Your hands need the right kind of protection if you work a lot with them. Work gloves significantly decrease the chances of injuring your hands during work. However, they come in all shapes and sizes so it’s important to choose the right ones according to the type of work and work environment. This guide aims to cover different types of work gloves and some of the best gloves you can buy under each category.
Things to Consider When Buying Work Gloves
The ultimate goal of all work gloves is to protect your hands against cuts and skin damage, chemical burns, hard impacts, shocks and other mishaps. While many believe a pair of work gloves should protect you from all these things, the reality is far from it.
Work gloves are diverse and meant for different purposes. A pair of factory work gloves might not work well for other activities such as gardening and cooking. This makes it important to consider a few things before making a purchase decision. You’d also find many multi-purpose work gloves that protect hands and work well for a variety of situations. But professionals need something designed specifically for tasks at hand.
Let’s start with a few common things one should consider when searching for a pair of work gloves.
Work gloves are made using different types of materials such as synthetic leather, genuine leather, glass-fiber and polyethylene blends, spandex, rubber and cotton/fleece. The material being used along with price is the decisive factor in most buying decisions. Choosing the right material depends on your workload, durability, things you want to protect yourself from and other factors such as cold or hot work environment.
People who just need light protection might want to consider spandex as its lightweight and works well for a variety of jobs. You’d want work gloves made using thick leather and with adequate padding for tougher jobs. As a general rule of thumb, the thicker a glove the more durable it is and vice versa.
You’d also come across gloves made from thin materials that have higher breathability and can wick moisture. These materials are ideal for working in hot and humid conditions and minimize the issues related to working with sweaty hands.
The ultimate goal of work gloves is to help you do your job without fearing about cuts, scrapes, burns, hard impacts, shocks etc., while still providing adequate dexterity. Different gloves offer different levels of protection against these things. High cut-resistance gloves are more resistant to sharp objects, while heat protection gloves are more fine-tuned for jobs such as welding.
Synthetic leather is considered to be stronger and more durable than natural leather and some varieties of synthetic leather are up to four times stronger. You’d want touchscreen-friendly gloves if you have to deal with touchscreen devices frequently during work. Gloves with conductive thread help you use touchscreen devices without having to remove the gloves and make life a little easier.
Dexterity and Fitting
Dexterity refers to one’s ability to maneuver his/her fingers and grip surfaces when wearing gloves. Considering dexterity is especially important if you are working with tasks that require precision and fine motor skills such as planting delicate flowers or picking up nails. If you are dealing with such tasks wearing thick work gloves, you’d end up taking them off frequently.
Gloves made of thinner materials are more suitable for tasks that require fine motor skills and accuracy. Perfect fitting is another aspect to consider as improper or uncomfortable fitting means excess bulk and more fabric to deal with than required. On the other hand, pick a pair of gloves too small and you end up with restricted and cramped movements.
Types of Work Gloves
Work gloves are designed for different workloads and can be broadly categorized into the following categories:
These cut-resistant heavy-duty work gloves are designed to handle rough, abrasive, oily and hot/cold environments. Specialty gloves are made from different materials, including Kevlar, nylon, lined/unlined neoprene and nitrile. These gloves are impervious to most liquids and offer good-enough dexterity and grip people need to handle tough jobs.
Aluminized gloves are designed to reflect and insulate when dealing with tasks such as welding and working with furnaces (some provide protection in tasks involving up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit). Kevlar gloves are lightweight, durable and cut and abrasion resistant, but cost a lot more than standard work gloves.
Made of PVC, latex, vinyl or nitrile, these gloves are the most economical and usually meant for single use. They are suitable for light-duty tasks that require a lot of fine motor skills and don’t pose any serious threat to your hands. Disposable gloves can be used for tasks such as medical and labs, food handling, manufacturing and handling small parts.
Usually made of polyester and cotton, knit gloves offer flexibility and comfort. Many knit gloves come with PVS dots, which improve grip and help users handle light-duty tasks with ease. Since these gloves are thin and lightweight, they can also be used inside other gloves as a liner for added grip and extra protection.
Leather gloves are generally used for resisting heat and abrasion as leather provides both the strength and dexterity needed for medium-duty tasks. Leather gloves made of cowhide and goatskin also come with elasticized or shirred cuffs, providing better grip and strength.
Fabric and Canvas Gloves
These gloves are mostly made from synthetic fabrics and cotton and suitable for medium and light duty tasks. They are also referred to as general purpose gloves that provide comfort and dexterity, while many of them come with PVC dots for better grip. Synthetic fabrics gloves are resistant to cuts, abrasions and punctures and are usually machine washable.
Dipped or Coated Gloves
These gloves are essentially knit gloves that also have some sort of coating such as PVC, polyurethane or foam nitrile. They are mostly used for handling and processing food, oil, chemicals etc. and are suitable for medium and heavy duty tasks. While the level of protection varies by material, dipped/coated gloves are designed to protect people from chemicals, cuts, punctures and abrasions.
Our Top 10 Picks for the Best Work Gloves
The Material4X gloves are known for their high abrasion and tear resistance. Made from special synthetic leather, the work gloves are stronger and more durable than standard gloves made using the same material. That’s because Material4X is made from a strengthened fiber at the core with a wrapping of blended polyester and spandex fibers. The gloves are abrasion resistant while still being soft to touch. The gloves are machine washable and feature a special material that keeps hands comfortable and cool.Key Features and Specifications
- Material: Material4X Synthetic Leather
- Abrasion resistant
- Keeps hands comfortable and cool
- Made from special synthetic leather, stronger than standard materials
- Thermal plastic rubber for a secure fit
- Reinforcement panels
- Machine washable
These shrink-resistant work gloves are made using durable synthetic leather that offers excellent dexterity. The gloves are insulated and work well in wet or cold environments, making them an excellent choice for outdoor jobs. The wing-closing strap ensures the gloves don’t slip when working in a wet weather or when your hands are sweating. The side panels are made from spandex and Lycra, providing better dexterity and helping you get the job done with minimum restraint. The inner stitching is concealed, which means no snagging on metal and wood while working.Key Features and Specifications
- Material: Synthetic Leather
- Shrink resistant
- Cold weather insulation
- Anti-slip strap
- Stretchable spandex, good dexterity
- Snag proof
Featuring a Fast Dry tech and a breathable palm and shell, The Fixer is designed to wick sweat away from the hands and works well for a variety of jobs such as car and tool repairing. It minimizes wear through the reinforced index finger and thumb patch, while the water repellent palm allows people to work in wet conditions. The gloves are primarily made from spandex so they are thin and provide better dexterity for jobs that demand accuracy. They offer adequate protection for light-duty tasks and are suitable for most everyday tasks at home.Key Features and Specifications
- Material: Spandex
- Water repellent palm
- Thin and breathable
- Reinforced index finger and thumb saddle/patch
- Synthetic wrist pull
- Elastic cuff with hook
- Fast Dry Technology
These tough Bullwhip leather gloves are designed for a variety of medium-duty jobs and reinforced in critical areas with Kevlar for lasting durability and better on-job performance. It provides excellent protection without compromising on dexterity, while the patented palm design ensures a strong grip and comfort. The gloves are machine washable and resist shrinking. They are suitable for a variety of workloads including handling heavy cables and wires, heavy equipment, driving, ranching, forestry and construction.Key Features and Specifications
- Material: Bullwhip Leather, Kevlar Reinforcements
- Exo-Guard Knuckle Protection
- Roll-top fingertips, excellent dexterity
- Thermoplastic cuff puller
- Machine washable, shrink-resistant
- Kevlar reinforcements
- Terry cloth wipe
These synthetic gloves are designed specifically for precision handling and dry environments. They provide excellent grip and are abrasion resistant. The knit wrists are designed to prevent debris and other stuff from entering the gloves, while the micro-foam coating provides more breathability and a better fit. The gloves are only a millimeter thick and suitable for a variety of light-duty applications such as handling general materials, automotive, stocking and assembly.Key Features and Specifications
- Material: Synthetic, Nitrile coating
- Abrasion resistant
- Only a millimeter thick
- Excellent dexterity and grip
- Knit wrist
As the name suggests, the gardening gloves are designed for women and help keep their hands comfortable and dry. Strategically positioned pads provide a secure grip and comfort to the hands by evening out the surface. The built-in mini towels absorb moisture and keep hands dry and cool. The gloves can even be used by people suffering from arthritis as they were designed in collaboration with an orthopedic hand specialist.Key Features and Specifications
- Material: Leather, small terry cloth towels inside
- Silicone fingertips
- Machine washable
- Strategically positioned pads
- Also suitable for people suffering from arthritis
- Secure wrist closure
- Strong grip, good dexterity
The FastFit insulated winter gloves are water and wind resistant and allow you to work with touch screen devices using your index finger and thumb. The insulated and fleece-lined gloves are designed for use in cold outdoor spaces and protect hands from cold and brisk air. They are machine washable and made from a stretchy fiber and synthetic leather palms. The neoprene elastic cuff makes it easier to pull the gloves out of your coat pockets.Key Features and Specifications
- Material: Synthetic leather palms, stretchy fabric
- Insulated, water and wind resistant
- Touch screen compatible (index finger and thumb)
- Good dexterity, close fit
- Machine washable
- Nylon over the knuckles
- Elastic neoprene cuff
These cut-resistant gloves offer EN388 level-5 resistance from cuts and are four times stronger than leather according to the manufacturer. They are suitable for jobs requiring precision and provide excellent dexterity. The gloves are suitable for a variety of applications such as working with cutters, knives, peelers, slicers, carpentry, carving, woodwork and more. Keeping them clean is easy as they are machine washable and completely food safe.Key Features and Specifications
- Material: Polyethylene, Glass Fiber, Spandex
- Level-5 cut resistant
- Machine washable
- Food safe
- Excellent dexterity
- Designed for applications that involve working with sharp objects
Made from leather and soft cotton liner, these welding gloves offer great heat resistance and are designed for jobs involving high temperatures. The exterior and stress points made of high-grade leather and Kevlar threading ensures that the gloves can withstand exposure to heat, sparks, flames and spatter. The soft cotton liner inside provides comfort, while the cotton lined inner cuff absorbs moisture and makes it easier to work in moist conditions. The gloves are also suitable for a variety of high-temperature applications, including stick, Mig/GMAW and Flux-core welding.Key Features and Specifications
- Material: Leather (cowhide), Kevlar threading
- Reinforced seams
- Heat and flame resistant
- Kevlar lining
- Heat resistant cotton interior
- Cotton lined inner cuff
- Leather-reinforced stress points
- Straight thumb design, good dexterity
Buying work gloves is about considering the job, your work environment and the kind of protection you need. Thin gloves with high dexterity work well for most every day applications, but you need a pair of gloves with a decent amount of padding and durability for tougher jobs. Another important thing to consider when buying work gloves is the fitting.
Trying a pair of work gloves at the store might be a good idea if you are not sure about the fitting. If you bought them online and they don’t fit well, you can still return them and try another size. Small, Medium, Large and so on aren’t always the perfect indicators of a perfect fit. That’s why you might have to try different fits and styles before finally finding the most durable work gloves that compliment your job and work style.