The Best Women’s Workwear of 2023
From herding to hammering, this rough and tumble gear is just as capable as you
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Highly technical outerwear is incredible on the trail, but when it comes to abrasion- resistance, comfort, and durability, there’s nothing like purpose-made women’s workwear. For long days out in the elements, this gear will keep you warm, dry, and protected whether you’re rounding up cattle or chopping wood.
How We Test
Number of testers: 4
Number of products tested: 45-50
Hardest task: Chopping up 400 pounds of frozen meat for dog food
Worst conditions: 40 degrees Fahrenheit and raining
Lowest temps: -30 Fahrenheit
We brought together hard-charging outdoor workers from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest, including a landscaper, a dogsledder, and a wildland firefighter. While the women who participated in this test have a wide variety of body shapes and sizes, all of them have extensive outdoors experience. They dragged their workwear through a range of conditions, from moderate to deep cold, and wore them to clear trails, repair equipment, and even build a deck. They also washed each item multiple times to check for durability. Their chief concerns were fit, comfort, and durability—in short, gear that was designed for bodies in motion, and that could hold up to extreme wear and tear.
Reviews: The Best Women’s Workwear of 2023
Editors’ Choice: Truewerk S3 Solution Hoodie ($159)
It can be hard to find women’s-specific workwear built for performance, but add Truewerk to the short list of brands that ace the challenge. Their clothing system—base, mid, and shell layers—is designed to go together, and in our testers’ experience, every piece exceeded expectations. If you’re starting with just one, the S3 Solution Hoodie is a great go-to. This softshell jacket is stretchy, durable, breathable, windproof, and deceptively high tech. “I found myself in the woods in a literal flash-flood downpour and stayed completely dry,” reported one tester. “The wind was whipping, but nothing breached the hoodie, and I simply shook it off when I got home; no moisture had soaked through at all.” The Solution Hoodie held up well to abrasive activities, including hauling beams and building a deck, and didn’t shrink or fade in the wash. It fit (and felt) flattering on a range of body types. The generous hood leaves room for a hat or helmet, three zip pockets hold your valuables, and cinches at the wrists ensure a snug fit. And while the DWR-coated, three-layer bonded polyester-spandex fabric is lightweight and looks sleek, it stays surprisingly toasty on a winter day.
Dovetail DX Bootcut Pant ($99)
These bootcut jeans are inspired by the women of a fourth-generation Oceti Sakowin ranch in South Dakota; they skip the double-layer front—typical on the brand’s line of work pants—to make them maximally comfortable for horseback riding. But the Cordura-reinforced canvas is still well-suited to any other abrasive activity, yet is still comfy enough for hanging out. Features include eleven pockets, a tool loop, and articulated knees. Testers appreciated the high-rise waist that didn’t ride up or gap, the stretch fabric, and the flattering seam placement. Said one tester: “These pants make me feel feminine and like a badass.”
Yeti Loadout GoBox 30 Gear Case ($250)
With the Loadout GoBox, Yeti brings the same level of all-weather, takes-any-beating protection for your sensitive gear and electronics that it brings to your ham sandwiches and sparkling water. The automotive-grade plastic box, roughly the size of two 12-packs of beer, is 100-percent waterproof and dustproof, holds up to extended heat and deep cold, and has built-in strap guides so you can easily attach it to a kayak, snowmobile, or ATV. Bonus: it’s tough enough to use as a step or a seat.
Garphyttan Crafter Insulated Shirt ($119)
In a crowded technical flannel market and when your buttery-soft, worn-in favorites are hanging by the door, the bar for buying a new flannel is high. But this season our testers found themselves reaching for the Crafter above all others. The shirt is light but warm, with a smooth quilted lining through the torso and sleeves so you can pull it on quickly over other layers, while the 100 percent cotton flannel is soft and cozy. Vertical side pockets, which sit high up on either side of the torso, feel oddly placed at first, but testers ended up appreciating how the deep pockets kept phones and keys secure and out of the way while hauling buckets and firewood.
Jungmaven Tatoosh Long Sleeve Tee ($132)
Hemp is tough, soft, and environmentally friendly; merino wool stays fresh-smelling in the face of BO, and insulates even when damp. This tee fits like a basic long-sleeve shirt—elevated by a slightly heavier drape—but the 55 percent hemp, 45 percent merino blend retains the properties of both fibers, making it a great (if spendy) choice for active or heavy-duty outdoor wear that can be worn year-round.
Polyver Sweden Classic Winter High ($219)
These boots—a Swedish classic, newly available in the U.S.—are 100 percent waterproof and made with a proprietary, tiny-bubble-filled polyurethane that keeps them light and insulating at the same time (think neoprene, but weighs less). A supportive footbed made of the same material and good fit make them easy to walk in and comfortable for long hours on your feet without the need for extra insoles. Fuzzy acrylic lining means you don’t need thick socks to stay warm, and grippy, anti-static soles offer safety in the workplace. Our testers especially appreciated the ridge at the heel to help you easily kick your boots off.
Size: 36/37-48/49 (European sizes)
AKHG Recinder Full Zip Hoodie ($99.50)
For those who love soft hoodies but wear through them fast, AKHG’s updated take on the classic stands up to hard work. The Recinder’s 100 percent cotton fabric has a flame-retardant finish and denser-than-usual weave, but retains a fuzzy next-to-skin feel. Sizable pockets and a large hood are warm and utilitarian, but the cut is form-fitting enough to fit smoothly under a shell. Plus, triple-stitched seams won’t give way under pressure.
Smartwool Intraknit Thermal Merino Base Layer Bottom ($130)
These long underwear are designed to stay put while you’re moving. A higher rise keeps the waistband from sliding down, and the plush knit is, according to one tester,“warm as all hell.” Patches of mesh ventilation keep you from overheating during high-intensity work, while the merino-poly blend combines the best of both fibers: the warmth and breathability of wool with the durability and quick drying of polyester. The bottoms held up well to rigorous wear, and are machine-washable to boot.
Hestra Titan Flex Work Gloves ($48)
Hestra’s work gloves are great when you need durability and dexterity in chilly temperatures. The Titan Flex gloves fit precisely, while a wide, adjustable neoprene cuff keeps your wrist warm and the gloves from slipping. A goatskin leather palm is tough but comfy, with touchscreen compatibility on the fingertips. The back panel is wind- and -waterproof and, according to one tester, the fleece lining is “soft and delicious.”
Noso Patches x Skida ($10 for one patch)
Whether you’re building a fence, gardening, or just pushing through trees, rips happen. Noso has long been known for its easy, effective gear patches—just clean the surface to be repaired, stick the patch, and seal with heat—while Skida brings bright, cheerful patterns to an otherwise plain accessory. The combination of the two (easy-to-apply patches in whimsical designs) is unapologetically charming. Gear should get better as it’s worn in and worn down, and these patches celebrate the idea that keeping and repairing your gear is something to be proud of.
Fjallraven Abisko Midsummer Belt ($35)
A good belt should be comfortable but keep your pants up at the same time. The stretchy, lightweight Abisko Midsummer gives you the best of both worlds, and works especially well while crouching, bending, and moving. Recycled polyester webbing and an aluminum buckle lie flat under your shirt.
How to Buy
When shopping for workwear, your main concerns should be durability, comfort, and protection. Good workwear should wear in rather than wear out—it needs to stand the test of time. Look for reinforced seams, tough materials, and a good fit; if you try something on and find yourself tugging it into place, it probably won’t stay put when you start moving. New and innovative materials can be great, but when in doubt, you’ll rarely go wrong with time-tested classics like canvas, leather, and wool.