No matter what you are doing, you should be protecting your hands. Obviously you’ll want to protect your eyes and other soft bits, but hands are all too often forgotten.
Top Work Gloves
Note: This is a non-exhaustive list of the work gloves. It’s actually a sampling of the gloves I’ve been using around my home for chores and projects, not a deeply research article or some sort of definitive investigation, alongside my thoughts on each.
Mechanix Original Work Gloves
One popular option are the Mechanix Original Work Gloves, which you almost certainly have seen before, even if you don’t know you have. These gloves are notable for their reasonable price, velcro closure strap, seam-free fingers and palm, and their loud design. They are primarily made of synthetic leather with a nylon upper material.
The palms of these gloves use 0.8mm synthetic leather so they are lighter weight than you’d expect and offer less protection against pokes and prods, but give you better ability to pick up small things or fiddle with your phone.
Having used these gloves extensively, I have to say that I like their looks, but they aren’t for everyone. If you hate the logo, look for the “Covert” model, which has the printing in black.
These gloves run a bit large, so they have a roomier fit than I would have expected. Interestingly they run large compared to the Mechanix Fast Fit (discussed below).
For a small upgrade there is the Mechanix Leather Original as well, which uses “DuraHide” leather instead of a synthetic.
Price: About $20
Mechanix Durahide FastFit
The FastFit gloves from Mechanix Wear are similar to the Originals, but have some notable differences. First of all, they are a little cheaper and they have a more muted logo treatment the outside of the glove. Next, the FastFit has a snugger fit, so they are more true to size than the roomy Originals.
The biggest difference with the FastFit gloves though is that that have no wrist strap for closing, rather they use an elastic cuff. This means the gloves go on and off faster, but there is a puffy cuff at the end that isn’t held down by a strap or button. This design doesn’t look as clean (if you care about how it looks) and can get in the way of some tighter fitting jackets or long sleeves.
These glove use genuine leather as opposed to synthetic found in some of Mechanix Wear’s other models.
Price: About $18
Cut-resistant gloves are a great addition to any kitchen, especially if you often are cutting accident-prone things, like bagels or squash, or you even use a mandolin. These are cotton-like gloves that are very resistant to cuts from a blade. About 1000 different brands make them and, from what I’ve seen, they are all the same .
These are great indoors but are questionable for outdoor work, as they are not very resistant to water, they have limited grip, and nothing is holding them in place except for their stretchiness. Even so, I use them outside sometimes, since they offer excellent protection against cutting, they are affordable, I can just throw them in the washing machine, and they are easy to replace. The biggest issues with them are the lack of grip and they the cotton-like material will pick up grime and smells, making them pretty gross rather quickly.
Price: About $5/pair
One of the most affordable options for work gloves are dipped gloves. These are either cotton or cut-resistant gloves that are dipped in some sort of rubbery material (nitrile, rubber, latex, etc.) in order to offer better grip and to reinforce the grip.
Dipped gloves are very cheap when they are based on cotton gloves. They offer good warmth and protection from scuffs and things like thorns, but no protection from cuts. They get wet easily and offer very little protection to the back of your hands. They also degrade quickly, and aren’t really meant for long term use. Lastly, they tend to stretch and slide, so dipped gloves are a poor choice for something like moving furniture.
Price: Under $1/pair for cotton
These gloves are called many different things, but they normally go by…
- canvas PVC dotted gloves
- canvas work gloves
- PVC dot gloves
- cotton dot gloves
…or something to that effect. These are basically the cheapest work gloves you can get, and they are almost always sold in bulk at hardware stores or online.
Dot Gloves are canvas cotton gloves with little rubbery dots on them. Some places sell knit cotton gloves with the same dots on them, but they are less common (usually sold as “Cotton Safety Gloves“). The popular canvas variant of dot gloves fit poorly — as if they were made for squared off robot hands — and the offer limited warmth, but they will give you a base level of protection for hauling branches or cleaning brush. They don’t have a good enough fit or enough grip for using tools, aside from something low precision, like a metal rake or a shovel.
One good thing about these gloves is that you can cut off there finger tips if you need to do fine work, like pickup finishing nails or brads and not feel bad about ruining them.
Price: About 75 cents/pair
Leather and Canvas Work Gloves
These are very common around the garages and sheds of people who mow their own outdoor work. They are, in my mind, the typical “Dad gloves” and they look ridiculous — like a train conductor should be wearing them. These gloves never fit well they are almost always too too big and too boxy for a normal hand. They also offer very limited warmth and they take months to break in.
On the plus side, these gloves are affordable and widely available. They offer good protection from scrapes and pretty good protection to heat as well, thanks to the leather underside.
In case it’s not clear, I’m not a fan of this style of gloves, despite having used them for hundreds of hours.
Price: About $5/pair
There are nearly endless varieties of work gloves, and I’ve barely scratch the surface here. I’ve also done work in waterproof gloves, welding gloves, buckskin gloves, and more. That’s right… I take my gloves pretty seriously.
In the end, I’d recommend anything you find to be comfortable enough for wearing few a few hours and something you don’t mind ruining. I tend to wear dot gloves like above, but lately have been experimenting with nicer gloves, primarily the Mechanix FastFits. These are more expensive, but more comfortable. They also have the added benefit of working with a touchscreen, which is a rarity for work gloves. This is a function of how thin the leather grip and finger insides are, which is a good and bad thing.