Driving Gloves: Yay or Nay?

Scott Heiman — 16 April 2019
Are driving gloves something from a bygone era, gone the way of the dodo?

When you were a kid, maybe your dad had a favourite set of gauntlets he kept in the - aptly named – glove box. Typically, driving gloves are made of very thin, soft leather, valued for the enhanced control they offer a driver while gripping the steering wheel or gear stick. 

Many of us may dismiss the idea of driving gloves on the basis that most modern cars incorporate grip into the steering wheel and shift lever, making driving gloves obsolete. Besides, who wants to look like an extra from a modern-day Driving Miss Daisy?

If you’re one of these nay-sayers, you may want to think again. There’s a reason why military forces continue to wear driving gloves long after they’ve drifted out of popular circulation.  


In the military, they’re called either Flying Gloves or Combat Gloves. They’re both made with fire resistant material and perspiration resistant leather. Combat Gloves tend to have greater reinforcement, particularly around the backs of the hand. They’re made to a military spec and are intended to last the rigours of harsh environments and harsh treatment. 

They’re worn behind the driving wheel and ‘beyond the wire’. But gloves like these aren’t just for ‘fly boys’ and ‘ground thumpers’.   

The fact is that, there are many characteristics of an offroad lifestyle that make multi-purpose gloves like these a really good idea. When quick, accurate driving responses are needed in rough terrain, gloves are still a handy thing to have. Over long hours behind the wheel, they’ll also reduce vibration and associated driver fatigue. In hot environments, they’ll keep the sun off the back of your hands. And they’ll also keep your digits toasty in the High Country when the conditions can chill the snot off a snowman.  

Beyond the cockpit of your rig, gloves have a range of uses that can’t be matched by the mittens that Nanna knitted. For example, think about what you use to protect your hand from the heat of a camp oven handle. How many of your favourite hats have you wrecked on this camp-side chore. And how many fingers have you singed poking bits of firewood back into the fire pit? Fire resistant gloves are a much better option. Leave the welder’s gauntlets at home. Think too about the hand protection you should be wearing the next time you reach for the winch. With a decent set of Flying or Combat Gloves, you can replace three different gloves with one lightweight pair that fits in your jean’s pocket. 

Fortunately, the civilian market has caught onto the potential of military-style gloves.  Companies like Nomex, Mechanix, CamelBak and MaxGrip are among the leading retailers in this sector and sell online or through popular camping and commercial military stockists.

Some companies have taken the original concept of the combat glove and added ergonomic reinforcements and military-spec kevlar thread to add longevity. They’re made for 4WDriving, camping, and hunting and are a great option for the next long weekend behind the wheel.