Should You Wear Gloves When Riding an ATV?

Ross Ballot
by Ross Ballot
Photo Credit: Spencer Ballot

All-terrain-vehicles (ATVs) offer exhilarating experiences through varied, rugged terrains, but safety should always be a priority. Gloves are a crucial piece of essential safety gear in ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable riding experience, and perhaps for more reasons than you think.

In most cases, one’s hands are highly susceptible to injuries during ATV riding. Rough trails, unexpected obstacles, and varied terrain can pose risks of abrasions, cuts, and bruises. Gloves act as a shield, guarding against these potential injuries. They form a barrier between your skin and external elements, significantly reducing the chances of painful scrapes or lacerations. Without your hands doing their job working the handlebars, you’re not going to have a good time riding an ATVs.

Not only that, but gloves enhance grip and thus control of the machine. Maintaining a firm grip on the ATV's handlebars is crucial for the best ability to have the vehicle do what you want it to do. Gloves offer better traction and grip than human skin, which helps prevent your hands from slipping during maneuvers or while navigating challenging terrains. This improved grip contributes significantly to overall control and maneuverability, reducing the likelihood of accidents caused by losing control of the ATV.

It goes further with how gloves help protect against the elements. Weather conditions can significantly impact the riding experience for the worse, depending on how you look at the extremes. In colder climates, gloves provide insulation, keeping your hands warm which helps maintain dexterity. Cold hands can hamper your ability to operate the ATV efficiently, potentially leading to accidents. Conversely, in hot weather, gloves can shield your hands from sunburns, preventing discomfort and allowing you to focus on riding.

Photo Credit: Ross Ballot

Where you don’t expect gloves to be helpful is in impact absorption, but they can be a surprising benefit here as well. In the unfortunate event of a fall or collision, gloves act as a cushion, absorbing some of the impact. They can reduce the severity of injuries by providing a layer of padding around the hands, potentially preventing fractures or other serious harm. Padded gloves also help serve as a damper between the terrain and your joints, which can help keep you happier longer.

An obvious but overlooked perk of wearing gloves is in debris and dirt prevention. Off-road riding exposes riders to dust, dirt, and sometimes flying objects like rocks. Gloves act as a barrier, keeping unwanted particles away from your hands. This not only prevents irritation or discomfort but also maintains a cleaner and safer grip on the ATV controls. Rogue trees can also smack your hand at inopportune times, and nobody in their right mind enjoys that. Glove up and the pain of a branch or stick whipping you across the knuckles is diminished at least somewhat.

All of the above are manners by which ATV riding can create fatigue and discomfort. Reduced. The hobby is incredible, but it can certainly be exhausting. The vibrations and constant maneuvering while riding an ATV can lead to hand fatigue, which leads to arm fatigue, which leads to unsafe riding. Gloves with padding or ergonomic design can help absorb vibrations, reducing fatigue and allowing for a more extended and comfortable riding experience.

In the camp of incremental benefits, gloves offer increased visibility and thus safety on the trail. This benefit is minimal and might be a bit of a stretch, but reflective or brightly colored gloves enhance visibility, especially in low-light conditions or when riding in areas with limited visibility. This increased visibility can contribute to overall safety by making your hand signals more noticeable to other riders or vehicles.

Selecting the right glove for you can be rather difficult. Really the only way to know if a pair is going to work is to try them out, and by that we mean really try them out, as in put them through everything they’ll be subjected to on the trail. Translation: You might need to buy a few different pairs and suck up the added expense in doing so in order to best find what works for you. We’ve gone through countless brands and styles, and are currently very pleased with the Dirtpaw gloves on Amazon. That said, we rock full-on snowmobile gloves in cold weather. Those little pockets for hand warmers are life-savers, or at least finger savers.

In essence, wearing gloves while riding an ATV is not merely a recommendation but a critical safety measure. They serve as a first line of defense against a multitude of potential hazards, protecting your hands from injuries, providing better control, and ensuring a more comfortable riding experience. Investing in high-quality, purpose-built ATV gloves is a small yet significant step toward maximizing safety and enjoyment during ATV adventures. Better yet, go a step further and add a set of hand guards for added protection. Your hands will thank you.

Ross Ballot
Ross Ballot

Ross hosts The Off the Road Again Podcast. He has been in the off-road world since he was a kid riding in the back of his dad’s YJ Wrangler. He works in marketing by day and in his free time contributes to Hooniverse, AutoGuide, and, and in the past has contributed to UTV Driver, ATV Rider, and Everyday Driver. Ross drives a 2018 Lexus GX460 that is an ongoing build project featured on multiple websites and the podcast and spends his free time working on and riding ATVs.

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