Work gloves, much like shoes or boots, come in many different shapes & sizes and have different feature sets. Since your hands are such complex tools, and we use our hands for so many different tasks, it makes sense that there’d be a plethora of options available for protecting them. Much like wearing safety glasses, if you have to ask, “Should I be wearing these right now?” then the answer is probably yes. Yes, you should be wearing work gloves right now, maybe even while you’re using one of these 12 essential tools. As a matter of fact, OSHA requires gloves for certain tasks.
Gloves can be made from many different types of materials. For doing work (especially during home renovations), though, you’ll want a pair made from some type of leather. This gives you a second skin, in effect, keeping your hands safe. Popular glove leathers include cow, pig, and goat. We’ve rounded up our favorite pairs of work gloves for this year:
Black Diamond Work Gloves
With a name like “Work Gloves,” you know that these gloves from Black Diamond were built to excel at one thing. Featuring a 100% goatskin shell and a 550g fleece lining, these will keep your hands protected and warm. Additionally, the goatskin has been treated with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) to keep you dry.
Wells Lamont Hydrahyde
The Hydrahyde strikes a nice balance between function and value. The 100% cowhide shell has great puncture and abrasion resistance. It’s also sealed, which makes the leather more supple in addition to keeping your hands drier. There’s no need to fear wearing these gloves out too soon — the reinforced leather palm patch increases the service life. 100-gram Thinsulate insulation keeps your hands warm, and an elastic cuff helps seal that heat in.
The Kinco 1927KW has a cult-like status amongst ski patrollers and other mountain workers. Seriously, next time you’re at the resort, take a look at the guy (or gal) setting up the snowmaking guns. Chances are, they’re wearing this glove — and for good reason. The 1927KW is hard-wearing and offers terrific value. Featuring a grain pigskin palm and a fabric back, they’ll protect your hands while also offering a bit of ventilation for when you’re working hard.
Pro Tip: To make these gloves all but waterproof, simply put them on and grab a small wad of Sno-Seal or another beeswax-based leather protector. Over a low to medium heat source, rub your hands together and around, as if you were washing your hands. The heat helps the pores of the leather open up and absorb the beeswax, leading to lasting water resistance.
Youngstown Knuckle Buster Anti-Vibration
Well-represented in the electrical lineman trade, Youngstown develops high-performance leather work gloves. The Knuckle Buster Anti-Vibration is one of its more feature-rich products. The goatskin shell is sewn into a highly ergonomic, 3D performance glove pattern for the ultimate in fit and function. These also have patches of FR (fire-resistant) gel padding in the palm and accordion-like knuckle protectors. Combined, these features help protect you from vibration and impacts when using tools or machinery.
Hestra Vertical Cut CZone
Feature-rich, ergonomic, and great looking, the CZone has an attractive price point to match. Designed for skiers, snowboarders, and mountaineers to use while tackling the gnarliest lines, these will also help you tackle any winter work task. A goat leather palm provides excellent protection while shock absorbing foam on the backhand and fingers protects from other impacts. An important feature of this glove is the waterproof + breathable CZone membrane, which keeps water out while letting your perspiration escape. Convenient features like carabiner loops add a nice level of usability.
NoCry Cut Resistant Gloves
We never really defined what “work” was, did we? In this case “work” could mean prepping an impressive meal for your in-laws, or even tackling your first Thanksgiving feast. With the amount of knife work involved, it might be a good idea to protect your non-cutting hand. The NoCry Cut Resistant gloves fit the bill perfectly. They’re ambidextrous, food-grade, and offer something called “level 5 cut protection.” Whether you’re cutting, slicing, or grating, these gloves are a simple way to protect your hands.
Firm Grip Orange Suede Cowhide Leather and Denim Work Gloves
Close your eyes and picture work gloves. Chances are, the gloves you are thinking of look suspiciously similar to these gloves from Firm Grip. Maybe you even pictured yourself wearing them while using one of these gardening tools or tackling a basic home renovation project. With a timeless, basic design and double cowhide leather palm, they’re built for hard labor. The orange rubber safety cuff and denim backhand area offer additional protection and visibility. Best of all, at a price point of less than $5, you can afford to buy a few pairs of these so you’ll always have spares.
Klein Electricians Gloves
Klein has made a name for itself as a preferred supplier to the electrician community. In addition to many specialized hand and power tools, Klein also offers some specialized pieces of protective equipment. Take these Electricians gloves, for example. They have a unique, grippy material on the palms and fingers which makes it easier to pull wire or cable. They also feature a wrapped index finger and reinforced thumb base area for extra durability. While these won’t necessarily protect you from electrical shock (only thick rubber gloves will do that, but that’s outside the scope of this list), they will make wiring jobs easier.
CAMP USA Geko Ice Pro Glove
Alright, so this is a purpose-built ice climbing glove, and most of us will most likely never go ice climbing, but hear me out. Pound-for-pound, ice climbing gloves are some of the most versatile gloves you can buy. They’re typically low profile, non-bulky, built for use with (ice) tools, and have high dexterity. The Geko Ice Pro features a leather palm and fingertips for durability. They’ve also got a DryZone waterproof/breathable membrane for all-weather comfort. A small layer of Primaloft Gold insulation on the back of the hand offers a bit of warmth. Thin Velcro wrist closures mean that these will fit easily under your jacket cuffs.
Mechanix Wear Original Insulated Gloves
In areas that experience a lot of cold, snowy weather, everyone should have a preparedness kit in their car. This kit should include food, water, blankets, a shovel, etc. — basic things to help keep you comfortable in the event that you’re temporarily stranded. Also in this kit should be a set of tire chains for your car, to provide the needed grip to get you where you’re going. Since the installation of tire chains might involve wrapping them around your wheels on the shoulder of a cold, snowy, slushy roadway, it makes sense to protect your hands. The Mechanix MG-95-010 Original Insulated Winter Gloves fit this need perfectly. Made from synthetic leather and featuring a layer of Thinsulate insulation, these will keep you warm and safe.
Oakley Factory Pilot
The Factory Pilot from Oakley takes backhand protection to a high level. Featuring a molded nylon knuckle guard, these will help you complete your task safely. The leather palm protects the other side of your hand. Ideal for use in warm areas, there are mesh zones and rubber exhaust ports to help your hands stay cool. A special surfacing on the palm and fingers (Oakley calls it “Unobtainium”) gives increased levels of grip.
How To Find the Best Sizes for Work Gloves
Whatever your need for gloves is, it’s important to size them correctly for proper fit and function. Simply measure the circumference of your hand around the palm. Look at the measurement.
- Extra Small: Smaller than 7″
- Small: 7.5″
- Medium: 8″
- Large: 9″
- Extra Large: 10″
- Extra Extra Large: Larger than 10.5″
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