Punch The Clock: 25 Men’s Workwear Essentials

It isn’t enough to show up just ready to work. Whether you’re a banker or a contractor on a job-site, you have to dress the part. And while the former changes his dress more because of social and professional pressures, the latter does it because it helps them get the job done in a real, tangible way.

As a whole, workwear’s main purpose is to stand up to tough work conditions for an extended period of time. Where a regular pair of jeans may only last a couple of months, a pair of work pants will last well over a year. But each specific item does a bit more than just last. They make the hard work of getting everything on the to-do list checked off before the end of the day a bit easier and safer. To help provide a bit of a breakdown, we pulled together a list of what we think are some of the best items of workwear in each major section. Take a look and see for yourself.

Work Boots

Step Lightly

When it comes to essential clothing for getting the job done right and safely – the importance of work boots cannot be over stated. Not quite items of clothing and not exactly pieces of equipment, either, these practical workwear items keep everyone from warehouse workers to contractors safe and supported far beyond 9-5. The most common form of protection you’ll find in these boots are their reinforced toes – some use steel, others opt for more affordable compounds – but many go far beyond just that. They’ll also reduce slippage even on oil, keep your feet dry, and fight back the cold. Take a look through some of our favorite picks.

Thorogood American Heritage Boot

Proudly made right here in the U.S., these Thorogood boots offer both comfort and protection. They feature a steel toe, a compost shank in the midsole for solid support, and a dual density shock absorption footbed for support and comfort from start ‘till finish.

Purchase: $143

Danner Quarry 8-inch Alloy Toe

Another great American made pair of work boots. These 8-inch boots from the Portland, Oregon-based brand feature an alloy toe, a waterproof build, and a slip and oil resistant Vibram Quarry outsole. And on top of all these features, these boots boast triple stitching for a guaranteed long life.

Purchase: $183

Georgia boot Flxpoint Composite Toe Waterproof Work Boot

Find yourself working in more wet conditions than not? These are well worth considering. Featuring Georgia’s proprietary waterproof build, these things will keep your feet dry without overheating. But more than just keeping water out and letting air in, these boots also feature a protective toe, and boast a nail-free construction that helps insulate from electrical hazards.

Purchase: $190

Justin Original Work Boots J-Max

Along with being made in the states, these all leather work boots from Justin have a number of great features including a Justin Jel removable orthotic, tough steel toe, and special J-flex comfort system that won’t bother you even after a full day on your feet.

Purchase: $214

Red Wings Heritage Classic Moc

The platonic ideal of a work boot, Red Wing Shoes’ classic moc toe boot features an attractive leather upper triple stitched to a white traction tree rubber outsole. They don’t have the same protection and safety features as other son this list, but they have a classic look that is just a ready to wear on site as it is to wear off.

Purchase: $270

Work Jackets

Zip Up and Roll Out

If you’re spending your days moving heavy equipment and materials while outside in the cold, the last thing you want to use as a top layer is a thick wool sweater. You need something as tough as it is warm – and durable enough to stand up even after years of wear and tear. Oh, and it’d be nice if it didn’t cost all too much, either. Thankfully, there are plenty of options out there when it comes to tough work jackets. Maybe even too many. That’s why we took the time to whittle some of our favorite picks down to a select five for you to browse through.

Timberland Pro Baluster

Built to keep you both warm and dry with its zoned insulation and durable water repellent treatment, this tough jacket is ideal for wearing in cool, wet climates. For even more comfort, the jacket features ribbed storm cuffs and a high collar for keeping the cold out.

Purchase: $90

Carhartt Full Swing Sherpa-Lined Armstrong Active Jacket

One of the most trusted work wear brands out there lives up to their name with the tough full swing hooded jacket. Made from 100% cotton sandstone duck canvas, this jacket is more than capable of taking on rough days on the clock. And thanks to the Full Swing design, the jacket comes broken in – so you don’t have to wait months before you start feeling comfortable in it.

Purchase: $130

Milwaukee Gridiron Traditional Jacket

Milwaukee does a whole lot more than just make tools. The brand is also responsible for this durable, dynamic work jacket. Engineered to both keep wearers warm and on the move with its 100g of insulation and Freeflex construction, it’s an ideal grab for cold-weather construction workers and laborers.

Purchase: $150

Saint Works Cargo Jacket

Saint, a relatively young brand compared to others on this list, first got their start making denim motorcycle jackets tough enough to protect during tough crashes. Recently they made the move to use their experience making asphalt-proof denim for the working guy. The result is denim that is 500% tougher than others out there. This jacket, for instance, features that crazy tough fabric along with a quilted body, gusseted body for easy movement, and plenty of pockets.

Purchase: $200

Insulated Journeyman Jacket

If anyone knows work wear, it has to be Filson. For over a century the Seattle-based brand has been rolling out top tier equipment for professional outdoorsmen. This jacket is made from a dater repellent fabric, lined with corduroy, and equipped with a bevy of pockets for storage. A great American-made work jacket all things said.

Purchase: $425

Work Pants

Top Tier Protection Below The Belt

Built for taking the brunt of whatever hard job you’re trying to get done, work pants are a must-have item. Part rag for wiping dirty hands, part tool-holder, and part first-line of defense from sparks, scrapes, and cuts – these are just about the most essential item you’ll find on any working guy. Yet they’re not all built the same. So to highlight some team favorites, we pulled together a short list we think you should consider if you’re on the market for a new pair.

5.11 Tactical TacLite Pro Pant

Cut from a ripstop, abrasion-resistant cotton and polyester blend fabric, these cargo pants from 5.11 are ideal for wearing for anything from camping trips to days on the job site. As a result, they offer an articulating fit that doesn’t compromises when it comes tough toughness or protection. And for those with a lot of gear? These pants offer up 12 high capacity pockets.

Purchase: $35

Carhartt Double Front Duck Utility Work Dungaree

Heavyweight fabrics can go a long way towards providing durability and protection. Take for instance this pair of work pants from Carhartt. Made from a hefty 12-ounce cotton duck canvas, featuring reinforced paneling, and side utility pockets – they’re just about ready for anything.

Purchase: $40

Patagonia Iron Forge Hemp Canvas Double Knee Pants

Leave it to the Ventura, California-based outdoor brand to find a more sustainable way to produce work pants. This pair is made from a special 12.9-ounce Iron Forge Hemp fabric that, according to the brand, is 25% more abrasion resistant than the more common types of duck canvas you’ll find on other pants in this list.

Purchase: $80

Topo Designs Work Pants

Made with rock climbers in mind, but not exclusively for rock rats, these tough American-made work pants from Colorado-based brand Too Designs are ideal for wearing out into the backcountry or onto the job sit. They’re made from a heavy 12-ounce duck canvas, feature front paneling, and boast large, comfortable pockets.

Purchase: $150

Earnest Tasker Pant K-Canvas

A kind of cross between motorcycle-pants and workwear gear, these K-Canvas work pants feature 20x the tensile strength of regular work denim. And to top it off, they feature a tool pocket, and double front paneling. Not bad.

Purchase: $200


Get a Grip

The last thing you want to worry about when getting set to lift up a large piece of equipment is what it’ll do to your hands. Really the only thing that should be on your mind is getting the job done – these work gloves help you focus on just that. Whether they’re gloves built for handling cardboard all day, or tough gloves built to withstand heat and heavy lifting – we think the following will prove helpful.

Maxiflex Nitrile Grip Work Gloves

Spending all day working with cardboard and paper can completely dry out your hands and strip them of their natural oils. Yeah, we get it, that sounds a little dainty of us – but go ahead and spend 8 hours dealing with cardboard and say you didn’t need some protection. These gloves from Maxiflex are designed to protect your hands while working with this dry material while still allowing your hands to breath.

Purchase: $13

CLC Custom Leathercraft

These gloves have it all covered. They keep you warm, resist snagging, and remain flexible thanks to their spandex and lycra fabrics. And don’t worry about shrinkage. The faux leather used on the gloves helps prevent the glove from shrinking over time.

Purchase: $14

Mechanix Wear Original Gloves

Likely the best known and most trusted mechanic gloves out there, these synthetic leather and flexible thermal plastic rubber gloves fit incredibly well – providing protection without compromising on dexterity.

Purchase: $20

Carhartt Grain Leather Work Glove

If you’re looking for something a little more old-school when it comes to work gloves, this pair from Carhartt may be for you. Made from a genuine leather shell and lined with a comfortable polyester fabric, these will break-in over time and protect your knuckles and fingers from scrapes and cuts no matter what you’ll be getting up to.

Purchase: $20

Duluth Trading Company Carpenter’s Gloves

Gloves, no matter how good they are, compromise a bit of one’s grip and dexterity. Duluth’s carpenter’s gloves take a little bit of that back with their fingerless design. They provide protection where a carpenter needs, and dexterity as well.

Purchase: $24

Waterproof Layers

Let it Roll Off Your Back

Just because the sky opens up doesn’t necessarily mean you get to call it a day. For those jobs that just can’t wait, there are tough waterproof layers for throwing on over your work jacket. Unlike the plastic-like gear you often see on backpackers or city commuters – this gear is designed to withstand abrasion more readily while still keeping you high and dry through even the worst downpours. Take a look at some of our favorite picks below.

Mascot Workwear

Find yourself staring down the losing end of a weather forecast? You better hope you have something as durable and reliable as Mascot’s Aveiro Jacket. Fitted with reflectors, an ergonomic fit, and a windproof, waterproof and breathable fabric – it is a sure-fire way outsmart mother nature.

Learn More: Mascot

Carhartt Shoreline Jacket

Made from a heavy 7.3-ounce nylon Oxford shell, this waterproof and breathable layer manages to keep water out without overheating you. It has taped seams, a snap-on visor hood, and rib-knit storm cuffs so those leaves don’t slip down and get in your way.

Purchase: $120

Bushbuk Defender Hunting Jacket

Designed for hunters – but durable enough to do a lot more than just stalk buck, this 500D Oxford Nylon jacket with SWR coating and seam-sealed linings is more than capable of taking on the trash weather at your worksite. It boasts a large, adjustable hood, articulating elbows, and pit-zips for temperature articulation.

Purchase: $216

The North Face Apex Flex

This backcountry jacket is built to withstand unrelenting rain without giving an inch. It boasts a Gore-Tex lining that keeps you dry and protected from the wind, while also maintaining breathability and flexibility. A great pick for tough weather.

Purchase: $230

Filson Neoshell Reliance Jacket

Another great grab from Filson. This rain jacket uses a 3-layer neoshell fabric that keeps you comfortable and dry no matter the weather. Things warm up and the clouds part? The jacket has pit-zips for extra breathability where you need it most.

Purchase: $395

10 Best Work Pants For Men

Didn’t quite find the duds you were hunting for? Check out our rundown of the best work pants for men and we’re sure you’ll run across something you like.

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