I never gave much thought to work gloves. They were just another part of my work gear. And I'm a tightwad, so most of the gloves I've purchased over the years fall into the "disposable" category. So when Tools of the Trade gave me the opportunity to review the latest and greatest gloves on the market, it opened my eyes to a whole new world of options.
If you look at a catalog from a decade ago, you'll find work gloves pretty much came in two flavors: Cloth and leather. There were a few variations. You could get a cloth glove with little plastic dots on the palm for grip or dipped in plastic for working with liquids, and you could get leather gloves either in a close-fitting truck-driver style or in bulky chore gloves.
Oh how times have changed. Today's work gloves are a high-tech mix of space-age materials specifically tailored for a given task. You can find gloves for working in cold climates and in hot, wet, and dry conditions, and gloves with five fingers, three, or none. They make gloves for landscaping, demolition, framing, running power tools, or pulling barbed-wire fences. If you can think of a job that needs doing, someone out there makes a glove for it.
I suppose this really isn't surprising when you consider what's at stake. The folks at Ergodyne, makers of ProFlex gloves, estimate annual sales for work gloves in the U.S. at somewhere in the $100 million range.
With that kind of money on the line you can understand why designers around the world are pulling out all the stops trying to come up with a glove that will not only fill your needs, but also capture your imagination. Many of these gloves are stylish. Some are downright flashy.
And if you're a brand-loyal diehard who insists that all his tools and gear match, take heart, today just about every top tool manufacturer has its own branded work glove.
In fact, there are so many products to choose from I knew there was no way I could try them all. So I asked each manufacturer to send me two pairs each: One pair of general-purpose construction work gloves, and one pair of work gloves they felt epitomized cutting-edge glove technology or was otherwise unique. I ended up with 39 pairs provided by 18 companies that I closely compared for quality, comfort, fit, and features–before taking them out to the jobsite where I wore them day after day for five weeks. (It should be noted that I did not conduct long-term durability tests.) And although I selected my 10 favorites (see "Field Test Top 10," above), I have to say that I liked nearly every glove I tested–there wasn't a dog in the bunch. And while I worked mainly with general construction work gloves–which suited me fine–you might be more inclined toward one of the task-specific models available. That's up to you. All I know is that after reviewing these products I have a lot more appreciation for work gloves and the companies that design and manufacture them.