Crack gloves, like knee bar pads, are one of the easiest ways to spark a debate in the climbing community. Some climbers believe that using crack gloves is cheating, taking away from the pure nature of the art of climbing. Others find them to be a useful and eco-friendly alternative to tape gloves.
No matter where you fall on the spectrum, the simple truth is that crack climbing gloves are here to stay. Unfortunately, the first crack gloves felt less like a glove and more like someone stuck the sole of an approach shoe loosely to the back of your hand.
Thankfully, the long-awaited Black Diamond Crack Gloves are here to address that issue, and they do not disappoint.
The main difference is that they’re thinner than most gloves on the market, which makes these feel more like tape gloves than anything else. The rubber adhesive film on top provides plenty of stick and just enough protection to keep gobies at bay. Tack on a protective thumb loop, low-profile finger loops, and a Hypalon® strap, and you’ve got a glove worth writing home about.
The main material in the glove is synthetic suede, making it not only vegan-friendly but also highly durable, and importantly, breathable. This means that you won’t find your hands swimming in the glove the moment the sun strikes the wall.
At first glance, you’d almost wonder if these gloves actually have any rubber on them. But lo and behold, Black Diamond included a small patch right where you need it on the back of the hand. The rubber offers superb stickiness on the wall, and it does so without increasing the thickness of the glove by any noticeable amount.
Nobody likes fist jams, not even the people who say they do. But the harsh reality is that sometimes, you've just got to do it. Fortunately for all of us, BD included a thumb sleeve that conveniently protects most of your thumb while still offering enough freedom of movement to ensure that you can grab the occasional face hold when necessary.
On the Wall
If there’s anything that makes these gloves stand out against their competitors, like the Ocun Crack Gloves and the OR Splitter Gloves, it’s their thickness or lack thereof.
Other crack gloves tend to feel bulky or, at the very least, change how you jam because they’re thick enough to alter the size of your hand in the crack. In other words, they can turn a fist crack into a hands crack, which sounds nice until you consider what that means for a tight hands crack.
The Black Diamond Crack Gloves, on the other hand, feel like tape gloves, and in fact, are even thinner than a standard tape glove.
This gives them a huge leg up, giving you enough protection to keep jams from being painful while still offering plenty of friction. The only downside is that you lose some padding, which can be an issue with painful jams, but it takes an unusually sharp crack to really make this a problem.
These gloves also go above and beyond in terms of performance. Combining a slim design with the 3D patterned construction, these crack gloves conform nicely to the backs of your hands in a way that other gloves don’t, meaning they’re less prone to slipping or moving around when you’re jamming.
What We Like
- Thickness: For years, the biggest problem with crack gloves has been their tendency towards being far too thick. These solve that problem without sacrificing stick.
- Breathability: Breathability goes a long way, especially when climbing in the desert. Plus, the white color keeps the sun from cooking your hands. That means they’ll stay cooler, dryer, and way more comfortable when you’re on the wall.
- Optimized Design: 3D patterning lets these gloves conform to your hand, giving you a performance fit. The added thumb sleeve is a huge plus, and the low-profile finger loops ensure that the gloves stay in place without limiting your ability to grab face holds when the crack ends.
What Could Be Improved
- Sizing: Sizing anything online is tough, and these gloves are no exception. Most initial reports note that when using the BD size chart, palm girth is the most accurate sizing indicator, but it can still lead people to gloves that are slightly too small. Measure carefully, especially if you have large knuckles, and consider sizing up one size when in doubt.
- Stiff Wrist Strap: While it’s clearly made to be durable, the Hypalon® wrist strap can dig into your wrist, being as stiff as it is. Although it’s a minor issue, it can cause undue pressure and pain on your wrist.
- Durability: There are reviews stating that the loop through which you pull the strap to tighten the gloves has a tendency to snap and break. Take care to avoid over tightening the gloves, and you should avoid this problem. That said, it would be nice to see some added reinforcement for the loop.
If you’re in the market for crack gloves, this is as far as you need to look. We’ve tried most popular models on the market and the truth of the matter is that these are the best, hands down, for the dedicated crack climber, and they fit like the trusty old tape gloves we all love so much.
As long as you take care with the wrist strap, these gloves should be durable enough to stack up with others out there, meaning that you get the same performance in a thinner, more breathable glove.
Oh, and they’re still only $40.
Campman is an outdoor retail store located in Salt Lake City, Utah, that specializes in gear and equipment for camping, skiing, backpacking, climbing, and everything in between. We understand that the difference between a bad memory and the adventure of a lifetime can come down to the gear you take with you when you head outdoors, and we want our customers to have the best experiences possible. When it comes to getting outside, we get it, and we’ll get you the gear you need to get there.
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