Some site managers make them compulsory, some tradespeople use them routinely without needing to be told and some workers almost always go without. I am talking about work gloves, of course, says Peter Brett.
Cheap work gloves are freely available, often costing around a pound but, in my experience, they aren’t designed to last very long. I have managed to wear holes in a pair before lunchtime on a jobsite where I was handling abrasive materials.
The upside of the increased use of work gloves is that the market responds, bringing more choice and keener prices – and trades are the winners because, in my view, work gloves are a necessity in modern workplaces. To add to this mix, BBB Investments Ltd (think Coast torches and batteries) has brought the Octogrip Glove Range to market and retailers should keep an eye out for it.
As it says in the brochure, Octogrip gloves are ‘Born in America’ and the company has been established for over 30 years, so it knows a thing or two about work gloves. The Octogrip range of gloves is ‘engineered for tactile grip and superior efficiency’ and anyone who routinely uses gloves knows that grip and efficiency need to be built into any gloves, otherwise they simply don’t work and will be discarded.
These two features became the two focus points of my review, and it inevitably involved some informal comparisons with gloves that I have bought for my own use to see how well they stood up in, what is now, a very competitive market.
Some of the range
I was sent five representative pairs of gloves from the range of nine. They cover Heavy Duty, High Performance, Cut Safety and Cold Weather applications. Retailers will notice that each pair is carefully ‘stitched’ to an informative card hanger that gives details of the product described in key words. Customers only need to read the key words to make their choices.
They will also be pleased to see that the left-hand glove is attached to the card in such a way that potential buyers can try it on without destroying the hanging card. A win-win for buyers and sellers, I think.
Heavy Duty OG200 - Superior grip, comfort and fit, dexterity
The shell of these gloves is woven from 15 Gauge thread into a one-piece whole. A high, elasticated wrist ensures that they fit snugly and users will notice the comfort, flexibility and grip immediately upon they put them on. A key feature in this is the carefully applied latex on the dimpled palm and digits that simply looks and feels better than on any cheap glove. I used my ‘palm crinkle test’ to check fit and flexibility and the Octogrip passes easily.
Using these gloves for general jobs like loading timber, handling bricks and garden waste (non-prickly) I found that they were very good. And easy to get on and off too.
Octogrip OG330 Heavy Duty gloves feature a heavier 13Gauge shell and a more heavily ribbed and elasticated wrist design. I found that they fitted even more snugly than the OG200s – so grip and dexterity were not compromised. The latex coating on the palm and digits is also carefully applied and in many ways; I thought that I had found the perfect compromise between heavy duty performance, dexterity and grip doing a range of jobs that include mixing up buckets of mortar and plaster.
Palmwick technology – Keep cool
It can be uncomfortable to wear work gloves in hot weather – but protection trumps all in most jobs. The pair of Octogrip Palmwick PW874 gloves I tried solves the problem of hot hands by using the palm coating to wick away sweat and moisture leaving hands cooler, but without compromising grip, dexterity, protection or durability.
My ‘crinkly palm’ test showed that the fit is nicely snug - almost a second skin - and the elasticated wrist design is very good, going back past wristwatch level so they stay on well. They are also easy to get on and off because of the highly elasticated shell.
These Palmwick gloves quickly became my ‘go to’ gloves when doing some fencing/fitting in the recent hot weather because I had the protection from splinters that I needed when handling unplaned timbers, but also the dexterity I needed for using cordless power tools. They ended up my favourite gloves – probably because I used them the most and appreciated the cool hands.
I am lucky in that I don’t often have to handle sharp materials like glass or sheet metals, but regulations now make provisions for a cut resistance rating on gloves. Octogrip’s Cut Safety Pro Gloves are rated EN388 (2016) Cut Level E – the highest rating. They also use the Palmwick technology combined with a 13 gauge HPPE engineered knitted shell for a robust and cut resistant glove.
Part of the safety factor when handling sharp materials is to be able to grip and handle them dextrously and the nitrile palm and finger coating provides ample grip and protection. The gloves feel a bit more substantial but they still fit well with a high elasticated wrist. Extra protection is afforded by the reinforced thumb saddle. I did try these out myself but sought the opinion of a welder friend who gave them the thumbs up for handling pieces of metal.
I have ended up with only one of these gloves because I had to do the “craft knife’ test on a Cut Safety Pro and a cheap work glove. The results confirmed to me that cheap gloves are easy to slice, while the Cut Safety Pro provides genuine protection from sharp edges and slashing cuts.
Winter and ‘the Beast’
It is just officially autumn but the tabloids are already telling us that the ‘Beast from the East’ will strike again. Fortunately, I will have the Octogrip OG450 winter glove to wear indoors.
Featuring a foam latex palm for grip and insulation, it feels thick, warm and substantial, like a proper warm glove should be. In order to aid grip, the palms and fingers are covered with a ‘nibby’ coating while the shell is made from a 10gauge polyester knit that is thick and comfortingly warm.
What is noticeable in comparison with other winter weight gloves that I have worn is that they are soft and flexible – and warm. I await ‘the Beast’ with equanimity.