The Best Work Gloves of 2022

We tested the top work gloves on the market during home improvement, gardening, and automotive projects. Ahead, find out the top performers in our hands-on tests.

By Michelle Ullman and Bob Beacham and Glenda Taylor | Updated Aug 3, 2022 4:50 PM

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The Best Work Gloves Options

Photo: Glenda Taylor

A good pair of work gloves can help DIYers get tough jobs done without suffering through painful reminders of the day’s labor. Whether shoveling snow off a walkway or building a new deck, many DIYers are more comfortable during the project—and afterward—when protecting their hands with a high-quality pair of gloves.

Dozens of brands of work gloves are available from a variety of retailers, but we don’t want to settle for just any pair of work gloves. We wanted to find the real standouts. After researching the most popular brands, we tested them for durability, quality construction, hand protection, and more.

As there are gloves designed for specific tasks, choosing the right work gloves can be challenging. This handy (pun intended!) guide outlines what you need to know about finding the right pair. Ahead, learn what it took to qualify for this lineup of the best work gloves and how to find the right pair for a user’s needs.

  1. BEST OVERALL FOR MEN: Ironclad Ranchworx Work Gloves
  2. BEST OVERALL FOR WOMEN: Ironclad Tuff Chix Work Gloves
  3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Wells Lamont PU-Coated Gripper Gloves, 3 Pack
  4. BEST SUEDE: Carhartt Synthetic Suede Fencer Work Glove
  5. BEST INSULATED: Wells Lamont Deerskin Full Leather Winter Work Gloves
  6. BEST WATERPROOF: Wells Lamont Winter Grip Gloves, Waterproof Coating
  7. BEST TOUCH-SCREEN TIPS: Custom Leathercraft Flex Grip Handyman Work Gloves
  8. BEST FOR MECHANICS: Mechanix Wear M-Pact Gray Work Gloves
  9. BEST FOR GARDENING: Skydeer Deerskin Suede Ladies Gardening Gloves
The Best Work Gloves Options

Photo: Glenda Taylor

Types of Work Gloves

Work gloves come in a variety of materials and styles, each suited to different tasks. In fact, it’s often worth owning an array of work gloves so the user can tackle a variety of projects around the house and yard. The best outdoor work gloves for each task protects hands from the elements, abrasions, and blisters. The following are the most common types of work gloves.

All Leather

There’s no such thing as indestructible gloves, but when it comes to heavy-duty jobs such as metalworking, cutting lumber, or electrical repairs or installations, hands need the protection of leather. All-leather work gloves protect against temperature extremes, absorb minor electrical shocks, resist punctures, protect against abrasions and cuts, and keep paint, oil, and chemicals off the skin.

The best leather work gloves are often made of cowhide, although there also are pig and deerskin gloves. Plus, there are vegan and synthetic leather options, too. 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 users more dexterity.

Leather Palm

Leather-palm gloves have natural or synthetic leather across the palm and fingers but heavy fabric around the back of the hand. They allow hands to move more easily than all-leather gloves do, yet they still provide 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.

Knit

Lightweight knit work gloves, generally made of 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 they 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 for messy but easy-on-the-hands chores such as painting, pulling weeds, potting plants, or working with potentially irritating cleaning chemicals.

The Best Work Gloves Options

Photo: Glenda Taylor

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Work Gloves

Work gloves must meet a whole set of requirements to prevent discomfort and injury during landscaping, DIY projects, and everyday tasks. Here are some important things to consider when shopping for the best work gloves.

Women’s vs. Men’s Work Gloves

No matter the task at hand, there is no difference between men’s and women’s work gloves other than size and fit. Women’s sizes are traditionally smaller, whereas men’s sizes run slightly larger. With most brands, women’s glove sizes come in sizes S to L, while men’s sizes typically come in S to 3XL.

However, when it comes to unisex sizing, it can be hard to know what size is optimal. Most brands that offer unisex sizing will size their gloves slightly larger to accomodate men’s sizes, so women should often size down to make sure their gloves fit properly. Kids’ sizes are also something to consider, as most brands offer one size for children younger than 8.

Size Options

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, gloves fit snugly around the fingers and the palm without squeezing, rubbing, or pinching.

Most work gloves come in various sizes—typically small, medium, large, and extra large. These sizes correspond to the measurement across the palm at the base of fingers, without including the thumb. Sizes aren’t standard, so be sure to measure and double-check the manufacturer’s description of its sizing practices.

Protection

Whether they are needed for doing yard work, shoveling snow, or cleaning out the garage, having work gloves that are durable enough to protect hands is a top priority. In most cases, heavy-duty tasks will require gloves that will not wear and tear easily but will cushion hands enough to prevent abrasions, vibration, harmful materials, and cuts. For example, mechanics’ gloves are typically resistant to cuts, tears and scratches as well as water, oils, gasoline, and other corrosive materials. Plus, top-quality gloves can protect hands from extreme heat or provide insulation for winter work.

To protect hands, many work gloves come with nitrile (a latex alternative) exteriors, real and faux-leather constructions, protective shells for waterproofing, reinforced palms and fingers, and double stitching in the seams.

Dexterity and Comfort

The best fit possible is ideal for maximizing comfort and functionality. Trying to complete a project wearing gloves that are too large is often an exercise in futility. And because insulation can trap body heat, gloves that don’t breathe can cause hands to sweat, which can be uncomfortable or downright cold during winter.

Many manufacturers offer sizing charts to help shoppers choose the best work gloves for their hand size. This is helpful because sizes can vary among manufacturers. One person may need a large size in one brand and a medium in another. Use the various size charts available to measure hands and decide whether a small, medium, or large size is best in a particular brand.

Grip

Protecting hands is about more than just covering them in thick, durable materials. Gloves need to be functional, allowing hands to move freely instead of getting caught on sharp edges or causing the user to drop tools.

Flexibility helps users grip tools, large objects, and other items because hands are better able to move as they would without a glove. The material also affects the grip on the fingers and palm of the glove. Some gloves include a specialized layer to help increase the control and dexterity, and there are gloves that even allow users to operate a touch screen without removing the gloves.

Additional Features

In addition to the most essential material matters, consider the following other features when choosing work gloves.

  • Cuffs: Most canvas work gloves have a knit or stretchy fitted cuff that helps keep out moisture and dirt. Heavy-duty leather work gloves often have open cuffs, making it easy to slip them on and off. Lighter leather gloves typically have an open cuff with a bit of elastic running around the base of the palm, which protects from moisture, sawdust, dirt, and other grime while allowing the wearer to remove the gloves easily.
  • 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.

Our Top Picks

To earn a spot on our lineup, the work gloves we tested had to be durable enough to complete the jobs they were designed for without tearing. They had to fit well, and they had to be comfortable. The following list features the best gloves from our hands-on tests—find out the pros and cons each pair offers to determine which pair is suitable for various project needs.

Best Overall for Men

The Best Work Gloves Option: Ironclad Ranchworx Work Gloves
Photo: amazon.com

The Ironclad Ranchworx Work Gloves were impressive right out of the package. They come with a lot of little extras, such as multiple rows of overstitching for durability. We pulled on the Ironclad gloves, and they fit well, although the fingers seemed slightly narrow compared with other gloves of the same size. Overall, they were comfortable, especially at the tips of the fingers, because they do not feature interior seams as some gloves do. As a result, there were no seams to irritate our fingertips.

We really liked the Kevlar strip sewn in the web between the index finger and the thumb—this is a stressor spot on work gloves, especially when they’re used for gripping and pulling. The Ranchworx gloves didn’t stretch or tear. We also appreciated the rubber-reinforced knuckle and finger-top insets that offered impact and scrape protection for our knuckles. We wore the gloves while performing a variety of construction and outdoor farm tasks, and they held up well. The black terry-cloth strips on the back of the thumbs came in handy for wiping away forehead sweat as we conducted our tests in temperatures greater than 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Product Specs

  • Materials: Goatskin leather, nylon fabric, Kevlar, terry cloth, rubber
  • Water-resistant? No
  • Feel and fit: Palms true to size, fingers slightly narrow, comfortable overall

Pros

  • Quality construction
  • No inner finger seams
  • Very durable
  • Comfortable fit

Cons

  • On the pricey side

Get the Ironclad Ranchworx work gloves at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Sears.

Best Overall for Women

The Best Work Gloves Option: Ironclad Tuff Chix Work Gloves
Photo: amazon.com

The women’s version of our best overall pick comes with many of the same features, but Ironclad Tuff Chix gloves are designed for smaller hands and don’t offer knuckle guards or Kevlar strips. However, they offer a padded leather palm and an absorbent terry-cloth thumb strip to wipe away forehead perspiration on hot days. Plus, the breathable nylon fabric on the back of the gloves kept our hands from getting sweaty.

We found that the Tuff Chix ran pretty much true to size, and overall they’re relatively comfortable, but we weren’t thrilled with the inside finger seams, which were slightly irritating. We found the gloves well suited to performing a variety of outdoor tasks, including raking, mowing, digging with a shovel, and hammering. They held up well and didn’t stretch out or tear, although they’re not suitable for pruning plants such as roses because the backs of the gloves (and side finger gussets) are fabric, allowing the thorns to poke right through. We rate them as moderate-duty work gloves.

Product Specs

  • Materials: Leather, nylon fabric, terry cloth
  • Water-resistant? No
  • Feel and fit: True to size, slightly uncomfortable inner finger seams

Pros

  • Reinforced seams
  • Leather palms
  • Breathable fabric
  • Terry-cloth sweat inset

Cons

  • Inner finger seams

Get the Ironclad Tuff Chix work gloves at Amazon, Sears, or Ironclad.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Work Gloves Option: Wells Lamont PU-Coated Gripper Gloves, 3 Pack
Photo: amazon.com

Those looking for light-duty gloves that improve grip but don’t cost a fortune may want to consider Wells Lamont’s Gripper work gloves. Our first impression of these gloves (they come in a set of three) is that they were nearly as lightweight as air. They’re made of a flexible polyester fabric, and the palms and sides of the fingers are coated with thin polyurethane that creates a nonslip surface.

We pulled the gloves on—they were very comfortable and slightly roomy, but not so much that we felt they were too big. Their polyurethane-coated palms allowed us to grasp poles, bars, and rods without slipping. The gloves are not waterproof, but we wet them down anyway to determine whether the palms would still grip well when wet. They did. These gloves have no seams in the fingers. These aren’t heavy-duty gloves but are well suited for basic gardening and cleanup tasks. Best of all, they’re affordable.

Product Specs

  • Materials: Polyester, polyurethane
  • Water-resistant? No
  • Feel and fit: Lightweight, slightly on the large side, comfortable

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Lightweight
  • Flexible
  • Nonslip grip

Cons

  • Won’t withstand punctures or heavy-duty tasks

Get the Wells Lamont Gripper work gloves at Amazon, Tractor Supply Co., or Blain’s Farm & Fleet.

Best Suede

The Best Work Gloves Option: Carhartt Synthetic Suede Fencer Work Glove
Photo: amazon.com

Carhartt’s Fencer work gloves come from a manufacturer well known for its rugged work clothing. We were impressed by the quality of these gloves—the leather is thick but flexible. The overstitching that reinforces the palm and connects the fingers is strong and we could find no snags.

We pulled the Carhartt gloves on and flexed our hands. The gloves fit true to size, but they were initially kind of stiff. The seams inside the fingertips were slightly irritating. The gloves come with a reinforced panel on the palm and also on the inside of the thumb—positioned in the web where gloves can wear out with repeated use.

We wore the gloves to perform tasks around the farm, including repairing broken barbed wire fencing, and the Carhartt gloves protected our hands from the barbs. We grabbed the stems of thorny roses and no thorns poked through. The gloves also protected us from blisters, and after a few hours, we found the suede was softening and forming to our hand shape. These are top-notch gloves for protecting hands from scuffs, scrapes, and thorns.

Product Specs

  • Materials: Suede
  • Water-resistant? No
  • Feel and fit: True to size; finger seams can be felt

Pros

  • Protects hands from punctures
  • Reinforced palm and thumb
  • Quality construction
  • Good for heavy-duty projects

Cons

  • Finger seams inside irritate

Get the Carhartt work gloves on Amazon or Zappos.

Best Insulated

The Best Work Gloves Option: Wells Lamont Deerskin Full Leather Winter Work Gloves
Photo: amazon.com

Made of traditional materials and with a classic look, the Wells Lamont Deerskin Full Leather Winter Work Gloves offer abrasion resistance and multiple layers of protection from the cold, making them the warmest work gloves on our list. The deerskin exterior is tough but flexible and relatively lightweight compared to rawhide gloves.

We found these gloves supercomfortable to wear because of their soft inner lining that’s designed to keep hands warm in winter. Because we were testing all of the gloves in warm weather, we had to come up with some way to determine whether this pair would keep our hands warm. We froze flexible, gel-type ice packs and then wrapped them around the gloves. Every 15 minutes, we inserted our hands to see if the inside of the gloves were getting cool. We checked three times.

Each time we checked, the gloves felt slightly cooler but not uncomfortably cold. We felt as though they would keep our hands warm enough to perform most outdoor tasks in cold weather.

We also tested them for durability by wearing them when digging with a shovel, raking, and pruning roses. The buttery-soft leather held up well to gripping and pulling tasks, but a thorn poked through while we were pruning, so we feel these gloves are better suited to light-to-moderate-duty winter tasks because they’re not as rugged as rawhide or suede.

Product Specs

  • Materials: Deerskin leather, 3M Thinsulate lining
  • Water-resistant? No
  • Feel and fit: Palms true to size, fingers slightly narrow, comfortable overall

Pros

  • Very comfortable
  • No inside finger seams
  • Insulating

Cons

  • Not as rugged as other types of leather
  • Slightly pricey

Get the Wells Lamont Deerskin work gloves at Amazon, Ace Hardware, or Blain’s Farm & Fleet.

Best Waterproof

The Best Work Gloves Option: Wells Lamont Winter Grip Gloves, Waterproof Coating
Photo: amazon.com

The silky-soft lining inside the Wells Lamont Winter Grip Gloves was oh so nice, and the gloves fit relatively well, but they were just a touch on the snug side. They weren’t snug enough to make them uncomfortable, but we’d order a size larger if we were ordering again.

Like the other gloves we tested for cold resistance, we wrapped the HydraHyde gloves in frozen, gel-type ice packs and checked them three times, with 15 minutes between checks, to see how they felt inside. They did feel cooler each time we checked but not so cool as to be uncomfortable.

The HydraHyde gloves are specifically designed to protect hands from wet conditions, and they’re also among the warmest work gloves we tested. To test their water resistance, we put the gloves on and then dipped the fingers in ice water. We were careful not to dip them past the gray latex coating. After a full minute, we withdrew our hands from the water and checked for leaks inside the gloves—we found none. The interior remained dry. The latex coating is fairly thin, so the gloves are not suitable for heavy-duty use that might tear the coating.

We also tested the gripping ability of the gloves and found that the latex coating allowed us to get a firm grasp on shovel and rake handles. We feel the HydraHyde gloves would be a top pick for tasks such as scraping ice from car windows or the occasional snowball fight.

Product Specs

  • Materials: Latex coating, thermal shell, flexible nylon fabric
  • Water-resistant? Yes, partially
  • Feel and fit: Very comfortable but slightly snug

Pros

  • Water-resistant
  • Insulated soft lining
  • Nonslip grip

Cons

  • Slightly snug

Get the Wells Lamont Winter Grip work gloves at Amazon, Ace Hardware, or Blain’s Farm & Fleet.

Best Touch-Screen Tips

The Best Work Gloves Option: Custom Leathercraft Handyman Flex-Grip Work Gloves
Photo: amazon.com

Offering protection, comfort, and flexibility, the Custom Leathercraft Flex Grip Handyman Work Gloves are suitable for a host of yard work, carpentry, and automotive projects. We found the construction of these gloves to be quite good, but we wished the leather would have been genuine rather than synthetic for durability purposes. Still, these gloves have a lot to offer, and this was the only pair with touch-screen tips on the thumb, index, and middle fingers that worked every time we swiped our smartphones.

The palms are made of smooth faux leather and provide excellent protection without becoming stiff or shrinking when wet. The backs of these top-quality gloves are spandex with extra padding across the knuckles. We liked the wing-strap cuff closures that allowed us to adjust the fit to our wrist size.

The fingers have seams inside, but they’re small and not too annoying. After wearing them for a few minutes, we barely noticed them. The palm is padded, which we found beneficial for tasks such as mowing and shoveling as it added protection. These are light-to-medium-duty gloves, and we were able to poke a nail through the synthetic leather easily. Still, their touch-screen capability makes them desirable for anyone who wants to answer a smartphone call without removing their gloves.

Product Specs

  • Materials: Synthetic leather, Lycra side panels, spandex
  • Water-resistant? No
  • Feel and fit: Comfortable, true to size, small inside seams

Pros

  • Flexible
  • Adjustable wrist
  • Padded knuckles
  • Touch-screen capable

Cons

  • Palms are not nonslip

Get the Custom Leathercraft work gloves at Amazon, Ohio Power Tool, or CLC Work Gear.

Best for Mechanics

The Best Work Gloves Option: The Best Work Gloves Option: Wells Lamont Deerskin Full Leather Winter Work Gloves
Photo: amazon.com

High-quality protection from cuts, abrasions, vibration, impact, and pinching is often necessary for mechanical work. We found the Mechanix Wear M-Pact Gray Work Gloves comfortable and well designed for working on automobiles, mowers, and other equipment. The rubber pads on the knuckles of the gloves protected our hands from the types of scrapes that can occur when working in tight spots on engines.

These mechanics gloves have several safety features to help protect hands, including vibration-absorbing pads on the palms. The gloves can be adjusted to fit individual wrist sizes via Velcro straps. We tested out the tips of the index finger and thumb, which are supposed to be sensitive to touch screens, but it often took 4-5 swipes to activate the screens. It was simpler to pull the gloves off and use our bare fingers.

Small seams could be felt inside the fingertips, but the fingers have ample length, so the seams didn’t bother us too much. We tested the gloves by twisting bars, and tightening and loosening knobs, and we even wore them when we changed oil. We like them for mechanic work, but because they don’t have a nonslip grip, they’re not well suited for shoveling, raking, and other outdoor tasks.

Product Specs

  • Materials: Synthetic leather, rubber, nylon, polyurethane
  • Water-resistant? No
  • Feel and fit: True to size, small inside finger seams, comfortable

Pros

  • Flexible
  • Knuckle protection
  • Adjustable wrist cuff

Cons

  • Inside finger seams
  • Touch-screen tips didn’t always work

Get the Mechanix Wear work gloves at Amazon, Lowe’s, or AutoZone.

Best for Gardening

The Best Work Gloves Option: Skydeer Deerskin Suede Ladies Gardening Gloves
Photo: amazon.com

Who said protective work gloves have to look dull? The Skydeer gardening gloves come in a host of pretty designs, yet they offer serious hand protection. The Skydeer gloves are made of flexible nylon and soft deerskin, and when we pulled them on, they fit perfectly. They feature reinforced stitching for durability, and although they do have seams inside the fingers, they’re so soft that they’re barely noticeable.

The gloves are advertised for gardening use, so we used them when we planted and weeded the flower beds. They’re also advertised as having a waterproof back—but they don’t. We poured a little water on the backs of the gloves while we were wearing them and while some of the water ran off, a good amount soaked through to our hands.

We liked the padded palms, which added some comfort for gripping hand trowels and rakes, and we enjoyed the lightweight feel of the gloves. They’re very flexible and do not constrict movement. However, they are light-duty gloves and will not prevent pricks from thorns.

Product Specs

  • Materials: Deerskin, nylon
  • Water-resistant? No
  • Feel and fit: True to size, soft, and comfortable

Pros

  • Pretty designs
  • Padded palms
  • Buttery-soft deerskin

Cons

  • Not waterproof as advertised
  • Will not withstand punctures

Get the Skydeer work gloves on Amazon.

Our Verdict

Although any of the gloves in our lineup are suitable for a variety of work projects, our best overall pick for men, the Ironclad Ranchworx work gloves, is a true standout. They’re rugged, have nonslip grips and Kevlar reinforcement, and even have rubber knuckle protectors. Our budget pick, the Wells Lamont Gripper work gloves, are as light as a feather and come with a flexible coating that helps get a firm grip on any item. Best of all, they’re affordably priced.

How We Tested the Best Work Gloves

When we decided to test work gloves, we wanted to try a wide array of glove types for various outdoor tasks. We selected the products for testing based on several criteria. We looked at well-known manufacturers such as Wells Lamont and Carhartt, but we didn’t automatically exclude gloves from smaller or niche manufacturers if they offered desired features.

To ensure our list offered something for everyone, we included options suitable for men and women as well as ones made with leather or faux leather, cowhide, deerskin, latex, nitrile, and spandex for durability and flexibility.

We inspected the gloves to determine the quality of the materials and construction. We graded each pair of gloves using a rubric and awarded points for durability, function, comfort, and overall quality. Each pair of gloves was tested to determine whether it lived up to the manufacturer’s specific claims. For example, if the gloves were advertised as “touch-screen capable,” we tested them to find out whether they would activate smartphones with a swipe. If they were advertised as water-resistant or puncture-resistant, we wet them down or used them while pruning rose bushes.

At the completion of testing, we added the points for each pair of gloves and then used the results to determine the best category and award.

FAQs

Work gloves have been around for decades, but they have become more popular as glove design and construction has improved to incorporate better stitching, different materials, and cold-weather protection like that found in insulated or heated gloves. With so many options, there may be some lingering questions. Find answers below to some of the most commonly asked questions about work gloves when selecting a new pair.

Q. Which type of work gloves last the longest?

For their durable, thick constructions and ample safety features, leather work gloves are considered to last the longest out of all types of work gloves available.

Q. Which gloves do mechanics use?

The most common types of gloves that mechanics use are nitrile and some kinds of leather. These options are durable and flexible, and they offer abrasion and vibration resistance while also providing enough dexterity to hold small tools and parts.

Q. What is the toughest material for work gloves?

For completing heavy-duty tasks, two of the toughest materials are nitrile latex and leather. These two materials are hard enough to resist abrasions, cuts, and punctures while also keeping out harmful materials and liquids.