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Gear Guy

5 Workwear Pants We Actually Worked in and Liked

Men's trousers that are up to any task you throw at them

Our Gear Guy enlists help to put five pairs through the ringer. (Photo: Sarah Jackson)
Work Pants

The right pair of workwear pants should be like a good work companion: excellent at their job, efficient, and comfortable in their surroundings. And ideally, model trousers can pull double duty at the bar to celebrate finishing a project. I enlisted help to put five work pants from top brands in a head-to-head test to help you pick the perfect pair.

The Test

Since my everyday work life is usually split between a desk and the trails, I outsourced this test to a pro: my buddy Jason Hutchins. Hutchins is an architectural fabricator who helped me beat the living snot out of an Oxx Coffeeboxx a couple years back. He uses a blowtorch to build large (and beautiful) metal structures all day. On top of testing these pants in his shop for a month, he also took them hunting and then shared his notes.

The Results

Work Pants
(Photo: Sarah Jackson)

The Winner: Walls Ditchdigger Double-Knee DWR Stretch Duck, $50

Fit: 4
Comfort: 5
Shop Utility: 5
Overall Utility: 4

These were Hutchins’s favorite in his shop, which is why they took the win. “They fit really well. I wore them mostly as an extra layer while deer hunting. Warm, quiet, and good mobility,” he says. “At work I have to flex, move, and put my body in lot more awkward positions than you might think. These were the most flexible and comfortable to work in.” Credit the articulated knees (with added seams to minimize constriction), a design feature we wouldn’t expect to see in a traditional work pant. While Hutchins experienced a little bunching when crouched, he found the Ditchdigger a great overall pick. His only gripe: the extremely relaxed leg meant it couldn’t pass as an everyday pant. “I would wear them hunting or to cut down a Christmas tree, but you’re not going to catch me in the coffee shop in them.”

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Work Pants
(Photo: Sarah Jackson)

2. 5.11 ABR Pro, $55

Fit: 5
Comfort: 5
Shop Utility: 2
Overall Utility: 4

Hutchins said that the ABR Pro is the only pant in the test he’d be excited to wear in a social situation. “They were the only pants that weren’t too baggy in the legs,” he says. While some might think that overall fit and style aren’t important considerations for work pants, they absolutely should be. If you have a single pair of pants that you can wear to build a structure, and then out to celebrate at the bar, you’ve saved money and space in your closet. While the DWR treatment and synthetic material proved amazing for Hutchins while he bushwhacked through damp brush on a hunt, he was very wary of the polyester in the pants, noting that it’s “not the best fabric for my type of work.” He was terrified the pants would melt to his skin while he welded in his shop. If open flames aren’t in your wheelhouse, though, the ABR Pro is solid.

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Work Pants
(Photo: Sarah Jackson)

3. Carhartt Washed Duck, $40

Fit: 3
Comfort: 3
Shop Utility: 5
Overall Utility: 5

Hutchins was very familiar with this established silhouette from the most iconic workwear brand. “These are run-of-the-mill work pants. They’re the Carhartts they’ve been making for years,” he says. They worked great in the shop and moved and felt like what Carhartt fans have grown accustomed to. He felt the fit was middle-of-the-road, too. “They were a little baggy, a little big, but overall had a pretty good fit,” Hutchins says. 

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Work Pants
(Photo: Sarah Jackson)

4. Filson CCF Double-Layer, $125

Fit: 2
Comfort: 1
Shop Utility: 5
Overall Utility: 4

The Filson CCF was absolutely bombproof—for better and for worse. “These were the sturdiest of all the pants—like Dickies with rhino liner,” Hutchins says. While the superstiff, double-layered canvas pants would likely break in after a lot of use (and be capable of withstanding brutal abuse), he couldn’t wear them without significant chafing at his waist, even after testing them for a month. “As much as I love thick canvas, I washed and dried these twice, and they are still as stiff and rough as starched roofing shingles,” Hutchins says. Style-wise, they missed the mark because of their extremely wide legs. “The girl at the coffee shop asked me if JNCOs were back in style,” he says. 

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Work Pants
(Photo: Sarah Jackson)

5. Patagonia Iron Forge Hemp Canvas 5-Pocket, $75

Fit: 1
Comfort: 4
Shop Utility: 1
Overall Utility: 1

Hutchins loves Patagonia products for outdoor pursuits and so felt genuine remorse for how much he disliked these pants. He was not a fan of the way the hemp fabric and generous leg width worked together to make them hang loosely off his body. While he found the hemp, polyester, and cotton blend comfortable against his skin, it had a frustrating side effect of catching many of the metal shavings that fly around his shop. “I looked like a dangerous lint roller,” Hutchins says. He was impressed with the durability, but you might want to steer clear of it if your work involves shaping metal.

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Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the winning pant at the Walls Kick Around.

Filed To: PantsLegsSkinSyntheticGear Review
Lead Photo: Sarah Jackson

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