Best Gloves for 14ers | My Advice & Recommendations

People often ask me “what are the best gloves for 14ers?” On Class 1 fourteeners, nothing more than a hike, gloves aren’t usually necessary. However when scrambling or climbing on Class 2, 3 or 4 terrain, many people prefer to bring gloves along to protect their hands and provide more grip. Other people insist that bare hands are better for climbing and prefer the natural feel. Here are the pro’s and con’s of wearing gloves, along with my recommendations for the best gloves for 14ers. 

The Pro's of wearing gloves on 14ers

There are several good reasons to wear gloves while scrambling or climbing on 14ers. First, people sweat while climbing, which makes your hands slippery and reduces your grip. On Class 3 and 4 climbs, this can make a big difference safety-wise. It can also get especially cold at 14,000 feet. Insulation helps keep your hands warm when working on cold rock for hours on end. And of course, rocks are sharp and can cause a lot of damage, especially if you fall and try to break your fall. Gloves provide a bit of extra protection in an already dangerous situation.

The Con's of wearing gloves on 14ers

There are also a few reasons people don’t use gloves. As many people point out, technical climbers rarely use gloves, instead relying on the grip of their hands and feel of their skin to find their way up routes. Some people also find gloves uncomfortable or don’t sweat very much and prefer a cooler hand outside of a glove. In highly technical moves, gloves definitely can make it more difficult to grab a small handhold, though these kinds of movements are rare on most 14ers. In these climbers’ opinion, there are no best gloves for 14ers. 

Best Gloves for 14ers

The best gloves for 14ers: My Four Recommendations

Considering the pro’s and con’s, you’ll have to decide for yourself whether you need gloves on 14ers. I recommend brining them along on an easier Class 2+ scramble to see how they feel without putting yourself at much risk. If you do decide to use them, here are my four personal recommendations for the best gloves for 14ers.

These first gloves from Metolius leave your finger tips exposed for extra grip on loose rock. However they sacrifice warmth as a result, and are best used on summer scrambles when the cold is less of a problem. They’re particularly good for belaying thanks to their extra palm padding, if you’re doing more technical roped climbing as well. 

Learn more or buy a pair here.

This second Metolius pair is more thoroughly insulated than the Half Finger pair, making them a better option for year-round ascents. Their insulation is light, however, so you may still need something warmer for when you aren’t using your fingers to actively climb, or in very windy conditions.

Learn more or buy a pair here.

These glovees from Arc’teryx are the real deal. They’re the most expensive of the best gloves for 14ers, but they pack a punch. They’ve got solid insulation and good grip, so you can use them any time of the year. They’re also a prime pair of gloves for more extreme and technical routes that involve roped or ice climbing. With Gore-tex material, they still breathe well too and prevent a build-up of sweat.

Learn more or buy a pair here.

The Mountain Hardwear Infinium Gloves are a good overall balance of price and protection. They’re extremely windproof, though they’re less insulated than other options on the list. For climbing 14ers in the spring, summer and fall though, this pair is one of the best gloves for 14ers with a very reasonable price point.

Learn more or buy a pair here.

The best gloves for 14ers: Now You Know!

I hope these recommendations and factors help as you try to find the best gloves for 14ers. Whether or not you decide to bring gloves, remember to always pack the ten essentials to stay safe when climbing and scrambling up the Colorado 14ers.

Alex Derr, Creator of The Next Summit

Alex is an Eagle Scout and mountaineer living in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. You can subscribe to his Next Summit Newsletter here.

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