Buyer’s Guide: Work Gloves
Ahead, read our top tips and recommendations for choosing the right work gloves for your needs, and get the details on our favorite picks among the best work gloves available.
There’s nothing quite as satisfying as the feeling you get after conquering a home project with your own two hands. What’s not so pleasant are hands marred by blisters, scrapes, and splinters. A good pair of work gloves will help you get tough jobs done without having to suffer through those painful reminders of your day’s labor. So whether your task is as simple as moving snow and soggy leaves off your walkway or as complex as building a new deck, don’t get started without protecting your hands.
Choosing the right work gloves can be challenging—hence this handy (pun intended!) guide outlining everything you need to know about finding the right pair. Also included are details highlighting our top-favorite picks, below:
- BEST ALL AROUND: Custom Leathercraft Handyman Flex-Grip Work Gloves
- BEST FOR HEAVY DUTY: OZERO Flex-Grip Leather Work Gloves
- BEST FOR LIGHT DUTY: G&F Natural Cotton Work Gloves
Key Considerations for Choosing the Right Work Gloves
Material Is the Main Concern
Different work gloves are made of different materials, each suited to different tasks and chores. In fact, it’s often worth owning a variety of work gloves, so you can tackle all kinds of projects around the house and yard. Here’s how the options stack up:
- All Leather: When it comes to heavy-duty jobs, such as metalworking, cutting lumber, handling very hot or very cold items, or tackling electrical repairs or installations, hands need the protection of work gloves made entirely of leather. All-leather gloves provide excellent insulation against temperature extremes, absorb minor electrical shocks, resist punctures, protect against abrasions and cuts, and keep paint, oil, and chemicals off your skin. They’re most often made of cowhide, although you’ll find pig and sheepskin gloves as well. There are also two basic categories of leather gloves. There’s split leather, the heaviest duty and the most resistant to water and other liquids, and there’s grain leather, which is softer and smoother, giving you a bit more dexterity.
- Leather Palm: These gloves have natural or synthetic leather across the palm and fingers, but heavy fabric around the back of the hand. They allow your hands to move more easily than all-leather gloves do, but you’ll still get good protection from blisters, temperature extremes, and abrasions during less-demanding tasks such as moving wood, doing yard work, using power tools, or simple construction jobs.
- Canvas: Made of heavy cotton or a blend of heavy cotton and polyester, canvas gloves let you easily flex and bend your fingers and palms while offering protection from blisters, minor abrasions, and hot or cold surfaces. They’re suited for yard work, mixing and pouring concrete, simple carpentry repairs, and raking leaves. Many canvas work gloves have small rubbery dots across the palms for extra grip.
- Knit: Lightweight knit work gloves, generally made from cotton or a cotton/poly blend, are very stretchy for comfortable wear. These gloves are useful while painting, doing light yard work, and carrying out simple household repairs. They’ll help prevent blisters or minor scrapes, but don’t offer the rugged protection of leather or canvas gloves.
- Latex and Nitrile: Latex and its synthetic version, nitrile (suitable for those with latex allergies), are very lightweight and allow easy movement of fingers and palms. Both materials also offer a slightly tacky grip that makes it easier to hold onto wet or smooth surfaces. However, neither offers very good protection against blisters or scrapes, so they are best suited to messy but easy-on-the-hands chores like painting, pulling weeds, potting plants, or working with potentially irritating cleaning chemicals.
Other Features to Factor In
Now that you understand the most important material matters, consider the following other features when choosing work gloves.
- Cuffs: Most canvas work gloves have a knit or rubbery fitted cuff that helps keep out moisture and dirt. Heavy-duty leather work gloves often have an open cuff, which makes it easy to slip the gloves on and off. Lighter leather gloves typically have an open cuff with a bit of elastic running around the base of the palm, which provides protection from moisture, sawdust, dirt, and other grime while still allowing you to easily remove the gloves.
- Coating: Fabric gloves with a coating of nitrile or polyurethane across the palm and fingers are excellent for muddy gardening projects, painting, and light landscaping.
- Padding: Leather gloves with extra padding in the palms are a must for jobs that include a lot of vibration or shock to the hands, such as extended periods of hammering, using a chainsaw, digging through hard or rocky soil, or using a jackhammer or similar tool. The padding helps absorb shockwaves that otherwise could lead to wrist or hand injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome.
Making the Right Size Selection
Work gloves that are too tight are uncomfortable and don’t allow for a full range of motion. Gloves that are too loose slip and slide, which can be dangerous, in addition to being annoying. Ideally, your gloves should fit snugly around the fingers and the palm without squeezing, rubbing, or pinching.
Most work gloves come in a range of sizes—typically small, medium, large, and extra-large. These sizes correspond to the measurement across your palm at the base of your fingers, without including the thumb. Sizes aren’t standard, however, so be sure to measure your hand and double-check the manufacturer’s description of its sizing practices.
Our Top Picks
1. BEST ALL AROUND: Custom Leathercraft Handyman Flex-Grip Work Gloves
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.
2. BEST FOR HEAVY DUTY: OZERO Flex-Grip Leather Work Gloves
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.
3. BEST FOR LIGHT DUTY: G&F Natural Cotton Work Gloves
Made from 100% cotton, lightweight and breathable G&F Natural Cotton Work Gloves offer basic protection from blisters and messy substances for your painting, cleaning, gardening, or home repair project. These gloves boast a snug knit cuff that stays in place without constricting your range of movement, while the double-sided PVC dots integrated into the fabric help you get a firm grip.