Dakine Defender MTB Gloves

Dakine Defender gloveI’ve seen some other iterations of this glove design sold by other vendors before, but those have shiny carbon-patterned armor plates instead of the Kevlar-look cloth laminated plates that the Dakine Defenders have. Since I’ve been unable to find armored, box-fingered motocross gloves, when I saw these hanging in the back of McBike, I thought that they might be a possibility. There were only tiny sizes, so I waited a month until the backorder came in and Jarrel left a note on my toolbox that they had arrived! I snapped up a large pair that day. I tried on the XL’s, but the fingers were too long. Initially, the large felt tight for some reason. This was odd, since there was enough space at the knuckles as I could move the armor plates even while making a fist. The fingers weren’t too small in girth, since I could pinch the fabric. Odd. Maybe it was the way the fabric folded when the fingers were bent. In any case, the tight sensation went away after wearing them for a half hour, and it didn’t come back on subsequent wearings.

Starting from the palms, the Defenders are constructed from Lorica synthetic leather. There is a doubled section across the front of the palm where the hand will engage the grip. On the outside edge of the heel of the palm, there is a padded plastic armor plate to take care of those “both hands out in front” crashes. The plate is firm but slightly flexible plastic with a Kevlar-like material on the outside surface. The plate is edged with a textured, high-wear synthetic material that would be at home on the bottom of a backpack, or the ollie patch of a skate shoe. Multiple rows of stitching ensure everything will stay put. The plate doesn’t interfere with gripping the bars – in fact, a lot of people who tried on the glove didn’t know it was there until I pointed it out. There is some screen-printed silicone grippy material on the first two fingertips. My old Answer gloves didn’t have this technology, and I had no problems pulling the brakes, so I don’t think I’ll notice the added grip on the Defenders. The palm padding is nonexistent, which to me is a plus because it makes maintaining a proper grip on the bars easier. There is a small tab at the underside of the wrist to aid in pulling the glove on.

The fingers are boxed! Hooray! The material is a nylon mesh, not unlike fine window screen. It does not look particularly durable. Boo! You can see your skin through the sides of the fingers, like your hands were inside some skimpy ladies underwear. Dust/dirt/mud and water will go right though like there was nothing there. The material breathes well though… The fingers have a distinct taper toward the tip. People with thick fingertips may have an issue with this. My fingers fit, albeit a little snugly, and although there is no “slop and flop” at the fingertips, they just look funny – like some fem battle android.

The top of the glove is the most complicated. The fingertips are Lorica for durability. The tops of the fingers are breathable nylon mesh, except for the first joints on the first two fingers, which have neoprene padding, and the first joints on the outer two fingers, which have dime-sized armor plates. The knuckle area is made from real leather. The leather extends down the outer fingers to secure the armor plates. There are cutouts where the armor plates for the knuckles are stitched in. Instead of an individual plate for each knuckle, there are two peanut-shaped pads the cover two knuckles each. Okay, maybe they’re not peanut-shaped: They’re more like butt-shaped. The underside of the armor is padded to a certain extent. The back of the palm is a meshy nylon material, and the entire topside of the thumb is terry cloth. A molded rubber tab forms the Velcro closure at the top of the wrist.

I gave them a test on Saturday’s evening ride. I didn’t notice them being any hotter than my old Answer gloves, or new Mechanix Mpact gloves. The initial tightness was not an issue. The controls were easy to manipulate but no better than other gloves. For S & G, I tried punching a tree with the armored knuckles. The armor pads did in fact work, but if one were to really haul off and hit something, the edges of the knuckle plates will express themselves through the padding and press into the soft tissue between the knuckles, causing slight discomfort. Needless to say this would be exponentially less discomfort than punching a rough eucalyptus tree bare handed! I didn’t manage to get hit in the hands with twigs or branches while riding, so there was no “real” impact test. They remained comfortable throughout the ride, and my hands didn’t hurt afterwards. These are good “advanced” rider gloves. The lack of palm padding would make these less suitable for beginners who may want more cushioning. I’d say the Mechanics Mpact gloves would be a better choice if palm padding is a concern. Another glove I want to try out is the Fox Unabomber, which is lightweight on the inside, and armored on the outer two fingers. I tried on Danny’s pair for a few seconds on a Ditch ride and they felt good. Now I have to track down a pair for myself!


Three out of four skulls

Approximately $45 USD

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