Climbing has many different aspects, from ice climbing to deep water soloing, everyone has a favorite. Personally, I have a weakness for crack climbing: hand, finger and fist jamming, I love them all. When climbing a demanding route, I always feel relieved when I can stick my fist in a crack, using the cam action created and take a rest. Thing is, jamming hurts bad and wears out your hands more than every other type of climbing. I always feel a bit ashamed at work, during a meeting when I have my hands all covered with bad scratches and crusts.
Of course, when you attempt a difficult crack climb, you tape your hands and no scratch occurs, just the pain. Better! Taping is always the way I would go for serious climbs, you design your tape glove yourself, knowing where you need more protection again the friction of the rock and I’m not talking of the ethic of climbing: tape? no tape? rubber? Everyone has an opinion about that.
Living in Sweden, the rock climbing season is pretty limited, especially this year. So, between outdoor sessions and proper tape gloves, I train indoors. I am lucky enough to have a couple of crack lines in my local climbing gym for training. So far I used tape on this one. But taping hands at the gym gives me a feeling of beeing a bit too much. Plus, taping takes time and tape rolls are not cheap here in Sweden. All of that just for a quickie in the gym.
Then I decided to convert some old cycling gloves that I covered with tape to make the job. It worked pretty well, especially on the crux move involving a painful fist jam. But cycling gloves also cover palms, which is not great for climbing.
So I decided to go for rubber crack gloves. They’ve been around for quite some time and I wanted to give them a try.
I chose the Ocun crack gloves (many other crack gloves are currently on the market) which cost me about 30 euros.
The construction of the glove is pretty solid: a mesh patch on the inside of the glove gives an obvious comfort over tape gloves and the thin rubber part is super sticky, comparable to Stealth rubber.
So far I used them only outdoors, on real rock, so my impressions here are based on a field test.
Gloves fit pretty well, but I guess you have to pick up the right size from the 4 offered by the company (S to XL). Large works well for me, you can refer to their sizing chart online.
In practice, my first impression is that they work very well on clean cracks. As said before, they’re super comfy with their layer of soft material in the middle and somehow make hand jams easier. Their grip is impressive. They’re easy and fast to put on and from an ecological point of view, you consequently reduce your wastes using them.
The first couple of climbs I did with those gloves prove me they efficiently work. The system for the fingers is nice and lets you use your hands just like they were bare. Same for the design, I looked at other brands like the OR Splitter glove that looks a bit loose on the edges.
These glove don’t perform the same when it comes to fist jams, there is a weak spot that will let scratches still occur on thumbs. I recommend then to cover this spot with what? tape of course!
All in all, this is a product I would buy again and recommend to anyone who needs fast and efficient hand protection in crack climbing. Though I would not use them in Yosemite or on alpine cracks in Chamonix, just because they wouldn’t fit in the landscape. I don’t think these gloves mean the end of hand taping, nothing is more efficient than a good old tape glove. But it’s a nice product and I’m sure I’ll be happy to have them at the gym.