After a tough WOD, people love to take pictures of their bloodied and blistered hands.
This is some weird “rite of passage” thing I’ve never understood about CrossFit. I don’t think any one of these people had ever gone down the rabbit hole to find the best CrossFit grips.
“Why are we ‘celebrating’ hand injuries and sores that will make it impossible to grip the bar during tomorrow’s workout?” I thought to myself.
Obviously If they had, they’d be too busy ripping through another set of muscle-ups instead of taking NSFW pictures of their hands!
Over the years, I’ve used everything from Bear Komplex grips (my all-time favorites) to kitchen sponges to protect my hands. I want my grip experiences to help you make a good decision (and to help you keep your hands pristine!)
Table of Contents
Top 7 Best CrossFit Grips
- Bear Komplex Grips (Best Overall)
- Picsil Grips (Runner-up)
- Picsil Fingerless Grips (Best Fingerless)
- Victory Grips (Best All Fabric)
- JerkFit Grips (Best 2-finger)
- ZHEZHERA Grips (Best Ambidextrous)
- Fit Vikings Grips (Best Multifunctional)
I wouldn’t trade my Bear Komplex for anything. I’ve run through multiple pairs (I didn’t really air out or take care of my first pair, my dog’s mouth fell in love with the second pair!) and keep coming back to Bear Komplex.
Bear Komplex grips material has a special kind of “tackiness” that feels like your hand is “stuck” to the pull-up bar. This provides additional stability and allows you to knock out even bigger sets.
The diamond design is perfectly structured to cover your hand in the way it is ACTUALLY shaped. The palm is protected whether you’re grasping the pull-up bar, rings, or even a kettlebell.
The velcro straps ensure that the grips can be adjusted to your exact fit preference while also being easy to flip when it’s time to pick up a barbell or dumbbell.
Bear Komplex previously enjoyed a three-year sponsorship with the CrossFit Games. If their products were good enough for the “Super Bowl” of CrossFit, I would all but guarantee they will be more than good enough for your own fitness needs!
Bear Komplex grips run on the expensive side (to be fair they are the best CrossFit grips and have gotten a bit more expensive in recent years. If you don’t want to drop ~$50 on grips, you might want to look elsewhere.
Picsil is a distant, but definite runner-up to Bear Komplex. You’ll be hard-pressed to enter a CrossFit competition anywhere in Europe and NOT see people rocking Picsil grips.
The carbon fiber material provides a unique sensation. To me, it is like using that thick piece of rubber to help you open that tight lid on the spaghetti jar.
(Don’t kid yourself, we’ve all needed it at some point!)
The synthetic material doesn’t sacrifice anything in the areas of flexibility or water/sweat resistance. The Picsil CrossFit grips are as durable as any in the game.
If you’ve spent time on the Iberian Peninsula (the sacred home of Picsil) you probably remember the bright, in your face colors. If these colors appeal to you, you’re in luck; these are the Picsil grips’ go-to colors. If you prefer a more subdued grip design, you might want to look elsewhere.
Picsil has a stable of top CrossFit athletes to speak for their grips. If former CrossFit Games champion and “Fittest Woman on Earth” Sam Briggs prefers Picsil grips, I’m inclined to listen!
I’ve gone through phases where I have wanted to minimize my grip use and other times where I used my grips for everything. The Picsil fingerless grips are what I would prefer during the former periods, only really being practical for use when gripping the pull-up bar overhead.
Like other Picsil grips, the Picsil fingerless grips are comprised of a unique carbon fiber material. Many swear by this (it does certainly create a unique feel when gripping the pull-up bar) as well as an easily adjusted velcro strap.
Unlike their finger-holed happy counterparts, Picsil’s fingerless grips come in a variety of more subdued colors. If you prefer a soft, coral blue or brilliant white, you might want to train your hands to LOVE fingerless grips!
These might be a little aggressive for your first pair of fingerless grips. Also, although Picsil has a U.S. base of operations, it is still primarily a Spanish brand. If you experience problems with your grips, resolving the issue may be slightly more difficult than it would be dealing with a domestic company.
In contrast to the Picsil Fingerless, Victory Grips almost feel like you’re wearing a glove at times, for better or for worse.
The grip fabric extends down to the base of the wrist. How you feel about this is completely personal; some prefer the extra fabric while others like the combination of bare hands and fabric.
Victory Grips are also unique in regard to their emphasis on being almost entirely comprised of fabric. The metal portion which would normally be present to secure the buckle or velcro strap is not present on the Victory Grips. Instead, the fabric loops into and around itself to secure the grip to your hand.
Victory grips are pricey. In some cases, they are more expensive than Bear Komplex grips. Also, if you prefer the feeling of a secure buckle or velcro strap, a Victory Grip might feel a little awkward.
A brand that is best known for its hook grip, thumb protectors (and for its funny name!), JerkFit has put together some of the best 2-holed grips on the market. For those who like the feeling of having their index finger free, yet want full palm protection the JerkFit grips are a solid option.
A lot of emphasis is placed on CrossFit grips covering the entire palm or a large portion of the hand’s surface area. JerkFit Grips are designed to only cover the portions of your palm that are likely to experience blisters or other chaffing. This cuts down on the total fabric to only the essential areas, which could be preferable if you like a more “raw” feeling.
The ergonomic design of the JerkFit Grips is intended to ensure that the grips do not “bunch up” into your hands during tough WODs. This bunch up is not a common occurrence with other grips. However, in some cases, accumulated wetness, combined with intense movements, can result in grip bunching.
Equally appropriate for bar work or ring work, JerkFit Grips’ one major downside is one we have seen a lot of so far…color selection. Hopefully you like your CrossFit grips in “jet black”!
Zhezhera isn’t the most popular CrossFit equipment and accessory brand, but they make up for it by offering a unique product.
ZHEZHERA Grips can tick the boxes for people with very specific needs. Those who prefer a leather grip as well as those who like the flexibility of using either grip for either hand.
That second need might sound a bit ridiculous, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve strapped a grip on only for something to feel…odd. Long story short, my numerous grip errors led my wife to write R and L in big black marker to help me differentiate between my grips!
A number of top CrossFit grip manufacturers discuss the importance of wrist support that their products provide.
Zhezhera takes things a step further.
Each grip order is packaged with specially designed wrist bands, to be used in conjunction with the grips. These provide the aforementioned support and comfort while also regulating wrist sweat.
Because Zhezhera is relatively new to the CrossFit grip game, I can’t speak to their durability. You might need to take a gamble on their unique product offering.
If you’re into watching gymnastics, the Fit Vikings grips might look a little familiar to you. Although not as pronounced as what you might see athlete’s wearing in the Olympic Games, the thicker, cow leather material differentiates them from any of the grips we have covered so far.
With a color selection that would put a rainbow to shame, Fit Vikings grips offer something for everyone.
The emphasis on universal practicality, Fit Vikings prides itself on its grips being useful for dumbbell and kettlebell work. This makes them uniquely suited for home or garage gym workouts.
Fit Vikings grips stick out like a sore thumb, both in their grain leather composition and in their oversized, metal free velcro fastener. However, these grips almost feel more like a glove than a grip and in a competition, your judge might raise an eyebrow at these.
If you’re not planning to compete, this isn’t a problem, but you might want to check these with the head judge before wearing them to the CrossFit Games.
Best CrossFit Grips Buyer’s Guide
Is leather better than synthetic fabric?
Are 6 holes (heh) better than 3?
Do you really need those buckles?
Let’s discuss the key areas of consideration to keep in mind when selecting your CrossFit grips.
The majority of the best CrossFit grips on our top-7 list are made from either a synthetic fabric or leather. These materials take a short period of time to break in. Once this process is complete, the fabric or leather essentially “molds” to your hands and more easily “molds” onto the bar.
The end result? The grip better attaches to your hand and better attaches your hand to the bar.
Leather and synthetic fabric CrossFit grips are also very durable and can better absorb sweat and chalk, especially if they are allowed to “air out” after the workout.
(don’t just leave them in your gym bag until your next training session!)
You’ve probably noticed that some grips have three finger-hole openings. Some have only two openings. A select few have four-finger hole openings while several have no holes at all.
You may be wondering, “are there any benefits to a two-holed grip over a three-holed grip or a no-holed grip?”
Answer: it depends.
The finger holes of your grips help them to comfortably conform to your hand during training sessions. The more fingers a grip has, the more “secure” they will feel and the less likely the grip is to slip off.
No-hole grips or those with fewer finger holes provide more of a layer between the hands and the bar or rings. This better enables you to grip the grip itself which can be preferable for those who want to minimize contact with the harsh metal or wood.
In some cases, grips with finger holes can be slipped higher on the hand to create a “no-hole grip” experience. If this is done, however, the grip won’t fit as securely on the hand.
It is best to experiment with different grip types and hole variations to get a feel for each and to ultimately decide which is best for you.
The best CrossFit grips are designed to take A LOT of abuse. The constant friction created when repping out a big set of pull-ups requires a degree of resiliency.
The synthetic fabric and leather material of most CrossFit grips are uniquely designed to withstand these beatings. When properly looked after, your grips should last and last.
As previously mentioned, be sure to allow them to air out and dry after your workouts. Because of the sweat and wetness that accumulates during my workouts, my grips tend to “curl up”. I will generally stick a plate on them for 10-15 minutes as I cool down in order to prevent this curl up and to speed up the drying process.
Velcro Strap vs. Buckle Strap
CrossFit grips must be secured to the wrist or risk moving around or falling off during your WOD. They generally have either a velcro strap or a buckle strap at the base of the grip for this purpose.
Velcro straps are preferable if you intend to regularly adjust your grips during the duration of a workout. They can easily be spun around onto the back of the hand when transitioning to barbell movements. Buckle straps can be slightly more stable, but are much more difficult to spin around.
Some CrossFit grips, such as Victory Grips and Viking Fit grips are secured without a metal loop around the velcro or buckle portion. These are less invasive (you don’t need to worry about the metal digging into your wrist) but can feel slightly less secure.
Some athletes appreciate the slight wrist support boost that the best CrossFit grips provide. However, most are not thick enough nor do they provide sufficient compression to significantly support the wrist.
The ZHEZHERA grips are packaged with wrist bands that provide additional comfort and support. The thickness of these bands provides a small amount of compression, but these bands act more like sweat bands than anything else.
Benefits of Using Grips
The benefits of using CrossFit grips are extensive. Performance improvement and hand health? What else could you ask for?!
First and foremost, CrossFit grips protect your hands from sustaining cuts and blisters while performing pull-ups, muscle-ups, toes-to-bar, and other pull-up bar movements.
The grips are literally barriers between your hands and the bar and limit direct contact. These barriers are particularly important during big sets where your grip starts to weaken and hanging onto the bar becomes strained.
As your grip continues to fatigue, your hands are more likely to move on the bar. When your hands move, the bar is imposing itself on your hands, irritating them, and ultimately ripping the thin skin of your palm.
These blisters and rips are generally not too annoying at first and you can generally finish your workout after sustaining one. However, if not treated appropriately, these wounds become extremely irritating. Trying to grasp the lightest barbell feels difficult and the thought of doing a kipping pull-up will make you sick.
Using CrossFit grips to prevent these injuries can prevent this pain. More importantly, they keep your hands healthy for your next training session!
Better grip on the bar
Jumping up to the pull-up bar and holding on for a few seconds isn’t too difficult for most people. Our hands wrap around the bar and we secure ourselves by making a tight fist around it.
Try to hold the bar for an extended period of time or when your hands are sweaty and things don’t feel so easy anymore.
This is a well-known fact; people have been using chalk for ages to help them to better grip the pull-up bar (and barbells). If there are ways for us to enhance our grip, why not use them?
The best CrossFit grips allow you to “grip the grip” (which, in turn, is secured to the bar) as opposed to gripping the bar directly. The deliberately tailored material of the synthetic or leather material is much easier to grip than the metal bar itself. This allows you to grip longer and to grip more stably.
Keep hands dry
You’re a minute into your WOD and your hands are already wet and sweaty. You grip the metal barbell and it gets wet and sweaty. You grip the pull-up bar and it gets wet and sweaty.
Everything gets wet and sweaty!
When the metal implements are wet and sweaty they are uncomfortable to grip and difficult to grip.
They can also be dangerous to grip.
CrossFit grips help to absorb much of this sweat and wetness, keeping the bar dry and reducing the sweat that accumulates in and on your hands.
With the best CrossFit grips, you’re less likely to suffer injury due to hand slippage on a wet bar. Your hands also remain dry as you move into the next portion of your WOD or workout.
When your hands are sore, wet, or blistered, it is difficult to properly grip the bar and execute pull-ups and similar exercises. Your technique suffers, form starts to break down, and you’re less efficient in your movements.
When you have your CrossFit grips strapped on, you can slow this breakdown or prevent it from occurring altogether. Keeping your hands fresh, dry, and injury free preserves your technique and lets your muscle memory kip your pull-ups to victory!
Frequently Asked Questions
We get a lot of questions about the best CrossFit grips. These are the questions we get the most often.
As previously mentioned, the ideal number of finger holes on a CrossFit grip is solely dependent on the athlete’s personal preference. For those who want almost a complete barrier between their hands and the pull-up bar or rings, fingerless grips are “better”.
If you dig a little deeper into each of the best CrossFit grips discussed above, you’ll find at least one testimonial from an elite CrossFit athlete. CrossFit athletes, like all athletes, have their own personal preferences. You can be sure that you can find an elite CrossFitter who wears the same grip that you have your eye on!
When your dog takes a bite out of your grips (like mine did), you KNOW it is time to change them! In all other situations, your biggest concern is likely going to be grips that have morphed or curled due to not being properly dried out.
If you have to stretch your grips out to ensure that they are properly covering your wrist, it is probably time to retire them.
I would think that after your first time…certainly your second time…definitely your third time of tearing your hands, that you would be begging to slip on the best CrossFit grips.
If you’re like me and numerous others, Bear Komplex is going to be your grip manufacturer of choice.
However, a fingerless, two-holed, or grain leather grip might be preferable to you. Give a pair (or three) a try; your palms will thank you!