Last updated: October 28th, 2022
As well as a good pair of race or karting boots, sim racing gloves are (in my humble opinion) an accessory that can really enhance your sim racing experience. In our buyer’s guide, we’re going to look at some favourites (including a few I own myself) and take a look at what features are most important to sim racers.
I’ve come to like the feel of a good pair of gloves while driving the sim – if for no other reason than I get a better level of grip and the racing feels more, serious. With a good pair of gloves, you can get excellent tactility on the steering wheel. You can use your shifters, rotaries and buttons just as accurately and in some cases, more accurately. And with the right gloves, you get touchscreen compatibility.
Critically, you can keep a suede / Alcantara rim in much better condition, for longer – I have wheels I’ve owned for years that still look brand new because I’ve never driven them with bare hands. The grease and sweat (gross, I know) can build up in the Alcantara and the end result looks pretty bad. It also ruins the resale value of the wheel.
Sim racing gloves vs FIA Motorsports gloves
The requirements that sim racers have for gloves are very different to drivers engaged in Motorsports. Generally, a sim racing glove needs to be lighter, and thinner, doesn’t need to cover the forearm and definitely doesn’t need to be fireproof!
I did start out in the sim using my FIA racing gloves though, but not anymore.
Read the full article below or jump to my best recommendations using these links:
- Sim Hound Gloves – External Stitching
- FIA Racing gloves
- OMP KS-3 Karting gloves
- OMP KS-4 Karting gloves
- Sparco Meca 3
- Alpinestars F-Lite
- Alpinestars Radar
- Sparco Rush
- F33L Sim Racing Gloves
- K1 Race Gear RS1 Gloves
- Alpinestars Aspen Gloves
FIA Racing gloves: are they OK for sim racing?
Let’s start with real racing gloves. I own two pairs of FIA-approved gloves for Motorsport. A pair of Freem Senso gloves and a pair of Sparco RG-7s (see here):
The Sparco Arrow Evo RG-7 race gloves are FIA 8856-2000 and SFI 3.3/5 approved for racing, but clearly, they can be used in sim racing too.
They come in five colours and offer a fantastic combination of a snug fit, and lots of steering grip thanks to their HTX-printed silicon grips.
The Freem Senso’s are definitely the more fashionable choice – you see a lot of professional drivers in the upper categories wearing Freem kit. They have a very brightly patterned grip, although I’ll add there is less provision for grip than their Sparco counterparts.
Both gloves give a nice amount of additional grip on the wheel, particularly anything with Alcantara / Suede wrapping. There’s a very sturdy, real steering wheel feel from using gloves, and the grip on the fingers makes paddle shifting a slightly less error-prone affair.
Using a wheel rim without gloves can leave your hands quite black after an hour or so of use, and not only will gloves keep your hands clean, they’ll help to preserve the Alcantara too.
But, FIA racing gloves are overkill for sim racing; they’re probably 3 times too expensive and you get hot because of the lack of airflow. They’re fireproof which I dearly hope you’ll never need! If the heat and expense don’t bother you, go ahead and try them, but I’m all about staying cool in the sim.
Take my advice and don’t use your Motorsport gloves in the sim, there are far better options available!
A quick note on mobile/touchscreen compatibility
Mobile and touchscreen compatibility is often a useful feature, although I do find myself removing my gloves for keyboard use. Just try to avoid removable index finger caps – the conductive finger coating can be printed on the glove fingertip itself meaning you don’t have to remove your gloves to use your mobile touchscreen!
For lightness and coolness you need a neoprene, Lycra, stretch mesh fabric to get a tight fit (loosely fitting gloves are a nightmare for the paddle shifters).
On that note here is a list of our top 14 sim racing gloves – with the externally stitched SimHound Gloves being my favourite.
Simhound’s founder, Adam Walton dropped me a line and asked if I’d share my thoughts on his new SimHound Gloves:
These are an elasticated fabric construction that is snug fitting with a touchscreen-compatible forefinger and a nice grip pattern on the palms. I drove with them at last weekend’s Le Mans 24h and found them to be light and durable.
The right amount of stretch in the outer fabric provides a nice sensation of support when you’re holding on to the wheel. The fabric is also hard wearing and the construction is excellent.
There’s a bit of stretch across the thumb and forefinger (pictured above), but they are very good gloves for the job. A bargain for a £25.00 sim racing glove!
Sim Hound Gloves – External Stitching
Since the launch of these gloves from Simhound, they’ve gone on to launch an externally stitched variant. Sim Hound’s external stitching racing gloves provide an extra level of grip on the steering wheel without sacrificing comfort. Thanks to the gloves’ lightweight design and external stitching, you’ll be able to race for hours without any distractions.
In real-world Motorsport, external stitching has become the industry standard for racing gloves because this construction method reduces driving disruptions. With traditional glove construction (internal stitching), small pieces of thread and fabric can irritate your fingers, and over time this can diminish your performance.
Inside the palm of the Sim Hound gloves, microfibre suede material provides excellent feedback to your hands, allowing you to make those all-important minute adjustments when racing. In addition, the palm features a textured, rubberised finish delivering tremendous levels of grip, ensuring the wheel doesn’t slip through your fingers.
On the rear of the gloves, Sim Hound has gone with a light, elasticated fabric that offers excellent breathability, guaranteeing your hands stay cool by minimising perspiration. Around the wrist, a Velcro fastening tab faces outward and holds the gloves firmly in place.
Lastly, on the index finger, you’ll find a touchscreen-sensitive material that allows you to operate a tablet or phone without needing to take the gloves off.
F33L SR2 Sim Racing Gloves
If you’re looking for something ultra-lightweight, then F33L’s SR2 sim racing gloves are of worthy consideration.
Even though these gloves are on the slim side of the spectrum, they have been purpose-built for sim racing, and F33L claim that they are capable of retaining their durability, even when using the most powerful force feedback wheelbase.
Featuring plenty of rubber patches across the palm and the insides of the fingers, they will go a long way in improving your grip and reducing hand fatigue.
Most importantly, the slender, ergonomic design of the gloves lends itself to plenty of tactility, allowing you to feel all the finer details of the road that may be lost when wearing heavier gloves.
Karting gloves for sim racing: OMP KS-3 gloves
Karting gloves tend to be far cheaper because they don’t need FIA approval. They tend to have brighter, more colourful designs and come in a wider range of sizes. These KS-3 gloves from OMP have silicon grips on synthetic leather and they’re made of stretch fabric, so they’ll fit tightly and give you lots of helpful tactility on the wheel.
OMP KS-4 Gloves
OMP’s KS-4 karting gloves offer the complete package; durability, breathability, style, and comfort, bringing together everything you could possibly need for sim racing.
The back side of the gloves is made from a comfortable and resistant stretchy fabric that maximises the flow of air between your fingers, while on the palm, you’ll find resilient suede leather that offers a brilliant grip on any steering wheel material.
The wrist features an adjustable Velcro strap which ensures a secure fit, with a slightly elongated section of material extended past the ball of the wrist.
In terms of appearance, they are undoubtedly one of the most aesthetically pleasing pairs of gloves you can buy, and the chequered flag motif on the back of the hand is an especially nice touch.
Karting gloves tend to be lighter and more breathable than gloves intended for Motorsport (owing to the lack of fireproofing), but they’re still at a disadvantage compared to gloves intended for sim racers. They’re still much thicker than you need gloves to be in the simulator, and they’re still less breathable than sim racing gloves! They don’t have touchscreen compatibility, either!
Mechanic’s gloves: Sparco Meca 3
While they’re not touchscreen compatible, these Meca 3’s from Sparco have everything else going for them. You do see a lot of sim racers using these:
They have an outrageous amount of grip thanks to the abrasion-resistant polyurethane (PU) leather palms. They fit snugly and are still breathable, and critically they’re the hardest-wearing / longest-lasting pick of the bunch – because they’re mechanics gloves!
Priced around $30/£20 – great gloves for your money, but not touchscreen compatible!
Cycling gloves are perfect for tactility and staying cool. The best gloves are very thin, like these Alpinestars and usually come with touchscreen compatibility.
If heat is an issue, try a lightweight glove like the popular Alpinestars F-Lite cycling gloves (above) or the Alpinestars Radars (below).
Alpinestars Radar Gloves
Love these colourful Radar gloves from Alpinestars, and they’ll last for years!
These gloves are inexpensive (at $14.99 / £14) and they’re equipped with small inserts on the thumb and index finger that allow you to operate on touch screens – while they’re intended for cycling, for a sim racer, this is ideal, especially when using a tablet or mobile phone as a dashboard display screen:
Freem SIM21 racing gloves
Freem is a well-known high-end Motorsports manufacturer that has dipped its toes into the sim racing world. They’ve come up with the higher-end, higher-priced Freem Sim-glove, the SIM21.
Freem has manufactured sim racing gloves with input from the “world’s top sim racers” and have all of the features you’d hope for: grip, screen compatibility and so on. The only catch, aside from the price, is finding somewhere that has them in stock.
They’re very light, using an interesting and very stretchy fabric. A word of caution on these, though. Buy small, as they work best when snugly fitted.
As with all items from Freem, the SIM 21 gloves are made in Italy. Freem has revised the fabrics on the palm surface with what they call “L-Grip” which is intended to provide high levels of grip on the steering wheel and wheel controls.
They’re extremely light and breathable and fit very snugly, almost like a second skin. In total, they only weigh 32 grams! These are touchscreen compatible on the index finger and thumb. Finally, and quite important I think, these gloves are washable in the washing machine or by hand. My daily drivers are starting to get a bit smelly, perhaps I’ll try this with mine (I’ll check for a machine washable label first!)
Sparco Rush Gloves
Falling under Sparco’s karting category, the Rush gloves feature a mix of synthetic suede and silicone print on the palms, which affords all the grip you’ll need for sim racing, while the body of the glove is composed of an elasticated, semi-porous fabric that is lined with cotton for added cushioning.
As these are first and foremost karting gloves, they include an elongated wrist section with more elasticated material to ensure the gloves don’t slip off your hands. While these points may not be all that beneficial for sim racers, they certainly add to the gloves’ coolness factor.
However, one karting feature that is beneficial for sim racing is the “pre-curved” shape of the gloves, which provides more comfort when grasping the wheel as it naturally guides your fingers around the rim. It also reduces tension around the back of the hand and across the back of your fingers/knuckles, producing an overall feel of quality.
K1 Race Gear RS1 Gloves
The RS-1 Kart Racing gloves are designed with comfort in mind above all else. They feature a rolled fingertip design, which eliminates the discomfort commonly felt with the typical 4-point stitch found in most cheaper racing gloves, as well as reverse stitching throughout to reduce any irritations from the material, letting you focus on the race.
Each finger is lined with a soft vented mesh that allows for increased airflow, while the padded leather palm boosts grip levels and adds yet more comfort. The gloves are a little more on the bulky side, but they by no means feel loose when put on.
As karting gloves, they offer an over-the-wrist design, which won’t add much to your sim racing performance but will add to your overall experience in the rig as it helps to increase your immersion levels by making you feel more like a true racer.
Alpinestars Aspen Gloves
Alpinestars have always been a favourite of mine, and these unisex Aspen gloves popped into my email inbox as a recommendation, so I thought I’d add them:
Notice the extra silicon grip on the forefingers? Great for confident paddle shifting!
The thumb is reinforced with synthetic suede for durability and features reflective detailing. Normally the reflective aspect is reserved for road riding however, they’ll reflect slightly your RGB effects in the sim which looks pretty cool. As I mentioned, the silicone printing on the fingers offers additional grip in key contact areas such as paddles, clutches and rotary controllers.
How to measure yourself for gloves
Measuring your hands to fit your sim gloves is very easy. Just measure the circumference of your hand with a tape measure:
As you can see from the diagram above, measure the circumference of your hand following the path of the red line in the image. Then take that measurement and compare it to the manufacturer’s size guide. Each size guide will be slightly different, so just because you’re an “M” for a set of gloves from Alpinestars doesn’t mean the same thing with Freem, SimHound, Sparco and so on.
Whatever you choose, gloves enhance your sense of enjoyment in the simulator. I recommend all drivers choose a pair of gloves and then get onto a good pair of boots, too.