Torque Tested: Karbonhex Work Gloves

Protection is big business and Peter Brett got his hands on (and in) some of the latest KARBONHEX work gloves offerings, for the latest review in Torque Tested…


The work gloves market is a crowded one so it can be difficult for a company to find a niche, especially when big retailers can sell gloves to, perhaps, unsuspecting or undiscerning end users, for as little as £1 a pair.

KARBONHEX has a unique story to tell, and it starts with the name, which is derived from two words; the KARBON part recognising the use of tough carbon fibre with a high strength to weight ratio, while the HEX relates to hexagonal structure - nature’s ‘perfect shape’.

While end users are often legally obliged to use work gloves, especially on large corporate worksites where H and S managers insist, the net result may often be a general nod in the direction of the rules rather than a genuine concern for workers’ safety. We know that not all work gloves are equal. Paying a rock-bottom price for a pair will hardly guarantee superb protection – in fact, you might be lucky if they last the day. Going up the price bands will usually offer better quality and better protection, but just like Uber in the world of taxis, there are glove manufacturers like KARBONHEX disrupting our expectations of quality and price. Retailers might be pleasantly surprised to find that they are not having their margins squeezed and end users might discover a brand of gloves that really does deliver excellent hand protection, dexterity and long service life.

After examining the samples sent to me by KARBONHEX and discussing them with a few chosen tradespeople, I was keen to see how the favourable first impressions translated into daily wear satisfaction ratings.

Different gloves for different jobs is a given, and KARBONHEX work gloves come in three categories: XACT for precision handling, XPERT for professional handling and XTREME for challenging conditions. So straight to the KX-10 Obsidian.


For those who don’t know, obsidian is a form of very hard (and sharp if, broken) volcanic glass much prized by stone age people for making axe and arrow heads, so it seems like a good name for the gloves aimed at workers who routinely handle glass, metals and other sharp-edged materials. It’s all about cut levels. The 18 gauge glove shell is thin and lightweight, offering the same level of protection as thicker 13 gauge offered by most gloves, according to KARBONHEX. I sacrificed a pair of my sample gloves by slashing them on both the palms and back of the hands with a brand-new craft knife blade, and found that the cutting resistance is very impressive. The kind of cut that would slash a £1 glove in two, merely left a few cut marks that didn’t penetrate the material.

Protection in this category of glove is not the full story, dexterity is vital too. This glove gives a close fit that immediately feels comfortable. It has an elasticised high wrist with hook and loop closure to keep the gloves snug and tight and the whole palm is covered with a PU/nitrile palm material that provides grip as well as feel. The extra layer of protection over the thumb crotch is very welcome too because this is where sharp edged material can rest when it is being carried.

After several hours of use I found myself really appreciating these gloves – particularly the extra dexterity, not to mention the level 4 rated abrasion and tear resistance.

It is always a hassle to take gloves off to reach into a pocket to fetch out a pencil for example – I didn’t have to with the Obsidians on. Very comfy too – that high wrist really helps protection, fit and warmth. No wonder it was a 2017 Silver Design Award Winner. I definitely liked these as did a couple of other trades who had samples to try.


My first thought when I saw and handled the Dusk gloves was that I had been sent the wrong size because they looked like my hand wouldn’t even fit into them. But for dexterity they need to be tight and when I pulled them on it was clear that the closely woven elasticated shell made for the very tight fit. To prove the dexterity point to myself I have just typed the last paragraph wearing the Dusk glove – and it was absolutely fine. Not surprisingly, to my mind, it is another award-winner – Best of Show at the 2017 NSC Congress and Show.

The Dusk gloves had in spades what I look for in a ‘dexterity’ glove:- namely that the fingers don’t crinkle up when you ball your hand and that the wrist is tight so that the gloves don’t pull down during a crucial delicate task. The fingers and thumb have a small rubberised silicone hexagon pattern on each tip and provide the sort of delicate grip that Spider-Man might need. Most of the palm is similarly covered almost to the thumb crotch and the grip is amazingly effective. I think the abiding impression is that the gloves are so delicate and light that you feel like you are working almost barehanded but with the protection and grip of a glove. These are great gloves for delicate work and I will definitely be getting some more.


Working hands using hand and power tools in tough environments where hard and abrasive materials are the norm would definitely benefit from using the KARBON gloves. In my view, they are the toughest and most protective gloves I have ever used and yet retain a feel of comfort and flexibility that means you will wear them rather than take them off because they are uncomfortable and bulky – which is the point of good PPE.

Putting them on is easy because of the wide wrist and easy to adjust hook and loop wrist closure. They will stay on. Protection-wise the back of the hands, fingers and thumbs all have large PU material patches that are slightly padded. Try punching a wall quite hard with them on and you will understand that the protection level is high. In fact, the finger protection looks a lot like the padding on a cricket glove that protects fingers from a hard ball flung at 90mph. No surprise then that these gloves are rated at the highest level for impact resistance.

The palms are a mixture of grippy synthetic suede and reinforcement with slight padding to protect hands for the vibrations of power tool usage.

What is most impressive is that the shell components fit together into a whole that fits snugly and grips in all the right places. I had no trouble handing a few sample pairs to my selected tradespeople and, not surprisingly, I had no offers to return them! These KARBON work gloves won a Gold Medal A Design Award in 2016 and I am not really surprised.

Interested parties – buyers or sellers – should have a look at the KARBONHEX website for the complete range of gloves and I leave this review with a new appreciation of how a range of high quality work gloves can provide most welcome higher levels of dexterity and protection for end users.

Head to TORQUE TESTED to find more reviews from Peter Brett.

Brands, companies and wholesalers that are interested in getting their products reviewed in Torque Magazine should contact the editor at

This article was originally published in Torque’s September print magazine. You can subscribe to the mag or read the whole thing online

There's more from Karbonhex here.