Whether you’ve recently started to take on more construction jobs or you’re hoping to replace that lovingly worn pair of paint-covered overalls, there are plenty of workwear options available. Made to stand up to manual labor, dirt, grime, and varying weather conditions, the best work jeans will be both durable and comfortable.
Often made of heavier denim, strong seams, and reinforced knees, these pants can offer convenience and comfort for avid outdoors people and expert carpenters alike. Read on to learn more about what types of work jeans are available and what to look for while shopping.
- BEST OVERALL FOR MEN: Wrangler Riggs Workwear Men’s Utility Jean
- BEST OVERALL FOR WOMEN: Carhartt Denim Double Front Bib Overalls
- BEST MEN’S FLANNEL-LINED: Dickies Men’s Relaxed Fit Flannel Lined Jean
- BEST WOMEN’S FLANNEL-LINED: Carhartt Women’s Blaine Flannel Lined Jean
- BEST MEN’S CARPENTER: Signature by Levi Strauss & Co. Men’s Carpenter Jean
- BEST WOMEN’S CARPENTER: Dickies Women’s Double-Front Carpenter Pant
- BEST MEN’S DUNGAREES: Carhartt Men’s Relaxed Fit Twill Dungaree Pant
- BEST WOMEN’S DUNGAREES: Carhartt Women’s 1889 Slim Fit Denim Dungaree
Popular Types of Work Jeans
The best work jeans are made for function and built to last with durable denim. They will often include storage pockets and other features to make accessing tools more convenient. There are a wide variety of options that will suit different workers, from the DIYer to a professional carpenter. Among the different types available, there is a lot of crossover when it comes to features. You may hear work jeans referenced as utility, fleece and flannel lined, carpentry, or dungarees.
Utility pants are all-around work pants, making them perfect for Sunday house projects as well as more involved jobs. They are generally made from heavier fabrics and reinforced seams to stand up to wear and tear. Options may include a variety of pockets to hold tools and other items that you want to have on hand during projects. Utility pockets are typically larger than standard ones in order to hold bigger/heavier items. A utility loop is a strong loop that is generally sewn into the upper pant leg to hold a hammer.
Fleece and Flannel Lined
When working in cold temperatures, you may want to consider flannel- or fleece-lined options. Fleece options are generally the coziest, providing ample warmth for outside jobs. However, flannel styles may be a good option when working both indoors and out throughout the day.
These work jeans generally feature a cotton lining that is soft to the touch and offers added insulation. This eliminates the need for adding bulky layers that may be uncomfortable and limit mobility. For added style, they will often roll up at the bottom to expose a plaid cuff.
Generally made from denim or other heavy cotton fabric, carpenter pants are made to hold an assortment of tools for easy access. They will often include a variety of reinforced pockets in different sizes for handheld tools. In addition to multiple storage pockets, they may feature reinforced belt loops and a hammer loop along the waistband or on your leg to hold heavier tools. They commonly have a relaxed fit in order to accommodate a wide range of movement. Women’s versions will often include some stretch for added mobility.
Dungarees are casual work jeans perfect for painting and lighter home projects. They are traditionally made from denim, but non-denim cotton options are available as well. They generally have a straight, relaxed fit and are available in neutral colors. Some will have stretch technology to accommodate a wider range of movement. They can be found as both standard pants and as overalls. Dungarees commonly have some utility pockets, though not as many as carpenter pants.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Work Jeans
A good pair of work pants should provide greater comfort and convenience than making due with an old pair designated for work only due to paint splatters, holes, fit, or some other sign of wear. There are many options to choose from, so you’ll want to do your homework before making a purchase. To find the best work jeans to suit your needs, consider how you plan to use them and your desired material, fit, and comfort level as well as options for storage and special features.
The work jeans you choose will largely depend on your needs. If you’re looking for a pair of pants that will stand up to major wear and tear, you’ll want to look for thicker options with reinforced knees and seams that won’t snag or tear. If your job requires climbing ladders and squatting in low places, consider options that will allow for a large range of movement and are also supported by reinforced seams. Storage capabilities will depend on what items you’ll need to carry with you throughout the day.
If you’re looking for pants to hold up to camping and rugged outdoor activities, choose options that are not only durable, but also include weather-resistant features. For the occasional house project, a standard pair of utility pants with some storage pockets should do the job.
The material your pants are made of will dictate if they can stand up to hard work and regular wear. The most durable materials for work jeans are denim and other cotton fabrics. Denim work pants are made of thicker fabric and are more durable than typical fashion jeans. Though many work jeans will be made with standard cotton denim, other variations are available.
One durable option is denim with a cotton-duck blend, which has nothing to do with ducks, but is actually a durable woven canvas. These jeans are extremely durable with a smooth surface that is resistant to snagging and tearing. The thick fabric is also good for blocking wind and protecting you from the elements.
Stretch denim will include elastane, also known as spandex or Lycra, which is actually a combination of polyester and polyurethane. This type of jean will offer more comfort and range of movement for workers for whom bending and climbing is required.
Denim blends are also available, with polyester being the most common for work jeans. These versions provide stronger and more durable fabric that is wrinkle-resistant and easy to clean. Polyester options are often available in combination with elastane.
Sometimes called performance denim, some work jean options are treated for water resistance, allowing water to roll off the pant leg. For cold weather, lined options will keep workers warm. The two most common linings for these work jeans are flannel and fleece.
There’s a reason workers like to hold on to their favorite, well-worn pants for years. Due to the heavy fabric of most work jeans, they will generally have a break-in period before becoming comfortable. For jobs that require lots of bending and freedom of movement, consider a stretch fabric to increase comfort.
When it comes to comfort, the other thing to consider is the weather conditions you’ll be working through. If you know you’ll be working in wet or muddy conditions, water resistance will help keep you dry and warm. If hot temperatures are common to your area, consider a lighter-weight denim to enable airflow.
Pants that are too tight or too loose can look unkempt and get in the way of your work. A proper-fitting work pant will look good, last longer, and ensure safety at the worksite. Loose material can get caught on things and cause a hazard, while tight ones can limit mobility and comfort.
There are three general fits depending on your style and comfort preferences. Classic fit is your standard, average fitting pant, while a relaxed fit will be a bit roomier. A slim fit is more modern with a slimmer leg. All work jean styles are generally designed to fit over both women’s and men’s work boots.
Added features may be what sets apart one pair of pants from another. For durability, always look for reinforced knees, triple-stitched reinforced seams, and heavy-duty zippers. Bartacks are extra stitches that can be used to reinforce seams, which can also be done by metal rivets. For weather resistance, look for water-repellent treatments. Reflective high-visibility tape may be included for those workers out after the sun goes down.
Another common feature is a gusset, which is a diamond shaped piece of fabric sewn into the pants’ crotch to eliminate seams that could minimize movement and be uncomfortable for those who need more flexibility. Multiple or reinforced belt loops and pockets will hold tools, often fortified for the added weight. A special hammer loop may be included to keep this heavier tool handy.
Our Top Picks
The best work jeans are both durable and comfortable while offering convenience. The following selections for men and women can suit most environments, from weekend home projects to the toughest of work conditions. Consider one of the following for your next project.
Well-suited for those who need to carry multiple handheld tools, included are two front pockets, two reinforced and lined back pockets, one right-side tool pocket, one right-side hammer loop, and one oversized watch pocket. A leather tape-measure clip is an added bonus.
A relaxed fit provides plenty of room in the seat and thigh, while the gusseted crotch offers added comfort and a greater range of motion. The cotton Durashield denim is made of fibers that move during wear and washing to reduce abrasion and protect the denim color.
The adjustable suspenders keep straps secure while the double-front construction accommodates knee pads for jobs that require kneeling. The company’s Rugged Flex technology offers stretchability for a large range of movement. The durable fabric is made from a cotton, polyester, and spandex blend, and the overalls are machine washable.
Two large lower front pockets, reinforced back pockets, and utility bands on each leg allow plenty of space to carry necessary tools. A multi-compartment bib pocket features a zipper to keep personal items secure.
The relaxed fit of these Dickie’s pants provides room in the seat and thigh, and the tapered leg will easily fit over work boots. They are made from 100 percent cotton denim for a soft and comfortable fit. The plaid flannel lining adds to the jean’s comfort while also providing warmth when working in cold temperatures.
Nylon-lined reinforced back pockets offer a secure spot for small tools and personal items. These jeans are available in two shades of denim and are machine washable.
Made specifically for women with cotton and spandex, the original fit offers room in the leg and will easily fit over work boots. They are mid-rise, sitting just below the waist. Helpful for jobs that require bending and climbing, the company’s Rugged Flex technology allows for a large range of movement. Two back pockets will accommodate personal items.
There are a range of sizes to select from, with short and tall options available. Three denim shades are available with differing plaid colors for the lining. They are machine washable for easy cleaning.
The fit of these Levi jeans is relaxed through the seat and thigh and cut straight from knee to ankle to fit easily over work boots.
The company’s Flex-engineered fabric is perfect for jobs that require flexibility. It is made with a blend of cotton and one percent elastane for comfort and ease of movement. For convenience, five pockets and a hammer loop allow for plenty of space to hold essential tools. These jeans are available in five colors and are machine washable.
Fit for tough jobs that require carrying handheld tools, these Dickies women’s carpenter pants feature seven pockets as well as hammer and key loops. The pockets are reinforced by rivets to accommodate the added weight of tools.
The spandex stretch fabric blend and contoured waistband make for ease of movement, while triple-stitched seams add extra support for active jobs. The double front panels have an interior knee pad opening for projects where kneeling is essential.
The relaxed fit straight leg is flattering and can comfortably slide over work boots. They are available in two colors and a range of sizes.
This work jean is actually made of 100 percent prewashed cotton twill for a soft and comfortable fit. A hammer loop and heavy-hauling reinforced back pockets will hold the weight of your tools, while sewn-on-seam belt loops add security for carrying items on your waistband.
The relaxed fit offers roominess in the seat and thigh for easy movement. A straight leg opening will fall comfortably over work boots. These pants come in nine colors and are machine washable. They run small so the company recommends taking your measurements before ordering.
Carhartt’s Denim Dungaree is made from 98 percent cotton and 2 percent spandex for added stretch. These jeans feature the company’s Rugged Flex technology and triple-stitched inseams for durability and ease of movement. Mid-rise, this pant sits just below the waist and is slightly fitted through the hip and thigh, fitting easily over work boots. A contoured waistband prevents gapping in the back when bending over. Utility pockets and a hammer loop offer a spot for essential tools. Throw them in the washer for easy cleaning after a long day of work.
FAQs About Your New Work Jeans
You may still be wondering how many pockets work jeans should have or how long your new pair will last. Get the answers to these and other commonly asked questions about work jeans.
Q. How many pockets should work jeans have?
Work jeans should have enough pockets to carry your essential tools. If you tend to carry around a lot of items, look for options with plenty of fortified pockets as well as reinforced belt and hammer loops.
Q. Are work jeans machine washable?
Since they will need to hold up to dirt, grime, and other contaminants, the best work jeans are always machine washable.
Q. How long do work jeans last?
The longevity of your work jeans will depend on the material and how often you use them. A heavier-weight denim will tend to last the longest.