Gardening is one of the most enjoyable activities in the world that allows you to spend endless hours outside – increasing happiness and decreasing stress levels, all the while growing nutritious food in your backyard.
It is a win-win situation! Or so it seems…
Except when it comes to the toughness of your hands and the potential attack on your immune system that may leave you feeling down for days. More on that in a bit.
On a homestead, urban or rural, your hands are what keep the whole operation running – that and your energetic feet. While your soles need to be covered with footwear appropriate to the job, and it seems that shoes are always easy to find, gloves that “fit like a glove” are much harder to unearth.
You can wear rubber boots for wet weather, steel-toed boots for heavy work, or go with bare feet for working in the well-maintained garden.
But what to cover sensitive hands with to avoid all manner of aches and pains, thorns, splinters and cuts?
Gloves are the simple answer.
The more complex one is – gloves that fit.
Choosing the best pair of gloves
In these modern days of internet shopping, and receiving packages from afar, it can be truthfully said that you’ll never know if something fits before you get a chance to try it on.
Our fingers are different lengths, our palms are wider or smaller – ordering gloves online is like ordering a pair of pants and squeezing, or swimming, in them.
So, being the risk-taker that you are, you may need to order a couple of pairs of gloves to find the best fit. The ones that don’t fit the bill, can be re-gifted or saved as a back-up pair – it is never a complete loss to have extra pairs of gloves on a farm. One day, you may have volunteers or extra helpers, who need to protect their hands while they are put to work.
The most important thing to consider in your search for the perfect pair of gloves – what do you need them for?
Will you be:
- splitting or stacking wood
- pruning roses or trees
- hauling manure
- working in damp conditions
And then you must think about the seasons. Are you wearing gloves in summer, or winter? Will the job be wet, or dry?
Answer those questions to yourself, even before exploring the hundreds, if not thousands of options, online.
Of course, if you have a home improvement, or farm store near you, by all means go and have a look! Try on as many gloves as it takes to discover what is right for you.
When you live in as rural a place as we do, ordering online is the best option if you want to have a say in material, quality and size.
To wear, or not to wear gloves?
The smallest size gloves I can find where I live, is a Large. This comes as little surprise, seeing how most people actually have very large hands – due to the amount of serious work they do! This applies to both men and women.
Every day, minus Sundays, villagers are out in the fields, or the forests, scything and raking hay, building haystacks, hauling manure or wood by means of horse-pulled carts or tractors. They are always moving like clockwork. It is a magical thing to behold, their tireless communal movement – and they do this all throughout the year, mostly without the use of gloves.
But, there are in fact, several good reasons to wear gloves while working outside, as you’ll find below.
Cuts, scratches, scrapes and dry skin
With the absence of gloves, tiny accidents are prone to happen to both sensitive and hardened hands – cuts are among the most common wounds (even ripping dry blades of grass or reeds can cause a paper cut type injury), scratches from thorns are inevitable at best, and sharp garden tools? Well, no one ever said that gardening was without hazards.
Such discomforts can easily be prevented, you guessed it, by wearing proper fitting gloves, of the most appropriate material and quality, shall we say.
Besides being uncomfortable and itchy, scratches on the hands from roses or other poky weeds can also lead to minor infections.
Risk of infections
Soil has beneficial and not so beneficial bacteria and fungi lurking inside. If you are working in the garden without gloves and acquire an open wound, be sure to wash and treat it immediately!
Bacterial infections caused by Campylobacter jejuni, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella sp. are often found in the garden due to the use of animal manure (cow, pig, horse, chicken, rabbit, etc.) as fertilizer. An untreated bacterial infection can lead to sepsis. In this case, the bacteria quickly enters the bloodstream and inflammation ensues. If you are extremely sensitive, the end result is not pretty: septic shock, organ failure and in the most severe case, death.
Potting soil may be contaminated with bacteria responsible for causing Legionnaires’ disease. The disease causing Legionella bacteria may also be present in standing water. Either way, wear gloves and use a mask (think of minuscule peat particles) if mixing potting soil, for prevention is always the best cure.
Tetanus (bacteria) and Sporotrichosis (fungus), the latter also called the “rose gardener’s disease” are two other important reasons you should protect your hands when possible.
Gardeners are also cooks and the best salad makers! Those who work in the kitchen, should have clean hands and fingernails, always.
Good hygiene is super-important in staying healthy, and while handmade soaps with essential oils can help in washing off the dirt and grime, wearing gloves is another easy way to stay safe.
If you are also processing those lovely vegetables from the garden and an abundance of fruit from the orchard, canning and preserving them for the winter to come, you’ll already know that cleanliness is one of the top priorities in successfully filling your pantry.
Other reasons to wear gloves
Gloves help us to prevent injuries, like accidentally gripping a thorny plum branch while pruning a tree. They can also come in handy when coming across a snake, a spider or a hedgehog in the garden.
If you have cats nearby that frequent your garden as a big, beautiful litter box, wear gloves, so as not to be unpleasantly surprised.
It is definitely worth taking your time to find the pair of gloves that suit you well!
Putting garden gloves to the test
In the meantime, I have picked 5 of the most popular gardening gloves sold on Amazon to compare while testing them for my own use, based on the type of work we do on our rural homestead.
I have used them to saw wood (goodbye blisters!) with a two-man crosscut saw, split wood, weed in the garden, spread manure to prepare garden beds for winter, prune fruit trees and roses, stack firewood and so much more.
The Best Gardening Gloves Are…
If you want to skip the pros and cons of each glove and just see our hand picked winner, then click the button below.
For me a garden glove needs to do two things – well, primarily:
- it must fit well (snugly), in other words it has to be comfortable in length of fingers (all fingers, including the thumb) and width of palm;
- and it absolutely must be durable – aren’t you tired as well of constantly having to change work gloves because either the thumb part gets holey or the top shows frailty?
Who has time (and money) to go through several pairs of gloves a month/year? Not me. I suspect not you either.
You are here to find the best pair of work and gardening gloves after all.
To give the highlights:
2 pairs of gardening gloves were love at first fitting, the other 2 I had slightly different expectations from and one pair is destined to become the re-gifted kind, perhaps better suited for another kind of use on another pair of hands.
In no particular order, let’s examine the best gardening gloves for women, one-by-one, and see which pair comes out the winner – just in case you want to purchase a pair straight away!
3 all-purpose gardening gloves
All-purpose gloves come in all colors of the rainbow, but I’m not one to chase trends, I’m after quality and longevity.
Running out to a store every time my gloves get holey, is not an option in a remote location, so I’ve chosen 5 gloves in total, based on my work/homestead requirements, the reputation and wisdom of others, combined with a keen sense of what just might work.
Call it intuition, or luck, but some of these gloves “fit like a glove”, I hope they do for you too.
Just be sure to order them in your size!
Leather Work Gloves with Adjustable Wrist – Wells Lamont
Right from the start, these gloves look the toughest of the lot – and they are definitely stitched from the thickest leather!
Leather work gloves are great for strenuous chores such as splitting and stacking firewood, fencing and carpentry. They are not so great for finer things where you need a bit more feeling/sensation such as sawing or gardening.
Made from 100% grain cowhide, these gloves are made to last, and they come in size Small all the way through XX-Large.
At the beginning of use, the adjustable wrist band seems to work wonderfully, keeping the glove from sliding down. However, it appears to be a weak link in the longer run, only time will tell how long it will last.
Overall, these true-to-size Wells Lamont gloves have a great grip and come in very handy when dealing with poultry on the homestead, including chickens who like to take an occasional peck at your feeding hands (watch out for the red plastic ball on the cinch strap!).
Depending on the work to be done, they may be too thick-grained for many jobs, but if it is medium to heavy duty work on the checklist, then try a pair and experience it for yourself.
Being leather, they tend to lose their grip when wet, and will wear out much faster when they get soaked – so avoid the rain and the wet soil when possible. For such times switch to a pair of gloves better suited to damp, wet weather.
Get your own pair here:
In a good season, we spend a great deal of time in our no-dig garden. This means routine planting, pulling (or eating) weeds, harvesting, and finally preparing garden beds for the next growing season.
Pine Tree Tools Bamboo Working Gloves for Women and Men
It is a continuous work that needs attention – that combined with a squash and potato field alongside a small apple orchard.
Grow and preserve, that is, the homesteaders’ way.
These gloves from Pine Tree Tools are a perfect, lightweight option for many gardening and homesteading chores.
- easy to wash
- touchscreen friendly
Plus, they boast a very snug fit!
A word of caution – the wrist is tightened with natural rubber, which may cause skin irritation to sensitive skin.
Made from bamboo, a material that absorbs perspiration, these gloves are quite breathable. It is said that they can “keep your hands cool in summer and warm in winter”.
Now, I’ve only had the opportunity to try them out for November gardening jobs, though I suspect that they will be a great quick option year round.
They easily fit into a pocket, are true to size, and for me, the fit was absolutely perfect with no extra fabric hanging off the end of my fingers (don’t you hate when that happens?!).
As versatile as they are, they cannot compete with thorns and poky weeds, but they are amazing for just about everything else.
You may even find yourself using them in the greenhouse, or in the house for moving heavy furniture, or painting door frames and windowsills. Your imagination is the limit!
Order a few pairs here to keep you in stock all year long:
Women’s Water-Resistant Leather Work Gloves, HydraHyde
Now onto the hand-picked winner.
These grain cowhide gloves are pure comfort!
Flexible, yet protective. Leather, yet water resistant. Soft, yet sturdy.
What is not to love in a pair of gloves that are already broken in for you?
It is said that it is the special tanning process that makes this leather both water-resistant and breathable, and that the water resistance should last the lifetime of the glove.
Quite a claim to be sure!
I’ve never met a glove that could accomplish such a feat, so I’ll just have to keep on using them to find out.
Wells Lamont HydraHyde gloves are easy to pull on and off, making them perfect for odd jobs around the homestead and garden – a multi-tasker.
Being water resistant, they can be used for hand watering of plants, either in pots or out in the garden.
The keystone-style thumb allows for increased dexterity and comfort, making it easy to grip and hold onto whatever it is you need to grab: pots, pails, hooves for trimming, shovels and pitchforks for mucking out the stable…
They perform extremely well for a variety of jobs, which makes them the winner of the best gloves for women list.
None to speak of so far. Check out the other positive Amazon reviews for HydraHyde gloves and see for yourself!
Order a pair, or two(!), right now and get back to work.
2 pairs of gardening gloves for pruning roses and more
When you have roses, fruit trees and berries to prune, you may want to protect more than just your hands. Forearms are fair game for scratches and scrapes too.
Leather gloves that come up to the elbow, not only protect your palms, they also prevent tearing up your clothes.
As you’ll find, some gloves are better than others, and materials do matter.
Rose Pruning Gloves for Men and Women. Thorn Proof Goatskin Leather Gardening Gloves with Long Cowhide Gauntlet
You know how a traditional drum made with goatskin produces well-rounded bass tones? A djembe drum is an excellent example. For similar reasons, goatskin is very useful for gloves as well.
Goatskin can be stretched, making it useful for even boots and rugs. Its strength is a testament to its durability (being harder-wearing than cowhide!). It is also longer-lasting because it is naturally water resistant.
Not to mention that goatskin is softer and more flexible due to the presence of lanolin in the leather.
Seeing as how the hand portion of the glove is carefully sewn from goatskin and the gauntlet from 100% cowhide, these pruning and gardening gloves have you well protected when dealing with roses or blackberries.
These goatskin gloves are as comfortable as can be, and they give you the ultimate confidence in pruning roses!
Just reach into the rose bush with your favorite pruners (don’t worry, we’ve already tested pruners too and these are our top pick) and cut and chop away without fear of being scratched or poked by such a beautiful plant.
Be sure to measure your glove size, as even the medium was a tad too large for my thumbs and the width of my palm. In certain positions the gauntlet pinches at the elbow which can be a bit uncomfortable, though it can easily be pulled over a thicker shirt.
The plus side? Even my husband can fit into them, so now he gets to help prune the roses!
The quality and durability of leather makes up for any discomfort in sizing, and I know this pair will be around for a good long while.
Grab a pair of leather rose pruning gloves here.
Magid Glove & Safety Professional Rose Pruning Thorn Resistant Gardening Gloves
Modern materials do not always make for the best gloves and saving money sometimes comes with a greater cost of scratches.
This about sums up these “thorn resistant” gardening gloves. Among the first cuts of pruning wild roses, a thorn got caught in the top of the glove, pulling up some purple fibers with it. Not a great start, nor did it have a happy ending.
The index finger on the right glove was so short that after just 15 minutes my finger was in pain from the pressure. Perhaps it was a sewing (or design?) mistake, but uncomfortable enough not to wear them again.
Gardening should be fun, not painful. But let’s look at the pros and cons to see if they may suit your gardening purpose better.
More whimsical than plain leather, they may appeal to women gardeners who desire a little extra color in the garden. Grip was really good and gauntlet was considerably shorter than the goatskin gloves’. It was curved on the underside of the arm, making that aspect of the design very pleasing to the eye and the wear in elbow comfortable, all at once.
Keep in mind that they are also made of synthetic materials:
Palm: 50% Polyurethane, 50% Nylon
Back: 90% Polyester, 10% Spandex
Knuckle guard is not enough to provide protection from thorns, they easily go through the mesh part. Size runs small, make sure to consult their glove sizing chart.
For lighter garden work, pick up a pair here:
To sum it up
You’ll find that gloves of all materials, styles and uses are available in all price ranges – don’t make price the deciding factor alone.
Instead, determine what is the primary use of your future gloves, spend on durable, quality materials and order from there. It may take some trial and error to find your ideal gloves, let this article provide you with a practical start to finding the best gloves for you.
If it is important to you to keep your hands dirt- and scratch-free, invest in a quality pair of gloves that will last you more than a season.
And when you find a pair of gloves that truly fit, order 3 extra pairs!
You never know when they will wear out, or whether you can find them online again when you need them most.