When we realized that, in all our years of writing, we never tackled the question of who makes the best work gloves, well…something had to be done. We quickly assembled the team and began discussing what made a pair of work gloves better than another. We wanted to cover every conceivable application as well. The best gloves for the trades. The best gloves for the money. Leather gloves. Gloves for using electronics. Honestly, this article took a long time to write.
Of course, we had to start with our favorite gloves—the best work gloves overall. After much deliberation amongst our office staff, there could be only one choice…and you may not like it.
What Are Work Gloves Used For?
Work gloves protect your hands. They’re an essential and often required part of safety gear for so many industries. Even if you don’t have a hard labor job, you may still come across circumstances where you need to wear safety gloves. Ultimately, work gloves protect wearers from various working hazards while still being comfortable and suitable for dexterity.
A lot of work gloves will feature different things for different uses. It all depends on what type you need. Are you looking for tactical gloves or nitrile gloves? Tactical gloves are usually made from thick material, whereas nitrile is a lot thinner. Would you prefer split cowhide leather or synthetic leather?
Leather gloves are good for heavy-duty use, or if you’re working with sharp objects. You can get work gloves with thermoplastic rubber knuckles, Thinsulate insulation, elastic cuffs, or a safety cuff. The thick material of insulated gloves is usually perfect for winter. These are all things to consider when shopping for a good pair of work gloves.
What You Should Know About Work Gloves
Why Wear Work Gloves?
You’ve only got one set of hands and you should protect them. We’re not going to tell you what to do, but it’s worth mentioning that, in 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 143,000 hand-related injuries were reported in the workplace—a statistic that doesn’t cover hand injuries that happened at work but weren’t reported or any of the work that folks like you and I do to keep their homes, vehicles, and backyards working as they should. This reported 143,000 injuries meant that, in 2015, hand injuries came in second place to the reported number of incidents of back injuries (191,450) sustained by Americans while they were on the job.
What Gloves Are Best for Which Situation?
Cuts: The best cut-resistant gloves are made from Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE, UHMW). Lightweight and flexible, these types of gloves do not typically protect from shock or puncture.
Bruising and blistering: Look for quality leather to prevent bruising and blistering. A quality pair of work gloves will have an extra layer sewn over the knuckles and over the palm.
Water and chemicals: In this situation, latex and nitrile gloves will work the best. You want a nonreactive barrier that’s also disposable.
Extreme temperatures: The gloves that protect against extreme hot and cold tend to be very thick. The added bulk provides more insulation.
What Features to Expect from a Safety Pair of Gloves
Aside from regulated standards, safety gloves run the gamut of features. Some work gloves come with special coatings that are incorporated into the knuckles, palms, fingertips, and even the wrist, for added grip, and some gloves are made from thick materials such as rubber and leather, which can offer water-resistance or complete protection from inclement weather and elements.
Other types of safety gloves feature superior protection abilities, insulation, extra padding, and abrasion resistance, and are made from materials, synthetic or otherwise, that can deflect cuts, burns, and chemicals, as well as keep the dirt out, and keep your hands warm and dry, no matter how cold the weather.
Our Top Picks:
Offering sturdy protection, comfort, and flexibility, the Custom Leathercraft Handyman Flex-Grip Work Gloves can help you accomplish a host of yard work, carpentry, and automotive projects. Palms made of heavy-duty faux leather provide excellent protection without becoming stiff or shrinking when wet. The backs of the gloves are spandex with extra padding across the knuckles, and the fingertips have touchscreen-compatible faux leather patches so you can use your gadget as needed. Wing-strap cuff closures keep the gloves on securely, even in wet or dirty conditions.
Made from 100 percent genuine grain cowhide, the OZERO Flex-Grip Leather Work Gloves protect hands during such tough tasks as woodwork, landscaping, metalwork, and electrical projects. An extra leather patch across the palm provides superior grip while absorbing shock and vibration. All the seams—double-stitched for durability—are set away from the palm to reduce rubbing and skin irritation. Meanwhile, the cuffs feature a strip of elastic to maintain a snug but comfortable fit, with no slipping or sliding. These gloves are puncture-, cut-, and tear-resistant, and provide moderate resistance to oil or other liquids.
We can’t help but like the same gloves as above for smart device use, but the GRX Palwick 733 gloves from Lowes offer even better performance. They also deliver ANSI A3 cut protection—which is a nice perk. Even when we messed up these gloves with dirt and sawdust, they continued to let us answer our phones and even send short text messages without major issues.
Honestly, these have performed better than some gloves which claim, specifically, to work well with touchscreens and smart devices!
Milwaukee Winter Performance Gloves place their focus on general protection and warmth. They include a reinforced layer between the thumb and index finger as well as a nylon pull loop for easy removal. With 60g of insulation, these gloves handle the cold better than most.
More than that, they don’t lose focus on the fact that when you work you also tend to sweat—even when the outside temps are low. For that, Milwaukee includes their terry cloth sweat wipe on the thumb. You also get a handy SmartSwipe section on the knuckle that lets you access your phone or tablet without having to take off your gloves.
These Ironclad General Utility Work Gloves are thick enough to provide protection and flexible enough to accommodate movement. This balance makes them good, all-purpose gloves that can be used for everything from potting a plant and handling tools to lifting heavy machinery.
After completing the durability tests and washing the gloves on a gentle cycle, the gloves looked the same as they did when we first started our tests, proving that they’re durable and can last for more than one use.
When it comes to working in frigid conditions, the Youngstown Winter Proof Plus gloves blew everything out of the ice water. We exposed these gloves to freezing conditions and found them to be water and windproof. These winter gloves are not impervious to cold, but, anyone who has worked in the snow knows that it’s the dampness that saps your hands of all their strength. The Youngstown also protected our hands well, resisting sharp objects and rope constrictions.
The reason we didn’t award these gloves the top spot was due to their stiffness. The thickness in the material allows for only a gripping motion. You can hold onto a shovel, a hammer, or a chainsaw, but that’s about all. We could barely pick up a screw that we dropped, much less place it in the right spot and turn a driver. These gloves perform at their best in the dead of winter, dealing with work that requires no finesse.
Leather is an undeniably durable material that can handle a lot of wear and tear. These thick, heavy-duty Wells Lamont gloves are made up of split cowhide but have a special coating that provides water resistance, allowing them to protect even further.
These leather work gloves also feature a reinforced leather patch in places where constant use begins to show—the palm, thumb, and pointer fingers. “The reinforced grip areas make these last longer than most and prevent the worst of the blisters I usually get, as gloves wear through from ax-swinging,” explained one reviewer.
This rugged tactical glove comes in brown, black, and gray. You can choose from small through XX-large. The gloves have breathable material on the back and durable suede on the palm. There’s a thermoplastic guard on the back of the glove to protect your knuckles from impact and abrasion. The fingertips have an internal dual layer for extra protection. On the palm, there is a D30 protect pad to help dissipate energy throughout the palm. At the wrist, there’s a hook and loop closure for a secure fit.
This glove stands out because of the additional creature comfort features. The breathable TrekDry material conforms to your hand and keeps you cool. The synthetic leather on the palm is 0.8mm for dexterity and durability. There’s also an impact guard on the first knuckle that allows for easy trigger guard entry.
One problem with these gloves is their authenticity. Make sure the gloves you receive are the true product and not a cheaper quality knock-off. Pay attention to the shape of the knuckle guard, the structure of the palm padding, and the quality of the stitching. The gloves also run large, so if you have smaller or more feminine hands, these gloves won’t fit well.
You get six pairs of gloves in this package. They come in men’s medium, large, and X-large or women’s medium. This glove is lightweight and flexible. The construction of the glove is 100 percent nylon material, while the palm of the glove is coated with 100 percent microfoam. The gloves are light gray with black palms.
You’ll like wearing these gloves while working around the house because of their slim fit. This enables you to have dexterity in your fingers. The nylon material is breathable and keeps your hands cool when you’re wearing the gloves all day long.
The downside of these gloves is their offensive odor that is reminiscent of pesticides. Not only do the chemicals smell bad, but they can also cause reactions for those with sensitive skin. The coating also makes it challenging to feel through the glove, which can make more detailed or technical work challenging.
Not all leather work gloves provide you with easy dexterity, a close fit, and excellent durability — but the Hardy Pigskin Leather Work Gloves do. These gloves are a slim, streamlined spin on the traditional leather work glove, and they allow you to have as much freedom of movement as possible in a protective leather sheath.
Made out of tough, smooth, and soft pigskin leather, these gloves actually conform right to your hand. This allows you to bend, grip, flex, and move like you naturally would, all without a whole lot of extra material or bulk. They’re also quite durable; the pigskin is resistant to abrasions and punctures. It’s a fantastic all-purpose choice if you need gloves that can handle many different types of work.
As an added bonus, these leather work gloves will also offer all-weather protection and warmth. They can protect against cold weather and moisture, all without getting stiff or damaged. The elastic wrist on each glove also helps lock out cold, debris, and dirt.
Cleaning and Finishing Gloves Tips
Gloves for cleaning and finishing offer a measure of chemical protection, and some can also function as waterproof work gloves. They’re available in reusable and disposable versions.
Reusable gloves are thicker and typically have a flocked lining that improves comfort and makes the gloves easier to put on and take off. They’re more durable, but they offer less dexterity and don’t give you as much touch sensitivity as thinner gloves. While they’re reusable, they require care and maintenance.
Disposable gloves are for single use only. They’re intended for incidental, rather than direct, chemical contact. Once they come into contact with chemicals, you should replace them. While they don’t offer the same level of protection as thicker, reusable gloves, they allow more dexterity and a better sense of touch.