The brief answer: No. The real answer: No, but there are exceptions.
These are the reasons why you shouldn’t wear gloves while doing parkour, plus an explanation of why it may sometimes be okay to wear them.
In almost all cases, your hands have better overall grip than gloves. The outside surface of the gloves may stick better to whatever you’re grabbing than your skin, but the extra slippage created by inside of the glove rubbing on your hand will reduce the gloves’ grip to worse than your hands’ grip.
There is no contest here: your hands can feel your surroundings much better than gloves. You need this sensitivity to be fully aware of your surroundings in order to best adapt your movements to them. I shouldn’t have to explain why you need to be aware of your surroundings, but allow me to tell you a story that shows exactly what I mean.
Once upon a time, I was training under an overhang. I jumped on a table, ran forward, leaped, grabbed the metal bar near the roof, intending to do a laché – but instead I stalled out as slow as possible. There was an invisible layer of slick pollen on the bar, pollen that could have made me slip and fall flat on my back. However, because I could feel the pollen making my grip fail, I was able to adjust my movement. If I had been wearing gloves, I would have fallen. It would have hurt.
If you are surprised somewhere and you have to use parkour to reach/escape something, your speed and efficiency will be reduced – because you’re used to training in gloves. “Be strong to be useful” is one of parkour’s mottos. The more gear you need, the less useful you are. The zombies won’t wait for you to pull on gloves– and neither will a thief or mugger.
Calluses are more useful
There are a lot of reasons to have calluses, even aside from parkour:
- Your hands will be more resilient in general. I haven’t gotten a splinter in my palm in months. I can draw a knife across my hand and nothing much happens.
- You’ll be able to open metal-capped bottles easily, making you an instant favorite at your friends’ drunken orgies – err, dinner parties.
- Calluses fascinate soft-handed people in a twisted sort of way (which is hilarious).
- According to my sister, I can exfoliate skin with my hands. Not sure if this is a positive or negative, but I like the idea. I’m going with positive.
If you’re conditioning, gloves are acceptable. For example: the number of repetitions of exercises that are hard on your hands, like pull-ups, is sometimes limited by your grip. In this case, it’s okay to use gloves in order to get a better workout. This is acceptable because when you condition, you usually focus on one group of muscles. Conditioning is always a worthy cause, so in this case, there is no negative to wearing gloves. Don’t rely on them too much, though. Remember: calluses are better.
If you won’t accept any other reason:
When was the last time you saw David Belle or Daniel Ilabaca or Ryan Doyle or Tim Shieff wearing gloves? Never.
If you won’t take my advice, at least follow their example.