Whether you’re a seasoned pro or an amateur garage welder, you’ll always need proper protective equipment to avoid injury. I recommend using only the best welding shirts available, within your budget, of course. Get one before starting any project, regardless of the scale.
Even if you use a vest or apron, a shirt will still give you more protection. The simple reason behind it is that it covers more of the body.
7 Best Welding Shirts Offering Maximum Protection
- 7 Best Welding Shirts Offering Maximum Protection
- Important Design Features
- How to Pick Your Shirt Size
- Material and Shirt Thickness
- What You Need to Know About Pockets
The Revco Black Stallion welding shirt is available in sizes medium through extra-large and in two colors. It weighs just 7oz, which puts it on the lighter side. It’s comfortable to wear outside in the summer or any other hot environment.
You may also appreciate the slightly loose fit, which makes the shirt even more comfortable. I like the roomy pockets as well as the flap. These will help prevent any sparks or metal from getting in while you’re welding.
The metal snaps provide security and durability. They’re also unlikely to melt even if you’re welding for long hours. The shirt has a soft feel to it because it’s made of cotton. And, the Revco flame-retardant coating provides enough safety for light to medium-duty welding tasks.
Another thing that you may appreciate is the budget-friendly price tag. And, while the collar may not be as high as on some other models, you can raise the sides easy, knowing that it should maintain its form.
Bulwark’s welding shirts come in a wide range of sizes, from S to 3X-Large. Availability isn’t an issue, and neither is finding a color you like. You can find these shirts in navy, light blue, khaki, and silver grey.
The shirts are made from cotton and are lightweight, at just 7oz or so, depending on the size. Adherent to all safety standards for HRC1, the Bulwark welding shirt is very comfortable to wear. It can be an ideal choice for welding under a hot, blistering sun.
Although not as thick as other models, you should still get some decent UV protection too. What’s even better is that the sleeves have vents. That means that you will get some additional cooling.
That’s essential as the fit of the Bulwark work welding shirts is rated only at around 75%. So, the vents will improve the breathability of a potentially tighter fit shirt.
The button closure is standard, but I’m not the biggest fan of the buttoned pockets. Flaps would allow for more comfortable and quicker access.
Here’s one of the lightest welding shirts on the market. Expertly crafted, the Benchmark FR welding shirt weighs just 5.1oz. That makes it the ideal choice for welding during the summer or use on lengthy projects.
That said, the shirt doesn’t offer as much protection as thicker models. I would recommend this to welders that have sufficient experience not to let too many rogue sparks fly all over the place. At the same time, I would also recommend this shirt if you’re on the bigger side since it seems to have a much looser fit than other models.
The chest pockets have small buttoned flaps. Not great for quick access, but enough to keep pieces of hot metal out of your pockets.
One thing you may not like very much is the plastic buttons. They can melt if you get too many sparks on you or if you work at extreme temperatures. I recommend using this shirt for light-duty work to prevent damage to the buttons and your skin.
For truly big welders, I recommend a specific frame design. The Carhartt welding shirt is bulky and very roomy. It also has a comfy feel thanks to the 88% cotton and 12% nylon mixture.
The shirt remains remarkably dry even when used for long hours. The buttons have plenty of room, too, making it easy to put the shirt on and take it off within seconds. I also like the tension resistance of this shirt.
There are many sizes available, from S up to 4XL and 4XL for tall people. While it is slightly heavier than your average welding shirt, it’s also thick. I find it best-used when welding outside in cold environments as well as for heavy-duty tasks.
However, this is a welding shirt with non-metallic buttons. I recommend using it with a decent amount of breaks in between welds to prevent them from overheating and melting. The stitching is otherwise of high quality, and it shouldn’t fail.
If you don’t mind spending a few extra bucks, then Lincoln Electric might have the welding shirt you want. If ultimate protection is your only concern, this shirt offers some additional reinforcements.
The neck, cuffs, and shoulders are layered, meaning that they are thicker and less susceptible to sparks going through. They can also handle pieces of hot metal clinging to them a lot better than a single layer of fabric.
That said, the shirt is quite breathable and has a decent fit. I like the design of the adjustable cuffs. It doesn’t just ensure a proper fit and safer working conditions but also additional ventilation should you need it.
The material is rugged, and the coating is high-end. This shirt’s rated at up to 50 washing machine cycles before the flame retardant coating begins to lose its efficiency. It’s a sound long-term investment if you need to make one.
One more thing that you may enjoy is the extra rigidity of the collar. Once you flip it up, it will stay like that, even if you tilt your head often.
This one’s available in seven sizes and seven different colors, and boasts an impressive 80% fit rate. The Wrangler welding shirt is one of the most efficient fire-resistant work shirts on the market.
It has a relaxed fit and frame that doesn’t feel tight around the chest or restrict arm movement. The flame-retardant coating is long-lasting and makes short work of any sparks that fly on you. I recommend it to amateur and professional welders alike due to the level of protection it provides.
The shirt is 100% cotton, and it feels gentle and breathable. A big plus when working on heavy-duty welding projects and when working in hot weather conditions.
I also like that it has some of the best self-extinguishing properties among commercially available welding shirts. The buttons, even though not metallic, are durable and have a high melting point. It will allow you to make longer welds and take fewer breaks.
While the cuffs are not adjustable, the collar comes with two buttons. That means that you can either flip it or raise it and snap it in place. Either way, you have plenty of neck protection for a variety of welding techniques.
Size variety is no problem as this Magid work shirt is available in sizes S through 5XL. That’s enough to fit the smallest and largest welders. It’s also very rugged and rated Nfpa 70E Cat2 compliant. That means that it’s strong enough to protect you from arc flashes rated at 8.6 cable/cm2.
The shirt weighs around 7oz, with larger sizes being slightly heavier. Still, they’re light enough to fall into the lightweight category. The combination of cotton and nylon makes for a very soft interior and better elasticity.
I like that the shirt is also breathable, even though it doesn’t feature collar or cuffs adjustability. The pockets are covered, and the large buttonholes will make it easy to open them on the fly. However, you can leave them unbuttoned thanks to the long flaps.
Another strong selling point is the mildew protection. It helps maintain the shirt dry even when working in unfavorable conditions.
Important Design Features
Two design features are crucial in welding shirts. First, you always need long sleeves, no matter what type of welding you’re doing. Secondly, it’s best if the shirt has a high collar.
Buttoned cuffs are also great but not as necessary, though a high collar will protect your neck from flying sparks. That said, a high collar might lead to overheating. That’s why it’s essential to find the right balance between protection and material thickness. You should be careful about choosing the right type of shirt for the environment you’re welding in.
How to Pick Your Shirt Size
Using a larger welding shirt may not look fashionable, but it will help you feel a lot more comfortable. It’s vital that your cuffs stay tight enough to prevent sparks coming on your skin and that your collar is protecting your neck.
Other than that, feeling like you’re swimming in a welding shirt is not such a bad thing as far as I’m concerned.
I especially recommend a looser and more relaxed shirt. It is wise to go half a size bigger, let’s say if you’re welding in the sun. During the winter or when working in cold workplaces, you can opt for a tighter model.
It’s also important to understand that the sizing may differ slightly between manufacturers. So, don’t be surprised if your first order from a brand you’ve never used before won’t fit perfectly.
Material and Shirt Thickness
As already stated, the thickness of the shirt can influence how cool or hot you’ll feel. But, thicker material is less susceptible to burn holes. It’s appropriate for colder environments as well as when doing heavy-duty welding.
Now, if you’re experienced and careful, you may get away with a lighter welding shirt. Some shirts can weigh as little as 7oz, or even less, and still feature decent flame retardant properties.
Looking at prices is a good way to tell if the ratio between comfort and quality is good enough for your welding needs.
When talking materials strictly, I recommend against using synthetic welding shirts, unless you have some welding experience. Most synthetic materials struggle when put up against extreme temperatures and can melt, even though they may not burn.
Wool and cotton are more popular choices because they’re safer and also have fire-retardant properties of their own. Of course, you’ll still want a proper fire-retardant coating on both cotton and wool welding shirts, to not compromise your safety.
What You Need to Know About Pockets
Not all welding shirts will have pockets. But if you pick one that does, make sure that they’re easily covered. Open pockets are very dangerous.
Besides sparks, bits of molten metal can get inside them, as well. And, since your focus will be on the task at hand, you may not notice a piece of hot metal jumping in your chest pockets before it’s too late.
While welding shirts offer more or less resistance to sparks. But they’re not durable enough to resist hot metal. That will slowly but surely burn a hole through almost any welding shirt. Hence the need to have covered pockets.
Those flying pieces of metal may bounce off the shirt but can be dangerous if they get stuck to the shirt inside a pocket.
Always Wear the Best Welding Gear You Can Afford
Whether welding masks, gloves, boots, or shirts, it’s crucial to have appropriate protection. Pick your protective equipment accordingly, depending on the difficulty of the task at hand.
Welding shirts do come in all shapes and sizes, and they’re suited for various welding conditions. Now that you know what to look for, making the right choice should be a piece of cake.
A hardcore woodworking and welding enthusiast, Russ is the editor-in-chief of TAH. In his spare time, Russ loves watching sports, and (binge) watching Netflix.