Grain or split leather? Clute or Gunn cut? Safety or gauntlet cuff? Lined or unlined?
The wide variety of choices in leather work gloves means that there is almost always “the perfect” one for any given application. Finding that glove, however, may not always seem so easy. By understanding the differences between available features, you can narrow the playing field and make an educated decision.
Follow the 5 steps below and you’ll be on your way to finding the perfect leather glove:
Step 1: Choose a Type of Leather
Leather is made from the tanned hides of various animals. Leather quality varies because it is a natural product. The most common types of leather used for work gloves are:
You should also pay attention to what part of the animal’s body the hide comes from and what side of the skin is processed.
Full or top grain leather comes from the external side of the hide. It is typically smooth, but can be lightly sanded or processed after tanning to feel like suede or velvet. The area where the hide is cut determines durability:
- Leather cut from the sides and shoulder of the animal offers the greatest durability.
- Belly and neck cuts are less durable, and are often used for “economy grade” gloves and trims.
Split leather or suede comes from the underside of the hide. This leather has no natural grain and is not as strong as grain leather. The area from which the glove is cut determines durability and dexterity:
- Belly split leather is the most economical, but it is not consistent in texture or appearance. It is the least durable.
- Shoulder split leather is economical, but less durable than side split leather because the additional movement in the shoulder area creates less dense fibers and more visible differences in texture.
- Side split comes from the rib area. It is very durable and consistent with dense fibers. Of split leathers, this is the best quality.
For greatest longevity, choose grain leather gloves. For temporary workers or sporadic, incidental jobs, split leathers will likely “do the job” and offer a greater cost savings.
Step Two: Choose a Pattern
The way a glove is cut helps determine the dexterity and comfort you’ll receive.
Step Three: Choose a Thumb Design
Sometimes, a seemingly small detail like thumb design can make a big difference in the comfort or functionality of a glove that is worn all day.
Step Four: Choose a Cuff Style
Application plays a large role in choosing a cuff style. Cuffs can add warmth, help prevent abrasion from particles falling into the glove, increase safety by doffing when caught in a machine and allow sleeves to be tucked.
Step Five: Choose a Lining
Although they are traditionally added for warmth, linings can also help make gloves more comfortable for long-term wear.
The Perfect Glove
Like all personal protective equipment, gloves will wear out over time and need to be replaced, but choosing the glove most appropriate for the task will help ensure the greatest longevity and help avoid unnecessary spending.