Hello again, hardy folk! Time for a little more workwear tuff love. We’ve thus far got our feet ready for the cold: Warm socks to ward off Jack Frost’s nippy ways, and rugged, weatherproof boots to kick Old Man Winter in the shins. Now it’s time to move up to the legs. That’s right: We’re now gonna talk about pants — specifically, mens winter work pants.
Nothing Beats a Great Pair of Legs
Remember that commercial?
Wasn’t that for the hosiery that came in a plastic egg or something?
I know I’m dating myself here. That advertising slogan would never track with today’s society.
A bit heavy on the objectification, right?
I only bring it back into the light of day because the sentiment can still be applied to the pants we choose for working outside. The focus of this article is on what would be the best in cold climate situations, but a lot of what will be discussed can just as easily apply to work pants in almost any scenario.
Whether we’re sitting in a snow plow truck or walking behind a thrower, what we wear to cover our lower halves is key to everything else performing efficiently — as far as what we put on in order to go out.
Just like having the right tool for the right job, it’s the same with picking out the right pants for the right set of work-related circumstances.
This means we dudes need to be a bit on the picky side when it comes to our selection from the category of mens winter work pants. To iron out the wrinkles in this subject and simplify our priorities in regard to what to look for in leggings, I have broken down this thread-scrutinizing examination into TWO PARTS:
- Types of outer layers and their features
- Choices of inner layers, where to find the best ones, and how to decide which one is for you
So toss those plastic eggs into the recycle bin and let’s get crackin’!
Carpenter’s. Cargos. Jeans. Khakis.
Doesn’t make a difference — just go with your favorite style and head out to face the day, right?
Well… yes and no.
You might prefer one style or fabric over another, which is fine if it suits what tasks lie ahead. But you should really let the type of work that you do and the conditions you do it in dictate your choices in pants.
Spending a lot of time outdoors? Jeans could be what you need, but anything in cotton duck would probably do a lot better at not only handling the demands of the job but also for warding off the elements.
Need to carry around a lot of tools but don’t want the hassle of a heavy leather waist belt? Cargos and carpenters would be the answer with their built-in storage space and hammer loops.
As for khakis — they come in pretty much everything I’ve already mentioned. This is especially a good thing if you work at one of those jobs (like I did for years) that doesn’t supply you with uniforms but also frowns on the employees wearing jeans.
You just know the bufflehead that came up with that rule never worked an honest day in his life!
Insulated pants are a great option for when the mercury takes a serious dip. We’ll go over why these can be a great alternative to extra layers in a little bit.
Speaking of alternatives, there is another way to go (besides just work pants) if a) you’re running in and out of a warm building into frigid weather all day long, or b) you’re stuck outside tackling chores (like clearing sidewalks for the boss) in Mother Nature’s worst for the duration of your shift.
Slip ’em on, slip ’em off.
Just like rain pants, only beefier to keep you toastier. They also — if you look for them — come with reinforced knees that often allow for the insertion of knee pads (sold separately, of course).
Come to think of it…
Any pair of work pants you decide to buy should come with reinforced knees. Cargos often do.
One of my old jobs involved the deliveries of copier machines. Some of those suckers were over a thousand pounds and were as big as a room!
But they’re on wheels, you might say. Not so bad; just roll ’em up the sidewalks and into the buildings!
Easier said than done, my friend. Especially in the winter.
The cold would cause the wheels to shatter real easy if you weren’t careful on “little” things like sidewalk seams.
Door thresholds became like impenetrable barriers for those wheels, too. This required either building a makeshift ramp to get through the entrance or lifting the machine on one end while someone else pushed at the other — usually with his legs as well as his hands and arms.
And stairs? Don’t even get me started about stairs!
There’s a lot less elevators out there than you might think! This includes old schools!
Regular pants and khakis just couldn’t cut it. They generally had a lifespan of 2-3 months.
Only pants with reinforced knees would last against this constant, daily abuse.
Which is more than I can say about my knees! Is it any wonder I do stuff like this for a living now? A lot less wear-and-tear on the ol’ bod, not to mention the clothes (they’re a lot more casual now, natch).
At least you now have some inkling that I know a two-or-thing about how to properly dress for work. HARD work.
This, of course, includes what to wear besides what everybody around you gets to see:
Long Johns For Less Silver
A favorite for keeping the legs and the keister warm and snug for over a century.
Practically an American tradition — stemming back to the days of the cowboys.
These days, you can round up a pair of these in pretty much any size and color and fabric you can think of.
Cotton thermal waffle-knits to polyester performance wear with windproofing and wicking properties — they’ve got ’em all.
Sure, the cheapest way to go would be to your local Walmart or Target. You might fare a little better at a sporting goods store like Dick’s if you have one in the area.
But your best options — complete with money-back guarantees — would be my favorite two on-line stores:
Duluth Trading Company and The Sportsman’s Guide.
The “Guide” has the greater selection and therefore quite the variety of looks and discounts. They carry virtually every brand you can think of — for less. Some even come as a full ‘bodysuit’ with the rear “trap door!”
DTC has the goods, however, when it comes to finding an inner pants layer that is built to last and to do the job you need from them.
I, personally, am not a huge fan of this extra layer. Too much static cling!
That’s why I almost always just go with insulated work pants when I have to head outside and the thermometer is too frozen to give me the right temp (yep — I’ve had that happen).
They come with either flannel lining or poly-fleece, and it doesn’t matter if you prefer cargo khakis or jeans (assuming that persnickety boss in the mauve sweater vest doesn’t mind).
I’ve got one of each, cargos from Duluth and jeans from the “Guide,” and I went with the fleece lining on both.
They’ve lasted me years now, and are always the pants I jump into when I have to fire up the snow blower.
Getting a Leg Up on Mens Winter Work Pants
Okay, dudes, I know… I know…
Getting dressed shouldn’t be this complicated.
But when it comes to working in the winter, your whole DAY becomes more complicated if you haven’t equipped yourself with the right cold-weather armor.
The more layers you need, the more complicated jumping out of bed onto the freezing floor becomes. That’s just life.
What I’ve just done for you — and have been trying to do with this winter workwear series — is take as much of the confusion and frustration out of having to choose what will become your ‘second skin’ for the work day.
You don’t need to have a whole closet full of options like I do…
Just pick one or two of each item and wear the heck outta them!
At least now YOU KNOW what your best choices are — the ones that will do the best job protecting you from winter’s worst but will also handle any abuse heaped on ’em. The type of work you do will determine the final picks, of course, but you can still feel good in what you’ve got on as far as style and color; that’ll always be up to you.
Well, that pretty much wraps MOST things up from the waist down: Boots, socks, and now pants.
Just one more subject to go!
Then we’ll start paying attention to your upper half.
Until our next meeting, keep on kicking!
And yes, that means also doing this to any copier that gets in your way:
Can’t begin to tell you how many customers wanted to recreate this scene on their old machines!
Cue the angry music of your choice!
Thanks for giving this a read! Let me know what you thought of it in the comments section, okey-dokes?
Don’t be a stranger, now! Be sure to come back an’ visit!