When becoming a welder, it’s easy to focus on the welding tools, gear and consumables. The welding clothes that you wear are often overlooked and decisions are made as an afterthought. For the safety of a welder, especially a beginner, it’s important to make sure that you have the right gear from head to toe. In this guide to welding gear, we’ll lay out each of the pieces that you need so that you can gear up properly and get to work.
Stepping into your first welding job wearing a cotton t-shirt or sweatshirt is not only going to look silly. It could be potentially harmful. Make sure that you find a shirt for welding that will be resistant to flames, sparks or melted welding wire. The best welding shirts are going to be resistant to burning, so look for a thick twill or denim in 100% cotton. Wool is actually one of the safest welders shirts, but in a hot environment, it’s going to be too uncomfortable to wear. The only materials that you want to be sure to avoid in a welding shirt are synthetic fabrics like nylon or polyester. Beyond that, stick to a trusted clothing brand and find something middle-of-the-road in terms of price. Obviously, you pay for what you get, but a brand like Carhartt is always a good choice.
Depending on the type of welding that you are going to be doing, you will want different thicknesses of gloves. For MIG welding, you’ll want to use medium thickness so you can easily move your hands around and stay comfortable. For TIG welding, you can wear even thinner gloves. Stick welding requires the thickest gloves to optimize protection. Leather is the best material for welding gloves because it is not conductive and will let heat get out so your hands can breathe. Leather gloves should also last for quite a while, but they are cheap enough to replace when worn out. Be sure to buy gloves that go far enough up your arm to protect the area between your hand and forearms.
Obviously, you will have a welding helmet, which we cover in our gear section. Underneath the helmet, it’s important to wear a light and breathable, but fire-safe hood or skull cap. Either one is a product that you can buy new for a low price, so it’s definitely worth the investment.
One of the biggest welding apparel purchases you are going to make is a welding jacket. Welding jackets provide the most coverage of your body and will give you the safety benefits to make it worth wearing one. It can be a delicate balance between comfort and breathability versus safety, but I always recommend sticking to the safest option. A thick cotton jacket is going to provide the protection that welders will need.
The other choice you will have to make with welding clothes is welding jacket versus apron. Typically aprons are going to be more comfortable in warmer environments, but don’t provide the same coverage and protection as a jacket will. There is always a tradeoff when it comes to the clothing welding professionals wear, so think about the type of welding you are going to be doing and make your decisions accordingly.
Once you have the basics like aprons or jackets, headwear and welding shirts, you’ll want to cover the other biggest area of your body. Welding pants are another area where it is important to go with a thicker, flame-resistant material, but make sure it’s something comfortable enough to wear all day on the job. As with most of the clothing welding beginners should buy, a thick cotton will usually do the trick. The traditional Carhartt-style work pants will work great and you can actually weld in jeans if you have the right kind. For most welders, once you have the basics of safety covered, the decision on which pant product you want will come down to price and comfort.
There is really not a clear answer to the best welding shoe, this is another area to make sure you focus on safety. Buying new is your best bet if you can handle the price. Make sure that the boots or shoes are composite-toed or steel-toed for maximum protection and safety. Leather will be fireproof enough to cover you. For most welders, the decision comes down to personal comfort, style, and price. There are some cool new welding shoes and boots that are more stylish than the traditional work boot if you care about that sort of thing.
Best brands for welding clothing
There are many brands in the welding category that carry high-quality, heavy duty gear. However, it helps to buy welding apparel from a reputable brand that has been around for a long time and will stand behind their products. The brands below can all be trusted for your apparel and protective equipment needs, so feel free to check them out.
- Black Stallion
- Miller Electric
- Lincoln Electric
In addition to these, there are some cool up and coming brands that specialize in one or two select items like leather gloves or high-quality, stylish welding shirts. It’s fine to check these out, but read reviews and check their reputation before you place an order. Since it’s so easy to create an online store these days, you can get sucked in by a great product image, then realize later that the product is being drop-shipped from a cheap factory outside the country. This can take months of shipping time and you may likely end up shipping it back, so just do a little research first.
Summary of welding clothes and apparel
The list of welding clothing and apparel that you will need is a pretty short one. Be sure to also cover all of the other welding gear that is not clothing before you get started. For price-sensitive beginner welders on a budget, it’s fine to buy a used instead of new product, but make sure that it’s in good shape and you aren’t sacrificing quality or safety for price. The most important thing to be sure of is that your apron, boots, gloves, pants and shirts for welding are all fireproof and safe. From there, you can focus on product price, style, and other factors, but please put product safety above all else.