What Does the Future Hold?
Once I realized how far work gloves have come in the last decade, I naturally became curious about where they were headed next. I interviewed a wide range of manufacturers, and for the most part–I got zip! The glove industry is hot. Everyone is trying to out-tech, out-flash, out-price everyone else. In this highly competitive market, manufacturers tend to play their cards pretty close to their chest.
PVC Patches on Carhartt's A150 Work Grip glove provide abrasion resistance and an improved grip.
For example, when I asked David Ragni of Ironclad about the future of the work glove he told me that Ironclad is developing a brand-new glove with technology so far ahead of anything on the market it'll take his competitors a couple years to catch up. Ragni says the glove will be unveiled later this year, but he wouldn't say another word about it.
Mozena at Carhartt says that in response to changing demographics of the workforce, Carhartt is coming out with a new line of work gloves and clothing for women, a trend we've seen from other manufacturers, as well. Mozena says that with so many women entering the trades it's time someone offered a glove that fits their hands. Male and female hands are not built the same, he says, and simply buying a smaller size men's work glove isn't the answer for women in the trades. When I pressed Mozena for specifics, he said, "We're a bit reluctant to share too much of the results of our internal research. We'd rather our competitors figure that out on their own." The new gloves will be included in Carhartt's fall line and should be in stores this August.
Even if it means we have to settle for wait-and-see, all the competition and innovation in the glove industry is good news for working folks. While we can see huge changes in work glove design and materials today, tomorrow's models will be even better. Today's glove makers are thinking of new ways to increase comfort, protection, abrasion resistance, flexibility, dexterity, and durability. You can already buy a glove specially designed for most any task. This trend will continue until we run out of things to pick up, pull, or push. There has been so much technology brought to bear on the once humble work glove, the results can't help but be spectacular!
Gel-injected anti-vibration palm pads on DeWalt's DPG20 glove help take the sting out of running power tools.
–Contributing editor Michael Davis owns Framing Square Construction, a production framing company in Albuquerque, N.M.
A Word About Size
There's a standard glove size chart that instructs you to measure the distance around the knuckles of your dominant hand to get your glove size. Truth is, this is a little like ordering pants based on your waist size without taking inseam into consideration. According to the chart, I'm a large, but to get a comfortable fit I have to go to an extra large in most gloves. Simply put: Try on gloves before you buy them. Pick a pair that fits a little snug; they'll stretch a bit. Extend your fingers then close your fist. Make sure the gloves don't pull too tightly over your fingertips.
Most gloves in our test group talk about abrasion and cut resistance, but only a few carry an EN 388 or ANSI/ISEA rating. In the bad old days, gloves were rated either good, fair, or poor. The line between good and fair is thin and the decision to put a glove on one side or the other was very subjective.
In 1994 the Europeans came out with the first quantifiable cut-rating standard: EN 388, which ranks materials used in gloves on a 1 to 5 scale. To determine cut resistance, a machine with a rotating blade is run across a material sample. The higher the number of rotations required to cut through the sample, the higher the cut-resistance rating. EN 388 includes similar mechanized tests for abrasion, tear, and puncture resistance.
Not to be outdone by the Europeans, in 2000 a U.S. standard was issued: ANSI/ISEA 105-2000. Like EN 388, the ANSI/ISEA standard relies on mechanical testing and ranks gloves on a numerical scale (0 to 5) with the higher number representing a greater degree of protection. For cut resistance, a weighted blade is drawn against the material a distance of 1 inch. The testers keep adding weight until the blade penetrates the material. The heavier the weight, the higher the number. ANSI/ISEA 105-2000 also rates gloves for abrasion, puncture, heat, cold, and flame resistance, and chemical permeation.
These two standards are similar, but not apples to apples. Rest assured though, a cut rate level 5 in either is one tough glove.
Reviewed gloves that carry U.S. or European cut ratings:
Ninja Flex N9680: $1
Ninja Max N9674: $10
Perfect Fit Glove
Tuff-Coat 125: $4
PF570 Flx Cut: $23