Neoprene gloves are liquid and chemical resistant. But they also protect against water and wind, making them perfect for water sports like canoeing, paddling, rafting, or kayaking.
Neoprene gloves come in a wide range of styles. The one you choose should depend on your intended application.
Traditionally, natural rubber gloves were used in applications where resistance to oil or other chemicals was the most important thing. But natural rubber gloves have (at least) two drawbacks:
- Lots of folks experience latex allergies, and repeated exposure to natural rubber gloves can bring on contact dermatitis and similar skin problems.
- Natural rubber or latex gloves are less resistant to chemicals and abrasions or rough use than modern neoprene gloves.
There are two main styles of chemical-resistant neoprene gloves:
- Unsupported neoprene
- Neoprene molded over a cloth glove
Unsupported neoprene is usually fairly thick — at least 17 mils thickness — and it provides the most chemical resistance.
However, gloves with cloth lining are more puncture and snag resistant than unsupported neoprene. But because of the need to maintain an acceptable level of manual dexterity, the neoprene coating can’t be as thick.
Usually, either of these styles of gloves are used to protect the wearer against these sorts of chemicals:
- Degreasing agents
- Petroleum-based solvents
- Animal fats
When in doubt, consult an MSDS or other reliable guide.
The best chemical-resistant neoprene gloves have two layers of color. That way, when the surface of the glove(s) becomes worn, it’s easy to notice by the color change. This allows you to replace the gloves before they start to leak.
Since this material is slippery when wet, it’s best if the grip area has a roughened or embossed surface.
And because thick neoprene can cause fatigue, make sure your gloves have pre-bent fingers and knuckles.
For outdoor sporting use
The second use of neoprene in gloves is for its water and wind resistant properties. This makes it perfect for gloves worn during water sports and other wet, windy outdoor activities.
Although neoprene — in and of itself — does not offer any insulation against the cold, it’s the best way to make a pair of gloves waterproof.
Some folks use neoprene gloves while riding a motorcycle (or snowmobile). But motorcycle or snowmobile gloves need more than just resistance to wind and rain. Ideally, they should be hard knuckle gloves and have some gel inserts in the palm.
For paddling and other boating sports, you can get fingerless neoprene gloves that offer some degree of blister protection without reducing dexterity very much.
It’s unusual for tactical gloves to contain neoprene. But for certain naval or wet-weather applications, there could be some models of gloves that contain a layer of neoprene.