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Do you use belay gloves?
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Poll: Do you use belay gloves?
Yes 8 / 42%
No 11 / 58%
19 total votes
 

matasw


Jun 4, 2014, 6:03 AM
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Do you use belay gloves?
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A couple of the guys I climb with seem to like using gloves. I personally don't like losing the sense of touch while belaying, what do you guys think?

Then, is any leather glove fine or do you need official belay gloves?!


sungam


Jun 4, 2014, 6:20 AM
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I use them sometimes. Not usually for, say, an afternoon cragging with a grigri. If I'm going to be locking off a lot or something I sometimes do though.


granite_grrl


Jun 4, 2014, 6:31 AM
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They can be nice. Easier to lock off and hold someone, easier to lower. I know a couple of girls that swear by them because it helps when belaying a significantly larger partner.

Any leather gloves can work, but you do want some dexterity. I found some gardening gloves at the dollar store that work great, so keep you eyes peeled.


marc.lafrance95


Jun 4, 2014, 7:47 AM
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matasw wrote:
A couple of the guys I climb with seem to like using gloves. I personally don't like losing the sense of touch while belaying, what do you guys think?

Then, is any leather glove fine or do you need official belay gloves?!

I use them only when the temp is too cold or in Via Ferrata.


Gmburns2000


Jun 4, 2014, 8:07 AM
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matasw wrote:
A couple of the guys I climb with seem to like using gloves. I personally don't like losing the sense of touch while belaying, what do you guys think?

Then, is any leather glove fine or do you need official belay gloves?!


I use them when I rap almost always. I'll also use them when belay a heavier partner and I think there's a good chance they may be taking falls. However, I don't use them for belaying that often.


edge


Jun 4, 2014, 11:06 AM
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No. Never used them for belaying of rapping and can't imagine why I would, personally.

I only use gloves for ice climbing or to keep warm.


dagibbs


Jun 4, 2014, 11:09 AM
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I wish your poll had "sometimes". Cause that's my answer.

For belaying in colder weather -- yup. For rappelling -- often, especially longer or repeated rappels. For belaying someone leading off the anchor in a multi-pitch climb using an ATC - yup. For cragging -- often not.


Gmburns2000


Jun 4, 2014, 12:29 PM
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edge wrote:
No. Never used them for belaying of rapping and can't imagine why I would, personally.

I only use gloves for ice climbing or to keep warm.

I don't like how hot my hands get when rapping, and I don't rappel that quickly either. I guess I just have sensitive hands.


lena_chita
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Jun 4, 2014, 12:32 PM
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matasw wrote:
A couple of the guys I climb with seem to like using gloves. I personally don't like losing the sense of touch while belaying, what do you guys think?

Then, is any leather glove fine or do you need official belay gloves?!

There was no option for "sometimes", so I chose no, because most of the times I don't use them.

I believe that any well-fitting glove with leather palm/fingers would be O.K. The problem with a lot of construction-type gloves is that they may be too thick or too loose around fingers. And a lot of construction gloves have full thickness of fabric/leather on the back of your hands, completely unnecessary in belay gloves.

But all of these are small comfort issues, not that big a deal. If you have a pair that fits well, use it. You can also cut off the tips for fingers, to make more comfortable/less hot belay glove.


Partner cracklover


Jun 4, 2014, 12:32 PM
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Re: [edge] Do you use belay gloves? [In reply to]
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edge wrote:
No. Never used them for belaying of rapping and can't imagine why I would, personally.

I only use gloves for ice climbing or to keep warm.

Ice climbing? Blech - ice is for drinks.

I never use them for belaying. I use them when developing chossy sport cliffs and when aid climbing, because my hands get banged around a lot during those activities.

GO


Evandoyer


Jun 4, 2014, 1:08 PM
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I don't use gloves for belaying, but I am thinking of getting a pair for rappelling since I like to go a bit faster in that direction. Faster = more time to climb...


moose_droppings


Jun 4, 2014, 1:25 PM
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Yes. I use an ATC so almost all the time when belaying. I like the thinner and well fitting pair of leather gloves much like some of the mechanic gloves out there.


theguy


Jun 4, 2014, 1:37 PM
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For dexterity I prefer sailing gloves: they're designed for rope-handling; as a bonus they're cheaper than typical climbing gloves.

Gill's Championship gloves fit me best: they're available both in full fingerless and index-only fingerless designs


Partner rgold


Jun 4, 2014, 10:49 PM
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Here are some things to consider.

1. If you are using a tube-style device (as opposed to an assisted-locking device) and if you do multipitch climbing, with the attendant possibility of falls with fall factor greater than 1, then you are at risk for severe burns if you don't wear gloves. This has been tested over and over again and is part of the design features of ATC's: the rope will run in high fall-factor falls when there is low system friction.

Now lots of folks are going to reply that they have been climbing since the dawn of time and have caught numerous "giant whippers" and never had the rope run. This is because severe falls are extremely rare, requiring both high fall factor (the faller falls past the belayer) and low friction in the system, and so people conclude, incorrectly, that the the rope can never run through the device. It can, and your hands and possibly your partner's well-being are at risk if you aren't wearing gloves and a bad fall happens. This is an example when "experience" isn't the best thing to go on, at least not if you want to be prepared for the worst scenarios rather than just the average ones.

2. People's grip strength is at least somewhat correlated with body weight. A 100 lb thirteen year old girl may climb circles around a 200 lb guy, in the process seeming to be much stronger. But her hands only have to hold her body weight, and he is double it, putting her in a very vulnerable position when it comes to catching him. So gloves for the lightweight partner become increasingly important as the weight mismatch between partners increases.

3. Sadly, gloves will decrease grip strength. Tests suggest 20-25%. This makes it more likely that the rope will run in a big fall (but remember tube style devices are designed to do that), but also more likely that the belayer will manage to control the rope without injury.

4. I think almost all belay devices claim ridiculous rope ranges. Handling for the larger sizes is bad, and friction for the smaller sizes is inadequate. The middle third of the claimed range is probably the only range with decent handling and friction. If you are using skinny ropes below the middle third of your device's claimed range, it is even more likely that you won't be able to hold a big fall without a lot of slippage.

5. The dynamics of catching a big fall do not seem to me to be widely understood. There are two phases, each involving the rope slipping through the device. In the first phase, the rope slips through the device and pulls the brake hand towards the device. The rope does not slip through the brake hand during this phase, and fall energy is absorbed by the rope running through the device under tension from the brake hand. In the second phase, the brake hand essentially hits the device and, if enough fall energy has not been absorbed, the rope continues to slip through the device and the brake hand.

So, the rope burns and possible loss of control occur in Phase II. It follows that one should want to get as much Phase I action as possible. This means having the brake hand as far as possible from the device at the instant of braking, allowing for the largest possible amount of rope to pull through the device and contribute to fall energy absorbtion before the brake hand hits the device.

I have no valid survey information, but the belayer behavior I see is often as ineffective as possible from the point of view of Phase I enhancement. The majority of the belayers I see have their brake hand almost touching the device, which means that in a severe fall they'll be in Phase II immediately with the rope smoking through their hands with no Phase I benefits. Compounding what might be viewed as bad belaying technique by not wearing gloves is signing up for the worst possible results if something really bad happens.

Here's an analogy to think about. More and more people are wearing helmets to at least mitigate head injuries. I've worn them since they became as light and ventilated as bike helmets, but also climbed a long time without them. That said, I've never had any incident that required a helmet, nor have most of the people I know. If we used "experience" as the guide, we wouldn't wear helmets. We wear them in spite of what "experience" tells us, because we understand that they protect against rare but potentially devastating events.

I'd put gloves in a similar category. The reason they aren't there for most climbers is that hand burns aren't the same as a head injury, and we hear a lot less about hand burns as well, precisely because they are not generally as devastating.


Gmburns2000


Jun 5, 2014, 1:20 PM
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rgold wrote:

Here's an analogy to think about. More and more people are wearing helmets to at least mitigate head injuries. I've worn them since they became as light and ventilated as bike helmets, but also climbed a long time without them. That said, I've never had any incident that required a helmet, nor have most of the people I know. If we used "experience" as the guide, we wouldn't wear helmets. We wear them in spite of what "experience" tells us, because we understand that they protect against rare but potentially devastating events.

I'd put gloves in a similar category. The reason they aren't there for most climbers is that hand burns aren't the same as a head injury, and we hear a lot less about hand burns as well, precisely because they are not generally as devastating.

A big difference, of course, being that helmets often only protect the one wearing it whereas gloves protect both the belayor and the climber most of the time.


dagibbs


Jun 5, 2014, 2:25 PM
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Gmburns2000 wrote:
rgold wrote:

Here's an analogy to think about. More and more people are wearing helmets to at least mitigate head injuries. I've worn them since they became as light and ventilated as bike helmets, but also climbed a long time without them. That said, I've never had any incident that required a helmet, nor have most of the people I know. If we used "experience" as the guide, we wouldn't wear helmets. We wear them in spite of what "experience" tells us, because we understand that they protect against rare but potentially devastating events.

I'd put gloves in a similar category. The reason they aren't there for most climbers is that hand burns aren't the same as a head injury, and we hear a lot less about hand burns as well, precisely because they are not generally as devastating.

A big difference, of course, being that helmets often only protect the one wearing it whereas gloves protect both the belayor and the climber most of the time.

Not entirely -- a helmet on my belayer will, also, protect me as a climber.


Gmburns2000


Jun 5, 2014, 5:59 PM
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dagibbs wrote:
Gmburns2000 wrote:
rgold wrote:

Here's an analogy to think about. More and more people are wearing helmets to at least mitigate head injuries. I've worn them since they became as light and ventilated as bike helmets, but also climbed a long time without them. That said, I've never had any incident that required a helmet, nor have most of the people I know. If we used "experience" as the guide, we wouldn't wear helmets. We wear them in spite of what "experience" tells us, because we understand that they protect against rare but potentially devastating events.

I'd put gloves in a similar category. The reason they aren't there for most climbers is that hand burns aren't the same as a head injury, and we hear a lot less about hand burns as well, precisely because they are not generally as devastating.

A big difference, of course, being that helmets often only protect the one wearing it whereas gloves protect both the belayor and the climber most of the time.

Not entirely -- a helmet on my belayer will, also, protect me as a climber.

If there's rockfall or an object above then yes, but this is much less common than whippers.


dagibbs


Jun 5, 2014, 7:48 PM
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Gmburns2000 wrote:
dagibbs wrote:
Gmburns2000 wrote:
rgold wrote:

Here's an analogy to think about. More and more people are wearing helmets to at least mitigate head injuries. I've worn them since they became as light and ventilated as bike helmets, but also climbed a long time without them. That said, I've never had any incident that required a helmet, nor have most of the people I know. If we used "experience" as the guide, we wouldn't wear helmets. We wear them in spite of what "experience" tells us, because we understand that they protect against rare but potentially devastating events.

I'd put gloves in a similar category. The reason they aren't there for most climbers is that hand burns aren't the same as a head injury, and we hear a lot less about hand burns as well, precisely because they are not generally as devastating.

A big difference, of course, being that helmets often only protect the one wearing it whereas gloves protect both the belayor and the climber most of the time.

Not entirely -- a helmet on my belayer will, also, protect me as a climber.

If there's rockfall or an object above then yes, but this is much less common than whippers.

I think that may depend on the type of climbing that you do. I tend to do a lot of easier trad, often multi-pitch or adventure. Falling things happen more often than I take whippers. Whippers on easier (sub 5.9, say) trad climbs tend to be really bad for one's feet, ankles, and legs.

Also, the freeze-thaw cycle up here in the north may make loose rock more common than other places, even on established routes.


(This post was edited by dagibbs on Jun 5, 2014, 7:49 PM)


Gmburns2000


Jun 5, 2014, 8:26 PM
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dagibbs wrote:
Gmburns2000 wrote:
dagibbs wrote:
Gmburns2000 wrote:
rgold wrote:

Here's an analogy to think about. More and more people are wearing helmets to at least mitigate head injuries. I've worn them since they became as light and ventilated as bike helmets, but also climbed a long time without them. That said, I've never had any incident that required a helmet, nor have most of the people I know. If we used "experience" as the guide, we wouldn't wear helmets. We wear them in spite of what "experience" tells us, because we understand that they protect against rare but potentially devastating events.

I'd put gloves in a similar category. The reason they aren't there for most climbers is that hand burns aren't the same as a head injury, and we hear a lot less about hand burns as well, precisely because they are not generally as devastating.

A big difference, of course, being that helmets often only protect the one wearing it whereas gloves protect both the belayor and the climber most of the time.

Not entirely -- a helmet on my belayer will, also, protect me as a climber.

If there's rockfall or an object above then yes, but this is much less common than whippers.

I think that may depend on the type of climbing that you do. I tend to do a lot of easier trad, often multi-pitch or adventure. Falling things happen more often than I take whippers. Whippers on easier (sub 5.9, say) trad climbs tend to be really bad for one's feet, ankles, and legs.

Also, the freeze-thaw cycle up here in the north may make loose rock more common than other places, even on established routes.

I do a lot of that kind of climbing, too, and I still think a fall is more likely than loose rock, even at a place like the 'Gunks or in NH or the Daks.

I totally agree that a helmet saves both, but belay gloves just do so a higher percentage of the time. Not sure why you'd wear gloves if you weren't trying to protect your hands so that your climber doesn't deck. I can see lots of reasons to wear a helmet that's not necessarily tied to belaying.


shockabuku


Jun 5, 2014, 9:22 PM
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I wear gloves to keep the aluminum oxide off of my hands.


dagibbs


Jun 6, 2014, 7:15 AM
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Gmburns2000 wrote:
dagibbs wrote:
Gmburns2000 wrote:
dagibbs wrote:
Gmburns2000 wrote:
rgold wrote:

Here's an analogy to think about. More and more people are wearing helmets to at least mitigate head injuries. I've worn them since they became as light and ventilated as bike helmets, but also climbed a long time without them. That said, I've never had any incident that required a helmet, nor have most of the people I know. If we used "experience" as the guide, we wouldn't wear helmets. We wear them in spite of what "experience" tells us, because we understand that they protect against rare but potentially devastating events.

I'd put gloves in a similar category. The reason they aren't there for most climbers is that hand burns aren't the same as a head injury, and we hear a lot less about hand burns as well, precisely because they are not generally as devastating.

A big difference, of course, being that helmets often only protect the one wearing it whereas gloves protect both the belayor and the climber most of the time.

Not entirely -- a helmet on my belayer will, also, protect me as a climber.

If there's rockfall or an object above then yes, but this is much less common than whippers.

I think that may depend on the type of climbing that you do. I tend to do a lot of easier trad, often multi-pitch or adventure. Falling things happen more often than I take whippers. Whippers on easier (sub 5.9, say) trad climbs tend to be really bad for one's feet, ankles, and legs.

Also, the freeze-thaw cycle up here in the north may make loose rock more common than other places, even on established routes.

I do a lot of that kind of climbing, too, and I still think a fall is more likely than loose rock, even at a place like the 'Gunks or in NH or the Daks.

I totally agree that a helmet saves both, but belay gloves just do so a higher percentage of the time. Not sure why you'd wear gloves if you weren't trying to protect your hands so that your climber doesn't deck. I can see lots of reasons to wear a helmet that's not necessarily tied to belaying.

I think we have had different experiences, and different feeling for what "often" is. My personal experience has been that my helmet has protected me, in order of frequency: banging my head while moving (standup up into a roof type move, etc); protecting me from falling stuff from above (gear, rock, etc); protecting me in a fall. I don't think I can actually recall a case where I've hit my head in a climbing fall, but I've taken enough that I've likely banged/scraped my helmet once or twice.

As for reasons for gloves other than protecting my climber -- I've worn gloves to belay because it was cold, and it kept my hands warm. When you're out climbing on a day where it is just a few degrees above freezing, the extra warmth is really nice.


mojomonkey


Jun 6, 2014, 9:05 AM
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Great post from rgold, thanks for taking the time to write it up.

I often climb with half ropes on multipitch and like gloves for manipulating the ropes individually (e.g. paying out slack on just one rope). And I probably just have wussy hands, but multiple high-mileage days beat them up sans glove so I like them from that point of view too.


jorgegonzalez


Jun 6, 2014, 2:50 PM
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I don't usually use gloves, although I have them if necessary. But I recently went to an indoor climbing gym and noticed all the ropes were thin 9mm. I found myself worrying that my big beefy hands might not get a good grip on the rope if my partner fell (like always, he didn't).

I'm thinking a gloved hand might be better for thinner ropes because they might run through the hand a bit before you are able to cinch tight and stop the fall. The friction will cause heat, and I think the increased use of thinner ropes will see a corresponding increase in dropped partners. With gloves a person might stick with the belay longer and withstand the friction heat.

Although I have never been a fan of Grigris (I'm so old school its pathetic), I am beginning to see their utility with thinner ropes and less experienced belayers.


blueeyedclimber


Jun 9, 2014, 6:42 AM
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I don't wear belay gloves. I don't like the loss in dexterity, but they are a good idea given certain variables. Diameter of rope, type of belay device, size and weight of climber and belayer, etc.

Just like any climber, I try to stack the odds in my favor. I have not come to the conclusion that I need them, but other climbers may come to a different conclusion.

Josh


petsfed


Jun 9, 2014, 12:01 PM
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I started wearing gloves because I was doing a lot of party-belaying at the gym I worked at, and it was hell on my hands. I kept wearing gloves because I cannot lower my partners as quickly as they want, with a gri-gri, without burning my hands, and because I tended to climb in areas that made my rope filthy. Covering my hands in a fine sheen of aluminum oxide and dirt, then trying to climb, was super frustrating. Since I started wearing gloves, their usage has become automatic, and I feel more confident in my ability to catch a fall gloved rather than bare-handed.

I use specific climbing gloves (Metolius has the best, the PMI gloves that REI sells are decent) but I also do a LOT of rope-work and aid climbing. If all you were using them for was belaying and rappelling, anything with a sufficiently thick palm would get it done.


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