As a certain line of logic goes, gloves are a gamble: You put them on to protect yourself, but losing coordination because you can’t feel your fingers might just get you hurt. This kind of thinking has caused a generation of contractors—some of whom you may recognize from TV—to only don gloves under the direst of circumstances.
And who can blame them? The general-purpose gloves they grew up with were either too thin to offer much protection or too bulky to keep a grip on tools. Today, though, we have different gloves for different jobs, with materials so specialized that they can outperform anything found in nature. Kevlar, the same stuff that stops bullets, protects your fingers from cuts and burns when you handle hot saw blades or router bits. Teflon sheds water away from your skin when cleaning pool filters. Stretchy Spandex lets gloves flex to fit your hand, and form-fitting Neoprene seals off the cuff without strangling your wrist. Construction methods have changed, too. Instead of vulnerable seams at the fingertips, good gloves now have rolled tips, so that a solid piece of fabric, not the stitching, takes the beating.
This cowhide-and-pigskin glove looks traditional, but padded palms add cushioning, and Kevlar-reinforced stitching makes the seams four times stronger than cotton threads. These general-purpose work gloves
save your skin when heaving bricks, mixing mortar, or pounding garden pathways into place. $35, Duluth Trading
(All prices per pair.)