Finding the best crack glove to fit your hand will depend on a few measurements such as hand width, wrist width, and the height of the back of your hand. The general size of your fingers (twigs vs sausages) will also come into play and we have some tips here too. Finally, one of the biggest crack glove variables is the types of materials, the thickness, and stiffness as this will change what cracks your hands fit into. Read on to find out how you can get the best fitting glove the first time out of the see all the options available today.

How to Measure Your Hand and Wrist for Crack Gloves

There are a couple of areas of your hand you will need to measure to find the right size of crack glove. Glove makers generally recommend using a flexible measuring tape, but you can also use a piece of string or ribbon which you can measure with a ruler. Measure around the circumference of your knuckles of your dominant hand with your grip relaxed, and also around your wrist below the heel and above the wrist bone; this can be easier if you have a friend help.

Crack Glove Diagrams 1
The Standard practice for fitting a glove involves measuring the hand around the knuckles and the wrist and using the largest of the two as your measurement.

Glove brands recommend using whichever number is higher to determine your glove size on their size chart. Though the hand (over the knuckle) measurement is often the largest, human bodies are all shaped differently, and some folks have larger wrists or narrower hands. By using the larger of the two measurements, you make sure that the glove will actually fit the largest of the two major measurements of your hand.

Now that you have your measurement, compare it to the size chart of the brand of glove you are looking at, and voilá you have the brand recommended size for you.

Crack Glove Size Chart 2

Warning: It is very unlikely that you will be the same size across all brands. Just like with any type of clothing, not every medium is the same medium across all manufacturers.

The chart below shows the measurement ranges as published by each brand for their medium size glove and you can see why your size likely varies. Use this information to get a sense of how the brands run size wise.

brand sizing measurement 3
This graph shows the ranges of measurements that will fit a medium sized glove from each brand. Note that many of these brands do not overlap each other. Always check your measurement and don't assume that sizes always compare across brands.

More Nuanced Measurements  in Crack Gloves

Although the hand and wrist circumference measurements are what the brands list, they don’t tell a complete story.

There are nuances that we’ve noticed when it comes to the way the above measurements actually apply in the real world. Just like climbing shoes, a single size number doesn’t fit everyone in that size the same way. The additional measurements discussed below can help make a glove more comfortable. These can be used as a guide to help make a decision about sizing up or down if you are on a border between sizes, but they may also help those with particularly large or small hand portions (aka fingers, wrists, knuckles, etc.) know to avoid or look more closely at a particular model.

Back of Glove Height

One of the measurements we’ve found helpful when it comes to ensuring comfort in a crack glove is the length of the back of the glove.

Longer gloves offer more coverage of the back of the wrist, where a short glove may not cover it at all. Depending on the type of crack you are climbing, you may or may not want this protection. There can also be problems when the length of your hand doesn’t line up with the length of the glove.

Crack Glove Height Measurement 4
WeighMyRack measures the height of a crack glove from the lowest part of the back of the glove to the top of the rubber backing. If there is no backing, the measurement goes to the knuckle line.

If you choose a shorter glove than your hand, there is a chance for problems at the fingers and the wrist. A crack glove strap sits between the wrist bone and meat of your hand (sometimes called the heel) so it does not move while you climb. If the glove is too short for your hand, making a fist may stretch and stress the finger holes on the glove, pulling painfully on the webbing between your fingers and pulling upward on the strap.

Taller gloves can cover the hand and wrist completely and not have any of these issues, but if a glove is too tall for your hand the material will not stay taught on your hand while you jam. This can result in rolling up and bunching that essentially creates a hard tube of fabric right where all of your body weight presses into your hand bones. It is a very painful scenario that we recommend you avoid.

Glove Height Size Tips

  • It is tough to measure the back of your hand to compare it to any specific glove. Chances are if you have long fingers, you have longer hands in general, so longer gloves are going to offer a more comfortable fit overall. If you have shorter sausages, a longer glove might be out of question.
  • When fitting for back of hand specifically, think about the type of wrist coverage you want, and how much padding you will need. Thicker gloves offer more padding, but reduce flexibility and thinner gloves offer greater all-day comfort but have less cushion for sharp/uneven surfaces inside the crack.

We measured the height of all the crack gloves with calipers. Here you’ll see our results (of size Medium) and note that the shortest by far is the Singing Rock. They sit above the bend of the hand and offer no wrist coverage. Climb X and G7 have the tallest gloves and sit on opposite ends of the stiffness spectrum. Climb X has the most wrist coverage but has no space for articulation while G7 has no rubber and covers the wrist completely, but offers less padding than the rubber backed gloves.

Crack Glove Height Measurements 5

A Note on Stiffness

Simply measuring a glove can tell you how tall it is compared to your hand, but that doesn’t tell you how comfortable it will be to wear without yet another data point: flexibility. Typically thicker gloves have more padding and less flexibility, and this can be more pronounced in a longer glove. For example, if you choose a long glove and have a short hand, a stiff glove will not flex as well with your wrist, limiting mobility and in some cases bunching and pinching, where a softer glove will offer more flexibility.

If you are looking for a particular amount of padding on your crack glove, keep in mind that the length of the glove greatly influences the flexibility when bending your hand backwards. We’ll talk more about glove thickness in a bit.

Hand Width

Crack Glove Diagrams2 6
WeighMyRack measures the Width of a crack glove at the widest part of the back of the glove below the finger holes and across the knuckles.

We measure this area to give some added context to the actual surface area of your hand that is covered when you are wearing it. Even if you have a glove that is ‘correctly sized’ according to the brand or your comfort level, we have found it is very helpful to be able to compare the amount of coverage from one brand to the next. For example, the Craggy from Singing rock is a full 20mm narrower at the knuckle than the Outdoor Research Splitter, which makes it particularly bad choice for fist jamming even though it has significantly more padding.

The width of the glove at the knuckles really matters most when the jams get wide. If you are doing fist jams or stacks, the amount of glove coverage at the knuckle becomes really important. Gloves on the smaller end do not have material to wrap around the sides of the hand that make contact with the rock, pinching your skin between the glove and the rock. Very ouch.

As you’ll see in the below graph showing how widths compare you’ll notice Singing Rock is the narrowest, as such, you should size up if you’d like to jam fists. On the other side of the spectrum, Black Diamond and Outdoor Research have the most hand coverage that we’ve measured but these gloves are also fairly thin, so they won’t offer as much protection (Wideboyz look REAL wide, but we haven’t had a chance to measure them yet).

Crack Glove measured width1 7

Width Sizing Tips

  • If you’ve got narrow hands (aka your wrists are wide) your recommended glove size should offer adequate knuckle coverage.
  • Sizing up too much can result in excess glove material, causing folding in material that can pinch the sides of your hands.
  • If you’ve got chonker fists you may find sizing up for fist jams to be the way to go.

Crack Glove Thickness & Materials

Thickness is important for what size cracks your hand will fit in while wearing a crack glove. An overly thick glove can make your hands feet like clubs if you are trying to climb cracks that are thin for your hands, but it can also give you some extra range when you’re getting into wider fists or if you perhaps have naturally small hands.

A too thick glove can make it difficult to feel the sensation of tactile feedback when jamming. A thinner glove allows your hand to distort its shape more, but at the cost of the lack of padding. If you are climbing rock that is often jagged, sharp, or full of crystals (like quartzite or granite) a thicker glove helps save you from some pain. Splitter cracks like those found in sandstone tend not to require as much padding, so most people who climb them prefer a thinner glove as they can function as a tape replacement that is easier to put on or off. Most thin gloves use leather or microfiber to keep them as soft and supple for these reasons, where thicker gloves have more rubber in their construction.

The main area of thickness most folks are concerned with is the back of the hand. Your hand bones between the wrist and knuckles generally sees the most amount of pressure when performing most jams. If you are getting into wider hands and narrow fists, the heel of the hand can also begin to play a role and will contact the rock with the side of the hand. Of course, the couple of gloves with thumb coverage really start to shine when it comes to fist jams.

Thickness Sizing Tips

  • The more uniform the rock you are climbing, generally the less padding you will need from your glove. (think sandstone)
  • Jagged, rough rock or rock that breaks in sharp edges usually benefits from a thicker glove. (think conglomerate or limestone)
  • Smaller hands can benefit in larger cracks by having a thicker glove to help fill the space, while fatter gloves struggle to fit in smaller cracks.

As you’ll note in this graph, the thickness of the glove can change by area and by brand. The thinnest gloves will give you the most flexibility, hand sensitivity, and be more like tape, while the thicker gloves will give more protection and less sensitivity.

crack glove thickness 8

A Note on Wrist Straps

We measured wrist strap thicknesses and added them to this chart because they can often have a lot to do with how comfortable a particular person will be wearing a crack glove. Some crack gloves close on the back of the wrist and some close on the inside. This may not matter to some, while others find it uncomfortable and even painful to have a chunky strap against the inside of their wrist, so we want to show this data in the side by side comparison. If the measurement on the outside is larger, chances are that is where the strap closes, and vice versa if the inside thickness is the bigger measurement. We also have a filter for this data point on the crack glove page.

Finger Fit

How crack gloves fit your fingers largely has to do with 2 things:

  1. A correctly sized length of glove (as we mentioned above)
  2. The shape of the finger holes in the glove.

We’ve found that one of the main factors of a crack glove being uncomfortable for long wear is whether or not it is pulling back on the fingers which we talked about in earlier. One factor that helps mitigate this discomfort is a finger hole that is made of a sewn loop of material rather than a simple circular hole. Sewn loops give the glove a more three dimensional shape and allows the material to wrap more comfortably around the finger. The stretchier nature of leather and microfiber also go a long way to making finger fit less of a big deal. Gloves with finger holes made of rubber like that on Grivel or Climb X definitely need to be tried on to ensure all day comfort.

Finger Sizing Tips

  • Folks with small fingers seem to like the BD gloves a lot because their finger loops tend to keep the glove from sliding around when compared to simple circular holes of other gloves. That said, the BD gloves also need special care and attention from those with big hotdog fingers; your hand will swell throughout the day and if you aren’t careful taking off the gloves, the stitching on the fingers are known to rip.

Material Notes

  • Leather/microfiber-backed gloves have shown to be most forgiving on finger webbing over time as they have begun to break in from use.
  • Rubber thumb holes (Grivel, ClimbX) do stretch while wearing them and return to their shape after a time. Depending on how sensitive your hands are they can feel like they are cutting into your webbing more than the leather.

Thumb Coverage Notes

If fist jamming is on your future, expect to either be supplementing your crack glove with some tape around your thumb, or looking at a glove with built in thumb coverage.

  • Only three gloves have thumb coverage: the Black Diamond Crack Glove, Grivel Star Crack Glove, and Wideboyz Crack Gloves.
  • People with boney knuckles (where the knuckle of the thumb is considerably wider than the finger portion of the thumb) should look to try on BD or Wideboyz before buying. As noted above, wide knuckled folk should take particular care when taking these gloves off to not break the narrow thumb protection.

Fit Summary

The most important part of a crack glove to fit right is the back of the hand because it is the part that matters most often when jamming. If the back of the glove pulls at your fingers too much, size up. Hand height can also come into play and should be referenced when possible. Additionally, thinking about thickness and what type of fit sensitivity (feeling more or less rock) will help direct your decision in finding the best fitting glove.

In general

  • For small hands we usually direct people to Black Diamond or Red Chili to try first because they size down small and aren’t too chunky.
  • For large hands we usually send people to try Ocun because they aren’t too thin. If you have very wide fists, G7 is very wide.

As usual, for a product that has so many size options, we always recommend trying on in person. Unfortunately, most gear shops only stock one or sometimes two options, so trying them on can be hard. For example, REI caries the Black Diamond Crack Gloves and Outdoor Research Splitter II gloves. If you can’t try on in-person it may help to find a company, such as REI who has a generous return policy for co-op members, so if the glove you ordered online doesn’t fit, there is a return/exchange option.

This is a Sponsored Post

Our How To Fit Series is generously sponsored by REI. We approached REI about this series and they were thrilled to help make it happen. All words are solely the authors and have in no way been altered because of the sponsored nature of the post. We do link directly to REI’s website for some of the products mentioned.

In regards to fit, it’s worth noting REI’s free shipping for Co-op members as well as the 1-year return policy. Members can also buy and trade in used gear.

Other articles in this series include:

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Alison Dennis

Alison Dennis

Alison (she/her) runs WeighMyRack from her 17' travel trailer. She is currently touring the US and would love if you contacted her to meet up to talk about climbing, climbing gear, or if you have any fun and/or ridiculous adventure in mind.

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