The Best Men’s Workwear of 2023
From cranking on airplanes in New Mexico to working construction in freezing Alaskan conditions, this apparel held up to all our hardest tasks
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While everyone’s work looks different, the need to dress right for the job is universal. From the field, to the mountain, or even the back corner of a coffee shop, the apparel on this list will keep you looking and performing professionally when the forecast calls for cold and snow.
How We Test
Number of Testers: 6
Coldest temperature during testing: -30F
Worst weather: -20F and blowing snow that froze our eyelids at the edges
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If you’re lucky, work can be a four-letter word for “travel” or “adventure.” Two of our testers vetted gear during a metal roof install in single digit temperatures and later while shoveling roofs and driveways during interior Alaska’s snowiest winter ever recorded. Another tester relied on his workwear while studying elk with biologists on the fringes of a high-altitude national preserve in February, and during some frozen-fingered logging operations in both New Mexico and Alaska.
Reviews: The Best Men’s Workwear of 2023
Sitka Grindstone Jacket ($299)
The Grindstone is workwear reimagined with Sitka’s more technical, hunter-oriented materials. The Gore-Tex Infinium shell blocked cold winds and rain while 80-gram Primaloft kept in body heat, even in ground-blizzard conditions. One tester stayed comfortable in the jacket while sleeping in a 20-degree quilt on the fringe of New Mexico’s Valles Caldera at 9,000 feet where temps dropped below zero. In addition to a zippered chest pocket, a large zip pocket near the lower back handily stores work gloves, and two open front pockets are great for warming up between tasks. The tough outer and wide range of motion paid off while our tester worked on homesite-clearing and road-building in the interior of Alaska later in the winter season.
Truewerk M3 Woobie Hoodie ($139)
Truewerk’s Woobie Hoodie is becoming to the modern American tradesperson what Levis were at the turn of the 20th century thanks to lightweight warmth without compromising durability and flexibility. A DWR-coated nylon-spandex outer exterior with discreet two-inch silver reflectors placed high on the back keeps you protected and visible, while hexagonal baffles filled with 80 gram synthetic insulation pack in warmth while staying breathable. The jacket’s loose fit, stitching in the arms, and four-way stretch makes it easy to keep your head on a swivel at the job site (the hood is roomy enough for a hardhat), helps avoid ride-up when reaching for tools, and allows for a total range of motion while carrying heavy or awkwardly-shaped materials.
Garphyttan Specialist Fleece ($119)
Swedish Special Forces field operator Johan Skullman developed this hooded fleece midlayer to be durable and utilitarian while retaining a sleek profile and minimalist design that doesn’t look out of place at, say, a first Friday art exhibit. The comfortable, pliable polyester-spandex blend fit well beneath a rain shell and popped in a deep purple hue. Generous front zips at the hip and on the chest kept a knife, keys, and a Spot device secure. Durable cuffs and two-way side zips for dumping heat were appreciated when one tester hustled to make the most of a free pile of cut-it-yourself firewood stashed next to Alaska Highway 1. It was a first come, first served deal, and this jacket kept up.
Stone Glacier Stol 4000 ($150)
The subtle gray of this expanding duffel won’t win any fashion awards, but it will hold and protect all the clothing and gear you’ll need for a busy workweek. Built from ultra-lightweight, ultra-durable XPac fabric, this waterproof cargo hauler shrinks to the size of a lunchbox and balloons out to almost 65 liters when fully loaded. A single, large YKK-zipper runs the full length of the backpanel with two compression straps on either side. Padded shoulder straps fold away behind a luggage handle while a single internal zippered pocket holds small valuables.
Polyver Sweden Winter Classic Boots ($219)
This Swedish boot company came out quietly to a small American market in 2021 and has slowly been expanding its foothold on winter wear ever since. Polyver’s secret? A proprietary rubber-like material called Cli-Tech, filled with millions of tiny air bubbles that our testers found offered super lightweight insulation when compared to other winterized rubber boots. Our testers also found that they could snowshoe or hike for hours without hot spots or overly sweaty feet thanks to a quick-drying acrylic lining, grippy outsole traction, and overall lightweight build. After roughly 100 miles of usage, the Scandinavian boot held up to all the ice, snow, and slush that Alaska threw at it without significant wear.
Size: 5.5 – 12.5 (Unisex)
5.11 Coalition Pant ($85)
The midweight Coalitions are a covert attempt at making cargo pants cool again thanks to stealthy angled pockets with reinforced stitching and subtle green and gray colors. With eight pockets total, they still carry all the personal equipment needed on the jobsite. Stretchiness in the knees and waistline allowed one tester to bend and kneel comfortably while loading cabin logs onto the truck. The cotton-elastane blend stretched well enough for one sawyer to use proper form and wear chainsaw chaps while bucking wood. And with a standard button closure and straight fit, these pants can pull heavy duty during the day and camouflage into polite society in the evening.
Ridge Merino Hyde Merino Jogger ($120)
These 100-percent merino wool pants pull triple duty as joggers, long underwear, and pajamas—key when packing space for a work trip is at a premium. The merino has just enough stretch for exercise , but the cut is slim enough to wear under other layers on days that drop as low as the negative twenties. One tester lived in these for three weeks during late winter in Alaska’s interior under work pants, out to town, and for workouts. The results? The pants were warm, comfortable, scent-free, and sensible for traveling to a cold climate for work.
How to Buy
Check for flexibility in the arms and legs—and extra material in high wear areas—if your job requires a specific range of motion or repetitive postures. Workwear tends to resist cutting and tearing while repelling stains and smells. That said, make sure the apparel you choose can deal with heavy abrasion—like building livestock fencing—or has a hydrophobic coating for working in wet or greasy environments. Critically, double-check that anything you buy can accommodate your daily personal protective equipment, like a hardhat. Note: As small companies that develop products for a specific niche of work apparel, most of the brands we’ve suggested here tend to sell their products direct-to-consumer.