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Last Updated: December 2020
Jeans are often thought of as a fashion item, but they are an integral part of workwear too. Sure, jeans look great, but it is their durability that makes them perfect for the jobs where you have a lot of manual labor or are working with power tools and other heavy-duty machinery.
Not only will they stand up to rips, tears, dirt, abrasions, the elements, and more, but they will have you looking good in the process. Work jeans can be durable while still being comfortable and fashionable too.
We have found some of the best work jeans out there, each with a mix of ruggedness, elegance, comfort, and style. These jeans will hold up to whatever your workplace throws at you.
Our Top Picks
With so many pairs of work jeans out there, it can be hard to know where to start. Check out our list of heavy-duty and tough work jeans for all your workplace needs.
1. Wrangler Riggs Workwear Ripstop Carpenter Jean
Wrangler has been in the jean market for years, and they certainly know what they are doing. With heavy-duty construction, these work pants are ready for anything and even come with a lifetime warranty.
Wrangler is confident that the jeans will last, and that is largely down to the high-quality and durable construction. There are double-reinforcements at the stress points, a reinforced tape measure clip, extra belt loops, and lined back pockets.
You get the durability, and there is a ton of comfort too. The jeans are made from 100% cotton, giving all-day comfort, and the relaxed fit means that you can be hard at work all day without stopping. The action-gusset crotch and deep pockets add an extra layer of comfort that every worker will appreciate.
The jeans are great for everyone, but carpenters will find them especially valuable. The classic carpenter style is also well suited to woodworkers, with durable materials and deep pockets.
Thankfully, you do not need deep pockets for this pair of work jeans. They are durable, comfortable, and affordable.
2. Carhartt Rugged Flex Relaxed Straight-Leg Jean
With 85% cotton, 14% polyester, and 1% spandex, you have the perfect mix for a durable and comfortable work jean. Not only does the material hold up well to scuffs, tears, and abrasions, but it also has the flexibility that you need when you are on the worksite (and off it too). The material will stretch, making it easy for you to crouch, kneel, and get into awkward places, and the jeans will return back to their original shape when you are done.
We love the mix of comfort and technology, the material bringing ultimate comfort to all wearers. There is also a straight leg opening that leaves plenty of room for your boots underneath.
The button closure is durable, as are the sewn-on belt loops and double-stitched seams. The jeans sit just below your waist, so they won’t get in the way when you are working. And, when you need to take care of the jeans, they are completely machine washable.
Relaxed and comfortable jeans that will keep you working all day.
3. Dickies Relaxed Fit Straight-Leg Duck Carpenter Jean
If you want work jeans that do not look like work jeans, then these straight-leg carpenter jeans are just the thing. They are perfect for carpenters, electricians, and just about everyone else. The jeans are crafted from 100% cotton, leaving you with a comfortable fit and feel all day long. The jeans are also completely machine washable, so they are easy to take care of too.
The jeans are sanded and garment-washed so that they have a broken-in feel from day one. There is nothing worse than putting on a new pair of work jeans to have them be uncomfortable for a few days. With these jeans, you are comfortable from day one.
The jeans have a relaxed straight leg fit, sit just below the waist, and have a roomy seat and thigh. The hammer loop on the left leg is a welcome addition and the dual tool pockets on the right leg help you to carry your tools with you.
Functional, comfortable, and durable jeans for everyone
4. Dickies Industrial Carpenter Jean
These carpenter jeans are perfect for the workplace but are also stylish enough to wear as an everyday pair. They are made from 100% cotton for a soft and comfortable fit, and everything is reinforced with triple stitching, from the side seams to the yoke and seat. The rivet-free design does not detract from the durability of the jeans and means that there are no accidental scratches from any metal.
The heavy-duty brass zipper reinforces a weak point in the jeans while also being easy to use. The unfinished inseams also allow you to easily hem and alter the jeans should you want to.
With a wide range of waist sizes, these jeans are great for everyone, and there are options for big guys, not sacrificing any comfort or functionality. There is a hammer loop on the left side and tool pockets on the right; perfect for carpenters and electricians.
5. Wrangler Authentics Classic 5-Pocket Relaxed Fit Cotton Jean
These 100% cotton imported jeans have a relaxed fit, with plenty of room around the seat and thigh, giving you jeans that are perfect if you are constantly moving. You can walk, run, crouch, stretch, reach, and much more while wearing these jeans, and they will stretch with you. The durable cotton will also last easily over a day, standing up to dirt and grime, and remain durable and tough through years of work.
The breathable cotton adds functional comfort that makes working easier than it usually is. The air can circulate to keep you cool, and any moisture is wicked away as you work. Great jeans for indoor and outdoor work.
The jeans sit on your natural waistline, have a heavy-duty zipper with button closure for extra security, and five pockets. You can easily carry all of your smaller tools around with you.
Comfortable and breathable jeans for all.
6. Carhartt Relaxed Fit Holter Dungaree
If you work hard, you need tough clothes, and these dungarees are going to keep up. They have 86% cotton for comfort and 14% polyester for added durability. The jeans are purpose-built to be worn 24/7 for life, work, and play (if you want to wear them for that long). They are great for hot and cold weather, stand up to rain and shine, and will take whatever the elements throw at you.
The jeans sit at the waist, and one of the best things about this workwear is that they are ‘true fit.’ You can go ahead and order the size that you normally wear without being delivered something that does not fit. The seat and thigh are relaxed for prolonged comfort, there are sewn-on belt loops and a hammer loop, along with straight legs that fit over your work boots.
With lots of functionality, including multiple tool pockets, these tough dungarees will hold up to everything.
7. Levi Strauss Gold Label Carpenter Jean
With almost 100% cotton, you are guaranteed a comfortable fit. And, with added elastane, you have that extra bit of elasticity that allows you a full range of motion that other jeans do not have. Levi Strauss has been making jeans for years and you expect quality with them, and these heavy-duty work jeans are no exception. They are premium quality workwear with a carpenter fit and a ton of style. Not many work jeans look like regular jeans, but these ones pull it off. Wear them on the job site or when you go for a drink after.
The jeans have a relaxed fit with a straight cut from knee to ankle for a continuous fit that allows for work boots underneath. There are a variety of colors to choose from (so you can get yourself a couple of pairs) and there are sizes for everyone (even for big guys).
Possibly the most stylish work jean on the market.
What To Know Before Buying Work Jeans?
Great work jeans should offer a mix of functionality, durability, and comfort. They should be able to hold up to whatever is thrown at them, including paint splatters, abrasions, wear and tear, punctures, and more.
Not all work jeans are created equally. Sure, there are many high-quality work pants out there, but some are created for specific needs. If you are an electrician or carpenter, you are going to want different jeans to someone who is dealing with construction and foundations.
If you want workwear that holds up to damage, look for reinforced knees as they are the areas that are subjected to the most damage. You also want to pay attention to the seams as they are easily snagged if you are not careful.
If you need a range of movement, you want jeans that give you room to move and move with you. If you are up and down ladders, or crouching and kneeling a lot, the fit may be more important than the durability.
You also want to think about the storage capabilities. If you need to carry tools and a hammer all the time, you can find jeans that accommodate that. If you don’t need that, the extra capabilities might get in your way.
Think about your job and match the jeans to your specific needs.
Durable workwear needs to start with durable material. The type of job that you do will also dictate the type of material that you should look for.
Cotton is a classic material that offers a good blend of comfort and durability. Denim is made from cotton fibers and is the most used material in jeans. The thick fabric makes it durable and able to withstand abrasions and tears. And, even though it is strong and tough, it still remains comfortable.
If you want to combine the toughness of denim with some elasticity for a better range of movement, look for a blend of cotton and elastane (sometimes called lycra). This will allow you to move around easily and have the jeans stretch with you, while the main cotton component will keep the material soft.
For added durability, you can look for a cotton-polyester blend. If your workplace demands rugged workwear, this will make for a stronger jean that holds up better. The added benefit of having polyester in your jeans is that it makes the pants wrinkle-free and easier to clean.
If you want to take it one step further, look for treated jeans. If you are working in moisture, this will keep your lower body dry and more comfortable. You can also find jeans with warm liners for colder climates.
Just because work jeans are rugged and tough, that does not mean that they should not be comfortable too. In fact, comfort is one of the most important things to look for in workwear. When you are on your feet all day, you need to feel comfortable.
You may have to break in the jeans if the fabric is heavy but, as long as you invest in good cotton blends, the comfort will come. If you need to move around a lot, be sure to find a blend with a material that will stretch.
Style & Fit
Jeans that are too loose or tight are not going to fit well. When the jeans fit just right, you are not going to be distracted by them, nor are they going to become caught up in any machinery or on any tools. On the other hand, if they are too tight, you are not going to have the mobility that you need.
Your individual fit will depend on your own preferences and, if you have worked on a job site for a while, you should know a little about what you like and dislike. A slim fit is more modern and has a slimmer leg while a relaxed fit will give you more room in the seat and thigh. And, don’t forget to find jeans that allow for your work boots underneath.
Work jeans are designed for the workplace, so they often come with some added functionality that can make your life easier. The most common is a hammer loop, and that is almost a must on any work pants. If you need to carry essential tools around with you, you can also look for jeans with extra tool pockets.
For durability, we always believe that double-stitched (or triple-stitched) seams are a must, reinforcing the weak areas of the pants, and heavy-duty zippers make a big difference. If you work all hours of the day, reflective strips can add that extra visibility that makes the difference between being seen and not seen.
Common Types of Work Jeans
All work jeans share some commonalities, such as durability, comfort, and functionality, but there are some distinct types that are designed for specific jobs. Here are some of the most common work jeans to look out for.
Utility work pants are a basic all-round work pant. They are great for amateurs and professional contractors, and you will feel as at home in them on the job site through the week as you will in your basement on a Sunday as you make minor renovations.
They generally have extra pockets for tools and other accessories when you are working, are made from heavy fabrics that withstand rips and tears, and have reinforced seams for extra durability. Almost all of them will have a loop on the leg for your hammer.
If you work in colder temperatures, you need work jeans that will keep you warm when the temperature plunges. Fleece-lined pants will do just that, and you can also find some lined with flannel, cotton, and other materials. If you are working outdoors all of the time, we recommend fleece for warmth, and if you are moving between inside and outside, we would go for flannel-lined so that you don’t get too hot.
The added advantage of lined work jeans is that you do not have to bulk up with layers, and the material used to line the pants is generally comfortable.
Carpenter jeans are heavier pants that have room for an array of tools. They generally feature smart storage options that allow you to carry everything that you need when you are working as a carpenter (or electrician) and will usually have a loop on your leg for a hammer or any other tools that will fit there. They will have a more relaxed fit than utility pants due to the amount of movement that is required with this line of work.
Dungarees offer a more casual style than the other options on our list. The denim jeans are durable and have a straight leg with a relaxed fit. They usually come in natural colors and offer a pant that is more stylish than the average work pant, allowing you to wear it confidently in and out of work. Even though they are stylish, they will give a good range of movement and may also come with some utility pockets.