A Gaggle of Gloves – a reviewlet

It seems a good time of year to look at gloves, given a good pair can make the difference between comfort and misery during winter. My review will be limited to the makes that I usually wear but they’re all available in garden centres and none are very expensive.

Three sorts of gardening gloves

1 – Showa 340 Optigrip
2 – Cheap rigger style gloves
3 – Master Gardener gloves

1 – Showa 340 Optigrip. My favourite lightweight grippy gloves, they’re a bit more expensive than the cheap imitations you can find but they fit snugly and come in a range of sizes that includes my size (generally described as ‘tiny’). Given the amount of punishment I put gloves through it’s no surprise that they don’t last a huge amount of time and the grippy stuff wears off. But they’re the only gloves I’ve found with the fit needed for delicate jobs like weeding seedlings, or pricking out and so I wear them a lot and not just for the delicate jobs, the grip makes them good for jobs where I’m using tools, like raking or sweeping too. Just a warning – they aren’t thorn-proof, or even prickle-proof, and even a nettle will get through on the back of the hand. As for waterproofness … a bit, at least until the first breaks in the rubbery coating.

2 – Rigger style gloves. These gloves are cheap cheap cheap. If I recall correctly these ones were £2.99 and they came with a pair of orange glove liners. They are what I use for anything significantly thorny or for hauling wood around. There are many more beautiful thornproof leather gloves on the market but I don’t find they last much longer and tend to go stiff after they get soaked. If you’re going to ruin one pair of gloves roughly every two months, it might as well be a cheap pair. They’re quite good at resisting thorns (until they get a hole!) but aren’t at all waterproof. I find them (and all thick leather gloves) rather stiff and awkward so only wear them when nothing else will serve.

3 – Town & Country Master Gardener gloves. These are the gloves I go to for any job that’s a bit tough (or prickly)  for the Showas but when I don’t want to wear those akwardly stiff riggers. They don’t fit me as well as the Showa but if you have more average sized hands you might find these more generally useful (and cheaper). They withstand prickles and smaller thorns and I even attack brambles with them when I need a bit of danger in my life (well, not so much ‘attack’ as ‘carefully place my hands on less thorny bits’). The rubbery coating makes them somewhat waterproof and mudproof, a touch more than the showas.

But you know what? In the depths of winter when its bloody cold and I’m not dealing with anything too thorny I generally reach for these:

Marigolds. The non-flowering sort.

They’re the extra thick rubber gloves the cleaning team at the Towers pull out for the nasty jobs. I often wear them with a pair of those ultra-stretchy ‘magic’ gloves underneath and the fact my hands stay dry and therefore warm and that the gloves withstand prickles (though not thorns) makes the combination pretty good for winter use. If only they were available in a smaller size…


8 responses to “A Gaggle of Gloves – a reviewlet

  1. For me, it’s either bare hands or else welders’ chrome leather gauntlets (usually the latter). Those riggers’ gloves are OK, but they simply don’t protect your wrists and lower arms if you are pruning an overgrown rose. With gauntlets, you can do anything, including reaching into bonfires and strangling brambles. No other glove gives the same confidence.

    • True but have yet to find any in my size! Having said that I use a rake to reach into a bonfire and don’t have much problem with brambles and roses – maybe I cut my way in more? And swear more probably 😛

  2. I have an incredibly comfortable pair of soft lined, thorn-resistant gloves. Until recently, they were waterproof too – but I suppose all good things come to an end. They weren’t cheap. (Nor were they over-priced.) Given how they’ve taken the wariness out of gardening, they’ve been well worth the money. The fortunate thing about them is that they fit. Finding gloves that fit has been one of the biggest challenges in finding the ‘right’ pair for me.

  3. Steve, Liverpool

    For the allotment I wear (different) rigger style gloves under red builder’s rubber gloves, you know the ones. The builder’s gloves keep the other dry – so I’ve never been without them this year ! – and you can whip the builder gloves off for more fiddly work. Only go through a couple of pairs of each a year.

  4. Steve, Liverpool

    I think you just get used to it. The rigger gloves aren’t as bulky as the ones in your photo – and on an allotment sensitivity isn’t much of a prerequisite. I have terrible hands – as soon as they come into contact with soil/plant material, skin of the thumbs split (always there first), etc., so it’s the lesser of two evils. I don’t do fiddly. The garden is very non-fiddly. The more protection the better for me I’m afraid.

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