Best Welding Sleeves 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks
Last Updated: August 6, 2020
Unless you want to show off arms full of scars, a good set of welding sleeves is an essential piece of gear for any welder. But some of the welding sleeves on the market don’t offer as much protection as we’d hope or as they claim.
They offer different levels of coverage and comfort at varying price points. You could get sleeves made from leather, Kevlar, or even cotton. But which ones offer the best protection at the best price? We wanted to find that out for ourselves, so we set out to test as many welding sleeves as we could find.
The following 10 reviews will share what we learned in the hopes that it can make the decision easier for you as well. These are some of the most popular options available, but only three of them impressed us enough to earn our final recommendations.
A Comparison of the Winners in 2020
|Best Overall||Mechanix Wear Kevlar Heat||
|Best Value||Hobart Flame Retardant||
|Premium Choice||Miller Combo||
|QeeLink Leather Work Sleeves||
|Lincoln Electric Flame-Resistant||
The 10 Best Welding Sleeves
1. Mechanix Wear Kevlar Heat Sleeves – Best Overall
Crafted from 100% Kevlar that offers heat resistance and even cut resistance, the Mechanix Wear Heat Sleeves are our favorite sleeves for welders. The Fibreshield treatment they’ve been exposed to helps them to resist oils and other fluids as well. Thanks to their elasticity, they have a snug hold on your arms that keeps them in place and doesn’t let them slide down. We were worried that the elastic in them would cause them to melt like some of the other sleeves we’ve tested, but luckily, they did not. In fact, they were very effective at stopping all sparks and splatter from reaching our skin and we never felt the heat or got burned through them.
Our only complaint with the Mechanix Wear Heat Sleeves is that they’re a bit shorter than some of the other ones we tried. At 18 inches in length, they offer substantial coverage, but not quite as much as some other products. That said, they offer better hand protection by covering the entire palm and back of your hand. A thumbhole helps stop them from moving and ensures they won’t creep up your forearms. They’re even machine washable so you can keep them looking great.
2. Hobart Flame Retardant Welding Sleeves – Best Value
Hobart is a well-known name in welding products, so it’s no surprise that they’re flame-retardant welding sleeves made it into our top three. These sleeves are extremely basic, but they offer welding surprisingly effective protection at a dirt-cheap price. They’re a lot thinner and more breathable than the competition, which made us worry about our safety when using them. However, they’re made from flame-retardant cotton that did a great job of preventing us from getting burned when sparks or splatter landed on them. But they’re not perfect. The occasional spark was felt through these sleeves, but only once in a while. Even though we felt the sparks, they never left us with a burn.
To keep things simple, these sleeves feature elastic bands at the top and the bottom. They did a great job of holding them in place and seemed to fit a large variety of arm sizes. At just 9 inches long, they’ll only cover your forearms. But they were comfortable to wear and offered adequate protection for a very affordable price, which is why we think they’re the best welding sleeves for the money.
3. Miller Combo Sleeves – Premium Choice
They’re a bit more expensive than the other welding sleeves we tried for this list, but the Miller 231096 Combo Sleeves are one of the best performing and most protective of the bunch. Many of the sleeves we tested featured just one type of material to keep costs down, but the Miller sleeves are made from both flame-resistant cotton fabric and premium pigskin leather. The cotton protects the upper parts of your arm where they’re less likely to come in contact with slag or splatter. This allows for more breathability, keeping you more comfortable while you work. The forearms are also covered in leather to provide extra protection in the areas you need it most.
The Miller Combo Sleeves simply slip onto your arms, held in place by elastic bands at the top and bottom. In our experience, they stayed in place very well and didn’t migrate when we moved. We have testers of many different sizes, but none of them had an issue with these sleeves. At 21 inches long, they provide excellent coverage, allowing most welders to use them with a regular t-shirt without exposing the bare skin of their upper arms.
4. QeeLink Leather Welding Work Sleeves
Leather was the favored material for welding protection for a long time, and it’s still one of the more affordable options in many cases. The QeeLink leather welding sleeves use heavy-duty, heat and flame-resistant split cowhide leather to offer ample protection for your arms. They’re a bit shorter than we’d like at just 18 inches but still manage to offer adequate coverage. To improve their durability, they’re even stitched together with fire-resistant Kevlar thread.
While the outside layer is made from thick leather to offer great protection against splatter and heat, the inside layer is made from soft cotton to keep you comfortable. Of course, the leather isn’t exactly breathable, so even though the inside is soft, you’re still going to get very hot with no airflow. They’re also quite bulky, thanks to the two separate layers, and we found that after a while, they became a bit annoying for some of our testers. A Velcro band at the top holds them in place, but for individuals with smaller sized arms, it may not get tight enough to actually stay in place.
5. Lincoln Electric Flame-Resistant Welding Sleeves
If you’ve been welding for any length of time, then you’ve heard about Lincoln Electric. They’re one of the big names in welding, but they’re KH813 Welding Sleeves didn’t quite live up to their reputation in our eyes. At 21 inches long, they offered great coverage and the flame-resistant material to keep you protected from sparks and splatter. Unfortunately, they weren’t as flame-resistant as we hoped. If splatter lands directly on them, it can easily burn holes into this material, exposing your skin to extreme heat and possible damage.
We were happy with how lightweight these sleeves are. You hardly notice them. But that’s partially because they’re extremely thin, which doesn’t do much to inspire confidence. Our biggest issue was with how they fit though. They’re marketed as one size fits all, but it was more like one size fits none. The elastic bands that are meant to keep them in place don’t have a lot of stretch. They were too small for our testers with larger arms, but simultaneously too big for our testers with smaller arms! If your arms are the exact right circumference, you might find a good fit.
6. Limerense Kevlar Sleeves – Best Overall
The Limerense Kevlar Sleeves are available in 18-inch and 22-inch lengths to offer coverage for those with shorter and longer arms. They’re lightweight and allow great breathability, making them comfortable to wear. Thumbholes keep the hands in place and prevent them from slowly riding up your arms. They stretch to allow for a snug fit, but the elasticity created a bit of a problem for us. First, they were too tight for our testers with larger arms. But worse, a plastic polymer is used to give them the elasticity, which melted when it came in contact with splatter. They are heat resistant, but not flame-retardant, so they don’t hold up to direct contact.
More than just regular Kevlar, the Limerense sleeves utilize double-layered Kevlar for maximum protection against cuts. In fact, they’re ANSI Level 5 cut resistant rated. While this is impressive, it doesn’t offer much protection for welding specifically. In the end, we suggest something that’s more resilient to burns and splatter to keep you protected and prevent your arms from being scarred up.
7. BC Precision Kevlar Protective Arm Sleeves
Some of the shorter welding sleeves on the market leave a gap between the sleeve and your shirt where your upper arm can get burnt. The BC Precision Kevlar protective arm sleeves are 22 inches long to ensure that you get maximal coverage. More than just Kevlar, they also feature leather patches in the areas where you’re most likely to need the protection. The 2-ply Kevlar that makes up most of the sleeve is heat-resistant, but if you get slag or larges sparks on it, holes can develop quite quickly. Worse, the elastic holds the burning slag to your skin causing pain and damage.
Overall, the BC Precision sleeves offered a nice fit. They’re elastic enough to stretch over your arms and stay snug, but they also feature a Velcro band at the top so you can tighten them to fit. We really wanted to like them for their extra-long size, but they didn’t offer enough protection for us to recommend them. If they had been more successful at stopping slag and sparks, they would have earned a higher position on our list.
8. Tillman Cotton Protective Welding Sleeves
Instead of the standard cowskin or pigskin leather, the Tillman 9215 protective welding sleeves opt for a goatskin leather to cover your forearms. It’s surprisingly effective at protecting your skin. No sparks made it through the goatskin lowers. Moreover, we were surprised at how comfortable these sleeves are compared to others that we had a chance to use. To sweeten the deal, these sleeves are very affordable. However, several noticeable drawbacks make them a poor choice in our opinion.
Our first complaint is low-quality workmanship. The stitching that holds the elastic bands on started to come apart the first time we used these sleeves. Before long, large holes had developed and the elastic bands were completely separating from the sleeve. The cotton used above the elbow was another issue. Sparks made it right through the cotton, burning our arms and negating the usefulness of these sleeves. The final straw came when some of our largest testers tried to put them on and they were simply too tight. Though they seemed like they were off to a good start, we quickly realized that they’re not a top performer.
9. US Forge Welders Sleeve
These welder’s sleeves from US Forge had the makings of a good product at first glance. Too bad they didn’t hold up once we started to use them. They’re very affordable, but also very basic. That’s fine for us as long as they were to perform solidly. At 23 inches long, they gave excellent coverage of the entire arm. They’re made from flame-retardant cotton, which sounds great. Unfortunately, it doesn’t protect as well as leather or Kevlar. If you get splatter on these sleeves, it will go right through and get trapped against your skin.
But that wasn’t the only downfall of these sleeves. After using them just a couple of times, they started to come apart at the seams. The stitching doesn’t hold up very well, and before long, they had completely fallen apart. Even though they’re cheap, we were hoping for much better performance and protection.
10. Waylander Welding Sleeves
The Waylander Welding Sleeves feature all-leather construction that’s hemmed with Kevlar for increased strength. They offer great protection, covering 21 inches of each arm. The leather is nice and thick so that sparks won’t penetrate. That said, they’re also very bulky and started to feel like a nuisance. Moreover, they’re some of the heaviest sleeves we tested, and they began to tire some of our tester’s arms. But the leather has one more drawback: no breathability. This meant we were getting hot and sweaty inside of these sleeves.
Beyond the limitations of the bulky leather construction, the craftsmanship on the Waylander sleeves wasn’t quite up to par. They feature Velcro straps on the top to hold them in place. Unfortunately, the Velcro lost its effectiveness within a couple of uses and would no longer hold. This left the sleeves free to fall down the arm, bunching up on the forearm and offering little protection. The sleeves also aren’t stretchy, so for individuals with large arms, they’re going to be a very tight fit.
It’s not uncommon for welders to have arms covered in scars from slag and splatter. But a good pair of welding sleeves can keep you protected while you work. We set out to find the best welding sleeves, and in the process, we tested quite a few. Our reviews have compared ten of the most popular options, but three of them stood out among the crowd. The Mechanix Wear Kevlar heat sleeves were our favorites overall. They offered excellent protection, stopping all sparks and splatter while staying firmly in place without migrating. They’re even machine washable so you can keep them looking and performing their best.
For the best value, we recommend the dirt-cheap Hobart welding sleeves. They’re flame-retardant for excellent protection, and the elastic bands keep them in place while you work. But if you want a premium option for comfortable and complete protection, the Miller Combo Sleeves are the ones we suggest. Not only did they offer some of the best protection of any sleeve we tried, but they were also some of the most comfortable to wear and stayed in place without moving around. We feel confident that you can’t go wrong choosing any of these three sleeves.
- A Comparison of the Winners in 2020
- The 10 Best Welding Sleeves
- 1. Mechanix Wear Kevlar Heat Sleeves – Best Overall
- 2. Hobart Flame Retardant Welding Sleeves – Best Value
- 3. Miller Combo Sleeves – Premium Choice
- 4. QeeLink Leather Welding Work Sleeves
- 5. Lincoln Electric Flame-Resistant Welding Sleeves
- 6. Limerense Kevlar Sleeves – Best Overall
- 7. BC Precision Kevlar Protective Arm Sleeves
- 8. Tillman Cotton Protective Welding Sleeves
- 9. US Forge Welders Sleeve
- 10. Waylander Welding Sleeves
- Final Verdict: