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 that 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, use your shifters, rotaries and buttons just as accurately and in some cases, while maintaining touch screen compatibility. Critically, you can keep a suede / Alcantara rim in much better condition, for longer!
Over the years I’ve grown from being an adamantly (and somewhat naive) non-gloves racer in the sim to now, being a very committed gloves only kind of driver. Here’s everything I know:
Sim racing wear vs Motorsports wear
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, 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:
- FIA Racing gloves
- OMP Karting gloves
- Alpinestars F-Lite
- Alpinestars Radar
- Sparco Meca 3
FIA Racing gloves: are they OK for sim racing?
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, 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, you get hot because of the lack of airflow. If that doesn’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!
What about Karting gloves for sim racing?
You can achieve a lower budget with karting gloves, just like these from OMP:
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.
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 still 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 they’re 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!
Gloves for sim racers
Most of the gloves we’ve covered above are brilliant gloves, they’re just not quite perfect for the sim. I like something that is very thin and tight-fitting, so I can feel more of the buttons and rotary encoders on my steering wheel. Tactility is particularly important! I don’t like feeling like I’m getting hot and if possible, I’d really like to stay cool while I’m driving.
Cycling gloves are very good for tactility and staying cool. The best gloves are very thin, like these Alpinestars:
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
Mobile / touchscreen compatibility
Mobile and touchscreen compatibility is a given these days. Don’t buy gloves with a removable index finger cap, either – the conductive finger cap can be sewn into the glove itself meaning you don’t have to remove your gloves to use a 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).
Simhound’s founder, Adam Walton dropped me a line and asked if I’d share my thoughts on his new SimHound sim racing 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!
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:
Augury sim racing gloves
Augury Simulations are a specialist sim racing equipment supplier who manufactures their own DD wheelbase unit and various high-end accessories. These items have a lightweight upper construction and a thin suede / Alcantara grip.
After testing I’ve found these to be light, quite durable and the mobile/touchscreen compatibility is exceptional. I’ve owned these gloves from Augury for well over a year:
Here they are after more than a year of racing:
Price-wise, however, they’re really expensive! I wish I could find out where they’re manufactured and buy some with a custom logo. Alas. If you order these from outside the EU they add a sales tax which can send the order price for a pair of these to over €50. Still, I love them.
Freem sim 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:
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. If you have longer fingers, you won’t have a problem with them.
The fingers, I found were a bit too long and leave a bit of an over-hand when you first put them on. They’re easily adjusted and then it’s less of an issue. Overall they’re a very nice item with a nice grip pattern too:
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 don’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.