Work gloves for cold temperature environments like freezers and refrigerators have several criteria that must be judged based on your needs. Additionally, it is possible that by changing your use practices a bit you can keep warmer and more comfortable. We will try to summarize all that below.
Please note that we will use the different glove criteria from our own website. To better understand what kinds of gloves we are writing about in each section of the below article, you can open our catalog of cold weather and freezer gloves in a separate tab or window to follow along.
What temperature are your hands exposed to and for how long?
Because protection from cold (insulation) is a function of temperature and time, looking only at the temperature rating vs the temperature inside your freezer is not sufficient.
- If you work for extended periods of time (over 30 minutes) inside a freezer below 0°F without exiting, then you should consider the thickest insulating gloves (in our store, look at work gloves for -20°F to -30°F), heated work gloves, or using glove heater packs. If you need to have dexterity to use a keyboard or a pen while wearing these gloves, then you might be in trouble – perhaps going with heated gloves or heater packs is the only way. If these are not possible (due to your budget, for example), then you need to figure out a way to postpone the need to type or write until you are out of the freezer, or to take frequent-enough breaks to allow you to wear thinner gloves.
- If you absolutely must have high-enough dexterity to write, type on a keyboard, or operate equipment with relatively small buttons, then likely you’ll have to look for “performance-style” gloves or knit gloves, rated between +40°F to +15°F. You can also look at the ones rated down to 0°F, but not all of them will allow use of small keys or pens/pencils in convenient manner.
- If you frequently carry objects in/out of a freezer below 32°F (0°C), then we’d recommend going with waterproof gloves (at least with waterproof palms). Continuously grabbing frozen objects with warmer gloves will make some of the potentially built-up ice to melt and absorb into the palms of gloves. If the gloves don’t resist water and insulation gets wet, then you’d need to change the gloves or they will no longer protect you all that much.
Other things that affect insulation and beneficial glove features
- Carrying cold heavy objects. Much of the insulation of the gloves is given by air trapped inside the insulation. Thus, if you carry something heavy and squeeze the glove insulation, you eliminate much of the insulation ability of gloves, and the cold travels through fast. If you carry heavy objects, consider getting gloves thicker than might otherwise be suitable.
- Handling abrasive/rough objects. Good insulating gloves are quite expensive. Good quality insulation is pricey. So if your gloves rip apart quickly due to the type of objects you handle, consider getting really good liner gloves (see liner glove choices here), and other economical gloves as outside shells.
Freezer glove use advice to maximize comfort and protection
- If possible, remove the gloves as soon as you exit a refrigerator or freezer (assuming that outside of the freezer it is warm). Then put them back on right before entering the freezer again. This will allow warm air to warm the gloves inside and out, instead of the warmth of your hands having to do it on the inside. It will also help with reducing moisture build up in case if your hands might start to sweat while you are outside of the freezer.
- Try to keep 2 pairs available – one that you wear and one that stays in a warm place, you can then keep exchanging them every 20-30 minutes, thus taking advantage of the fact that cold needs time to travel through the insulation.
- If you don’t need individual finger dexterity, opt for insulated work mittens or one-finger mitts, they keep fingers much warmer.
- In really cold places it is important to eliminate exposed skin. Thus, if you work in a freezer, it may be good for you to get insulated gloves with long knit cuffs to create more overlap between glove and jacket or coat.
If you have additional advice based on your own experience, please add your feedback into the comments below so we can keep improving this advice article!