It's only a matter of time when you're working on your truck. Whether you're trying to bust a stubborn bolt loose, forgetting how hot the radiator hose was, or grinding without gloves—you're going to hurt your hands. Busted knuckles, scarred palms, and calloused hands are a veritable rite of passage for mechanics of all skill levels and experience. Looking at my own hands, I have cuts, scars, and bruises from rushing around and forgetting to slip on a pair of gloves. Although we don't have the time to break down the stubborn and egotistical mindset of men, we did test out 12 mechanic's gloves to find out which one earned the designation of Truckin Tough.
We've heard some people swear by brand X and some say they won't buy anything but brand Y, but we wanted to form our own opinion. To help us decide which glove we thought was best, we first looked at design, including fit, dexterity, and protection. We then tried several real-world tests, which consisted of trying to pick up loose washers on the ground, gripping power/impact tools, and picking up an oil soaked wrench. Knowing each reader will use their gloves in different capacities, we also used a heat gun and infrared thermometer to determine the heat protection. Once all of the tests were completed, we closely examined overall grip, value, and design. Here are the results.
We tested these gloves for several weeks doing at-home wrenchin' and in our office's shop. Whereas we're confident in our scoring system, we can't vouch for the longevity and wear of each glove.
1. Western Safety
Continuing to impress us with performance and value, Harbor Freight's own Western Safety mechanic's gloves ranked at or near the top of each test. As the only glove to pass our washer pick-up test, the Harbor Freight gloves proved well thought-out and engineered. Providing a true fit, good palm cushioning, and fingertip grip and protection, the Western Safety gloves also came in at a wallet-friendly $12.99. Obviously, when protecting your hands, price isn't the end-all deal breaker, but when you can get a quality glove with high-end features for less money, the purchase becomes that much sweeter.
2. Mechanix Wear
For those of you working at shops or using air and cordless tools often at home, the Mechanix Wear M-Pact is a quality glove. Featuring Poron XRD extreme impact protection in the palm area, the M-Pact glove has superior cushioning, quality knuckle and backside finger protection, and it has extra wear pads on the forefinger and thumb. The M-Pact also excelled during the heat gun testing. Running slightly on the big side, we'd recommend trying on a pair before spending the $29.99.
One of the best fitting gloves in our test, the Craftsman Professional mechanic glove featured gel and foam padding in the palm to help absorb vibration. Extra grip and padding in the thumb and first two fingers was also a welcomed addition. Flexible and comfortable, the Craftsman Professional glove is an above-average example designed for the hard-working mechanic. Despite the features, it didn't have what it took to claim First or Second place.
4. Firm Grip
Once the Firm Grip Heavy Duty glove is slipped on, you'll quickly appreciate the fit, dexterity, and protection offered from the gloves available from Home Depot. Knuckle, backside of fingers, and palm were all areas protected by the Firm Grip gloves, and they also featured a terry-cloth type of material for sweat removal on your brow. Each fingertip has a rubberized texture for added gripping power, though the tips did start to show early signs of wear.
The Kobalt high-performance glove is best used for light-duty wrenchin' thanks to its thin palm covering and lightweight stretchable fabric. Extra padding on the fingertips is a nice touch, and the Kobalt gloves also protect your knuckles, but with no palm padding or extra material on the high-wear areas, they weren't one of our favorites.
These Snap-On gloves are private labeled versions available from AutoZone and Pep Boys. With that said, most people will see the Snap-On logo and think they are the real thing—they're not. Made in Indonesia, they are however a good light-duty glove for mechanics who do a lot of oil changes, filter swaps, and other tasks that don't require extra protection. Rubberized grips on each fingertip and palm do an admirable job of securing tools and bolts in your hands, but the ultra-thin material protecting your palm does leave you vulnerable.
Breaking into the glove world, DeWalt looks to capitalize on the popularity and success of their power tool line. These all-purpose gloves are just that—general and universal in design. There is no extra grip on the fingertips, but there is protection for your palm and thumb area. An extra-long cuff that is a single elastic piece, rather than a traditional slit with Velcro closure does make slipping the gloves on cumbersome, and we weren't big fans of bunching found on the palm when flexing the glove.
8. Mechanix Wear
Considered to be the glove that started this whole mechanic's glove trend, the Mechanix Wear Original is no-nonsense with minimal protection. The Original does feature a true fit, good dexterity, and easy on/off, but the no-frills glove was outclassed by others in the same price category.
9. Firm Grip
The light-duty version in Firm Grip's glove line proved to be a competent product for less than $10.00 with palm padding, forefinger protection, and knuckle padding. However, the slippery texture on the fingers and palm was not ideal for handling wrenches, ratchets, or screwdrivers.
Slip-on and slip-off was the mindset for DeWalt's RapidFit glove and it is a snap to wear and remove. Extra cushioning on the palm does help absorb shock and the rubberized texture on the thumb and forefinger was appreciated, but we didn't feel very secure wearing this glove, and it didn't provide much wrist protection.
11. Mechanix Wear
Much like the DeWalt RapidFit, the Mechanix FastFit is designed to be an easy on and easy off glove. It is just that, but it's also very low on grip and protection. If you need a breathable, lightweight, and light-duty glove, this may be just the pair you need, however it's not ideal for daily use.
12. Grease Monkey
In every test there is a winner and loser. We've already shown you the winner, and this is by far the loser. Spending more resources on the packaging appeal than the actual glove design, the Grease Monkey glove had poor finger stitching, was uncomfortable to wear for long periods, and though it did provide palm protection, it had little protection for your fingers.