A proper kit of welding gear includes protective pair of welding sleeves.
Sometimes a full leather jacket is too hot or restrictive.
But you still need to protect your arms.
Welding rays, spatter, sparks and molten metal get to your arms first.
In this article, break down some of the best welding sleeves that work great with gloves to give you the right protection.
A quick comparison
Lincoln Electric Black
100 percent flame resistant
Revco Black Stallion BSX
Cut protection minimal
West Chester Ironcat 7000
Full leather coverage
Miller 231096 Combo Sleeves
Premium Pigskin/cotton combo
Cool and breathable
Ideal for lighter jobs
The Best Welding Sleeves with Reviews
Here's a list of some of the best welding sleeves we found:
1. Tillman 9215 Goatskin/FR Leather Welding Sleeves
- Top grain goatskin
- Protects key areas from exposure
- Upper sleeve is 9 ounce cotton
- 18 inches between elastic bands
- Leather stitched with Kevlar
- Leather and fabric combo saves weight
- Wide elastic bands for comfort
- Fire retardant fabric
- Unrestricted movement
- Lightweight protection
- Stitching problems
- Skinny fit
Tillman 9215 Goatskin/FR Leather Welding Sleeves are a combination type design, using goatskin for the forearms and flame retardant, 100% cotton Westex FR7A for the upper arms provide excellent protection. The combination design makes for very lightweight, breathable sleeves that protect well. They use wide elastic bands, a full 2-1/4 inches wide, for a secure and comfortable hold to keep the sleeves on.
These welding sleeves are inexpensive and look great, but the Tillman 9215 welding sleeves drew some complaints from users for the stitching quality. Some mentioned seams in the leather splitting, others that the elastic portion of the sleeves lost its grip. Several owners mentioned the “skinny fit” of these sleeves, meaning that welders with large arms felt like the elastic bands were too tight. It’s likely the tight fit on large arms was partially responsible for the wear in the elastic.
The Tillman 9215 goatskin/cotton welding sleeves are a thoughtful design, offer lightweight, breathable protection and do their job. They’ve got good quality for the price range, providing the protection of leather and the lightweight breathing of fabric construction in one set of welding sleeves.
2. Lincoln Electric Lightweight Welding Sleeves
- 9 ounce cotton
- Elastic cuffs at each end
- Sleeve length 21 inches
- Slip-on sleeves
- 100 percent flame resistant
- Lightweight material
- Heavy duty wear resistance
- Breathes well
- Durable for fabric sleeves
- Use for any process but stick
- Too tight for large arms
- Not made for overhead work
Lincoln Electric Black Welding Sleeves are a generically named yet high-quality product, made of 9-ounce, 100 percent flame-resistant cotton that does a good job protecting the arms from light-duty sparks and spatter. They’re a good choice for low-amperage TIG welding. Cotton fabric just isn’t up to hardcore welding jobs like high-amperage stick and flux-core welding, especially in the overhead position, with a shower of sparks and spatter.
These sleeves are 21 inches long, plenty of length for all but the tallest users. Lincoln Electric Black Welding Sleeves are equipped with wide elastic bands at each end of the sleeve for a secure yet comfortable grip on the arms. If you’re just wanting to whip out a quick weld, do some grinding or it’s just really hot out and you need to take a break from the leather jacket, these sleeves will provide lightweight and breathable protection. A lot of users commented that these sleeves were too skinny a fit for people with large arms.
Many welders state that these Lincoln Electric Black Welding Sleeves are very durable for fabric construction and last reasonably well for cotton sleeves.
3. Revco Black Stallion BSX BX-KK Kevlar Sleeves
- Double layer construction
- 18" length
- Thumb hole for sleeve retention
- ANSI Level 4 cut rating
- Knit Kevlar material
- Flame resistant
- Resists abrasion well
- Covers top of the hand
- Good thermal protection
- Breathes well
- Some users are not satisfied with the cut protection
- Loose up with use
The Revco Black Stallion BSX BX-KK is made of woven Kevlar to provide cut protection as well as protection from heat, sparks and spatter. Because of the open-weave construction, the sleeves breathe well but the double-layered design helps to prevent sparks and spatter that can sometimes get through this type of sleeve.
Revco designed a thumb hole into the Black Stallion BSX sleeves to aid in keeping them on your arms. They meet ANSI Level 4 Cut Protection standards and they’re 18 inches long, which is a little short when you consider that they come down to cover the palms and back of the hand. For most people the upper end is going to end at or below the elbows. The thumb hole feature and the fact they cover most of the hand makes them comfortable to wear for long periods.
Some users complained that the Revco Black Stallion BSX BX-KK sleeves can get sacked out and become loose-fitting. The cut resistance at the ANSI Level 4 standard is actually minimal. With two layers these sleeves do add significant protection, but they’re only going to save you once.
4. West Chester Ironcat 7000 Welding Cape Sleeve
- Tanned leather cape sleeves
- Soapstone sleeve pockets
- Adjustable snaps for wrist
- Kevlar stitching
- 26-inch sleeves
- Adjustable upright collar
- Black anodized rivets
- Reinforcement patches
- Lightweight at 2.2 pounds
- Cooler than a jacket
- Reports of snaps breaking
- Dye stains clothing
The West Chester Ironcat 7000 Welding Cape Sleeves are made of flexible suede leather tanned to be heat-resistant. They’re designed with a cape that covers your shoulders, with sleeves that continue the full length of the arms. These are great for overhead welding, because they protect you from the shower of sparks and spatter that falls down on the shoulders and arms during this particular chore. They’ll keep you cooler than using a full jacket, and they’re designed to work together with the Ironcat welding apron.
The West Chester Ironcat 7000 is made with corners and wear spots reinforced with black oxide-finished rivets for extra strength. There have been some complaints by users of button snaps breaking and the possibility of the leather tanning causing stains on clothing.
These sleeves offer adjustable wrists and an upright, adjustable collar to fine tune the fit and keep the sparks and spatter from ending up down your neck or in your sleeves. West Chester Ironcat 7000 Welding Cape Sleeves also feature a pocket on each sleeve for soapstone or scribes and leather patches on wear spots for reinforcement.
5. Miller 231096 Pigskin / Cotton Flame Resistant Welding Sleeves
- 21-inch sleeve length
- Pigskin leather lowers
- Indura flame resistant uppers
- Wide elastic bands
- Flame resistant cotton cuffs
- Great for TIG process
- Cloth portion is breathable
- Lightweight protection
- Cooler than a full jacket
- 90-day warranty
- Somewhat expensive
- Complaints of stitches separating
Miller 231096 Combo Welding Sleeves are made with pigskin leather for the lower section and Indura flame-resistant cotton fabric for the upper third or so. The pigskin leather used on these sleeves is one of the most protective materials used in protective gear for welding. Without a direct hit from a molten blob of metal, you’re unlikely to ever have a burn-through on that portion of these welding sleeves.
The flame-resistant Indura 9-ounce cotton fabric works fine to protect your upper arms, which are further from the welding bead anyway. Miller 231096 Combo Sleeves don’t provide the same level of protection as the full coverage of leather welding jackets but they do allow for cooler working conditions. There were a few complaints of stitching coming apart at the cuffs, but this wasn’t prevalent among most welders using these sleeves.
Miller 231096 Combo Sleeves are 21 inches long, which is fine for most people, but if you’re on the tall side, they may not extend much above the elbows. The elastic bands are very wide, comfortable and do a great job securing the sleeves while you work.
6. Hobart 770570 Flame Retardant Cotton Welding Sleeves
- Flame retardant cotton
- 19-inch length
- Elastic bands
- Comfortable 9 oz fabric
- Unlined material
- Cooler than a jacket
- Cotton lets heavier sparks through
- Designed for larger arms
Hobart 770570 Flame Retardant Cotton Welding Sleeves are made from lightweight, breathable 9-ounce flame-resistant cotton. They’re 19 inches long, so they’ll cover your arms well unless you’re pretty tall. These sleeves are very basic, but also inexpensive, which means even if they don’t last long, you can buy four pairs for the same price as one pair of expensive full leather sleeves. Hobart is well-known for quality, thoughtful welding equipment.
They will protect you well enough to take care of any minor welding chores you might need to handle, but the Hobart 770570 Welding Sleeves are definitely designed for lower-amperage processes like TIG. Although they’re frequently praised by users for their durability, the fact remains that these sleeves were never designed for high-amperage flux core or stick welding that throws a lot of spatter.
Hobart 770570 Flame Retardant Cotton Welding Sleeves have no liner. They generally receive high marks for staying on the arms well. They’ll stop sparks from grinding or low-amperage processes, but they’re not going to stop molten blobs of metal for more than a second or two.
Welding creates a harsh, hazardous work environment. Some of the dangers commonly found in a welding project include:
- Extremely High Temperatures: Melting and burning steel is a process that results in extreme temperatures that can cause very serious burns instantaneously. You need to protect your skin and clothing with an outer layer of flame-resistant material.
- Hot Conditions: The extreme temperatures result in lots of hot metal that heats other surfaces and the air in the immediate vicinity. The hot environment has to be taken into account with frequent breaks, drinking lots of water and clothing that vents, wicks and breathes well.
- Dangerous Radiation: The welding process produces rays that can harm the skin, resulting in injuries resembling sunburn. You need to shield all exposed skin from any contact with radiation coming from the workpiece while welding processes are underway.
- Sparks, Debris and Spatter: The welding process throws off sparks in every direction. The metal itself creates a molten pool that splatters small droplets of metal all over the workspace. Grinding and chipping also create flying debris that can cause injuries through burns or abrasion.
What to Look For
When shopping for the best welding sleeves or any other equipment like jackets, gloves or helmets, these hazards have to be taken into account. There are a number of design ideas and materials used by the makers of protective gear that protect the welder.
- Wide or stiff cuffs: The cuffs on welding sleeves and gloves should be thick, stiff and wide as well as adjustable.
- Adjustable openings: The cuffs, shoulders, collar and other openings should be adjustable if possible. If not adjustable, look for strong elastic that can stretch to fit while still maintaining a good grip.
- Strong stitching and bonding: The sleeve construction might be a single piece woven into a tube shape. Any seams or joints between different materials need to be ruggedly stitched or securely bonded to minimize risk of separation or snagging on the workspace.
Welding sleeves and other protective gear have to be crafted from materials that resist catching fire. Look for these types of materials;
- Leather is probably the single most common material found in welding clothing, for good reason. It’s rugged, resists cuts and tears and is essentially fireproof. The disadvantages are that it’s not very breathable, needs adjustment and can be very hot to wear, requiring frequent breaks. The leathers that maintain high flexibility while giving tough, thick protection are pigskin and elkskin. These can be more expensive than cowhide and horsehide, both thick but somewhat stiffer. Goatskin and sheepskin are softer and more flexible, allowing more feel, but are less durable than these other leathers are.
- Cotton, canvas or denim fabrics aren’t exactly fireproof on their own, but can achieve high degrees of fire resistance when treated with chemical processes. They’re quite rugged in ordinary use, but much less so than leather is when it comes to the welding environment. These materials can allow holes to develop from burns caused by sparks and spatter. The main advantages to fabrics like this are lighter weight, more breathability and less heat buildup, allowing longer work sessions.
- Kevlar is a modern development that has a lot of potential for the welding environment. When knitted or woven, it creates protective clothing that can resist cuts, extremely high temperatures and moten welding spatter. It’s also sometimes used in sheet form as a layer in construction or as a liner inside welding clothing.
- Attachment methods should be considered. Do you prefer snaps or stretch elastic for your wrists and upper arms? For cape-style sleeves, examine the collar. You need a tall, upright collar with an adjustable opening, the same way you do for a welding jacket.
- Look for Kevlar stitching and reviews that mention the quality of stitching, bonding or other methods of joining separate materials.
- Colors and patterns, while not strictly a safety consideration, can matter because they make your equipment easier to find, and help to distinguish your pieces from those of other welders in the same shop environment.
Keeping these pointers and tips in mind while you shop will make sure you equip yourself with the best welding sleeves for your needs. Always keep safety at the forefront and be aware and respectful of the hazards involved.
With these considerations in mind and taking cost, design and durability into account, we’ve chosen the Tillman 9215 Goatskin/FR Leather Welding Sleeves as the best welding sleeves, because the combination of leather and fabric provides good protection and good breathable, lightweight equipment that allows long work periods.
There are some heavier welding sleeves in this field like the West Chester Ironcat 7000 Welding Cape Sleeves that will provide heavier protection, and lighter ones like the Lincoln Electric Black Welding Sleeves for inexpensive and lightweight protection, but we feel that the Tillman 9215 provides the best combination of both worlds at a good price.