I’ve been using batting gloves in baseball since I was in Little League and I’ve always noticed that some gloves were a lot more comfortable than others, but I never really contemplated what made these batting gloves feel so different. Then I tried some batting gloves that used Cabretta leather, which got me researching the different ways batting gloves are made. So, what are batting gloves made of?
Batting gloves are made from genuine leather, synthetic leather, or a hybrid of both. Batting gloves also use nylon, neoprene, and elastane. Genuine leather batting gloves are generally considered to be the best type of batting glove, but it comes down to a player’s preference.
However, genuine batting gloves do tend to cost a lot more than other types of batting gloves. Let’s dive into all the different types of batting gloves so you can make the best decision about what type of batting gloves you want to use.
If you’re in the market for batting gloves, I recommend looking at the high-quality batting gloves made by Bruce Bolt. Learn more about the current price of Bruce Bolt batting gloves on Amazon or learn more about why Bruce Bolt batting gloves are worth the cost.
What Are Batting Gloves Made Of?
Batting gloves are an important part of your baseball or softball equipment. Aside from protecting your hands from blisters, they also offer protection from scrapes and cuts if you wear them while sliding into a base.
The materials from which batting gloves are made are usually different types of genuine and synthetic leather, as well as some synthetic fibers that improve breathability and fit. Let’s go over them in detail.
Genuine Leather Batting Gloves
Genuine leather is the highest-quality material you can get when it comes to batting gloves and they are easily my favorite type of batting glove to use. The downside is they tend to cost more, but the upside is they tend to last longer than the really cheap synthetic batting gloves I used to get.
Genuine leather batting gloves have the best feel and there is a noticeable difference between genuine leather batting gloves and synthetic batting gloves.
Genuine leather batting gloves are characterized by their natural feel, great grip, and ability to mold to your hand.
Any manufacturer that prides itself on the quality of its batting gloves will tell you the source of the leather. For example, Franklin uses Pittards® smooth sheepskin leather for its premium offering, the Powerstrap Chrome Batting Gloves.
That said, some other huge names in the game, like Nike, won’t specify the type of leather they use in their gloves. Or at least I wasn’t able to find the exact type of leather being used in their batting gloves.
The major downside to genuine leather is that it’s more difficult to maintain. Aside from not being able to machine-wash these gloves when they get dirty, you can also experience leather cracking and discoloration if they are not properly maintained.
Maintaining genuine leather batting gloves includes cleaning any pine tar or grip spray off of them after every game. It also requires consistent application of leather conditioner or mink oil to keep it from drying out or cracking.
However, I’ve never done any maintenance with my Bruce Bolt batting gloves and they are still in great condition. This is why I like to recommend checking out their current price on Amazon if you’re looking for a new pair of batting gloves. Or you can read my Bruce Bolt review if you’d like to learn more about my experience with these batting gloves.
Synthetic Leather Batting Gloves
Synthetic leather has made huge leaps since its plasticky, shiny early days. Nowadays, you can get synthetic leather goods that look and feel like real leather. That said, most seasoned players can tell the difference between a $16 synthetic leather glove and a $50 genuine leather one.
The most obvious difference is the grip, which is more slippery in synthetic leather batting gloves than it is in genuine leather. Thanks to the manufacturing process, the leather surface is smoother and less grippy. The good news is you can apply pine tar to your bat, even if you wear batting gloves.
I recommend reading my article on pine tar and batting gloves to learn the process for how I apply pine tar to my bat when using batting gloves.
Synthetic leather can also be less malleable and moldable than genuine leather usually is. This can cause your grip to be looser, especially in younger players.
On a positive note, taking care of synthetic leather batting gloves is so much easier than taking care of genuine leather batting gloves.
You can chuck the synthetic batting gloves into the washing machine on cold, and they should come out as good as new. Just be careful not to use hot water or super harsh detergents, as they can ruin the leather.
The bad news about these types of gloves is that I’ve never been able to go more than a few games without them getting at least one hole. But I do prefer these types of batting gloves to wear underneath my fielding glove while I’m playing defense.
A Hybrid of Genuine Leather and Synthetic Leather
Another common type of batting glove contains a mix of genuine and synthetic leather.
With these hybrid gloves, the palms are made from genuine leather while the fingers are made from synthetic leather.
These types of batting gloves offer the benefit of a batting glove that feels great and they offer the benefit of lasting longer than cheaper batting gloves.
When it comes to hybrid leather batting gloves, I’ve had a lot of success with Marucci. I recommend checking out the current price of Marucci’s signature batting gloves on Amazon if you want to try a hybrid batting glove.
Other Materials Used in Making Batting Gloves
While leather is the most obvious material used in batting gloves, there are also other common materials that are used when making batting gloves. Let’s briefly go over those.
Nylon is a synthetic fiber commonly used as a lining material for batting gloves. It can also be made into a mesh fabric used in cutouts in the gloves to provide ventilation.
Removing some of the leather material in the gloves and substituting it with nylon fabric drives the cost of manufacturing the gloves way down. This helps make the gloves more affordable and accessible to players.
You can find batting gloves with a higher nylon percentage than others if the entire back of the hand is made of nylon. These are usually cheaper than, though not as durable as, batting gloves made of leather.
Nylon is a machine-washable material, so the upkeep is pretty easy.
Originally used to make scuba diving suits, neoprene is a stiff, heat-proof, water-resistant rubber-based fabric that conforms very well to body contours. This is a less-common material that’s found nowadays in batting gloves, mostly as a reinforcing structure for the wrist area.
The benefit of using neoprene is that it’s both smooth and stiff, so it can be fastened to your wrist to add support without injuring the skin or causing blisters. However, it tends to be less breathable than ideal, so you might find ventilation holes in the areas where it’s used.
One great benefit of using neoprene is that it’s also oil-resistant, which makes it less prone to becoming slippery when subjected to the natural oils produced by your hands.
Flexibility is a requirement of good batting gloves. Genuine leather provides some flexibility, so when it’s replaced by synthetic fibers and materials, something has to provide that quality to make the batting gloves less stiff and difficult to use.
That’s where elastane comes in handy. It’s a polyether-polyurea copolymer, invented in the mid-20th century. It’s the same fabric from which spandex and Lycra are made.
Usually, elastane fibers aren’t used as a solid knit. Instead, they’re woven within other types of fabrics to give them a two-way or four-way stretch. This makes the batting gloves fit better and last longer.
The downside of elastane usage in fabrics is that it tends to lose stretchiness over time. This means a pair of gloves with 2% elastane will sag and lose its shape more than a 0% elastane fabric.
Which Batting Gloves Should I Get?
If you’re still on the fence about which type to choose, try on different gloves and see how well they fit and feel on your hands. Genuine leather offers a good fit and some elasticity, but it has the downside of cracking and wearing out fast if not properly maintained.
But here is my basic strategy for buying batting gloves:
- For hitting, I prefer genuine leather batting gloves, like these Bruce Bolt batting gloves
- If I’m on a budget, I like a hybrid batting glove, like these signature batting gloves from Marucci
- When playing defense, I always use a batting glove underneath my fielding glove. So I find the absolute cheapest glove available, regardless of the material used.