Cruising downhill doesn’t always require sliding, but then it does, you are going to want to be wearing sliding gloves. Sharp turns, quick stops and advanced tricks all require the skillful use of your hands. Whether you are new to downhill longboarding or you have been riding for years, choosing the right sliding gloves can boost your confidence when tackling steep runs and new maneuvers.
What Are Sliding Gloves?
Ever wonder how gloves protect longboarders’ hands as they drag across the pavement at 30+ miles per hour? The secret is in the palm of their hands.
All sliding gloves include a palm (or sliding) puck. Manufactured with an engineered thermoplastic, producing a stiff, low-friction and stable glide, palm pucks will protect your digits from the unforgiving pavement.
As the heart of the sliding glove, this piece of equipment is absolutely essential to proper sliding technique. The palm puck should be placed toward the heel of your hand. This will encourage you to apply pressure at the bottom of your hand. If you place the puck in the center of your palm, you will be more prone to grasp the puck, causing the fingers to drag.
Finding the right sliding glove will depend on your skill level and the kinds of hills you decide to tackle. For beginners, the use of finger pucks (more about this below) will help avoid slip-ups. Alternatively, more advanced riders may want to trade additional protection for superior flexibility when grabbing the rails of their boards.
Fortunately, there are many quality sliding gloves for all skill levels that you can choose from.
The Best Sliding Gloves For Beginners
Experimenting with downhill longboarding, or trying new tricks, can come at a painful cost. Until sliding techniques have been practiced, honed and perfected, it is advisable to choose sliding gloves with finger pucks as well as a palm puck. Though many major brands carry gloves with durable Kevlar fingertips, beginners still run the risk of jamming fingers on cracks, potholes and curbs. Fortunately, there are many great sliding glove manufacturers that carry a finger puck option.
The Triple 8 Downhill Slide Glove is a great, versatile option for those seeking additional protection for their fingers. The glove features tear-resistant Kevlar fingertips. It also includes standard, replaceable round slider pucks and slider bars that can be placed across the fingertips. Finished in full top grain leather and a strong wrap-around Velcro wrist strap, these sliding gloves provide optimal protection and provide the option to wean off of the use of finger pucks as you progress in skill.
Another great option for beginning downhill longboarders is the Loaded Longboard Freeride Slide Gloves, Version 7.0. Loaded recently redesigned these sliding gloves to meet the demanding expectations of their customers. Like the Triple Eight Downhill Slide Gloves, the Loaded Freeride Gloves have a center palm puck and a removable finger bar. Moreover, these gloves feature a thin, shock-absorbing foam cushion and foam knuckle pads for additional crash protection. Instead of leather, which may heat up in the sun, the Loaded Freeride Gloves are made from synthetic suede with a vented mesh lining for added breathability.
While finger pucks can provide additional defense against the unforgiving pavement, they should not replace proper sliding technique. As you feel more comfortable with using just the palm puck, you can lose the finger bars and take your riding to the next level. Just remember to keep the finger pucks handy in your back pocket the next time you are learning a new trick.
Sliding Gloves For Experienced Longboarders
If you are a more seasoned longboarder, and you are ready to take your glove game to the next level, there are a number of sliding glove options that will suit your demands.
The Loaded Advanced Freeride Longboard Slide Gloves are top-shelf, pro-grade slide gloves that would make Michael Jackson envious. Made of goat leather with a segmented and foam knuckle guard, these gloves form to the wearer’s hand and provide optimal dexterity. But with top-shelf quality also comes top-shelf prices.
For the more budget conscious, Sector 9 provides a range of sliding glove options that are designed to withstand the most demanding of sessions. The Sector 9 BHNC gloves, for example, feature a comfortable neoprene knuckle panel and cuff, anti-vibration foam under the palm puck, and durable Kevlar fingertips. They even threw in a terry cloth thumb panel so that you can wipe the sweat off your brow.
Taking Care Of Your Sliding Gloves
Sliding gloves take a beating when buffering the small spaces between your flesh and the pavement, and eventually the sliding pucks will have to be replaced. Sliding pucks are made of a durable engineered plastic, but they are not indestructible. More likely than not, the plastic pucks will wear out before your gloves do and will need to be swapped out.
The good news it that quality replacement pucks can be found on the market at a fraction of the cost of a new pair of gloves. Most sliding pucks attach to sliding gloves with a strong Velcro grip, so it is advisable that replacements share the same brand adhesive as the glove. Top brands like Sector 9, Loaded and Triple Eight all sell replacements for their gloves, guaranteeing that their gloves can stay on the road for years to come.
As with all longboarding gear, you will need to replace your sliding gloves when they can no longer provide the protection they once promised. Nevertheless, when using the right techniques, proper puck placement, and quality materials, sliding gloves can last for many, many downhill rides.