Carhartt Workwear

By Robert Robillard on Remodeling

Carhartt for Men and Women

By Ralph Mroz

 Carhartt Dominates

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that 90% of the trades people in my area wear Carhartt Workwear pants.  Also most of the landscapers and laborers, and anyone else who makes their living with their hands.  Even the doctor that attended to me in the ER a couple years ago was wearing Carhartt carpenter pants.  I suspect it’s not too different in most parts of the country.  Carhartt has to be doing something right.

Carhartt History

Carhartt workwear has gotten to be a large company since its humble beginnings in 1889.  The company was actively managed by four generations of the Carhartt family until 2013; the Carhartt family still, I assume, exercises considerable control over the company as Board members and stock holders.  I mention this because it’s a remarkable feat.  Few companies outlive their founders, and extremely few are still going after three, let alone four, generations of family management.  Carhartt is not only still here, it’s thriving and growing.

Carhartt Work In Progress

Of course we all know that Carhartt workwear has become a bit of a street brand during the last couple decades, too.  In fact Carhartt created a new product  line called Carhartt Work In Progress to cater to hipsters.  I’m all for it: the profits generated by the hipster trade can be plowed back in to new fabric technology for working people, and Carhartt has done just that.  Plus, if anyone thinks I’m dressed fashionably when I’m busting my butt, that can only be a good thing.

Made in USA

Carhartt employs 2200 American workers.  Of course, to remain price competitive they have had to establish operations offshore as well as in the U.S..  They do not hide this fact — it’s spelled right out on their website.  “We are very proud of all of our employees around the world,” says senior vice president of marketing, Tony Ambroza.  That quote, by the way, comes from this article in Esquire which profiles the way that love of Carhartt cuts across all political boundaries; what else can you say that about these days?  Even beer seems to be divided into red and blue brands.

Three Reasons To Like Carhartt

I love Carhartt workwear, too, but not in order to bridge the political divide.  I love them for three  reasons.  First, they offer many different fits in their pants, including both “sits at the waist” and “sits below the waist.”  I’m a “sits at the waist guy” and it great to find so many choices that do.  Second, their work pants usually have an excellent pocket layout, and that layout is what I rely on to carry my standard tools load-out.  Third, Carhartt hits the sweet spot of lasting value at competitive prices.  Their clothes are tough, long lasting, and reasonably priced.  Also, they’re comfortable.

Carhartt for Women

Carhartt workwear must have thousands of items in their catalog at any given time.  There are classic items that have been there for many decades and that some tradies have worn their entire career, from apprenticeship to retirement.  And there are newer items, often incorporating new fabrics.  Carhartt has also brought an extensive collection of women’s work wear to market and it’s hardly unusual to see a working gal wearing the brand.  Here I profile six newer items that the company has brought out as a way of showing how Carhartt always has something innovative to consider.  Ladies first.

Carhartt Women’s Force Lightweight Utility Legging

Leggings have become a mainstay of women’s fashion over the last decade or so.  But work leggings?  Well, yes; it turns out that they have some advantages.  Here’s the lowdown on Carhartt’s Force Lightweight Utility Legging(style 103609):

  • Made of 8.5-ounce, 95% nylon / 5% spandex ponte
  • Built with Force technology to wick sweat and dry fast
  • Built to move with Rugged Flex® stretch technology
  • FastDry® technology wicks sweat and fights odors
  • Mid-rise sits just below the waist with a fitted hip and thigh and a skinny leg opening
  • Wide waistband prevents gap in the back
  • Comfortable gusseted crotch for more stretch between the legs

Carhartt Leggings

While they may be called lightweight leggings, they are lightweight only in the context of traditional workwear.  They are certainly heavier than women’s gym leggings, and they definitely have a tough feel to the fabric — you know that they aren’t fragile or going to rip easily.  My tester reports that they provide incredible ease of movement, with no binding or restriction, and are way more comfortable than denim or canvas work pants.  The pockets on either side (one zip, two utility) will hold basic tools.  She was very impressed with the overall high construction quality, and she was surprised that these leggings would be so practical for work.

Carhartt Women’s Clarksburg Full-Zip Hoodie

The Clarksburg  (style 102788) is styled as a basic full-zip hoodie.  So why include it here, in an article about innovation at Carhartt workwear?  Well, because it’s so high quality.  My tester knows a thing or two about fabric, sewing and garment construction, and she was very impressed.  She’s not easy to impress.  It has the warmth and durability to rival a jacket, and is made of heavyweight fleece.  She liked the fact that it was roomy enough to accommodate movement and layering.  Features:

  • Most colors: 10.5-ounce, 55% cotton / 45% polyester
  • Full zip front with three-piece hood
  • Rib-knit cuffs and waist help keep out the cold
  • Front handwarmer pockets

Carhartt Women’s Fairview Solid Shirt

This is Carhartt’s take on a woman’s version of the classic chambray cotton work shirt.  The basic specs on this number are:

  • 5-ounce, 100% cotton chambray
  • Full button front
  • Long sleeves roll up to three-quarter length with button tabs
  • Droptail hem for added coverage
  • Two chest pockets with a pen stall
  • Utility pockets combined with chest pockets.

Chambray Material

The chambray material is a thicker and more substantial than a fashion shirt would be, keeping the Fairview (style 103089) in line with Carhartt’s working heritage.  My tester, who knows a lot about this stuff, said that the construction was top-notch: extra stitching, reinforced seams, and generally excellent quality.  She said that unlike many women’s tops, the Fairview didn’t bind her back or shoulders as she moved (and not because the shirt was too loose — it fit her nicely).  The tab inside the sleeves can be used to capture rolled-up sleeves to three-quarter length.  A real all-round winner.

Carhartt Cryder Work Pant

I love these pants (style #102812)!  They are unbelievably comfortable.  My initial impression was that they looked too good to be work pants, and I didn’t want to get them dirty.  Well first day out, I’m wearing them while working on my knees in one of those cellars that has 60 years of dirt, grimy sawdust, metal shavings and mouse dropping on the floor.  A good deal of that stuff stuck to the pants…but it brushed right off.  It didn’t penetrate deep into the fabric and (probably permanently) stain it.  Basic Cryder specs:

  • 8-ounce, 59% cotton / 39% polyester / 2% spandex canvas
  • Rain Defender® durable water repellent (DWR) to keep you dry in light rain and wet weather
  • Full Swing® design for ease of movement
  • Rugged Flex® stretch technology
  • Comfortable fit through the seat and thigh and a straight leg opening
  • Gusseted crotch
  • Articulated knees
  • Reinforced front slash pockets; Reinforced back pockets with secured flaps; Secure cell phone pocket on right leg; Utility pocket on left leg
  • Reinforced back kick panels on leg bottoms
  • Belt loops sewn on the seam for strength

Carhartt Flex Pants

These Rugged Flex® pants stretch just the right amount.  The rear pockets are covered by a flap that’s stitched on one side only so that you can easily lift the flap to access them.  I hate flap pockets with buttons or snaps — they are just too much hassle to open and close, especially in cold weather.  These pockets give you the best of both worlds: open pocket convenience and flap pocket security.

These good-looking pants are a step up from canvas or jeans.  Cryder work pants are a perfect example of how Carhartt workwear uses new designs and fabric technology to continually improve the humble work pant.

Carhartt Force Cotton Delmont Short-Sleeve T-Shirt

Summer is hot.  Work is hot.  Taken together, we tend to sweat a lot in the hot weather.  Cotton t-shirts, no matter how thin, get sweat-soaked, heavy, and uncomfortably sticky next to your skin.  Even if you have the luxury or going shirtless, your skin can only take so long in the direct sun every day.   Carhartt’s classic K87 t-shirt, with which I assume you’re familiar, pretty much defines the working person’s t-shirt.  It’s only drawback is the fact that it’s all cotton.  In the hot weather I prefer the Force Cotton (blend) Delmont t-shirt (style #100410)  Here’s what it’s about:

  • 5.75-ounce 65% cotton / 35% polyester plaited jersey knit
  • Built with Force technology to wick sweat and dry fast
  • FastDry® technology wicks away sweat
  • Stain Breaker® technology releases stains
  • Left-chest pocket
  • Raglan sleeves increase for less restriction
  • Tagless neck label for a smooth feel

Carhart Delmont

The relaxed-fit Delmont is cut slightly less loose than the original-cut K87.   It’s partially cotton of course, so it will absorb some sweat, but my experience is that it absorbs less than half what an all-cotton would, and it dries quickly. That makes quite a difference in the heat.  It has a nice soft feel, too.

Carhartt Force® Delmont Graphic Hooded Sweatshirt

In my neck of the woods, most tradies wear a sweat shirt over a t-shirt when it gets cold, and only put on a jacket over them when it gets very cold.  With a light weight, wicking, short-sleeve turtleneck between the t-shirt and the sweat shirt, it has to get pretty cold — well below freezing — for me to want a jacket, and then only if I’m not working hard.  Of course you sweat while working hard in the cold weather, and the cold means that you have to get rid of the moisture…otherwise you’ll be both cold and wet…and miserable too, if not out of commission for a while.   That means that your sweat shirt has to wick sweat just like your t-shirt does.  The Carhartt Force® Delmont Graphic Hooded Sweatshirt (style #103453) fits the bill perfectly.  Specs:

  • 8-ounce, 58% cotton / 42% polyester Force fleece
  • Force technology to wick sweat and dry fast
  • FastDry® technology wicks away sweat
  • Stain Breaker® technology releases stains
  • Three-piece hood with crossover neckline
  • Raglan sleeves for range of motion
  • Front handwarmer pocket with hidden media pocket inside
  • Underarm gussets with eyelets for breathability
  • Rib-knit cuffs and waist
  • Carhartt Logo graphic printed on upper right chest

I like that it’s mid-weight for flexibility — you don’t have to add a large amount of heat retention all at once like you would with a heavy-weight sweat shirt.  Unlike a lot of sweat shirts, the cuffs on the Delmont don’t stretch completely out when you hike up the sleeves on your forearm.  This sweat shirt hits all the right notes.




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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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