The best welding jacket will prevent injury while, at the same time, allowing you to move and contort into the ridiculous positions you find yourself in during many jobs.
There’s a good chance you may end up with more than one welding jacket depending on the nature of your career. If you travel between extremes, you may need one that protects you while keeping you warm, and then you may need one that also helps to keep you cool.
Sometimes the best welding jacket will be a light cotton one.
For other jobs you’ll need to break out your heavy-duty full leather welding jacket, depending on where you find yourself welding and in what kind of environment.
Aside from temperature regulation, there are a few other things to consider when selecting a welding jacket.
What to look for in the best welding jacket:
1. Flame Resistant
This goes without saying but then again, it’s worth saying. Pretty important. Wearing anything while welding that isn’t flame resistant just isn’t a good idea. Your job is to create things by melting metal so anything you are wearing that is flammable is problematic.
You’ll see a variety of materials used in welding jackets and often, a single welding jacket is made from multiple types of material. A quick rundown shows an example of the material that can be used and a quick summary of how each material affects its usefulness and price.
For the most part, the cotton jackets are great for light-duty work but can be warm. Many jackets are double-layered so even warmer.
For industrial work…heavy-duty welding…you’ll typically want a good leather jacket. Leather jackets are more durable and offer better protection, but they can be very heavy. As mentioned, many welders will have more than one jacket and are able to select the best one for the job.
As with any other clothing, spending a bit extra on a well-made welding jacket will ensure years of use.
You’ll also see many jackets that are made of fire-resistant cotton but have leather arms since the arms are the area that takes most of the damage and are more exposed than other body parts when welding.
These jackets offer an excellent compromise between weight, temperature, and protection.
You will find leather welding jackets that are dyed, which look great when you buy them. Keep in mind that the welding environment is severe and very hard on clothes.
Dyed leather stands a good chance of not standing up well to the heat and abrasive nature of welding.
Your welding jacket is going to be treated roughly, it has to be tough to stand up the job.
The stitching in the jacket is important to ensure seams don’t split.
You’ll most often see Kevlar thread used and, if not, it’s a good idea to research what thread actually is used. Kevlar is a very good choice.
You’ll also want to look for terms such as “double lock stitching”, “flame resistant”, ” “, or at least “reinforced”.
4. Outside / External Pockets
You’ll see a lot of material out there if you are researching, and discussing the topic of pockets on welding jackets.
Should they be external?
This has to do with a pocket’s ability to catch flying debris, sparks, etc.
Obviously, welding with a jacket that has open pockets that stuff can easily get into is never a good idea. You’ll find external pockets on welding jackets but they’ll always be covered so that nothing can accidentally get in.
The covered pockets are often referred to as “slash pockets” or “storm flaps”…often “velcro storm flaps”.
5. Inside / Internal Pockets
Not all jackets have these but many do and it’s a great help. This is where you keep your snacks, smokes, phone, etc.
6. No cuffs
Cuffs on any welding gear are a bad idea as they can catch flying debris, sparks, pieces of molten metal, etc.
Don’t even consider a welding jacket that has any kind of outward foldable cuffs.
This is one of those concepts that is so common in the welding world that you would be hard-pressed to find a welding jacket that did have cuffs – we just mention it here for completeness and because we do see welders, usually beginners, welding in any jacket they can find rather than an actual welding jacket.
7. Stand-up collar
Like “no cuffs”, this is another item that is almost universally present on welding jackets and, like “no cuffs” is also something missing when beginners choose “any heavy jacket” to weld in.
Again, finding an actual dedicated welding jacket without a stand-up collar, or some kind of protective collar, is not likely as it is a standard that every reputable welding jacket manufacturer includes on their jackets.
The welder’s collar is especially important when doing overhead welding to prevent hot metal or sparks from flying into your jacket.
8. Waist and Sleeve Snaps
Many welding jackets will have sleeve snaps so that you can tighten up the wrists to ensure nothing gets in.
Likewise, many jackets will either have a naturally tight fit around the waist or they’ll have adjustments such as snaps or cinches to tighten the jacket so that debris and sparks cannot get inside.
Most welders end up washing their own welding jackets so a jacket that is pre-shrunk will ensure that normal washing of your welding jacket won’t put you in a position where you have a welding jacket that doesn’t fit.
We can’t speak for your expanding waistline though…only that a pre-shrunk jacket won’t get any smaller.
10. Stress points
Many welding jackets use rivets to help strengthen stress points such as shoulders or elbow areas.
Some cotton jackets will use leather around these specific areas so the rivets have an extra strong material to hold on to.
As always, depending on how you weld, what kind of jobs you do, and how rough you are on a jacket, these kinds of enhanced stress points are worth looking into
Given the wear and tear a welding jacket goes through during its life, it’s important that normal points that would wear out before others are reinforced.
You’ll often find the elbows of high-end jackets will have a tougher or extra layer of leather sewn in.
12. Buttons, snaps, and rivets
Since welders are often working with electricity, exposed metal on your welding jacket isn’t a great idea.
Arcs, sparks, and even just the heat can play havoc on exposed metal.
We recommend that either there is no exposed metal or that any metal that is exposed is anodized to reduce arc flash.
Aside from the safety aspect of exposed metal, another reason to look at this carefully is to ensure the jacket will last.
Exposed metal that isn’t treated will eventually rust and either require repairs or the need to purchase a new jacket.
The basic welding jacket will keep you comfortable and protected, however, many would like to add a bit of flair.
Having your name, company, slogan, etc embroidered onto your jacket is a nice touch, and, in a world where you travel a good bit and don’t always know everybody, having your name easily visible may be a good idea.
14. Care and maintenance
Welding jackets can be made of an assortment of materials, either natural (cotton, leather, etc) and/or man-made.
Many are a blend of both.
Owners of welding jackets made of leather should be well-versed in leather care.
Most jackets you see will loudly proclaim that they are pre-shrunk. As mentioned earlier, this is important to note as it ensures your jacket will fit as expected for the life of the jacket. Buying one that isn’t pre-shrunk, if you can even find one that isn’t, isn’t a great idea.
There is always the question of if your welding jacket can be thrown in a washing machine and, if so, what considerations should be observed.
As with any other clothes, read the label.
As a general statement, however, most welding jackets are entirely machine washable and it should be fine to throw in the washing machine. Most likely, however, not the dryer – allow it to air dry.
Again, read the label as every jacket will be different.
Where to find the best welding jacket – top-rated brands
As you search for the perfect welder’s jacket, you’ll come across a lot of brands.
As with just about anything else welding-related, there are a few brands that are always top of mind and then there are a few that are definitely worth considering.
We’ll discuss a few of them here.
Lincoln Electric is one of the most well-known welding brands you’ll find, offering top-of-the-line welding apparel and equipment at good prices and, importantly, with great customer service.
Lincoln Electric is a large company offering far more than welding equipment but the link above will take you to their Amazon page so you can do a bit of research on your own.
Miller, along with Lincoln Electric, is the other “big name” in welding.
Offering a wide variety of top-rated tools and gear, you can’t go wrong with Miller welding equipment.
Black Stallion is making a lot of headway by offering well-made and less expensive welding gear including welding jackets but also ranging to various other welding gear.
They are definitely worth taking a look at. Plus… a cool name.