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The top 11 best MTB gloves with knuckle protection

This list covers the best MTB gloves with knuckle protection.

As soon as I went from road racing to mountain biking, I found myself eating dust far more often than I was hoping for. In part, this was because I was new to the sport, even though I thought I had ample experience as a cyclist and could simply use that experience into another discipline of cycling.

But there’s something seductively alluring in going faster than you’re comfortable with down a trail, and getting that odd mixture of fear and excitement running through your body. It’s something that has drawn me to mountain biking.

It also meant I wiped out on treacherous parts more often than I like to admit, which is the core reason I never ride without gloves. Because accidents happen easily enough, and a joyous ride can quickly turn into a very painful one.

The MTB gloves with knuckle protection offer the most protection for your hands during those times, hopefully few and far in between, when you’re sitting up at the side of the trail wondering what just happened.

I’ve done face plants on more than one occasion, went down onto the pavement without wearing a helmet, cursing myself afterwards because of my stupidity, and am the proud owner of a piece of surgical steel screwed into my collarbone. So I come from a place of some experience, when I say that this list of the best MTB gloves with knuckle protection was created with care.

Safety first always. You’ll thank yourself after you’ve needed it.

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

100% Geomatic Gloves

Geomatic glove
Geomatic glove
Geomatic glove
Geomatic glove
Geomatic glove
Geomatic glove

The 100% Geomatic Gloves feature protection in the form of small TPR pyramids embedded in the upper construction. This design looks like the gloves Jean-Claude van Damme wore in Kickboxer, so it’s a plus in the design department for me.

TPR is a soft kind of rubber, and the fact that they dot a large area, means a larger area is protected while the glove can still flex easily enough. The TPR also extends towards all fingers (except the thumb).

It features the same Clarino™ synthetic palm as the Cognito gloves but rather has a slip-on cuff versus one using velcro.

100% makes well-designed gloves. Coming in many great color options this slim-fitting glove is for the fashion-minded. And to be honest, who doesn’t want to make a statement on their bikes. I know I do.

Pros and Cons

Fox Defend D30 Gloves

Defend D30 glove
Defend D30 glove
Defend D30 glove
Defend D30 glove
Defend D30 glove
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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

Fox Defend Fire Gloves

Defend Fire glove
Defend Fire glove

The Fox Defend Fire Gloves are cold-weather MTB gloves that offer D30 knuckle protection.

The AX Suede™ palm can be considered waterproof and the Cordura upper offers, besides the knuckle protection, ample comfort and protection against wind and rain.

Because of the less-than-ideal weather this glove is probably going to be used in all of the fingers that feature silicone to be able to maintain a tight grip on possibly slippery handlebars and brake levers.

Pros and Cons

Hestra All Mountain Sr. Gloves

All Mountain Sr. glove
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The Hestra All Mountain Sr. Gloves is a seriously well-made dedicated mountain bike glove from this Swedish family-run company.

The knuckle protection is achieved by a hard insert. The front of the fingers have some added material as well. Where it matters the glove is reinforced with Clarino™ synthetic leather.

Although not water resistant or equipped with windblocker fabric, the glove offers good protection in various chillier temperatures, especially when your body has warmed up itself.

As for the design, you either hate or love the high contrast black-beige paneling. There’s no other design to choose from. Whatever your preference, the fact this is a high-quality mountain bike glove is unmistakable.

Pros and Cons

Leatt 4.0 Lite Gloves

4.0 Lite glove
4.0 Lite glove
4.0 Lite glove
4.0 Lite glove
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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

Sealskinz Waterproof All Weather MTB Gloves

Waterproof All Weather MTB glove
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Waterproof All Weather MTB glove
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The Sealskinz Waterproof All Weather MTB Gloves are, as the name suggests, meant for riding on the trail in wet conditions.

Besides being waterproof gloves with foam padding, the gloves also have added foam in the upper construction functioning as knuckle protectors.

Silicone on the ring- and index finger ensures that you remain in control of the brakes at any time.

These gloves are all-weather condition gloves that don’t feature extra insulation.

Expert Experience

Alex Evans | Senior technical editor – December 2, 2021

In the two-minute submersion test, no water penetrated the gloves. It was the same story out on the trails riding in wet weather, where although the palm wetted out, it didn’t wet through. The backs of the gloves beaded with water, and just like in the submersion test, my hands remained entirely dry.

Windproofing was also impressive, and they blocked all cold air from reaching my skin. The adjustable cuff was slim and its fit adjustable, which meant it slid easily underneath the sleeves of my jacket. This helped improve the waterproof and weatherproof sealing.

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

WTACTFUL Shooting Hard Knuckle Gloves

Shooting Hard Knuckle glove
Shooting Hard Knuckle glove
Shooting Hard Knuckle glove
Shooting Hard Knuckle glove
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I’m all for uncommon solutions for common problems and couldn’t resist putting the WTACTFUL Hard Knuckle gloves on this list as well.

The reason is simple. This Amazon best-selling tactical glove is made from highly-durable Nylon fabric, indicative of its usage. The knuckle area is reinforced with a single strip of molded rubber.

Each finger furthermore has a small plastic vent. And the palm is further reinforced with an extra grippy microfiber layer. The glove has touchscreen compatibility as well.

It has a wide velcro strap pulled through a metal buckle.

Last but not least they are the most affordable entry on this list. So if you feel you need to conquer the trail by going tactical, this is the glove to make a statement.

Pros and Cons

Specifications MTB gloves with knuckle protection

Name
Sex
Type
Back
Palm
Padding
Insulation
Season
100% Cognito Gloves
men
full finger
D30 knuckle protector
Clarino™
none
none
summer
100% Geomatic Gloves
men
full finger
TPR knuckle protector
Clarino™
none
none
summer
Fox Defend D30 Gloves
men
full finger
Cordura® w. D30 knuckle protector
Cordura
none
none
winter
Fox Defend Fire Gloves
men
full finger
Cordura® w. D30 knuckle protector
AX Suede™
none
fleece
winter
Hestra All Mountain Sr. Gloves
unisex
full finger
Clarino™
none
none
summer
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
Sealskinz Waterproof All Weather MTB Gloves
unisex
full finger
foam knuckle protector
foam padding
none
winter
Troy Lee Designs Gambit Gloves
men
full finger
softshell w. D30 knuckle protector
Clarino™
none
fleece
summer
WTACTFUL Shooting Hard Knuckle Gloves
men
full finger
Nylon w. rubber knuckle protector
Nylon
none
none
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
Alex Evans, Sealskinz Waterproof All Weather MTB Glove review, Bikeradar, December 2, 2021
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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