Wheelmen: The 8 Best Driving Gloves

Aug 10, 2015

Category: Style

Steering wheels are filthy. They absorb dirt and oils from our hands all the time until they are dirtier than an oil filter and packed with more bacteria than an underground lab at the CDC. Unless you want to never sleep again, don’t run a blacklight over your steering wheel. Thankfully, there is a cure to prevent you from having to touch the vile thing: Driving gloves.

A good pair of gloves is meant to enhance your driving experience. They not only keep your grubby paws off the filthy wheel, they provide additional grip that helps you keep a handle on your car even when taking hairpin turns at speeds that would make your mother cringe; unless mom was a Formula 1 racer. They prevent your skin from slipping off of a gear shift as well, which is why they are favored by racers and roadsters alike. If you’re ready to enhance your control and keep germs at bay, it’s time to invest in one of the 8 best driving gloves.

Pratt and Hart Traditional

Pratt and Hart Traditional

Pro: Stylish
Con: Small

Standard Issue: Everything about these are classic. They are meant to be recreations of early driving gloves that capture every nuance so closely that when you put them on, you’ll swear that Jay Gatsby and Daisy are about to call on you. The snapping wrist strap and minimalist fit are both right out of the roaring 20’s. The unlined, slim design allows you to easily feel the wheel as if these aren’t even there. They fit so well it is easy to forget you are wearing them. An elastic band on the underside keeps them snug and prevents them from slipping even when you’re executing a serious drift turn or grabbing the Brodie knob on your old rambler. For looks and durability, they can honestly compete with most Italian gloves without the imported cost. If you aren’t acclimated to gloves built for driving, the tiny size could take some adjustment. [Purchase: $27]

First Manufacturing Motorcycle Driving Gloves

First Manufacturing Motorcycle Driving Gloves

Pro: Protects from motorcyle vibration
Con: Require extensive breaking in

Perfect Padding: Driving gloves aren’t normally made for the man who prefers two wheels to four. The assumption is that there are enough motorcycle gauntlets out there that a fella can get by. First Manufacturing put a stop to that nonsense by creating a specially padded set of leather gloves built with the cyclist, rather than the motorist, in mind. The heavily padded palm cushions impact and vibration from handlebars while the ventilated back side provides plenty of airflow for long, hot days. They come in both fingered and fingerless models, though we preferred the fingerless style since they were cooler and allowed easier access to nuts, bolts, spark plugs, and anything else that might need repairs. If you do need to remove them, high-quality, quick-release velcro allows them to be pulled off in a second. They can be a little stiff and tight at first, so give them some time to break in. [Purchase: $7+]

Autodromo Stringback Driving Gloves

AutoDromo Stringback

Pro: Works well with a wristwatch
Con: Crocheting can snag and tear

Supreme Style: While most other options aim for the full leather body first popularized in the early part of the 20th century, these daring gloves seek to revive the style and sophistication of the 50’s and 60’s by using a crocheted backing rather than strictly ventilated leather. In addition to keeping your knuckles cool even when they are white on the wheel, the crocheting looks stunning and will certainly set you apart from the pack. The palm is genuine leather that has been drum-dyed to give it a powerful luster. Three ridges help keep your grip whether grabbing the shifter or taking turns on the German Autobahn. A snug elastic underside keeps the gloves in place without ruining the look while a split back offers the ability to always see your watch so that you can accurately clock time trials when you hit the track. [Purchase: $125]

Warmen Soft Nappa Cashmere

Warmen Soft Nappa Cashmere

Pro: Very soft
Con: Not durable at all

Complete Comfort: Your driver has taken ill and it is too late to call for a towncar. You can’t let your baby soft hands get ruined doing manual labor like turning the wheel on your Rolls-Royce Phantom. What do you reach for to protect them? Why the Warmen’s soft Nappa. The cashmere lining will ensure that your digits never touch anything that isn’t soft enough for a prince while the true buttery soft nappa leather exterior offers a little protection as well as a stylish flair. The dual buttons on the cuff allow you to select how tightly they fit. The stitching is nothing short of genius and won’t give way even after years of use, so long as you don’t use them for anything gauche like picking up an ice scraper and trying to de-frost your car. That is what manservants are for. The style is noteworthy, though it does tend to scream “movie assassin.” A recent price reduction have made these very affordable. [Purchase: $30]

Boston Traveler Deerskin

Boston Traveler Deerskin

Pro: Warm
Con: Poor Stitching

Welcome Warmth: Most of these gloves are built to allow you to feel the steering wheel so that you can read every bump in the road as if you weren’t wearing them. That’s fine for summer drives up the coast, but what about those winter nights when you just want to get home from work without waiting for your car to warm up all the way? For times when you couldn’t feel the wheel with your frostbitten fingers if you wanted to, there is the Boston Traveler. The Thinsulate lining coupled with the solid deerskin exterior are built for warmth like a winter glove, though also have the gripping power of a driving glove so that your hands won’t go sliding around the wheel. They run at a medium thickness that strikes an excellent balance between keeping your hands toasty while also allowing you to operate all the buttons and dials on your console without fumbling. Be warned, the stitching has a tendency to break down and require repairs. [Purchase: $20]

Pratt and Hart Mens Deerskin Leather

Pratt and Hart Men’s Deerskin Leather

Pro: Rich color
Con: Velcro wrist strap

Color Combination: Women’s driving gloves come in a whole variety of colors that they can match to their outfit, their shoes, their handbag, and whatever boyfriend is stylish at the time. Men’s gloves don’t have this dazzling array, but even though we are stuck with a lesser palette, that doesn’t mean it can’t be attractive. The deerskin collection from Pratt and Hart has a slightly elevated number of options with the standard black and brown, but also a cream color that looks rich as buttermilk. All of the colors are vibrant and clearly dyed with the utmost care so that when they wear, they don’t look beaten or disheveled but rather well-used. The only nod to tackiness is the wrist strap which is velcro rather than snaps. It isn’t hideous, and is easier to use, but interrupts the otherwise incomparable style and very high-quality that these gloves espouse everywhere else in their construction. [Purchase: $40]

Bionic Mens Driving Gloves

Bionic Men’s Driving Gloves

Pro: Improves grip
Con: Parts wear out quickly

Tactical Advantage: When you go out for a night on the town, you don’t take some convertible roadster like some guy who owns a bunch of scarves and lives on an estate in the Hamptons. You take your tank, unless it’s in the shop and you have to take your Humvee to raid a compound or your monster truck for a little light demolition derby. You don’t want some tiny leather gloves that allow you to hold a snifter, whatever the hell a snifter is. You require something that can slip into a trigger guard or lets you whip out one of your throwing knives for a silent takedown. The cabretta leather is supple for good flexibility and coupled with a split-knuckle design that gives your fingers ultimate dexterity. Padding in the palm works to relieve the stress of using tools by flattening out your grip surface for a firmer, more confident grip. Ventilated webbing keeps your hands cool in the hottest of situations. When buying be aware that the stretching material can make sizing strange and wears out faster than the leather portion. If you want to go even heavier, a Mechanix work glove is also a good choice. [Purchase: $34+]

Isotoner smarTouch

Isotoner smarTouch

Pro: Touchscreen compatible
Con: Thin

Tech Savvy: Isotoner makes a number of good driving gloves if you like a slimmer style that doesn’t show off your winter hand fat. The smarTouchs are our favorite though because they don’t just grip the wheel, they are also touchscreen gloves that allow you to work with your mobile devices without ever needing to take the gloves off. A single conductive metal thread is woven into the finger and the thumb which allows you to interact with tablets, smartphones, or even electronic gas pumps. While this technology can sometimes be clumsy and unattractive, Isotoner has fitted it into some classic gloves complete with vented fingers and snap wrists that don’t look out of place wherever the road may take you. The gloves are unlined giving you greater touch sensitivity but also reducing warmth. [Purchase: $55]

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