One of the most common questions we get here at the store is, "What are the best gloves you carry?"
Our most common answer is, "What do you need them to do?"
The simple truth is that gloves come in hundreds of varieties, and are often made for a specific job. Thick neoprene gloves are great for cold weather, thin soft leather gloves are great for dexterity.
We decided that it would be a good idea to create a guide that includes the most popular glove materials we carry here at the store, and the jobs they are designed for.
The original classic for a reason. Leather offers a fantastic combinations of flexibility and protection. There is a very large number of different leathers used in modern gloves. Different leathers can hit almost any sweet spot in the protection to flexibility scale.
Leather offers light cut protection and can easily protect your hands from abrasions and blisters. Leather can protect your hands from quick flashes of heat and when combined with a cold weather liner can stave off the cold as well.
Unlined leather gloves can also be fitted with Kevlar or spectra liners to increase their cut and puncture resistance.
Leather is most certainly a jack of all trades in the glove world.
Kevlar is a heat-resistant and strong synthetic fiber, related to other aramids such as Nomex and Technora. Developed by Stephanie Kwolek at DuPont in 1965, this high-strength material was first commercially used in the early 1970s as a replacement for steel in racing tires. Typically it is spun into ropes or fabric sheets that can be used as such or as an ingredient in composite material components
Kevlar is designed to protect users from cuts, abrasions and heat. Kevlar-based protective gear is often considerably lighter and thinner than equivalent gear made of more traditional materials.
Gloves are very rarely made from just Kevlar. The Kevlar is often used as a liner or combined with leather, spandex or other materials to create a more cost effective and comfortable product.
Honeywell Spectra fiber provides lightweight, dependable strength in demanding applications. Produced using a patented gel-spinning process.
Spectra is a bright white polyethylene fiber with high resistance to chemicals, water and ultraviolet light.
Honeywell Spectra is stronger than steel and 40 percent stronger than aramid fiber and capable of withstanding high-load strain-rate velocities.
If you can find a glove that includes Spectra is will most likely be in the form of a liner.
Dyneema is a Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE, UHMW) is a subset of the thermoplastic polyethylene. Also known as high-modulus polyethylene, (HMPE), it has extremely long chains, with a molecular mass usually between 3.5 and 7.5 million amu.
The longer chain serves to transfer load more effectively to the polymer backbone by strengthening intermolecular interactions. This results in a very tough material, with the highest impact strength of any thermoplastic presently made.
Dyneema and Spectra are both lightweight high-strength oriented-strand gels spun through a spinneret.
Dyneema is also often found as a liner for tactical and search gloves.
Neoprene was invented by DuPont scientists on April 17, 1930 after Dr Elmer K. Bolton of DuPont attended a lecture by Fr Julius Arthur Nieuwland, a professor of chemistry at the University of Notre Dame.
Neoprene (also known as polychloroprene or pc-rubber) is a family of synthetic rubbers that are produced by polymerization of chloroprene. Neoprene exhibits good chemical stability and maintains flexibility over a wide temperature range.
Neoprene is a very versatile material that will often take the place of leather on the palm side of a glove. The Neoprene is grippy and durable making it a great surface material to work with.
Nomex is a flame-resistant meta-aramid material developed in the early 1960s by DuPont. It is sold in both fiber and sheet forms and is used as a fabric where resistance from heat and flame is required.
Nomex is an example of a meta variant of the aramids (Kevlar is a para aramid). Unlike Kevlar, Nomex cannot align during filament formation and has poorer strength. However, it has excellent thermal, chemical, and radiation resistance for a polymer material.
Military pilots and aircrew wear flight suits made of over 92 percent Nomex to protect them from the possibility of cockpit fires and other mishaps. Recently, troops riding in ground vehicles have also begun wearing Nomex. Kevlar thread is often used to hold the fabric together at seams.
Many of the flight and firefighter gloves we carry contain large portions of Nomex.
Thinsulate is a brand of synthetic fiber thermal insulation used in clothing. The material is made by the 3M Corporation, and was first sold in 1979.
Thinsulate fibers are about 15 micrometres (0.00059 in) in diameter, which is thinner than the polyester fibers normally used in insulation for clothing such as gloves or winter jackets.
Manufacturers suggests that Thinsulate is more effective due to the increased density of fibers with decreased size of fibers compared with more traditional insulation. Like most insulation materials, the gaps between fibers not only reduce heat flow, but also allow moisture to escape.
The insulation properties are beneficial for retaining some of the heat produced by the body for comfortable warmth while the moisture produced, most likely sweat, is supposed to evaporate.
Thinsulate is often used as a liner for cold weather gloves.
Many of our tactical and duty gloves now include hard knuckle variants.
The knuckles can be made out of many materials such as plastic, carbon fiber, specialized polymers or layered leather.
This extra protection aids in striking and can protect your knuckles during hard work around ever harder materials.
Some gloves specifically designed for striking will sometimes be called sap gloves and can include materials like steel shot in the knuckle area.
It is no secret that smart phones, tablets and touch screens in general have taken center stage in many jobs around the world. On a -10 degree night shift there is nothing worse than having to take off your gloves to answer a call or look up an address.
Most major glove brands have started adding touch screen capable gloves to their collections.
Often these gloves will have a textured finger or two to make gloved touch screen use possible. Some brands add a special nub on the pointer finger for precise touch capability.
We hope this guide has provided you with enough information to help you find that perfect pair of gloves for any job.
Be safe out there,
Mad City Outdoor