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Grill Gloves

By Cook's Illustrated Published July 2012

How we tested

When you’re reaching over a red-hot grill to turn burgers or steak, you need serious protection for your arms and hands. We tested five brands of grill gloves and mitts, priced from $25.95 to $39.90 per pair, in leather, cotton, and combinations of high-tech synthetics. To see if we could just use our regular oven mitt, we added our favorite, by KatchAll, the 15-inch Kool-Tek Oven Mitt, at $44.95 apiece. Wearing the gloves, we poured red-hot coals from a chimney starter and arranged them with tongs, grilled thin planks of zucchini, and lifted hot grates to add coals to the fire. To see just how far the gloves would go to shield us, we held gloved hands over a burner with radiant heat registering 600 degrees—the maximum temperature of most gas grills at grate level. One glove failed at 14 seconds; the rest held out for at least 30 seconds before becoming uncomfortably hot. The best lasted for more than 1½ minutes—we never even felt the leather singeing. While lifting hot grates and adding coals, all of the gloves offered adequate protection.

But heat protection isn’t the whole equation. Most gloves were oversize, thick, and stiff, barely letting us grab grates or tongs, never mind doing any cooking. For better dexterity, we preferred gloves with individual fingers rather than mitts. The best gloves also had long sleeves to protect the forearm and a wide cuff to let air circulate and keep hands less sweaty. Our winner is protective but thin enough for dexterity, with elbow-length sleeves and wide cuffs that kept us safe and comfortable over the coals.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*
Best Buy
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*