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Work gloves buying guide

Protecting your hands and still being able to get work done is an ongoing battle.  Thick gloves offer the most protection but the least amount of dexterity.  On the other hand, thin gloves are not much better than your bare hands.  What about durability, material, insulation, and cut resistance?  Use this guide to help you navigate through the most common types of gloves, their intended purpose, and what to look out for when choosing a quality pair. 

Why are there so many?

Most hardware stores will have a wall of work gloves.  As daunting as that wall can be, I have found myself appreciating each one for their intended purpose.  I wish I could have a wall of my own, but that is not practical.  However, I have my “go-to” pairs that I make sure to have on hand at all times.

Are they all created equal?

Nope!  When searching for a pair of work gloves, you have to know what you plan to use them for and in what kinds of conditions.  Even if you do not sustain in injury due to the wrong pair, you will regret a poor choice when your hands are swollen, sore, or cold.

Click “Shop this article” to jump to recommended gloves in each category. 

Click “What do I use” to jump to what I make sure is part of my collection.

Types

As with most products, I could have called out categories and subcategories for the different types of work gloves.  Since these articles are meant to ease the burden, I am going to keep it to following the five basic types of gloves and their ideal use cases.

Mechanix Wear Original
Mechanix Wear Original

General purpose

As the name suggests, these gloves are designed for light to medium duty work across all types of work.  General purpose gloves can vary in price and durability.  Less expensive ones made entirely from a synthetic material or woven cloth are best suited for light duty jobs such as cleaning out the garage or helping someone move.  Medium duty general purpose gloves can handle a bit more abuse but I still would not use them in scenarios where your hands may encounter sharp or abrasive surfaces.  There are also some impact resistant gloves that I feel best fit under general purpose.  They have added padding on the outside of the fingers and knuckles for increased protection.  Overall, there are a TON of these out there and some of them are really cool.  Use your best judgement and select a pair best suited for the job.

MaxiFlex Nitrile Coated
MaxiFlex Nitrile Coated

Nitrile dipped

These are my absolute favorite.  Nitrile dipped gloves are made from a stretchy fabric that has been dipped into in a nitrile polymer coating.  The coating does not cover the back of the hand so these breath really well.  When choosing a pair of nitrile coated gloves, look for the cut resistance rating.  That tells you what they are designed for.  They usually are numbered based on their cut resistance.  A higher number means they are thicker and more resistance to sharp objects.  I find that a nitrile glove with a medium cut resistance works really well in almost any situation.  Most are touch screens compatible and very affordable.  And if you buy them in packs, they offer an even better value.  I also like that the wrist cuff is stretchy enough to pull over my watch and sleeve to offer even more protection.

TitanFlex Nitrile 6 mil
TitanFlex Nitrile 6 mil

Disposable

These are another type of gloves that I always have with me.  Most come in latex or nitrile.  I stay clear from latex as they make my hands sweat like crazy and I tear through them too easily.  As for durability, disposable gloves are measured in unit mils or one one-thousandth of an inch.  The higher the number, the thicker they are with heavy duty being around 6 mil thick or more.  I use these primarily for painting and cleaning.  They also have a permanent home in my barbeque kit since these are perfect for cooking.

Wells Lamont Leather
Wells Lamont Leather

Leather

These are another must-have glove.  When I think of leather gloves, I think of chopping wood or hauling hay bails.  They offer the most durability in all types of situations.  Their drawback is the lowest dexterity.  These gloves usually cost more but they will outlast other types ten fold.  So when it comes time to throw on your canvas pants and flannel, it is likely that you will want a pair of leather gloves in your tool box.

Leather Forge Welding
Leather Forge Welding

Specialty

There are many other gloves made for specific purposes such as welding, cold weather, high visibility, and chemicals.  When you find yourself in a unique situation like a blizzard or grabbing a welding torch, make sure you have the right protection.

What do I use?

I own a pair from every category and many specialty gloves.  Having said that, I wear the MaxiFlex Nitrile Coated gloves for 90% of everything.  Whether it is construction, gardening, cleaning up the garage or helping a neighbor move.  These are my go to for sure.  I always have a few pairs of Nitrile Disposable gloves and a pair of Wells Lamont Leather in my kit.  I will throw in some cold weather gloves during the winter months.

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General purpose

Nitrile Dipped

Disposable

Leather

Specialty

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