Much attention and discussion is paid to finding the best shoes for parkour, but relatively little attention is paid to finding the best gloves for parkour. Parkour is a high impact sport and stressful for the entire body. And the hands are certainly no exception. After all, rough concrete, pavement, metal pipes, and splintering wooden beams aren’t exactly known for being easy on hands. After enduring the wear and tear that one’s hands inevitably undergo during training, many beginners and experienced practitioners alike think of using gloves.
But is it a good idea to use parkour gloves? And if so, what are the best gloves for parkour? These aren’t necessarily easy questions to answer, but let’s start with the first one.
Should I Use Gloves For Parkour?
Whether to wear gloves or not when training parkour is a pretty controversial topic in the parkour community. It is a question that inevitably comes up in every forum. In many other sports and disciplines, if gloves are needed for grip, protection, or to enhance performance, there is no debate about whether to use them or not. In contrast, it is generally argued that gloves should not be used for parkour. There are three important reasons why.
In many cases, your bare hands will actually have better overall grip. You don’t have to worry about your hands moving around inside the gloves or worse the gloves failing in some way.
Even the thinnest and most sensitive gloves are far worse than bare hands for feeling everything around you. Gloves reduce the feedback you get from different surfaces. This can reduce control and make it harder to adapt mid technique since you might not be able to feel a surface change subtly.
Over time your hands will toughen up and become conditioned for parkour.
Advantages of Using Gloves
While gloves certainly have disadvantages, they also undoubtedly have some advantages. And unlike some who think that gloves should never be used for parkour, I think they have their uses in certain circumstances.
Cuts, blisters, and bruises can easily end training and force practitioners to wait until they are healed. Gloves can let you get back to training sooner or prevent injuries from occurring in the first place.
Some techniques and certain environments are simply brutal on your hands and even experienced traceurs will only be able to endure so much. If you are practicing the same move over and over and it is punishing your hands, gloves can be a very useful training tool.
Everyone who has trained in a cold environment knows how quickly your hands can start to feel numb and how much this limits your training. Gloves can make the difference between being able to train during harsh weather or not.
Some people are not willing to condition their hands or simply unable to because of things like their profession.
Parkour Glove Recommendations
If you are shopping for a pair of gloves, there are several important features to look for. Gloves should provide a high degree of sensitivity for the fingertips, have a high grip material throughout the palm, be durable, and have a secure fit.
Typical fingerless gloves designed for weight lifting. Decent padding on the palms, thick enough to notice, but not too bulky to hinder technique all that much. They are quite comfortable and fit snugly. They move around like all gloves do, but they feel secure. Durability is about as good as it gets for as demanding as parkour is on gloves. Grip is average as far as weightlifting gloves go. Overall, these are a solid choice for those seeking this type of glove.
Comfortable full finger gloves with decent grip and durability. Dexterity is relatively good and they are padded enough to protect your hands. They are obviously less sensitive than fingerless gloves, but if you need more protection they get the job done quite well.
For colder weather, you will need warmer gloves. While they have their limitations and you will need to modify your training, it is simply part of the deal if you want to train during certain conditions. At the very least, they are useful for putting on and warming or rewarming your hands up during breaks in training.
Alternatives to Using Gloves
If you want to avoid using gloves or whatever reason, there are several things you can do to deal with the demands of parkour on your hands.
Calluses can protect the hand but they also have a tendency to tear off. This is both annoying and painful if you want to continue training. The best advice is to be proactive. You can reduce calluses in a number of ways and lessen the chances of them tearing. The simplest way is to use a cheap and widely available pumice stone to sand them down.
Small cuts can be protected with band aids. Generic athletic tape is highly useful for very minor scrapes and injuries. It can also be used for preventative measures. Here is a simple tutorial depicting how to tape a hand if a callous has or is about to tear.
After Training Sessions
There are a variety of salves, balms, and oils that can be useful for taking care of your hands. Joshua Tree’s Climbing Salve and Climb On! Bar are both highly regarded in the climbing and CrossFit communities.
Unfortunately, there is no real answer as to whether or not you should wear parkour gloves when training. The topic is likely to remain a hotly debated issue though I do think they can be incredibly useful in some instances. Really, it is a question you should answer for yourself. If you haven’t tried using gloves before, pick up a pair and see if you get any value out of them. If you practice in gloves all the time, try taking a break from using them. See what impact it has and if they are really needed.
Do you use gloves for parkour? What is your hand care routine like? Leave a message in the comments.