First Think About the Fit
No matter what kind of glove or gloves you buy, the key to happiness is that they fit your hand. Women who buy general purpose gloves usually find that they were designed for a man and never fit properly on a woman’s hand. Most manufacturers of quality work gloves now have a line for women and a line for men. The way a glove is put together will have some impact on your comfort over time. Gloves with seams sewn on the inside of the glove may last longer, but they might rub on your skin and make the glove very uncomfortable if not produce blisters.
The best way to determine the proper fit is to try the gloves on; both hands. The glove should not feel loose (can bunch up or slip off) or feel too tight (can cause cramps or chafing). You can determine if it feels right by putting on the gloves and making a tight fist with both hands. Now if there is no pinching or uncomfortable pressure you are on the right track. Try to pick up a quarter or some other small object. Pretend you are pruning and make the motions for that task. In the end, it will be the “feel” of the fit that will help you decide.
Next is Endurance
Don’t feel that every set of gloves you buy need to last for ten years. Some cheapie gloves will last only a season but will be perfect for the job at hand. If you buy a pair of “good” gloves costing more than $12 or $15, then you should be able to expect them to last a few years of hard use and many more with light use.
Match The Glove To The Yardening Task
Now let’s get to the bottom line – the jobs at hand. Think about the various tasks you have around the yard over the year. Then you can begin to figure out what gloves you need. You will probably go through a few pairs before you latch onto the “perfect” glove for you.
Heavy Duty Chores
While we try to keep hard physical work down to a minimum these days, there will be times when one has to get out there and get sweaty. Digging holes, shoveling gravel, moving stones, stacking firewood, or removing old sod all require a good set of heavy duty gloves – gloves that can protect your hands from abrasion, cuts, and blisters. For many years Jeff used a pair of canvas gloves with leather pads on the palm like those used by men on the railroad. They worked just fine and don’t cost much money.
Usually when you talk about tough, you are looking for a leather glove. For the ladies, you will find that goatskin glove is going to fit well, feel great, and protect your hands just fine. For the macho guys you might take a look at gloves made of pigskin, cowhide, or deerskin. They are durable, rugged, and warm.
In very recent years a new breed of tough glove has come on the market. It takes advantage of the new tough materials that technology has given us. So you will find what we call “hybrid” gloves usually made of a combination of materials including leather in spots. These gloves are tough, can be washed, breath so you don’t sweat in them too much, and fit well enough to be able to pick up small objects like a nail or a screw that has been dropped.
Tasks Requiring Some Dexterity
When you are planting seedlings or bedding plants, you might find the tough leather gloves a bit difficult for handling the small somewhat delicate plants. We are not so worried about protecting our hands from blisters and such. We want to protect our hands from dirt and still be able to handle small delicate items. Here is a job for a glove that is lighter with a thinner material. It also needs to fit quite well. Believe it or not, this is a situation in which those cheapie cotton gloves you find at the dollar store will work just fine, if they fit well. So they only last a season; they do the job. They can get wet and be thrown in the washer.
What is really neat is that those “hybrid” gloves mentioned above often are capable of handling tough jobs and then used for delicate jobs if they fit well. Something to look into.
Working With Roses
If you happen to have on your property plants that have thorns or stickers, such as roses, then you may wish to acquire a pair of gloves just for working with those potentially painful plants. Now you are looking for a glove that protects you from the thorns. Leather gloves will work in this situation pretty well. The best material however is something called “nitrile” which looks and feels a bit like a really thick rubber glove like the ones used for washing dishes. Usually, such a glove will advertise right on the label that it is great for working with roses. The new “hybrid” gloves don’t usually protect you from thorns and stickers.
Working In The Winter
Most of us, living in the north, will shovel snow and chop the ice using our normal “winter” gloves that we use whenever we go outside and want to keep our hands warm. These are not necessarily the right glove for the job. They are not designed to be abused by touch work like shoveling snow. You can find work gloves lined with materials that keep your hands warm while handling the tough jobs.
If you live in an area that is particularly rainy and wet, meaning you have a fair amount of mud to work in, then you are looking for a pair of rubber gloves to keep your hands dry. The better quality rubber work gloves will also have the internal liner to keep your hands warm as well. If you have a water garden, you will find that a pair of rubber gloves with gauntlets up past your wrist are handy when working with plants when it is cold. In the summer, when the water is warm, then any old set of gloves will work.