Humans have a very special relationship with vehicles, marked by a sentimentality that’s seldom possessed by inanimate objects. This profound passion has led every generation of motorists to look for ways to improve the overall driving experience, whether that be through increasingly sophisticated mechanics or tweaks made to the cabin to bolster comfort. And one tried-and-true item that’s been utilized since the inception of the automobile itself is driving gloves.
Though they’re often viewed as remnants of a bygone era, driving gloves very much have a place in today’s automotive world. On top of the aesthetics of driving gloves, wheelman mitts afford their wearer a myriad of objective benefits that increase performance and comfort. With the benefit of well-over-a-century of development, the driving glove space has hugely evolved over the years, culminating in today’s diverse crop of offerings. To help shine a light on the best pairs the industry has to offer, we’ve compiled this definitive list of the best driving gloves.
Better Behind The Wheel
The Five Main Benefits & Advantages Of Driving Gloves
Far more than a mere fashion statement, driving gloves offer a host of benefits to their wearer. And while there are some additional minor perks, there are five main reasons why driving gloves will improve your experience behind the wheel.
Improved Grip: The first, and almost certainly the most blatant benefit of driving gloves is added grip. No matter what kind of steering wheel you’re helming, driving gloves give their wearer more traction when grabbing a steering wheel or working a stick shift. Furthermore, these gloves prevent sweaty hands from compromising grip.
Reduced Vibration: While this isn’t necessarily true across the board, the vast majority of driving gloves will decrease the amount of vibration that can be felt through the steering wheel. By reducing the level of vibration, driving gloves are also able to lessen fatigue.
Weather Protection: Another fairly obvious benefit to driving gloves is weather protection. Gloves allow drivers to comfortably operate a vehicle with the top-down (or windows down) without being hampered by cold weather—which can also decrease hand and finger dexterity.
Vehicle Preservation: The sweat, grime, and oils on our hands can wreak havoc on an antique wood, leather, or even metal steering wheel. Wearing driving gloves can help to better preserve the controls in a car, namely the steering wheel and shift knob, though they’ll also reduce the wear and tear on turn-signal controls, radio dials, and other elements in the driver’s quarters.
Style: Similar to a classic bomber jacket or waxed coat, there’s an inherent timeless, classically-cool quality to driving gloves. Adding an extra dose of style, these gloves sport an unmistakably purposeful look that can undeniably further the joy and experience of driving an antique or vintage car. There’s also a decent amount of variation between the different styles and models of gloves that are currently available.
Vintage-Style Driving Gloves
Casual Coverage For Spirited Road Driving
Casual driving gloves have existed for generations, and though the overall appearance of these gloves hasn’t changed much, the same can’t be said for the materials and construction techniques used to create them. Primarily aimed at vintage and classic car enthusiasts, these gloves boast a timeless feel and aesthetic, while still offering the numerous key benefits that are associated with driving gloves. And while they do come with some obvious utility, casual driving gloves are designed with a much greater focus on looks and style.
OMP Racing is an iconic Italian company that got its start producing aftermarket parts for rally cars in the mid-1970s. And though the Scrivia-based firm normally trades in cutting-edge race gear, it recently decided to develop a retro-themed collection that draws on the company’s deep historic catalog of automotive offerings. Among this vintage-flavored lineup is OMP’s Tazio Gloves, a traditional set of Italian-designed fingerless driving gloves made using old-world materials. Also sold in a black and gray version, the Tazio sports a combination of perforated leather and woven fishnet fabric that make for a highly-breathable pair of gloves without mitigating the benefits that driving gloves typically afford.
Like the previous entry, Autodromo’s Stringback Gloves take ample inspiration from race gear of the 1950s and ‘60s. The drum-dyed genuine sheep leather palms allow for increased grip and lessened vibration while the cotton crochet back keeps the wearer’s hands cool. Designed and manufactured with the same exquisite craftsmanship and attention to detail as Autodromo’s watches, the Stringback is outfitted with diagonal ridges on the palm for even better grip, and an elasticized cuff that makes it a breeze to slip these gloves on or off. These gloves are also available in blue, burgundy, or an entirely blacked-out version, all of which sport a metal Autodromo badge at the base of the wrist.
Red Wing Heritage Driving Glove
Red Wing is a brand that needs to introduction, with an illustrious history dating back to 1905. The Minnesota-based heritage brand’s goods are renowned for their overall quality, immense durability, and the use of premium leathers—all of which are traits that appear on Red Wing’s Driving Glove. Offered in tan or black colors, the glove is constructed from high-end deerskin—or “Buckskin”—leather using reinforced stitching along the seams. The simple, classic design features a snap cuff directly adjacent to embossed Red Wing logos on the wrist. The lack of a liner enables these gloves to lend themselves to summer use, though they can also be worn with an interior liner for cold weather driving applications. Additionally, their rugged nature also allows them to double as a stellar pair of work gloves.
Triple Aught Design Gambit
Born out of a collaboration with Southern California glove manufacturer, Philleywood, Triple Aught Design’s Gambit Driving Glove presents a thoroughly modern take on classic leather driving gloves. The Gambit looks like your average classic driving glove though is made using premium leather that’s been treated using a cutting-edge WR100X tanning process that permanently fortifies the leather fibers from water. Made in America, the timeless design also boasts topographical patterns around the base for a slightly more contemporary feel, as well as touchscreen compatible fingertips. Limited to only 200 units in total, each pair of these handmade gloves also feature pique stitching, mild perforation for added airflow, and light padding around the palm and thumb for increased comfort.
Named after German-born Scuderia Ferrari driver, Wolfgang von Trips—who tragically lost his life at the 1961 Italian Grand Prix at Monza—Engelmüller’s W.V.T.61 is a top-shelf driving glove modeled after leather racing mitts from half-a-century ago. Part of Engelmüller’s Gentleman Driver Collection, the W.V.T.61 is constructed from ultra-supple cognac deerskin leather and sports holes at the knuckles and perforation along the back of the hands and fingers. And, while they are admittedly a tad pricier than most of the other items on this list, the overall level of quality and craftsmanship these gloves possess are second to none.
High-Performance Driving Gloves
Cutting-Edge Mitts For The Race Track
Unlike the more casual, vintage-style items, race gloves aim to optimize performance on the track. Worn by Formula One drivers and other top-level professional racers, these gloves are engineered using the latest and greatest in modern materials and manufacturing techniques. Just like with race helmets or suits, these gloves are often homologated for official competition use, and as such routinely feature elements such as fire-retardant material constructions and palms and fingers lined with specially engineered patterns and textures to massively bolster grip without mitigating tactile feel.
Headquartered out of Boise, Idaho, Zamp is a popular American race gear outfit known for delivering solid products at accessible price points. Zamp’s ZR-50 is an SFI 3.3-homologated, mid-length, gauntlet-style, dual-layer race glove with a fabric exterior that packs an elastic band wrist closure and leather palms and trigger and middle fingertips supplemented with strategically-placed silicone pads for ample grip when grasping a steering wheel. The use of thin yet robust and durable materials enables these glove to also offer fantastic tactile feedback. The gloves’ fire-retardant interior layer boasts a reverse-seam construction that makes for a more comfortable fit, as do the ZF-50’s pre-curved fingers.
MOMO Corsa R
In addition to some of the finest supercars manufacturers on the planet, Italy is also home to more than its fair share of the world’s best race equipment and gear companies, very much including MOMO. The Milan manufacturer’s Corsa R gloves represent Moretti Monza’s latest generation of top-of-the-line automotive race mitts. The glove features exterior-stitch construction with anatomically pre-curved fingers and a single-piece construction palm that reduces bunching. Made by hand in Italy, the gloves also feature a double elastic-banded zigzag gauntlet closure that keeps the gloves firmly in place while still allowing for optimal comfort. Certified for both FIA ( 8856/2000) and SFI 3.3/5 racing, the Corsa R also utilizes a special fire-retardant treatment that affords maximum protection without adding the bulk of an additional layer.
Backed by more than three decades of experience crafting race gear, OMP’s ONE-S are is one of the brand’s finest top-level race gloves, made entirely in Italy and crafted to modern FIA (8856-2018) homologation standards. Like most premium gloves built for the race track, the ONE-S is constructed with pre-curved fingers and a double zigzag elastic cuff, though it also sports diagonal cuts and is sold with special inserts for better fitment. This fire-retardant glove has the inside of the fingers, thumb, and the palm is lined with silicone in an effort to allow for optimal grip without limiting feedback and tactile feel. Just like with the rest of OMP’s ONE-S collection—which includes a matching full race suit and driving shoes—the gloves are available in a special edition “AUTOMOBILI LAMBORGHINI” variant, in addition to the half-a-dozen color combinations available on the regular version.
Sabelt Hero Superlight TG-10
Freshly released over the summer of 2020, the Hero Superlight TG-10 is Sablet’s latest take on a professional-grade race glove, boasting full Nomex construction and external stitching. On top of the remarkable feel afforded, the Nomex construction also allows these gloves to be extraordinarily lightweight—as its moniker suggests. Its thoroughly-calculated design includes an internally reinforced palm section lined with a mesh pattern that, like the glove’s striped fingertips, is printed in silicone to offer maximum grip while using a minimal amount of the material. The gloves also get up-to-date FIA (8856-2018) homologation approval, a robust fire-retardant rating, and a revised ergonomic design that offers a markedly more precise and comfortable fit.
Simpson’s Esse model offers pretty much everything one would expect from a top-level racing glove, with Full Nomex construction, reinforced fingers with an unrestricted range of motion, grippy silicone-lined palms, an elasticized gauntlet cuff, and an external seam configuration. Touted by Simpson as its “most comfortable glove,” the Esse is equipped with special memory foam pads strategically-placed in the palm that helps to mitigate fatigue. The Esse is also SFI 3.3/5 certified, and while its FIA homologation status is currently pending, the glove was just released in 2020 so it’s almost certainly just a matter of time until the Esse can be utilized in the lion’s share of both amateur and professional race leagues and series the world over.
Alpinestars Tech-1 Zx V2
Famously worn by elite wheelman ranging from championship-winning Formula One drivers to Top Gear’s “The Stig,” Alpinestars’ gloves and race gear constitutes some of the finest on-track equipment that money can buy, and the Italian brand’s Tech-1 Zx V2 is no exception. The glove features an ergonomic chassis with fingers that are pre-curved to accommodate the shape of a steering wheel and uses a flame-resistant Aramidic fiber main construction with external seams and a bonded Aramidic lining that helps to better regulate temperature. The inside of the fingers and palms are sprayed with latex while also sporting a silicone grip pattern for optimal grip and feel. Other highlights on this elite FIA-homologated glove include a 180° elasticated cuff design, and touchscreen-compatible thumb and fingertips that enable the wearer to work a smartphone or tablet without having to remove the gloves.
Sparco Tide RG-9
Dual homologated for both FIA and SFI competition, Sparco’s Tide RG-9 is an objectively cutting-edge glove that hugely benefits from proprietary materials and technologies developed in-house by the iconic Turin-based race brand. What really makes this glove special, however, is its use of Sparco’s own 3D HTX material for the palm construction. Comprised of what can best be described as a dense forest of tiny, rubber-like 1-2mm tall cylinders, the material affords unparalleled levels of grip, increases dexterity, and absorbs vibration incredibly well, thereby reducing fatigue. An anatomically-shaped palm, external seams, and a reinforced and padded knuckle area further the glove’s ability to perfectly balance comfort, performance, and protection.
The 15 Best Auto Racing Helmets
Interested in checking out some additional automotive gear for the race track? Then be sure to cruise over to our guide to the best auto racing helmets for a look at some of the latest and greatest life-saving brain buckets currently on the market.
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