Friday, March 21, 2014

Hand In Glove

I don't know about you, but I am an injudicious gardening-glove picker-outer. I'm also cheap. Not the most fortuitous of combinations. Instead of acquiring sturdy finger protection, I often end up with flimsy, weak-walled sweat-havens that are only too happy to spend all their time impregnated with dirt, giving me pruney fingers.

A few weeks ago I ceased all this silliness. I decided to look for The Perfect Glove. I would still practice thrift, perhaps not quite so stringently, but even more critically, I would work on my injudiciousness. With those two thoughts in mind I made a list of everything I required in a glove:

1. Finger protection: thorns, biting bugs, glass, rusty nails, the odd attacking snake/squirrel/chicken.
2. I want my fingers to stay clean. My heart sinks when I peel off my gloves and my fingers are ingrained with hours of dirt. I wear gloves to AVOID this scenario, not encourage it.
3. Warmth. Who wants to dig around in the winter garden with numb digits? Not I.
4. Breathability: they should never, under any circumstances, turn my hand into a gross white prune.
5. They must be easy to remove and put on. Bonus points if I can put them on with one hand.

With that criteria in hand, I assessed my current gardening gloves. I had two types.

First, the bulk buy glove. 

Pro: Comfortable, breathable, with a useful grippy feature about them. Lightweight fabric makes them cosy to wear. Washable. Reinforced fabric across the knuckles. Leathery-like substance over the fingers. And I can put these babies on with my nose.

Con: They have irritating lumpy seams at the end of the fingers that continually irk me. And forget wearing them in the rain. Your hands will get wet, muddy, sweaty, AND they'll turn into prunes.

Rating: B (B+ if you only wear them in sunny weather)
Price: $

The Atlas GRIP.

I have, over the years, purchased many many pairs of these gloves.  Sold everywhere. Often on sale. At the moment I have five pairs kicking around, in varying stages of decrepitude.

Pro: These are great gloves if cheap and cheerful are your main criteria. The palm side is rubberized while the back is usefully elasticized. The rubber is thick enough to endure many a hearty rose pruning. The rubber is molded so that it WANTS to slide onto your hand, which gives them an edge in the Easy To Get On category.

Con: Theoretically the rubber/elasticized fabric combination seems a sound plan, but in execution it doesn't quite work. The rubber on the back of the finger tips extends only to the first joint - just enough to ensure that you'll be tempted to imagine them Dunk-Proof. But they aren't. And once that elastic gets a whiff of moisture these gloves become Graspy Cold Gloves of Hell. No protective coating over the knuckles, an omission I've rued more than once.

Rating: C+
Price: $ (I'd give them half a $ if I knew how to do it on the keyboard)


I needed more in the waterproofing category, with a little less cracking of rubber. A clerk at a garden centre told me I needed leather. It was an intriguing thought, so I went with this pair:

 The Gardening Store Specialty Glove.

Pro: Shockingly comfortable. My frugal soul is pained to admit that sometimes you DO get what you pay for. Leather knuckle cover. Sturdy leather finger tips. Highly breathable, with a clever hint of elastic around the back of the wrists (prevents dirt from tumbling into the finger stalls).

Con: We were inseparable until it started raining, whereupon I discovered that my lovely leather is useless when wet. They inhaled the water, the (non-leather) portions grew sodden, and they looked like giant, deformed mitts of mud. So not attractive. We had to part ways.

Rating: A (as long as it's not raining, but you could always just wear them around the house)
Price: $$$

With the knowledge that the rain wasn't going to be letting up any time soon, I went back to the garden centre and bought another pair. A waterproof pair. At the till I was told that these were really excellent gloves. That buoyed me considerably.

The Atlas "Best Damn Gardening Glove Ever" (or something to that effect)

Pro: Again, shockingly comfortable gloves. Your hand positively slides in (the word sinuously wouldn't go amiss here). The rubber extends well up the arm, which allows all sorts of watery scenarios, from rescuing bees in watering cans to working in the rain or wet. The rubber appears more durable than that of the Atlas Grip, which perhaps explains why they stamped Vinylove next to the size. It's how I felt, wearing these.

Con: Haven't found any yet, but perhaps working in hot sun would be one of them. Think hot pruney fingers. Fevered brow. Low comfort levels. That sort of thing.

Rating: A+
Price: $$

So there you have it: my life in gloves. What should I try next? What sort of gloves do you use? I know some say that comparisons are odious, but in this case I feel it's warranted.


Kim Aliczi said...

So, what you're saying is there are no good garden gloves out there that you've found as of yet? LOL

I use the Atlas Grips and the el-cheapo cotton ones I find at dollar stores, but then, I don't do the sort of heavy duty gardening that you do.

Those ones that look like dish-doing rubber gloves look promising, though. :)

sheila said...

Everything about the dish gloves is, to quote a certain current movie, AWESOME, Kim. And yes, there are about a gazillion gloves out there. I've always practised the Tunnel Vision method to glove acquisition, but this pair (and the leather pair) have changed my wicked ways.

Anonymous said...

This is the time of year when I start sorting through my considerable, and decrepit, garden glove collection. Apparently, between Mother's Day and my late April birthday, garden gloves are a good present, from extended family and friends. I've bought a number of them myself, always looking for the Holy Grail Glove. I seem to end up bare-handed, because I like to be able to feel things, and most of my gloves feel like wearing oven mitts for gardening.

No luck so far, though. We have a number of Atlas nitrile gloves, for farming and building which work well, but for gardening I'd prefer something more "sensitive" I guess. Maybe Atlas is on to something with the vinyl. Good luck and report back in a few months!


sheila said...

I am starting to doubt if there IS a Holy Grail Glove, Becky. I live in hope, but even the Vinylove have an issue. Very slight, but I discovered it yesterday: they got a little tight and hot in the later afternoon sun.

Am I in the Glove Wearing minority here? My soil has too many hazards in it for me to let the wind flutter through my fingers: bugs, glass, snakes, spiders. Or am I just more paranoid? Hmm. Let's not answer that one.