Previously, WeighMyRack reviewed [nearly] every crack glove there is in great detail via individual crack glove reviews. This post compiles all our findings so you can compare all the crack gloves side by side.

Each series of infographics below covers the info that we have found to be the most helpful when choosing a glove. We also go into tips we’ve found after months (and years) of use, specific recommendations, and even a few warnings.

Fit, Coverage, & Jamming Performance

These graphs cover

  • Brand Sizing (should you trust the size chart)
  • Hand coverage (where will you be protected because of the design)
  • Jamming performance (the size of cracks they perform best in

As you might assume:

  • green – good
  • yellow – ok
  • orange – not great
  • red – not good

PLUS our ‘Rack-amended’ seal of approval harness logo for the jams we felt each glove performed best.

Click any image and scroll through as a full screen gallery to see how they change from model to model.

BRAND SIZING

In our experience, almost no brands have their sizing dialed. On average more gloves seem to fit snug to small, with a few fitting true-ish to size and fewer still running on the large side. If you are on the border between sizes, you should pay extra close attention to the brands size chart, along with our sizing recommendations. Generally, if you’re towards the bottom of a range you’re ok, and if you’re towards the top you will likely size up.

Bottom line: Measure your hand, check the chart, then go up or down based on our findings (seen in the chart above on the first column) for a given model.

HAND COVERAGE

The second column doesn’t reflect how good or bad a glove is for a jam, but rather the amount of your skin the glove protects ‘out of the box.’ The amount of coverage from green to red generally tells you how much supplemental taping you should expect to do for jams that fall outside the best performing areas of a glove.

For example, most crack gloves ‘score poorly’ in thumb coverage, but it doesn’t mean they are necessarily bad for a fist jam; they simply lack the built in skin protection that some additional tape can provide for your thumb. Basically, expect to tape for red zones.

JAMMING PERFORMANCE

Most models seem to perform decently in hand-sized cracks with a few doing better for chunkier fists, while very few have performed well in thinner jams. If you have a specific size or type of crack in mind, pay extra attention to the third column of each chart to make sure you can expect good results.

NOTABLE NOTES

The toughest glove to fit was the Jamrock from Red Chili because unlike all other brands, each size range in the Jamrock overlaps. Measure carefully and size up if you are unsure. If you’re someone with hands on the ends of the spectrum of the fitting chart we recommend extra caution and deeper research into any of the models that we found to size large or small.

The best performer for thin jams was the Splitter Glove from Outdoor Research though it did require us to undersize it. They are some of the most delicate gloves out there, so beginner’s should be aware of the risk of tearing from pulling on the glove rather than the jam, which is common for those with less experience. These are thicker than an average tape glove, so they may still hinder performance on very narrow jams. This is the main reason many seasoned crack climbers prefer tape in thin jamming situations over any glove.

When it came to the amount of skin coverage, the Black Diamond Crack Glove offered the most coverage by far, especially via the thumb and wrist. If abrasion is a top concern, we recommend adding these to your quiver. If you have chunky digits, be advised that undersizing may result in breaking the finger and thumb loops, and we’ve found that Black Diamond’s size chart directs almost everyone to undersize. Measure twice, buy once. Did we mention we made a size chart?

Comfort & Feel

As long as they are sized correctly (see the section above), most gloves we’ve tested score pretty well when it comes to comfort, so you won’t end up with gnarled, knobby, gobie-strewn fists, even after prolonged use.

The graphs below, and the sliders in them, give a good indication of how you should expect a glove to literally feel on your hand as you stand around in it as well as during a jam.

For the average climber, we found that striking a balance of padding and glove height was pretty key in finding a glove that was comfortable but still maintained its performance and structure after a long day of jamming. Taller gloves mean more coverage and less wrist mobility.

Those with more crack experience tended to seek less padding than beginners, (except in fist stacks, where everyone liked a thicker glove) and finger comfort seems to either be a dealbreaker or of very little consequence for the average user.

Click any image and scroll through as a full screen gallery to see how they change from model to model.

FINGER COMFORT

There seems to be a bit of a divide in folks about the sensitivity of the webbing between their fingers. If a glove is sized properly there should be very little pulling between the fingers. We have had discussions with folks who claimed to dislike a glove completely, but then change their stance once they fitted it correctly. Softer materials made for better results in overall finger comfort; if you have stone hands this isn’t a problem, but if you have sensory issues with things between your fingers, opt for leather/suede.

GLOVE STIFFNESS

Stiffness was also a bit of a spectrum with a majority of gloves sitting at the soft end. This comes into play when talking about restriction of movement, but it should be noted that a stiffer glove generally performs better in oddly shaped jams (non-parallel) because it provides more structure for the glove to hold its shape and thereby maintain friction with the rock; think flaring fist jams. These types of jams also require more expertise and pressure, which also adds a degree of complexity for those with low body weight. Just like a shoe– if you can’t perform the move and put enough weight on it, that foot isn’t going to stick; this is jamming in a stiffer crack glove.

PADDING

Overall, very thin and very thick crack gloves are more fatiguing at the end of a long session of climbing either from the hand needing to do work to deform the glove, or from the hand doing all the work of taking the shape of the crack continually. Those with less experience have found staying in the middle of the padding and stiffness sliders has been beneficial while seasoned jammers preferred flexibility over padding.

NOTABLE NOTES

A couple of gloves stood out as contentious among those with sensitive finger webbing, particularly the Star Crack from Grivel which has finger loops made of die-cut rubber. On an experienced hand, the balance between structure and flexibility here shouldn’t be understated, especially in flaring pods and fists. The Super Crack from ClimbX also stands out as being particularly strenuous for the fingers, and is by far the worst feeling overall in testing.

A thin, yet robust glove worth mentioning is the Red Chili Jamrock, which has the most padding out of the thinnest gloves out there, giving a bit of structure for more complex and craggy jams. If you’re needing a more substantial thin crack glove and don’t mind a bit less coverage on the thumb than Black Diamond, these are definitely worth checking out.

If you’re looking for the stiffest stacker out there, a particular outlier was the Singing Rock Craggy. We thought it performed quite well for fist stacks in very wide cracks, though not without quite a bit of tape to help cover exposed thumb and wrist areas due to it being the shortest glove out there. This is THE glove for adding volume to your hand for those on the thin side, but be aware that the feel of the sewn elastic finger loops is off-putting to some.

How the Gloves Perform in Each Rock Type

This set of graphics is where the rubber meets the proverbial crack for those looking to mine details on how a crack glove will perform in the wild. The friction scale on the left along with sample rock types and climbing areas is aimed at showing the range of performance we found from each glove from slippery to grippery.

  • Green to Yellow -> Good to Average performance
  • Orange to Red -> Below Average to Poor

While we haven’t climbed on every crack type, in every rock type, in every glove (though very nearly), we tried our best to push each model we tested to the brink of its capability in order to create a comprehensive understanding of as many situations as possible. Always remember that as rock type and friction changes, so too do the qualities and shapes of cracks and fissures in them. Not every glove is useful in every situation.

WARNINGS / SUBTLETIES OF ROCK PERFORMANCE

  • Yellow is average. Because all crack gloves are only made to jam in cracks, we found they all mostly did a decently average job at that. A more experienced/stronger climber could push that yellow into green for a particular model on this scale, or the opposite could happen for a very new beginner.
  • Each rock type and friction amount is assumed and a bit subjective. While soft sandstone wears from traffic to be wider, rock like basalt and some forms of granite tend to ‘soap up’ and get polished and slippery. We tried to climb easy to moderate-hard cracks in every location we’ve taken these gloves to get an overall feel of these averages. Just because a glove is ‘green’ for conglomerate doesn’t mean it will necessarily perform its absolute best on that 5.4 trade route in Eldo that has every Cub Scout flopping all over it in their Nikes every summer.
  • This chart is made to help steer decisions along with the two charts above. To get the most out of it, you should understand the limitations of a particular glove when it comes to mobility, padding, and structure and how it relates to your experience and the size of crack you intend to use it in. A glove with a lot of padding may perform average on this chart, but if you put it on a thick hand, it won’t fit in that splitter hand crack in the Creek, no matter how hard you try.

NOTABLE NOTES

The 10,000 foot view of crack gloves as a whole would be incomplete without mentioning Ocún’s Crack Glove and Crack Glove Lite. When compared across the board for most jamming situations and abilities, they almost always have a seat at the table because they perform above average in the most situations out of every glove we’ve tested. The updated Lite version definitely seems more like a replacement or iteration of the original with the larger finger and thumb holes and stickier rubber than an alternate model, so if you’re looking we recommend starting there. If you’re a crack aficionado with a bag of crack gloves, it is almost guaranteed you’ve got a pair of these laying around.

The alpine free climber, the Creek splitter chaser, the sun-up to sun-down, “I just want to have something to keep my skin on my hands for 29 pitches before I collapse on the dirt/portaledge” pushers of the human psyche would do well to add the Grade VII Hand Jam to their holiday wishlist. There is no rubber, there is very little padding, and almost no increase in friction or grip here. There is great all day comfort and protection however, for those seeking extremely durable coverage and a 2 year warranty. This glove isn’t for everyone, and as the most expensive model out there aren’t something we recommend as a first glove for beginners. Those with a ton of miles looking to get away from taping should take a look here.

Bottom Line

When compared across the board, pretty much every crack glove brand has its strengths and weaknesses, with some covering a broader range of protection, comfort, or performance than others.

Though it would be nice to be able to say after all our testing that we recommend a particular model as the ‘one glove’ you should buy for most things, the truth is that crack climbing and crack experience is extremely varied, and the performance of a given glove on given sizes and shapes of cracks is too nuanced to say, “always start here.”

We CAN SAY that using the charts above we recommend starting with:

  1. The amount of skin coverage you’re comfortable with / want
  2. The amount of padding you’ll need
  3. The size of cracks you expect to encounter.

Once you have these figured out, the answer to the ‘right glove’ for you should start to take shape. And if it turns out you have multiple crack jamming needs, don’t be afraid to embrace the idea that you might need multiple ‘specialty’ gloves. Many folks have separate shoes for granite bouldering and overhanging limestone, there is no reason that crack gloves should have a single model for your splitter cracks and your offwidth stacks.

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