Anyone that’s spent their fair share of time on the jobsite or in the shop is well aware of how quickly a regular pair of pants will succumb to the rigors and abuses of hard labor. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of workwear brands that have stepped up to address this issue, delivering ultra-rugged pants that have been engineered specifically to stand up to the stresses that come with manual labor and working with one’s hands — the most capable and hardwearing of which we’ve rounded up to deliver this handpicked guide to the best work pants.
The Factors To Consider When Buying Work Pants
The sheer abundance of available options on the market does give buyers an enormous variety of pairs to pick from, however, it can also make it difficult to sort through the sea of available offerings in order to hone in on the pair that’s most conducive to your particular wants and needs. To help simplify this situation, we’ve put together this condensed guide to the five most crucial areas to take into consideration before buying a pair of work pants.
Materials & Construction Techniques: The biggest factor that will play the most important role in a pair of workwear pants’ overall quality is undoubtedly the materials used to make them, as well as the construction techniques used to piece those materials together. Additionally, you’ll want to explore if a pair has been reinforced with double or triple-stitched seams, reinforced seats, or overlays in key stress areas.
Climate & Conditions: It’s important to have workwear that’s appropriate for the climate you’re working in. Warmer seasons or regions will call for lighter, more breathable materials, while colder months or climates will demand weatherproof constructions with waterproof membranes and sometimes insulation. Fortunately, most workwear-specific brands offer versions of products to accommodate a wide variety of temperatures and work conditions.
Fit & Mobility: Performing physical labor requires garments that don’t restrict the wearer’s mobility. Elements such as articulated knees and gusseted crotches will bolster a pair’s range of movement. In order to offer the most possible range of movement and motion, pants need to precisely and snugly fit their wearer, which is also why a decent number of today’s best work pants also feature additional adjustment points to better dial in their fit.
Warranty: Quality constructions and top-notch craftsmanship will almost always yield rugged work pants that will stand up to years of prolonged abuse, however, should you damage a pair, it’s always nice having the peace of mind that a warranty can bring. Because many of these garments have been specifically designed to last a lifetime, the manufacturers behind these products are often willing to stand behind them in the form of lifetime warranties. This is also a premium that you’re typically paying for when opting for more expensive pieces of workwear.
Price & Value: Typically speaking, in the workwear sector, the more you spend, the better garment you’ll get, with pants being no exception. While cheaper pairs can be tempting to opt for, the reality is that most of the time, you’ll actually save money by going with a more expensive pair, as a good pair of work pants will outlive — and hugely outperform — a regular or cheap pair of work pants several times over. With that said, there is still a sweet spot — usually between $100 and $250 — that will get you a great pair of ultra-hardwearing pants without hugely breaking the bank.
The Best Work Pants On The Market
Now that you have a better sense of what to look for when shopping, let’s dive into our picks for the finest pairs of work pants that money can currently buy.
Patagonia Iron Forge Hemp Canvas Double Knee Pants
Patagonia’s Iron Forge Hemp Canvas Double Knee Pants are an ultra-hardwearing pair of work-specific trousers that are Fair Trade Certified-sewn from rugged 12.9oz Iron Forge Hemp canvas — a construction that’s 25% more abrasion resistant than conventional cotton duck canvas, as well as being softer to the touch and not requiring a break-in period. Offered in Ink Black or Coriander Brown color options, these pants boast reinforced seams in key stress areas and overlays across the seat and knees.
Truewerk T2 Werkpant
Produced in five color choices, the Truewerk T2 Werkpant is a stellar work pant that uses modern materials to deliver a more durable, comfortable, and high-performing pair. Touted as the world’s first soft-shell work pants, the T2 is crafted from a proprietary double-woven poly blend that’s DWR-coated, pieced together using double-stitch seams, and incredibly resistant to water, abrasions, and tears.
Carhartt Rugged Flex Steel Cargo Pant
Anytime you’re purchasing workwear, it’s always worth taking a look at the latest Carhartt catalog as the American clothing brand is renowned for its rugged work-specific garments. The company’s Rugged Flex Steel Cargo Pant features a primary spandex-infused cotton-CORDURA construction that’s further fortified via reinforced front ledge pockets, Flex back pockets, a utility loop, and a gusseted crotch that are all made from CORDURA. In addition to benefitting from Rugged Flex stretch technology that affords a completely unrestricted range of movement, these pants also pack top-loading CORDURA knee pockets that can accommodate Carhartt’s optional XRD knee pads.
Proof Rover Pant Straight Leg
Produced in seven color options — all of which come contrasted by matte black metal hardware — Proof’s Rover Pant is a surprisingly comfortable and dignified-looking pair of work pants that are made from a lycra-infused Sorbtek-cotton blend with multi-way stretch and moisture-wicking properties. These pants’ minimalistic and straight-cut design also allows them to easily blend into more formal settings.
SA1NT Workwear Straight Fit Jeans
From the makers of the world’s very first single-layer riding denim comes this equally impressive pair of work pants from Down Under with SA1NT’s Workwear Straight Fit. Touted as being 500% tougher than regular denim, these pants offer a natural fit, a seven-pocket setup, and are both lightweight and breathable with a good deal of stretch. Because their strength comes from the use of Dyneema, these jeans can also comfortably be worn in normal, non-work settings without standing out one bit.
Taylor Stitch The Chore Pant
Made exclusively in small batches, Taylor Stitch’s The Chore Pant is made from a 12oz blend composed of hemp, recycled polyester, organic cotton, and spandex that was custom-developed and milled specifically for Taylor Stitch. Crafted using double-needle construction throughout, these pants also feature a button fly closure with custom buttons, a dedicated pen sleeve, double-knee reinforcements, bar-tacking at key stress points, a pair of back patch pockets, and an angled front stash pocket. Furthermore, these pants are offered in a variety of color options.
Iron & Resin Union Work Pants
The Union Work Pants are a direct result of the folks at Iron & Resin setting out to craft the most rugged and hardwearing pair of work pants possible. Starting with an 18oz cotton duck canvas primary construction, these workwear bottoms have been treated to double-layered rear ankle cuffs and knee panels. They also incorporate a double-needle-felled back yoke, rise, and outseam, a shank button waistband, a rugged YKK zipper, a right leg utility pocket, a D-ring key clip, and bespoke I&R smooth-faced rivets on all pockets and critical stress points.
Triple Aught Design Intercept PD Pant
Though Triple Aught Design’s Intercept PD Pant may have been engineered as a pair of tactical jeans rather than work pants, the model’s ridiculous strength and unrestricted range of motion make it a great choice for laborious duties. Cut and sewn entirely in America, the pants are made from rugged 11.75oz Siege Denim — an elastane-infused cotton blend — and have been reinforced with triple and double-needle topstitching, bar-tack reinforcements, a back yoke, and a shank button fly that features custom TAD-branded YKK buttons.
1620 Double Knee Utility Pant
1620 just may be the best-kept secret in the workwear space, as the company offers incredibly durable garments that have legitimately been built to last. Developed by 1620 and inspired by U.S. Military BDUs, the pants are made from a 14oz plain weave CORDURA Stretch NyCo fabric that’s ten times as abrasion-resistant as cotton duck and dries twice as fast. Meeting NFPA1975 standards for melting and drip thermal properties, these bottoms also boast a PFC-free water-repellent finish. Crafted entirely in the U.S., these pants come backed by a lifetime warranty.
Filson Alcan Double Front Pants
Made from a tightly-woven two-ply-by-two-ply dry finish Tin Cloth canvas that’s been reinforced on the leg fronts with 7oz CORDURA ballistic nylon, Filson’s Alcan Double Front Pants are so rugged and abrasion-resistant that they actually lend themselves to motorcycle riding — on top of work duties. In addition to a seven-belt-loop setup, this pair also sports a right front pocket that’s been reinforced with ballistic-grade CORDURA to protect against the wear and tear caused by pocket knives’ clips.
Red Clouds Collective GN.01 Fitted Work Pant
If one were to set out to deliver the ultimate pair of ultra-rugged work pants with zero concerns for cost, they’d almost certainly end up with something that closely resembles the Red Clouds Collective GN.01 Fitted Work Pant. Made in America from a 13.5oz denim that’s been infused with more than 50% Dyneema (and 2% elastane for some light stretch properties), these fitted work pants also feature a dedicated knife pocket, riveted reinforcements in key stress areas, YKK zippers, and ultra-hardwearing triple-stitched seams, inseam, and outseam.
Vollebak 100 Year Pants
Vollebak’s 100 Year Pants are far more than just hyperbolic marketing — they are legitimately capable of lasting a century or more. Quite possibly the most rugged pair of pants that money can currently buy, the 100 Year Pants are crafted from a Swiss-made material from Schoeller that’s composed of polyamide and aramid and is not only water-repellent, breathable, and resistant to tears and abrasions, but also offers incredible protection against burns and fire. These pants additionally sport four-way stretch properties for added comfort and mobility, while twin-needle stitching in key stress areas affords the pants ample longevity and decades of use.
The 25 Best Workwear Essentials
Still need to put together the rest of your workwear loadout? Then be sure to head over to our guide to the best workwear essentials for more than two-dozen must-have pieces of gear for any laborer.