated water-resistant they can be perfectly used on chillier rides. I’m not the biggest fan of all the pieces of plastic on the fingers, but it seems both Fox And Troy Lee Designs have a penchant for these kinds of things. And I guess they offer some extra protection, for what it’s worth.

The palm is made from Clarino™ with a touchscreen compatible area on the tip of the index finger.

There are very few cold-weather gloves with knuckle protection like this one, so if you fall within that particular niche, these gloves are your best bet in providing warmth and protection.

Pros and Cons

Specifications downhill MTB gloves

Name
Sex
Type
Back
Palm
Padding
Insulation
Season
100% Cognito Gloves
men
full finger
D30 knuckle protector
Clarino™
none
none
summer
Fox Defend D30 Gloves
men
full finger
Cordura® w. D30 knuckle protector
Cordura
none
none
winter
Leatt 4.0 Lite Gloves
men
full finger
Airflex impact gel knuckle protector
NanoGrip
none
none
summer
POC Essential DH Gloves
unisex
full finger
Lycra w. EVA foam knuckle protector
none
none
summer
POC Resistance Pro DH Gloves
unisex
full finger
Ceramic fabric w. VPD knuckle protector
silicone
none
summer
Troy Lee Designs Gambit Gloves
men
full finger
softshell w. D30 knuckle protector
Clarino™
none
fleece
summer

Sources

David Arthur, POC Essential DH gloves review, Bike Perfect, August 26, 2021
Julian Mat, POC Resistance Pro DH Gloves [Long-term Review], Suspension Traveler, February 12, 2022
bio vanseijen

Johan van Seijen

Founder Restoration.bike

Johan van Seijen is the founder of restoration.bike. His cycling career has seen him at the starting line of classics such as the Amstel Gold Race and Liege Bastogne Liege. Realizing his racing capacity would fall short of what was needed he obtained a MS from the University of Amsterdam in engineering. His love for cycling changed into riding in an amateur capacity with his local cycling club TFC Weesp as a roadie and supporting MTB Noordwest as a mountain biker. He repairs, restores, and builds bicycles and shares his knowledge on YouTube, Facebook and this website. 

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