Working on an engine requires a special kind of finesse and a special kind of glove. Slapping on any old pair of leather work gloves isn’t going to give you the facility you need to find a bolt buried deep in the recesses of a compact VW Bug. You also aren’t going to get the protection required from a set of latex mitts, which will leave your blood inside of every piece of equipment you wrench on. You’ve got to strike a balance and get a set of mechanic gloves for better feel and more adept coverage when you’re souping up that inline 6.
The uninitiated might still refer to mechanics as grease monkeys, but even the greatest of apes could not acquire the balance of skill, artistry, and intellect that is required to build and repair engines. That aptitude must be backed up by the right gear. A great mechanic needs to be able to feel his way around, to be capable of gripping each tool, and to have his hands kept safe from harm as he loosens bolts, adjusts belts, and installs the parts to make an engine run. The 7 best mechanic gloves do all of this and more.
Atlas Nitrile Tough Gloves
Pro: Abrasion protection along palm
Con: Slim backing can be easily pierced
Better Than Blue Dip: For about the same money as you would spend on your basic blue dip latex gloves, you can get a tougher hombre that gives you nitrile resiliency with superior grip and puncture resistance. They resist oil absorption for a better hold on your wrenches even when they’re coated in a layer of slick Texas tea. Using a nylon liner, they are able to stretch well to accommodate any hand and can be removed quickly. The one issue that plagues them is stiffness and brittleness when exposed to fuel or cleaners and not properly maintained. Thankfully, they can be chucked at little loss should you find them unusable.
Western Safety Heavy-Duty Disposable Gloves
Pro: Difficult to tear or penetrate
Con: Zero protection from impact
Toss ‘Em: All the benefits of a pair of latex gloves with the added puncture protection of nitrile and no risk of allergic reactions, we found Western Safety had hit the jackpot when it comes to disposable protection. Completely powder free these gloves go on and off easily and guard against working with harsh chemicals that are caustic and toxic to your unguarded flesh. While these don’t really breathe terribly well, they don’t cause excessive sweating and overheating the way surgical gloves will, so your hands won’t slip around or get uncomfortable during extended days dropping in a new tranny.
Superior Clutch Gear High-viz Thinsulate Lined Mechanics Gloves
Pro: Neoprene coated knuckles
Con: No Velcro wrist seal
Cold Case: Car troubles don’t wait for summer weather or heated garages. Sometimes it’s necessary to get under the hood when the snow is flying. For these circumstances we found the Clutch Gear line of gloves from Superior to be capable of hitting the right notes. Yes, there are warmer winter gloves out there, but they won’t offer the dexterity or the tactile feel that you get from these. The exterior is Polyvinyl Chloride with a slim Thinsulate lining that helps to wick away sweat as much as guard against chills. They’re easy to find in the snow and the slip on cuffs can be easily donned, though they can catch if you get up to your elbows in an engine.
Pro: Single layer palm increases feel
Con: Can wear out quickly at stress points
Best Buy: You can’t go wrong with anything that Mechanix makes. They’re beloved by wrench jockeys as much as they are by military personnel, and those guys work on tanks and jets in the worst conditions imaginable. Since their entire glove lineup is bombproof, we selected the one that started it all: their tried and true Original. You can get them in a slimmer design should you need more dexterity, a lined form if you work in the cold, with a quick-fit cuff for rapid on/off action, vented for hot days, or abrasion resistant. A hook and loop closure makes them secure, spandex backing makes them tight yet breathable, and the fingers give you accurate feel for working blind.
Mechanix M-Pact Fingerless
Pro: Can be machine washed
Con: Fluids can seep in
Real Feel: Most fingerless mechanic gloves resemble bike gloves more than they do something used for real work. Mechanix has managed to use their M-Pact line, which is vibration resistant, to make a set of fingerless gloves that are actually worth the price of admission. The palm is PORON XRD which quells the shakes and shivers that come from using metal tools while the knuckles are guarded with sonic welded thermal plastic rubber that guards against bumps and misfired swings. Lined with TrekDry material you won’t need to worry about sweat and discomfort even after a tiring day in a hot garage working on a warm engine.
5.11 Tactical Station Grip Glove
Con: Limited tactile feel
Fix and Fire: Prizing comfort above all else, the tactical mechanic gloves from 5.11 are made for everyday wear when the job calls for long hours. Built using a four-way stretching back panel, these can do much more than just protect you as you work mechanical miracles. Equally good for carpentry or using a recurve bow, you’ll find the padded knuckles and reinforced palm more than able to swing a hammer as turn a socket driver. Rather than thinning out the fabric, which would sacrifice durability, the reinforcement comes from stitching and tough but flexible materials used back and front. A name tag even ensures that no one will lift these from the job site.
Youngstown FR Mechanics Hybrid
Pro: ASTM F2302 & D6413 flame resistant rating
Con: Elastic cuff
All Purpose: These are meant for dealing with the hottest materials and handling the most adverse conditions. Their heavy-duty protection means you’re going to lose a fair amount of sensation along the palm and the back, but as a result you’ll never find your skin scalded while wearing these gloves. Made using full goatskin on the grip and a kevlar lining, these might be the only protection you need no matter what the job. Ergonomic padding and flexibility provide continuous comfort as you toil away and support natural hand movements to reduce fatigue. You lose a little sensation in the armored fingertips, and there isn’t a hook and loop or Velcro closure at the cuff, allowing for a little slide and easy snagging if not buttoned into a sleeve.
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