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Fits Like a Glove

Are your garden gloves too sweaty, too porous or too prone to pricking?

We had Master Gardeners test four popular gloves to see which ones were just right for the job.

gloves-openerBy Carol O’Meara

A gardener’s hands are a dead giveaway that he or she works with the earth: scraped and pricked, with split nails and calluses. We know we should wear gloves, but when we tear through them like butter or rip them off in frustration, the point of wearing them seems, well, pointless.

There has to be a way to keep our hands safe without compromising performance. So we asked seven local Master Gardeners to test four gloves to see if they were tough enough for the landscape but easy on the hands. After putting each glove through its paces, here’s what our testers discovered:

Altas 370 Nitrile Glovegloves-atlas

Description: This nylon garden glove has nitrile on the palm and fingers, a rubber-like product that provides grip and water protection. Average cost: $6.99.

Pros: The Atlas glove is lightweight and comfortable, fits nicely and isn’t too tight or loose in the fingers or palms. The length is adequate, stretching 3 to 4 inches beyond the wrist. The gloves breathe well through the thin material, so the hands stay cool, not sweaty. The gloves have good grip when dry, and handle most items easily. They air-dry quickly and are machine-washable.

Cons: When wet, these gloves get somewhat sticky and can’t handle anything delicate, particularly plants. The nitrile appears to degrade when working in heavy soil, and it emits a mild rubbery odor.

Verdict: A good, all-purpose glove for handling tools and hardscape materials.

Utility Glove by Mechanix Weargloves-mechanix

Description: Because of their firm grip, these gloves are famous for their use by NASCAR drivers. But gardeners also admire them as they zoom about completing tasks. Average cost: $11.99.

Pros: These gloves have a nice snug fit, which feels better and better as the day progresses. Their length is just right, and they’re lightweight and not bulky. The testers appreciated not having to remove them between tasks. The synthetic leather palm and fingertips made grabbing and pulling out weeds easy. The hands stayed cool inside the breathable spandex back fabric, and even when the gloves got wet they never felt heavy. Their slim fit and flexible stretch fabric between the fingers make small tasks a breeze, and picking up dropped items is easy. Machine-washable.

Cons: Not good for handling very fine seeds, or for protection from raspberry, rose and cactus thorns, which poked right through. In muddy situations, water soaks through the stretch fabric.

Verdict: Perfect for heavy tasks like rototilling, shoveling, raking, hauling water buckets, using pitchforks and transplanting plants.

West County Work Glovegloves-west-county

Description: These Earth-friendly, breathable gloves are a composite of terrycloth and spandex made, in part, from recycled plastic water bottles. Average cost: $19.95.

Pros: This glove fit just right, and its flexibility was immediately noticeable. It also didn’t require “breaking-in” time, the weight was perfect and it didn’t slide when weeding or raking. The material securely handles tasks like gripping tools, without sticking to the held objects. This glove also had far more tactile ability when weeding.

Cons: Some styles have a little keyhole-like opening just below the Velcro closure, which could allow debris to get inside and cause abrasion.

Verdict: An ideal glove for general purpose garden tasks.

Bionic Classic Glovegloves-bionic

Description: This glove is made from washable sheepskin leather, with three layers of padding around the finger joints and palm. Developed by an orthopedic hand surgeon, this glove is designed to pamper your hands while gardening. Average cost: $42.99.

Pros: This lightweight glove is durable and fits snugly. No thorns or sharp grass blades poked through when the testers cut back roses and ornamental grasses, or picked up rose clippings. These gloves had good grasp, keeping the rough edges of ornamental grasses in place for clean pruning. The soft padding was enjoyable, especially when using power tools or mowers. The breathable mesh between the fingers and across the knuckles keeps the hands cool. Machine-washable and air-dryable.

Cons: These gloves are pricey, and the sizing is inconsistent. Many people may have to move up to a large or extra-large size for a decent fit. Not water-resistant or waterproof.

Verdict: Outstanding for general chores and heavy-duty jobs.

Many thanks to our testers—Susan Bonsall, Elsbeth Pryer Diehl, Vickie Neugebauer, Alison Stoven O’Connor, Don O’Meara, Tacey Whitley and Angela Williams.

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