Growing up, I loved gas stations—rare breaks from the road filled with aisle after aisle of vibrant artificial pleasures all vying for my attention. I still love them. There are nuances between a Chevron and a Love’s and a Sheetz, the institution native to the place where I grew up. No matter the novelties, these monuments all center around motion. The coffee pots pour pure energy for everyone passing through without prying into where they’re going. Oftentimes anymore, driving falls by the perceptual wayside, an everyday activity that serves as a shuttle between errands. In a way, however, driving is also kind of an art practice. Listening to the radio DJs. Watching the scenery shapeshift. Sinking into a song, or the subconscious. Driving gloves are a tool in this practice, lending both utility and style. If you’re looking to embrace the road a little more, we’ve rounded up all the best driving gloves you can buy today. Peruse their aisles as if you were in an Exxon Tiger Mart after eight hours on the road.
What Are Driving Gloves?
Not any old pair of gloves will work as driving gloves. These thin gloves actually derive their predominant purpose from utility rather than style. When cars came about, they were open air and anything but clean. Drivers wore gloves for safety and comfort, though those more stylistically inclined sought driving gloves with their own flair. As cars evolved into the softer shuttles we know them as today, driving gloves grew obsolete and fell from the mainstream. They live on in culture as a piece of vintage symbolism, evocative of class, sex appeal, and the vagabond lifestyle of the open road. Today’s styles run the full spectrum, from supple nappa leather gloves with ritzy hardware to racing gloves loaded with product features like conductive fabric. As a result, driving gloves not only offer a stylistic statement, but also increase your grip on the steering wheel (and clutch, if you’re into that). They offer climate control and manage your vehicle’s vibrations. There’s more than just what meets the eye.
What To Consider Before Purchasing
Like the open road and its many endless possibilities, driving gloves can serve an almost infinite combination of needs and desires. Before setting out to buy your new driving gloves, consider what role you’d like them to play. Then assess the following factors in terms of your decision.
Most driving gloves (including the iconic silhouette shared across most of the collective consciousness) are made with very soft sheep leather. First of all, this material enables a natural tack that keeps hands attached to the machine they’re maneuvering. Also, leather is breathable, durable, and improves with time. More tactical driving gloves are made with other materials like jacquard, silicone, and even conductive fabric, which uses metal strands to keep heat from the body.
Okay, this is actually important. I had not ever thought about how to correctly size gloves, and it could be possible that you haven’t either. Here’s the scoop, courtesy of Dents Gloves: “Measure the circumference of the hand you normally write with at its widest point in inches (excluding the thumb). Gloves sizes come in half and whole numbers, between 7 and 11½ for men and 6 and 8½ for women.” If you’re between sizes, then round down. Your driving gloves should fit snug at first and loosen over time.
Driving gloves come in all shapes—they can extend down towards the elbows, or hem at the hand’s midpoint. Usually they feature fingers, but sometimes they’re fingerless. Perhaps they have perforations to assist with aeration, or on the other hand, maybe there’s a lining to keep the warmth in. If the driving gloves are more practical, they might have specifically placed pads to enhance grip. That’s not even touching on the infinite possibilities for product features and aesthetic embellishment. Just as it is everywhere else, style here means a blend of form and function.
Again, this is a delicate balance. It’s no use to skimp on driving gloves if you’re really committed to them, because craftsmanship does cost money. Strong stitches and materials with integrity will keep your investment alive and truckin’ for a much longer time. While driving gloves are regularly available at reasonable price points, many of the higher-tier options will set you back a bit. There is a boundary to what’s reasonable though. For example, Ferrari sells a pair of $200 fire red leather driving gloves. If I had it like that, I would buy them. Respect. But if you don’t, then don’t fret. Quality driving gloves come at all costs. Ferrari doesn’t price them that high because they have to, they do it because anything else would defy their ethos.
Driving Gloves for City Jaunts and Road Trips
Heart Throb: Oscar Robinson Leather Gloves by Alpinestars
TIL I’ve been waiting to meet a man wearing these my whole life. I think it’s something about this distinct proportion of style and utility. The Oscar Robinson Leather Gloves prioritize practicality, incorporating perforation zones for aeration and EVA foam padding to provide extra comfort on long stretches of road. Meanwhile, these leather driving gloves are crafted from visibly buttery leather, with brushed metal details that feel rock and roll, but like, actually in a band. Can’t wait to meet you, soul mate <3
Old Money: Donnington Crochet Back Driving Gloves by Dents
If you’re looking for a tried and true driving glove iconic to the garment’s glory days, then you must head over to Dents, the institution behind James Bond and Ryan Gosling in Drive. These British gloves craftsmen have been in the business since 1777, and have gained glowing endorsements from cultural figures since. These driving gloves feature a hairsheep leather palm and cotton crocheted back with perforated fingers and wrist vents for an easier fit around the wrist. They’re also unlined (as most classic driving gloves are) for a more streamlined grip on the car’s functions. Above all, however, these driving gloves command an old world air that attracts many people to driving gloves in the first place.
Noveau Riche: Altezzoso Mostro Black Crocodile Embossed Leather Driving Gloves
Due to the daring nature of driving gloves themselves, making a real statement that goes above and beyond with this garment requires a big dose of boldness. AltezzosoGloves proves such feats can be achieved without breaking the bank. They’ve created these striking handmade gloves from Turkish hairsheep leather that mimics python skin. Slim, unlined, and undeniably sleek, they come in at just $59.99, a sexy testimony to the company’s ability to craft accessible, authentic luxury. Look at you, new money!
Utilitarian: VBG VBIGER Winter Gloves
For everyone logging serious miles on their journeys, these driving gloves offer a pragmatic solution packed with product features to make winter trips more pleasant. Their outer jacquard fabric is stretchy for comfort and visually interesting on the eye. Inside, fleece keeps hands cozy. While leather is innately touchscreen compatible, these driving gloves account for their construction by including touchscreen enabled finger pads alongside silicone palms for better grip on the wheel. You can be a diehard driver in style.
Fast Lane: Hero Superlight TG-10 by Sabelt
Sabelt’s motosport safety gear stands a longtime favorite of the most highly regarded racing professionals in the world. The Hero Superlight TG-10 racing gloves are part of their FIA 8856-2018 range of racewear optimized for high octane conditions. The collection comes complete with shoes and suit. These driving gloves are high level fireproof with a silicone base palm and internally reinforced palm as well for extreme durability, even with a racer’s grip. An improved update to their gloves’ fit also offers additional comfort. What’s more, the sleek silhouette of these driving gloves, with smart details, makes them one of the most tactical racing gloves available throughout the unique category.
Eco-Friendly: Riparo Men’s Vegan Leather Full-finger Driving Gloves
Time and again, Pacific Northwest-based family owned business Riparo dominates editor’s picks and other roundups for their impeccable design and quality, all available at accessible price points. However, the company’s full dearth of unique capacities sometimes goes overlooked. Not only does Riparo offer the top tier of fine leather products, they also offer vegan leather so good you might think it’s the real thing. If you feel weird about wearing the skin of another animal on your hands, advances in plant-based materials have brought the lookalike almost identical to the real thing. These unlined driving gloves are unlined in the classic style, with perforations and knuckle holes to keep the hair flowing. The classy brass clasp completes the look, merging style and utility in a manner only generations of expertise often can.
Best All Around: Enzo by Fratelli Orsini Gloves
These Italian lambskin driving gloves take that most iconic shape and lend it new richness with unmistakable Italian craftsmanship. Naples-based Fratelli Orsini Gloves writes on their website that “Every pair begins with the finest Italian lambskin leather certified by the European Union. Using traditional tools and techniques, our master glovemakers hand-cut and often hand-stitch the leather, adding a menagerie of vents, linings, cuffs, and details for vintage, modern, and runway-ready fashions.” Classic and emanating a coiffed quality, these driving gloves will most likely make it out of the car, into your destination, a useful statement piece grounded in a bygone era.