Welding Aprons and Bibs Reviewed

Welding is a hazardous occupation.

Due to the nature of the job using high heat welding torches to melt metal together into welded seams and joints, burns are the most common injury for a welder.

Spatter (hot metal) and sparks from the weld can cause second- and third-degree burns and ignite materials, including clothing. An arc welder is capable of producing temperatures in excess of 10,000 degrees F.

In fact, work-related burns account for 20-25% of all serious burns requiring hospitalization.

Among the dangers in welding are impact, penetration, heat, dust, smoke and fumes, as well as light radiation.

Extreme temperatures and ultraviolet or solar radiation can cause skin damage with prolonged exposure. “Welder’s Flash”  occurs because of intense ultraviolet light, produced from the arc ray.  Skin exposed during welding can develop sunburns from this radiation.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a “three lines of defense” outline to help eliminate and remove hazards, and personal protective equipment is the third part of this strategy.

Welding aprons fit this definition, and help reduce potential injury in some applications.

Of course, making sure there are no openings or gaps in protective equipment is important, so that the entire body is protected.

Wool is a better material since it is less flammable than cotton, and won’t be burned or damaged by weld spatter. It also helps to protect the welder from changes in temperature.

Best Welding Aprons Available  

1. Steiner 92166 Bib Apron

Pros

  • Stitched with Kevlar thread and reinforced at major stress points so it is durable
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    Adjustable nylon straps with quick release buckle which makes taking it on and off a breeze
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    Bib style aprons have 2-compartment chest pocket
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    Weld-Rite aprons are quality crafted from four or less split cowhide pieces providing fewer seams and more comfort

Cons

  • Has no waist strap and can hang somewhat loose
  • Not suitable for heavy duty welding

Manufacturer: Steiner
Weight: 1.8 lbs.
Size: 24 x 42 inches
Color: Brown

2. Hobart 770686

Pros

  • Made from Flame retardant cotton
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    Measures 24” wide by 36” long and is one size fits most.
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    Waist strap is made of comfortable elastic and is adjustable and fitted with a double-clip style clasp
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    An adjustable elastic waist strap.

Cons

  • Neck strap is long
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    Apron is unlined.
  • Not suitable for heavy welding but good for hobbyists

Manufacturer: Hobart
Weight: 11.2 ounces
Size: 12.8 x 9.6 x 0.5 inches, One size fits all
Color: Black

3. Lincoln Electric Brown

Pros

  • Flame and heat resistant
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    Made of weather-resistant, heavy split cowhide for durability
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    Has an adjustable harness system that allows for proper fit and even distribution of weight
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    Comfortable fit

Cons

  • Neck straps do not always stay in place and may need occasional readjusting.
  • Apron only comes in one size.

Manufacturer: Lincoln Electric
Weight: 1.6 lbs.
Size: 16 x 17 x 1 inches, One size fits all
Color: Tan

4. Caiman 3136

Pros

  • 36 inch apron with bib pockets
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    Wide adjustable neck and waist straps with quick release plastic buckles for easy on and off
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    Lightweight but extremely durable
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    Stitched with Kevlar thread and reinforced at major stress points so it is durable.

Cons

  • Waist strap is long
  • Leather is very stiff

Manufacturer: Caiman
Weight: 1.4 lbs.
Size: 36 inches
Color: Gold

5. Joyutoy 24-Inch by 36-Inch Welding Bib Apron

Pros

  • Made from premium whole split cowhide leather
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    Lightweight and durable
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    Sewn with flame-resistant thread
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    Adjustable nylon straps with quick release buckle for easy on and off.

Cons

  • Not suitable for heavy duty welding
  • Yellow leather dye can leach onto clothing

Manufacturer: JoyuToy
Weight: 1 lb.
Size: 24 x 36 inches
Color: Gold

What Protection Should a Welding Apron Offer?

wearing welding apron

The intense heat of welding and sparks can cause serious burns for a welder. Ultraviolet light from an arc can cause “welder’s flash” and also skin burns.

The upper body, arms, hands, and faces of the welder all need to be protected from high temperatures and debris.

To this end, basic welding protective gear (regardless of the type of welding) consists of heavy leather gloves, protective long-sleeve jackets, and heavy leather welding aprons.

Protection should be adequate for the task at hand, and protect against risk of burns and radiation. ANSI Z49.1.88-Welding and Cutting (4.3) recommends that the whole body be covered to protect from ultraviolet and infrared flash burn.

The particular choice of protective equipment - whether a welding apron or another alternative - will depend on the job being undertaken as well as personal preference.

There are some counterintuitive recommendations. Usually lightweight and light-colored clothing is best in hot environments. However, dark clothing may work better for welding since it will produce less reflection onto your face shield.

Wool, heavy cotton or leather also don’t wear out as fast. Any part of clothing where hot sparks or particles may get stuck, like pockets or pants cuffs, are also not recommended.

Welding bibs, or aprons, are made from flame/resistant materials such as leather. They protect the front of the body when you are looking for that additional layer of protection.

Some welders prefer aprons that wrap, tie, or clip at the waist, protecting from waist to knees.

Welding Aprons

A full welding apron, which looks like a chef's apron, provides additional coverage and protection. A full welding apron secures over the shoulders or behind the neck, as well as wrapping around at the waist.

Most welding aprons are made of leather and are sewn together with Kevlar thread, which provides a lightweight and strong flame resistant attachment. Some welding aprons come with a handy utility pocket.

The best welding aprons or welding bibs will:

  • feel sturdy and protective
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    have adjustable straps to hold them in place securely
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    be easy to put on and take off
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    have a high flame resistant rating
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    be made of a dark, quality leather or other sturdy material

Conclusion

It is really important to ensure that you protect the whole body when welding to avoid burns and other harmful scrapes due to the potentially dangerous nature of the craft.

Choose clothing that is oil-free and made of wool or heavy cotton as they are harder to ignite and resist wear and damage. Wear long sleeved shirts and button the cuffs, pockets and collar.

When working with welding torches and hot metal, any uncovered area of skin is subjected to heat and flame. That’s why it’s so important to have a good, protective welding apron or welding bib.

A leather welding apron will protect better than most materials. Not only will it protect the front of your body from sparks and burning projectiles, but is usually extends down to protect your upper legs as well.

About the Author Gregory

Hi, my name is Gregory! I have been welding practically all of my life and love it. As I have gotten older I have started to weld less and less, so in order to continue my love for welding I created this website. I like to write about my experiences and help you all become welders. I hope that you enjoy the site!

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