When it comes to waterproof gloves, we all know how helpful this feature can be when working in conditions where there is a risk of coming on contact with water, ice, snow, or other wet substances. When it comes to purchasing waterproof gloves, we want to make sure you’re well-informed about the type of waterproof glove you’re purchasing. This week, we’re covering the four most common types of waterproofing used in work gloves.
The absolute most basic type of glove waterproofing is when the exterior fabric of a work glove is sprayed with a silicone or PVC based treatment solution. After being sprayed with said solution, the glove will take on a water-repellant protective barrier. It is important to note that water-repellence is not the same as waterproof. This type of treatment may be the cheapest option, however it wears off very quickly and is not that effective to really protect wearers from water or other substances. This type of waterproofing is best used in environments where the waterproof feature is not your primary protective feature.
The next most common type of waterproofing is called a single-layer solution. This type of barrier really doesn’t let anything through. It is as if you’re wearing a plastic bag on your hands. Gloves with this type of waterproofing can often feel bulky. Not only does this type of treatment not let anything in, but it also doesn’t let anything out. Meaning, the sweat your hands produce during a work session will be trapped inside your gloves. This can be especially dangerous if you are working in cold conditions. We recommend only using these gloves for short durations and in environments that don’t demand lots of dexterity.
After single-layer comes double-layer. Gloves with this sort of waterproofing feature a treated outer layer and an inner layer composed of PVC or polyurethane. This inner layer will offer much needed breathability and helps wick moisture (sweat) away from your hands. These type of waterproof gloves are also much less bulky. They are lightweight and used in a variety of applications.
And finally, a triple-layer solution to conclude. This is the best for last option, as a triple-layer solution offers the most effective waterproofing solution. The middle layer in this triple-layer solution is where the waterproofing lies. The interior layer offers comfort, breathability, and moisture wicking capabilities, while the exterior layer adds additional protection for the wearer like abrasion or puncture resistance.
This mysterious middle layer that offers the waterproofing in this triple-layer solution is called a membrane. In order to be classified as a membrane, the material has to be breathable and have pores that are small enough to prohibit water drops from passing through, but still allow water vapor to pass through. This will help to keep the gloves breathable and your hands comfortable and dry.
Of course, to ensure your hands get the waterproof protection they deserve, you’ll want to pay attention to the quality of the waterproof gloves you purchase. Not all are created equal, and quality matters here. One way you can test the quality of a pair of waterproof gloves is the crinkle test. If you place your hand in a pair of gloves and can actually hear a crinkly sound, you know this is not the glove for you. This indicates that the waterproof membrane is not correctly adhered to the inner and outer layer, making it very uncomfortable and ineffective to use.
So, the moral of this lesson is that you’ll want to splurge for quality when it comes to your waterproof gloves!