Finding The Best Gloves For Urban Exploration: 5 Options

You’ve probably noticed that a pair of gloves comes in pretty handy on urban exploring trips. A good pair of gloves are probably the most underrated tool in an urban explorer’s backpack. On a typical urbex trip, we encounter rusty metal, broken glass, and splintered wood. A good pair of gloves will provide protection from these elements and become your best friend. 

Protection doesn’t have to be expensive. This helpful guide will break down the five best gloves for urban explorers, the pros, and cons of each pair, and which ones we recommend. 

Why Wear Gloves When Urban Exploring?

Before we get into the best gloves and their specifics first we should talk about why gloves are important for urban explorers. When you’re exploring it’s quite common to come across broken glass, rusted nails or metal, or just downright wet or gross surfaces. At these times you will want to have a pair of gloves. 

Gloves can also give you extra grip when climbing up or down surfaces. The Pretzel Cordex is a pair of lightweight gloves used by climbers but they are also commonly used by many urban explorers. These gloves offer a great combination of dexterity, protection, and comfort.

If you plan on going draining or to a site where things could get messy it may be best to choose a glove with a rubber coating such as the HexArmor Helix gloves. This is a thing pair of work gloves that can protect your hands from sludge and grim but is still thin enough to be maneuverable in an urbex situation.

We recommend keeping your gloves in a backpack or your pocket and only putting them on when you need to use them during your exploration. If you are caught trespassing while wearing gloves it may give off the appearance that something nefarious is taking place. Police officers may think that you are trying to hide your fingerprints or cover your tracks. It’s best to bring a pair of gloves a long but not wear them the entire time.

Our Recommendations For The Best Gloves For Urbex

Five top pairs of gloves made it to our best gloves list. Keep reading to learn about the best gloves we recommend for urban explorers. 

Note: If you’re looking for a great backpack to keep your gloves and tools in while you explore, check our article Best Urbex Backpacks: 10 Urban Exploration Packs

Petzl Cordex

The Petzl Cordex was our best gloves all-around pick. These were our favorite pairs of gloves for urban exploring mostly dry areas.

The glove shows a thoughtful and well-crafted design. Two layers of real leather protect your palms and fingers. They even thought to put extra coverage over high wear areas such as the thumb and forefinger.

The seams of the leather wrap around the top of the fingertips for added dexterity and comfort. These gloves are breathable and durable. They are a snug fit design that doesn’t get in the way of your movements. The back of the glove is even covered in stretchy nylon material.

The Petzl Cordex gloves outshined the other gloves in dexterity. This pair of gloves can rival the precision and mobility of half-finger gloves. They provide comfort and breathability unlike other pairs of leather gloves we have tried. They are great for climbing, or just rough surfaces like stone, brick, or metal. 

The cuff is made from neoprene. It fits comfortably and can be closed with durable velcro. We didn’t experience any issues with these gloves but Petzl does make gloves that are bit more reinforced if you feel like you may need additional padding or protection.

Product Specs

  • Materials: Goat hide leather, Stretch nylon
  • Finger length: Full

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Black Diamond Crag Half-Finger Gloves

Gloves are a useful upgrade, but not all urban explorers will want to spend a lot of money on a new pair of the best gloves. For these explorers, we suggest the Black Diamond Crag half-finger gloves.

The Crag design is very similar to the Petzl Cordex, swapping in synthetic leather instead of goat hide to save you money. The fingers and palms of the gloves are wrapped in synthetic leather and lightly padded, while the back of the gloves is a black mesh fabric. There is also some light padding over the knuckles.

These gloves as just as comfortable as the Cordex gloves and almost just as dexterous, too The same type of design is used in the seams. The light padding adds some comfort to the gloves without affecting the sensitivity. One the back of the thumb the fabric is soft in case you need to touch your face. The gloves close with a durable velcro fitting for an adjustable fit.

All of this value comes with the Crag gloves at a very wallet-friendly price. Some urban explorers also prefer open fingertip gloves because they tend to have more dexterity than full finger gloves. These gloves are unisex and you can’t beat the price.

Product Specs

  • Materials: Synthetic leather, Stretch mesh Fabric
  • Finger length: Half-finger (although this brand also makes a full finger length)

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HexArmor Helix Gloves

This next pair of gloves are perfect when things get a little messy. When you are exploring drainage systems or areas that may be more exposed to the elements it’s nice to have a pair of gloves that will cover your hands. 

The HexArmor Helix gloves are super comfortable and feel like a second pair of skin. These gloves offer cut resistance that can resist a level A3 cut. At the same time, these gloves are thin and quite durable allowing you to move freely. These thin work style gloves are made from 15-gauge HPPE and a fiberglass blend. It would take a lot for a piece of glass or a sharp object to puncture this pair of gloves.

These gloves are breathable and seamless. The glove’s materials and coating are designed to keep your hands from sweating and to allow your skin to breathe while you are wearing them. The palms of the gloves are coated with an abrasion-resistant coating making them perfect around broken glass or sharp objects. They also give you a firm grip.

These gloves are silicone-free which means they can be worn by people who have sensitive skin. They are unisex and come in different sizes that can fit men or women. One of the best things we like about these gloves is that they are machine washable. When you come home after exploring a drainage system or another messy site you can throw these bad boys immediately into the washer and then hang them up to dry afterward. 

Product Specs

  • Materials: 15-gauge HPPE and fiberglass blend with a microfoam nitrile palm coating
  • Finger length: Full 

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Mechanix Wear Tactical Gloves

The last thing you want when you are urban exploring is for your gloves to slip off. Tactical gloves like the Mechanix Wear provide a great fit and a lot of dexterity so you can focus on exploring. 

One great feature about this product is the stretch elastic cuffs. These cuffs provide a comfortable closure around the wrist they can easily be slipped on and off without the use of velcro. With these gloves, you’ll be able to carry on your tasks comfortably without having to adjust the tightness of the wrist.

Over the palms, the design features extra padding that holds the shape of your real palm. This eliminates any friction or discomfort you may feel during moving. The TrekDry fabric is featured on the back of the palms is breathable and works very well at preventing the gloves from becoming hot. You can’t really use a glove for urban exploration that doesn’t provide enough dexterity. This pair of gloves offers 0.6 mm of synthetic leather that is infused with touch screen technology for the fingertips. These gloves will allow you to use your smartphone to take pictures or track your GPS while you are exploring. 

These gloves also have nylon carrier loops which make it easier to store and hang these gloves. Overall, this pair of gloves offers a very unique design compared to the other gloves that have made our list thus far. We know many urban explorers who prefer a tactical design in their gloves and we believe this is one of the best pairs of tactical gloves on the market. 

Product Specs

  • Materials: Synthetic leather, TrekDry fabric
  • Finger length: Full

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Handyman Flex Grip Work Gloves

The CLC Custom Leathercraft 125L Handyman Flex Grip Work Gloves are meant to be used as gloves for men who do all sorts of activities. Electricians, landscapers, mechanics, movers, and everyone in between all take advantage of the comfort and functionality offered by the fit.

The Handyman Flex Grip gloves are created from synthetics leather. They are shrink resistant and also include cold-weather insulation. The gloves have padded knuckles, a stretch fit thumb feature, and spandex back for a comfortable fit. These gloves can greatly increase your safety on an exploration without giving up a lot of dexterity. There is even a strap across the back to keep the gloves from slipping off.

The stitching of the gloves is on the inside to prevent snags or tears in the material. The gloves also come complete with three touch screen fingertips to allow you to use your phone with ease while you are wearing them. These gloves are unisex and come available in five different sizes.

This pair of gloves is a great all-around pair perfect for urban exploring and they are at a great price. You won’t be disappointed in the quality or dexterity of these gloves. They are machine washable, too. Throw them in the wash after a trip and watch them come out brand new and ready for your next urbex adventure. 

Product Specs

  • Materials: Synthetic leather, Spandex
  • Finger length: Full

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Top Features of the Best Gloves For Urbex

There are a few qualities that are important to urban explorers. If you are in the market for the best pair of gloves think about how each pair you are interested in compare on these key factors.

Dexterity

The gloves you use for urban exploration must provide an ample amount of dexterity. Dexterity will not only allow you to move around freely as you explore but it is an important part of hand protection as well. 

High dexterity gloves result in increased safety and performance. If the gloves you choose do not provide enough dexterity then you probably won’t use them. Look for online reviews and see what customers say online about the dexterity of certain models before you choose them. 

The Mechanix Wear Tactical Gloves and the Petzl Cordex are two of our favorites that provide excellent dexterity. The other ones do as well, but these two are in a class of their own.  

Protection

Another important factor to consider when choosing gloves for urban exploration is the level of protection they offer your hands. Are the gloves cut resistant? Do they protect against heat?

When choosing a glove it is important to remember that some styles are more suited for urban exploration than others. Classic leather work gloves or climbing gloves generally offer a good level of protection for urban explorers but hiking gloves or motorcycle gloves may be too thin. It’s all about finding the right love that will protect your hands and keep your glove from wearing out too quickly. 

The Best Gloves for Urban Exploring Are the Ones You’ll Wear

So what are the best gloves for urban exploring? Easy, the ones that you will actually wear. Why? Your gloves can’t protect you or give you extra grip if you don’t wear them. Take your time and explore all your options. Find a glove that is the right design and fit for you. 

We’ve given you our top five best gloves for urban exploration in this guide. We believe these styles of gloves are best suited for urbex adventures and will help you get the most out of your experience. If you are exploring in an area with asbestos of lead it may be a good idea to wear a respirator. Check out our article The Best Respirator Options for Urban Exploration. If you are new to urban exploring you can start by reading more What is Urban Exploring? The Ultimate Guide for 2020.