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The 12 Best Men’s Workwear Essentials Built to Take a Beating

Best Workwear 0 Hero

Because workwear items are so widely used by hundreds of thousands of laborers across the globe, scores of companies have inundated the market, all seeking to get in on the action. As a result, one now has more options to select from than ever before, though the sheer abundance of available choices can make the buying experience a rather daunting and intimidating one. Recognizing this reality, we’ve thoroughly pored over the market to deliver this guide to the best men’s workwear essentials – delving into our choices for the latest and greatest pieces of workwear, along with a few old-school favorites, while also exploring what factors and qualities to keep an eye out for when shopping.

Best Workwear Essentials

Our selection

Whether swinging a hammer, digging ditches, or spinning a wrench, manual labor requires garments that possess the durability and longevity to withstand the abuses and rigors of working day in and day out. For decades, workwear items largely went unchanged, employing the same tried-and-true constructions that generations of laborers have relied on. However, in more recent years, the advent of new, innovative materials and construction techniques has given rise to a new generation of workwear that affords even greater performance, abrasion resistance, and protection from the elements. On top of that, the clothing has been co-opted by the fashion world (particularly the streetwear scene), and now legends like Carhartt are capitalizing on this newfound audience (with the WIP sub-label). After years of collective experience in both the style, EDC, and gear space, we’ve had a chance to get hands-on with the stuff in the field and make sure it’s just as tough as it looks. For this guide, we’ve made sure to include trusted brands that guarantee their products are built to last (and will make it right if they don’t), along with gear that fuses form and function, meaning it’ll just as good as it performs.

what to look for

Equal parts robust and difficult to navigate, today’s workwear sector can be tricky to wrap your head around, as this space possesses a handful of fairly unique qualities that make the shopping experience just as idiosyncratic. To help streamline this process, we’ve compiled this brief guide on the seven most pivotal elements to factor in before making your purchase.

Materials: Not all workwear is created equal, and one of the biggest factors that separates the more premium and hardwearing items from the less durable, more budget-focused offerings is the materials used to craft the garment. Obviously, the primary construction or shell (or, when dealing with shoes, the uppers), is the most important material on almost any piece of workwear, though you’ll also want to explore areas such as the liner or membrane used, and whether or not the construction has been treated with an additional finish such as a DWR-coating, or bestowed with supplementary overlays in high-stress or key-impact areas.

Construction Techniques: The materials that comprise any piece of workwear are monumentally important to the item’s overall quality and durability, though a good deal of a garment’s ruggedness is owed to the construction techniques that were utilized to piece it together. This includes everything from double and triple-stitched seams to constructions that are reinforced throughout, to items with heat or laser-welded seams.

Versatility: Because of its immense quality, durability, and longevity, well-made workwear doesn’t come cheap. Fortunately, these items often lend themselves to far more than just job-site duties, and can also be used for activities like camping, hunting, or hiking, or utilized as a daily-wear item. At the end of the day, workwear pieces with greater versatility simply add value to the item, making it a better buy.

Price & Value: Good workwear is seldom cheap, and cheap workwear is seldom good. So, while it may sound counterintuitive, you’ll almost always save money in the long run by opting for a more high-end piece of workwear, as you’ll likely spend more regularly replacing more budget-focused items — not to mention the annoyance and inconvenience of having a jacket or pair of pants rip or fail while on a worksite. With exceedingly few exceptions, most quality pieces of workwear are what are referred to as “one and done” items, meaning you only need to invest in one that will last your entire lifetime (with at most some minimal upkeep or repair).

Climate & Conditions: Regardless of whether you’re shopping for a jacket or pants, workwear items come in a variety of different styles in order to suit different temperatures and conditions. By considering the location that you’ll be working in — and its climate — you’ll have a much better sense of what type of garment will be best for your particular needs, such as whether you’ll want a lined or insulated.

Size: When it comes to sizing, workwear can be a bit tricky. Depending on the item, you may want to go a size up (i.e. one size larger than normal) in order to wear extra layers underneath. This is especially important when looking at shirt jackets, rain slickers, and other garments made to be worn over the top of other items. This is also another area in which you’ll want to consider the climate in which you’ll be working to help guide your decision.

Warranty: As previously touched on above, the lion’s share of high-end workwear is engineered to withstand a lifetime of abuse on the job site, and to prove this, a great many workwear manufacturers stand behind their respective products with generous warranties — many of which are lifetime warranties. Items backed by these insurance policies do tend to cost a bit more, though they come with the extra peace of mind, knowing that, should you manage to somehow damage one of these tremendously rugged items, its manufacturer will step up and replace it, no questions asked.


Anyone who spends their days working on their feet can tell you just how immensely pivotal a quality pair of footwear can be. The literal foundation of any workwear loadout, a solid set of work boots needs to offer ample ergonomic support and cushioning, while simultaneously protecting your feet from getting cut, punctured, or crushed. Different jobs will obviously require different types of footwear, though below, we’ve rounded up five of the best all-around work boots currently on the market.

Danner Steel Yard

  • Heritage brand trusted by working men for years
  • Very reasonable price for the durability
  • Electrical Hazard Certified
  • Need time to break in

Good Boots: Danner’s Steel Yard models blur the line between modern and traditional job-site boots, employing a more traditional outward appearance that conceals a host of the Northwest footwear outfit’s proprietary technology and features. This includes boasting the Danner Comfort System, though the boots are also offered with or without Thinsulate insulation, as well as available ASTM-certified metatarsal or toe protection, plus the option of the Danner Dry Waterproofing or a breathable mesh liner.

Upper: Full-grain leather
Outsole: Danner Steel Yard
Insulation: None
Waterproof?: Yes

Red Wing Traction Red

  • Made in USA
  • Goodyear Welt construction
  • Slip-resistant
  • On the chunkier side

Better Boots: Made in America, Red Wing’s Traction Tred model is another classic-looking boot that combines numerous modern innovations with a selection of tried and true features and technology such as Goodyear welt construction, triple-stitched Red Wing Oro-Iginal leather construction, and a flat-bottomed sole with shallow lugs that affords ample grip without picking up mud or debris.

Upper: Full-grain leather
Outsole: Traction Tred Cushion Crepe Wedge
Insulation: None
Waterproof?: Yes

White’s Foreman Lace-to-Toe

Whites Foreman Lace To Toe
  • Made by hand in the States
  • Durable stitchdown construction
  • Can get a custom build if you reach out to the label’s order department
  • Runs large

Best Boots: With a lineage dating back to before the American Civil War, White’s Boots is unequivocally one of the most trusted American heritage footwear brands, and with offerings like the Foreman, it isn’t hard to see why. Built atop White’s 610 last platforms using stitch-down construction, this 6” heirloom-quality model is equipped with a Vibram Cristy Crepe sole, a leather midsole and shank, and full-grain leather water-resistant uppers. These boots can also be rebuilt and/or resolved, allowing for a literal lifetime of use.

Upper: Full-grain leather
Outsole: Vibram Cristy Crepe Sole
Insulation: None
Waterproof?: Water-resistant


Characterized by their tremendous durability and ample versatility, quality workwear jackets will be well-engineered, utilitarian items with reinforced seams and constructions that can stand up to anything from rough shingles and rusty rebar to mud and grime. And while this sector was previously limited to just a handful of more traditional garments such as the classic hoodie, chore coat, or shirt-jacket, today’s market now boasts a myriad of more advanced, and performance-oriented items that borrow elements from everything from military garments to motorcycle gear to modern activewear. Below, we’ve handpicked a condensed but nonetheless diverse selection of well-made workwear jackets that you can count on to work just as hard as you do.

Carhartt Loose Fit Washed Duck Insulated Active Jac

  • Great bang for your buck
  • Easily customizable with the ability to add embroidery
  • Triple-stitched main seams
  • Runs a bit large

Good Jacket: Starting with one of Carhartt’s best-selling workwear items of all time, the J130 jacket, this updated take on a tried-and-true classic was developed using extensive feedback from the public and Carhartt’s in-house team. The jacket is crafted from heavyweight, 12oz, washed cotton duck that’s been bestowed with 80 grams of 3M Thinsulate insulation, a quilted nylon lining, triple-stitch construction, internal rib-knit storm cuffs, and CORDURA reinforcements in key stress areas.

Material: 12-ounce, 100% ring-spun cotton duck
Lining: 80g 3M Thinsulate
Fit: Loose
Resistance: Cordura-reinforced sleeve hems

Truewerk S3 Solution Hoodie

  • Tear-proof and abrasion-resistant fabric
  • Four-way stretch
  • Nice minimalist look
  • Adjustable helmet-compatible hood
  • Sleeves run a bit long

Better Jacket: Truewerk is a fairly new outfit that is well on its way to becoming something of an institution in the workwear space by delivering updated, high-performance takes on traditional workwear staples. The brand’s S3 Hoodie is a stellar example of what the company is all about, calling on a proprietary triple-layer bonded fabric technology that’s breathable while still being completely impervious to wind and water and highly resistant to tears and abrasions. On top of its advanced 10K/10K membrane, this four-way stretch hoodie also boasts a micro-ripstop outer shell and a bonded inner fleece liner.

Outer: 75D, 84% polyester, 16% spandex, Ripstop, TPU membrane, 320gsm
Inner: Proprietary TRUEWERK Hex Fleece backer, 100% polyester, 190gsm
Fit: Regular
Resistance: Water and wind-resistant

Filson Tin Cloth Work Jacket

  • Waxed canvas construction for reliable weather-resistance
  • Warm wool-lined collar
  • Solid all-around jacket in general, especially for fall
  • No inside pockets

Best Jacket: Wonderfully encapsulating the “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” ethos, Filson’s Tin Cloth Jacket is a bonafide workwear staple that’s remained in production for years, going almost entirely unchanged. The jacket is constructed from 14oz – 15oz heavyweight oil-finish tin cloth — Filson’s most hardwearing waxed canvas — and features a snap-closure front, cuffs, and pockets. This jacket can also accept zip-in Filson liners as well as a detachable tin cloth hood.

Outer: 14-oz. oil-finish Tin Cloth, 6-oz. 100% cotton dry finish Cover Cloth
Lining: 100% cotton flannel,16-oz. 100% wool, polyester twill
Fit: Relaxed
Resistance: Wind and water-resistant


Far too often, work pants are an overlooked item when buying workwear, which is unfortunate, because not only are pants just as crucial a workwear element as jackets, but now is almost unequivocally the best time in history to be purchasing workwear bottoms, as the advent of new proprietary materials like CORDURA and Dyneema has resulted in a cutting-edge array of insanely rugged and abrasion-resistant, workwear-specific jeans, cargo pants, khakis, and shorts.

Ben Davis Original Ben’s Pants

  • Highly underrated, SF-based brand with affordable and durable gear
  • Made with USA fabric
  • Versatile style
  • Not quite as rugged as more expensive options

Good Pants: Quality workwear is very seldom sold at budget-friendly prices, though Ben Davis’ Original Ben’s Pants is something of an exception to this rule. A workwear classic for decades, these pants feature a 10.5oz blended twill construction, and a full cut, and are produced in more than half a dozen different color options in some two dozen sizes. These admittedly aren’t the most rugged pants on the market; however, dollar for dollar, they’re pretty hard to beat.

Material: 10.5 oz. 50% polyester, 50% cotton Plenty Tough fabric
Fit: Regular
Pockets: 2 front slash pockets, 2 back welt pockets

Patagonia All Seasons Hemp Canvas Double Knee Pants

  • Great for warm weather working conditions
  • Double-knee reinforcement
  • Made in a Fair Trade Certified factory
  • A little baggy

Better Pants: Despite being best known for its hiking and outdoor gear, Patagonia has recently been tapping into the workwear market with offerings like the All Seasons Hemp Canvas Double Knee Pants. Made from Patagonia’s 9.6oz All Seasons Hemp Canvas — a hardwearing yet lightweight combination of industrial hemp, recycled polyester, and organic cotton canvas — these Fair Trade Certified-sewn pants feature double-fabric knees with knee pad inserts, a contoured seven loop waistband, a gusseted crotch that affords unrestricted mobility, deep drop back pockets with an abrasion-resistant double-fabric seat, and front pockets with gussets for carrying an EDC knife.

Material: 9.6-oz 55% industrial hemp, 27% recycled polyester, 18% organic cotton
Fit: Relaxed
Pockets: 2 front pockets, 2 back pockets

1620 The Shop Pant

  • DWR finish for water-resistance
  • Made in USA
  • 4-way stretch
  • Dries quickly
  • Cell phone pocket could be a bit wider

Best Pants: 1620 Workwear Inc. may lack the extensive history and iconic status of brands like Carhartt and Red Wing, though, in the company’s short history, it has managed to carve out a stellar reputation for producing top-notch job-site-focused apparel like its Shop Pant. Made in America using a Spandex-infused nylon twill construction, these pants are equipped with mil-spec buttons, a gusseted crotch, YKK zippers, dedicated utility pockets, low-profile angled back welt pockets, and a heavily water-resistant DWR finish.

Material: 91% nylon, 9% spandex twill construction
Fit: Modern
Pockets: Left-hand watch pocket, angled back welt pockets


One doesn’t need to be an anatomical expert to realize how crucial the use of your hands and fingers is when working. As such, it’s hard to overemphasize how wildly important it is to keep your knuckles, palms, and fingers fortified from cuts, scrapes, impacts, and abrasions. Below we’ve selected five of the finest work gloves for keeping your hands protected while on the job site.

Mechanix Wear Durahide Originals

  • Abrasion-resistant construction with a thermoplastic rubber closure
  • One of the most popular work gloves in the game
  • Machine washable
  • Opening can be tight if you have big hands

Good Gloves: An even more rugged version of the best-selling Mechanix Wear Original Gloves, these form-fitting work gloves replace the standard item’s construction with ultra-durable Durahide performance leather, before being finished off with a TrekDry liner, and thermoplastic rubber closure wrist closures. Other noteworthy details include double-stitched index finger and thumb reinforcements, pinched fingertip construction throughout for added dexterity and strength, and Durahide leather fourchettes and palms.

Primary Construction: Leather
Armor: No
Waterproof?: No

Danner Unlined Roper Glove

  • Leather sourced from from ranch-raised American Bison
  • Reinforced palms
  • Made in USA
  • Color can vary

Better Gloves: The Pacific Northwest footwear brand’s take on a classic pair of ranch-hand-style work gloves, the Danner Unlined Roper Glove was born out of a joint effort with Centralia, Washington’s Geier Gloves and is crafted from genuine ranch-raised American Bison leather. The palms on these gloves are also reinforced, and the wrists have been given an elastic closure for a more precise fit.

Primary Construction: Bison Leather
Armor: No
Waterproof: No

Give’r 4 Season Gloves

  • Retro style
  • Leather crafted by a master-leather worker
  • Hand-waxed in Wyoming
  • Warm insulation from Thinsulate lining
  • N/A

Best Gloves: Tough enough to take on just about anything you’ll encounter on the job site, the Give’r 4 Season Glove pairs a retro-inspired appearance with a selection of contemporary elements such as a breathable Hipora membrane and 40 grams of Thinsulate insulation. Our pals over at Huckberry are also offering this best-selling glove in a number of exclusive colors.

Primary Construction: Waxed Leather
Armor: No
Waterproof: Yes

Our Favorite USA Made Work Boots

Best USA Made Work Boots 0 Hero

Still cant’ get enough heritage inspired workwear? Then you’ll want to take a deeper dive into our guide to the best American made work boots on the market.