Best Welding Jackets

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

19 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
305 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best welding jackets

Last Updated November 2019

Whatever kind of welding you do, a good welding jacket is an essential piece of safety equipment. Without it, you risk burns from sparks and welding spatter that can range from uncomfortable to potentially serious. As an additional benefit, a good welding jacket also prevents you from getting burn holes in your ordinary clothes!

Leather is the traditional welding jacket material, but wool is an effective alternative, and cotton and other fibers are also used. Material and other factors can make choosing the right jacket more complicated than it seems at first. There are also decisions to make concerning personal comfort and mobility.

BestReviews has been looking at what’s available in welding jackets, from popular classics to the latest alternatives. If you’re ready to buy, we offer a selection of some we think stand out from the crowd. The following buyer’s guide looks at your options in greater depth.

Don’t assume a cotton jacket will give you more freedom of movement than leather. Check the specifications and owner comments carefully. Some jackets have thick padding that can be equally restrictive.

Key considerations

There are two basic things you need to think about when buying a welding jacket: the material it’s made from and the way it’s put together. Combined, those two elements also impact comfort, which is a bigger issue than it might seem at first glance. If you’re uncomfortable, your concentration suffers, and that not only affects the quality of your work, but it can also lead to accidents.

In addition to a jacket’s resilience and protection, you’ll also want to think about your normal welding environment. A padded jacket that might be too hot to wear indoors could be ideal if you’re outside welding in sub-zero temperatures.

Note that choosing a cheap, lightweight welding jacket because you only weld occasionally is not a wise decision. You need to buy based on the type of welding you do, however infrequently, to ensure you get the right level of protection.

Material

Leather: The classic material for welding protection, whether jackets, bibs, or aprons, is leather. It’s naturally flame retardant and has high abrasion resistance, so it’s very hard-wearing. And depending on the way the leather has been treated, it can also be supple.

A lot of different animal hides can be called “leather.” Sheepskin and goatskin are typically very flexible but not particularly durable. Cowhide is usually considered the best option, though its thickness makes it comparatively heavy. One or two manufacturers use boar hide (pigskin), which is lighter, more flexible, and offers higher heat resistance. However, it is expensive.

With leather, it’s sometimes difficult to tell just how heavy-duty the material is. Some manufacturers suggest the type of welding the jacket is designed for, such as MIG or TIG. However, that kind of guidance is uncommon. Cowhide and boar hide are always strong options. When it comes to your safety, too much protection is always better than too little!

Cotton: Lighter welding jackets are made of cotton or cotton with nylon, a material that can provide surprisingly high heat and flame protection. It’s popular among gas welders, the process generally being lighter duty. It’s also easier to dye or color, cut, and sew, so cotton welding jackets tend to be more fashionably styled and less utilitarian than leather. The drawback with cotton is that it doesn’t have the durability of leather. You can expect to replace a cotton welding jacket every couple of years.

EXPERT TIP

In addition to a good welding jacket, make sure your pants don’t have cuffs that can trap hot spatter. It will burn you before you realize it.


Staff  | BestReviews

Construction and design

Mixed materials: As we’ve already said, cowhide is heavy, and cotton lacks durability. In the search for a great all-round welding jacket, quite a few manufactures offer combinations of both, using leather in the high-exposure areas (shoulders and arms) and cotton in the body. Seams can be double- or even triple-stitched, and for added strength, Kevlar or aramid fibers might be used.

Jacket/apron: An interesting variation on the standard jacket construction is the jacket/apron combination. This has an open back, reminiscent of a hospital gown but with much more robust straps for closure. It provides extensive protection to arms, torso, and thighs while allowing good airflow around the body. The garment is also simpler to make and so often very competitively priced.

Bib: You’ll also find some jackets that have a detachable bib portion. You can wear it as a lightweight cape (arm and shoulder protection), which is the area most prone to being hit by sparks and spatter (particularly when welding overhead), or use it as a complete jacket when necessary.

Comfort: To increase mobility in leather welding jackets, underarm areas sometimes have additional panels. They might also have breathable sections for added ventilation. Adjustable arm cuffs are a nice bonus. Stand-up, buttoned collars offer maximum neck protection.

Closures: Closures are usually snaps or buttons, which may be reinforced with hook-and-loop fasteners. 

Pockets: Interior pockets are preferred because they don’t get filled with debris or catch hot spatter. The only problem is that they’re a nuisance to get to, so some manufacturers add external pockets. These should have an outer flap with a hook-and-loop or button closure.

Fit: Fit is obviously very important, and when you’re saving money by buying online, it can sometimes be difficult to judge sizes. The better manufacturers give a reasonable amount of information to help you choose, but it’s also worth checking customer feedback. Users will often say when a particular brand runs big or small. A few good manufacturers also take into account that the female form is different from the male and offer specific welding jackets for women.

It may be a working garment, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be stylish. Some welding jackets look good enough to wear as casual clothing!

Welding jacket prices

Inexpensive: There’s a wide choice of entry-level cotton and cotton/nylon welding jackets that cost around $25 to $30. There are plenty of well-known brands in this bracket, so there’s no need to buy cheap junk.

Mid-range: Leather raises the price, but if you buy an open-backed jacket, you can get a high level of front protection for around $40. There are numerous full-leather heavy-duty welding jackets that cost between $70 and $90.

Expensive: Boar hide attracts a premium, as do those jackets designed for use in high-amperage situations. Even so, you’re unlikely to spend more than $120, and you’ll be buying an exceptional piece of personal safety equipment.

Welding safety

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), personal protective equipment (PPE) for welding should include the following:

  • Eye and face protection (helmet) against intense light, sparks, and other flying particles
  • Respiratory protection against fumes
  • Clothing protection against heat and burns
  • Ear protection against excessive noise
  • Hand and foot protection against heat, burns, and electric shock
EXPERT TIP

Internal pockets are useful for carrying bits and pieces. External pockets should have a flap closure. If they don’t, tape them shut before you start welding.


Staff  | BestReviews

Other products we considered

We found a few other products that might interest you. The Magid SparkGuard Welding Jacket is a low-cost, lightweight, flame-resistant cotton model that comes in a good range of sizes. Snap closures are reinforced with leather for durability. The fabric is rot and mildew resistant and antistatic. The Jewboer Heavy-Duty Welding Jacket and Apron protects not just chest, arms, and torso but most of your legs as well. It’s made from well-insulated, tough, fire-retardant cowhide. The low price might surprise you, but it’s not a jacket in the typical sense. The back is open, in the style of an apron, with strong, adjustable straps to keep it snug. The Waylander Welding Jacket is a combination of cotton and premium-grade cowhide, lined with satin for comfort. The stitching is ultra-durable Kevlar. It also has three internal pockets. It isn’t cheap, but it’s a very high-quality garment.

You can buy leather welding chaps to protect your legs, and it’s a good idea in heavy-duty welding environments. For general-purpose welding, good-quality denim jeans are usually thick enough to provide adequate protection.

FAQ

Q. Can I wear a leather welding bib or apron instead of a jacket?
A.
When it’s really hot, we understand that a full-leather welding jacket can be a bit stifling, and if you’re distracted, accidents can happen. A lightweight cotton/nylon jacket is one option, and a bib or apron is a lot better than no protection at all. Blacksmiths have used them for centuries. Just be aware of those areas that are not fully protected.

Q. We’re told not to wear synthetic clothing when welding. How come some jackets use nylon?
A.
It depends on the synthetic and the way it’s used. Polyester should never be worn because it melts relatively easily, increasing the severity of a burn. Small quantities of nylon are mixed into cotton jackets to help resist wear and don’t present a burn problem. Aramid, another synthetic, is highly heat and flame resistant and can be used instead of asbestos. No reputable manufacturer is going to include dangerous textiles in their welding jackets. Investing in your own safety needn’t be expensive, so always buy quality clothing from known brands.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bob
    Bob
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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