I’ve always thought knit work gloves were light-duty and didn’t afford much protection, but Ansell recently released a new line that challenges this belief. Each of the six ActivArmr styles — hvac, plumber, electrician, heavy laborer, mason, and carpenter — is tailored to the demands of the specific trade. For example, the hvac gloves have enhanced cut protection, while the heavy laborer gloves have additional gel padding in the palm area. I’ve been wearing the carpenter gloves on site for several weeks, and they’ve changed my opinion of what knit work gloves can be.
The carpenter gloves are designed for general use. The palm side is dipped in a polyurethane coating that creates a durable, splinter-resistant surface. Each glove weighs only an ounce, and the fine knit fabric feels paper thin. You can wear these gloves without sacrificing dexterity; I don’t have to take them off to handle small screws and trim returns.
Though thin, the fabric — which is made from 70% Dyneema, a tough synthetic fiber — is very strong. The gloves have received an ANSI Cut Rating of 2 (standard leather gloves have a rating of 1). To see what this means in real terms, I took one of the gloves and tried to slice it with a utility knife, using moderate pressure. The knit didn’t tear.
The noncoated parts of the gloves are very breathable, so my hands stayed comfortable in the heat. I liked the coated palms because they kept me dry when I handled wet tarps and PT lumber. In those situations, my leather gloves would have absorbed the dampness.
I’m impressed with the comfort and durability that the ActivArmr carpenter gloves provide. They’re great for general carpentry work, and I plan on picking up another pair if and when these wear out.
—Doug Mahoney is a carpenter and freelance writer in Harvard, Mass.