If there’s one thing every sim racer is always looking for, it’s more grip. It doesn’t matter which sim racing title you prefer, what class of car you most like to drive, or whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned professional – grip equals performance, and performance equals speed.
The same logic can be applied to the question of whether you should wear gloves while sim racing. Your wheel, regardless of its quality, is what controls your car. Your hands are what control that wheel. Do you want to maximize that control while feeling every nuance of force feedback the wheel gives you? Do you want to maintain a level of comfort, whether it’s a rally car beating up your hands or an endurance race threatening you with early-onset arthritis? Do you want to immerse yourself in the sim racing experience, so that you can get as close to a real-world experience as possible?
Those questions were rhetorical; you’re a sim racer, so of course you want all of those things. The real question isn’t whether you should wear gloves; instead, it’s what kind of gloves should you wear?
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One size does not fit all
Just as there is no single sim racing title or rig to suit every racer, there is no single pair of gloves. You have many options to choose from and your choice will depend upon your needs. You may prioritize comfort, durability, cost, immersion, or a blend of any of them.
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Non-racing gloves for sim racing
Even without delving into gloves specially designed for sim racing, there are already a ton of options to choose from. But that doesn’t mean you can slap on a pair of artic mittens and expect to set a new PB lap time at Imola; you need to be at least a little bit choosy.
Many budget conscious sim racers find that a pair of mechanic’s gloves suit their needs. They can be found in a variety of materials and thicknesses, and often have additional grip in the palms and fingers. One popular budget option is the Mechanix Wear pair of gloves.
And just as some sim racers prefer to drive in socks alone, rather than in shoes or boots, a simple pair of glove liners may be sufficient to get you through your upcoming league race. One such option is the Under Armour Men’s Armour Liner 2.0 Gloves.
One style of glove you may never have considered is a pair made for cycling, either road bikes or mountain bikes. This choice should not be underestimated, as it presents an excellent balance between cost and comfort. Usually made of lightweight, breathable materials, they provide substantial grip while also combatting sweaty hands – a problem many sim racers will face.
Non-racing gloves may not be the flashiest option and they may not provide the feel or comfort of those designed for racing, but they can absolutely get the job done.
Using racing gloves for sim racing
Let’s not kid ourselves; immersion is fantastic. If we didn’t care about immersion, we wouldn’t spend so much time fantasizing about replica steering wheels and triple-monitor configurations or VR. But we do care, and the gloves you choose can play a role in your immersion. Sure, we may not actually wear a full-face helmet while we race (don’t lie – you’ve thought about it), but gloves? You bet. That’s an easy way to make the experience just a little more realistic.
However, with all of the money you can easily part with trying to set up your perfect rig, budgetary concerns may force purpose-built racing gloves further down on your list. Never fear, though; even if you don’t have much to spend on new gloves, you don’t have to go without. You may not be able to afford Ayrton Senna replica gloves but there are also plenty of less expensive sim racing gloves, made for entry-level racers or those who are budget conscious. They’re an excellent way to protect your hands and improve your connection to the wheel, without breaking the bank.
Purpose-made gloves, like the RaceQuip 350 series, are the king when it comes to immersion. The look, the fit, and the feel are all intended for one purpose – to grip and control the steering wheel of a race car.
Karting gloves, such as the Alpinestars Men’s Tech-1 K for instance, transition perfectly from a real-world kart track to your simulated version of Spa-Francorchamps. These are the gloves you’ll never use to shovel snow or change the oil in your car. Instead, you’ll brag about them to the other drivers in your community.
Whichever choice you make for new sim racing gloves, they should reflect your priorities. Immersion, cost, durability, and feel will not be equally important factors to every sim racer. Spend some time thinking about what matters most to you. Depending on how much you practice and race, there’s an excellent chance you’ll spend more time wearing this particular set of gloves than any other pair you own. Make sure your choice is one that improves your sim racing experience.
Related: Guide To Sim Racing Shoes and Socks