Carhartt is a name that most of us blue collar folks know. From farm and field to construction and industrial; Carhartt produces a fantastic variety of work wear clothing and hard use casual items. They literally have every base covered. So much so that, unless you know specifically what you’re after, a trip to their website can cause your head to spin from the sheer number of choices. On top of the mass quantity there are also a great many categories. Not to mention a full woman and children’s line round out a substantial catalog of finely crafted clothing.
When we got the chance to review some items it was requested to have a few different writers take on individual projects. All we had to do was provide our sizes and we eagerly awaited the packages to see what offerings were sent to review. I admit I was more than a little surprised with the number of items they sent for review. I believe the project ended up being five writers so I was thinking an item or two for each might show up. My end of the project ended up being three packages on three different days. The articles received included seven total pieces of clothing; three pairs of pants, a long sleeve flannel, a logo hoodie, a stormproof jacket, and a logo tee-shirt. The amount of clothing that finally arrived prompted my wife to be less than certain that they were actually offered for review and not simply purchased by me with a Woods Monkey review cover story. I think she started to believe me when I asked her to take some pictures of me in the garments, since I am less than happy being in front of the camera. I should make mention here too that of the reviewers taking part in this project I represent the Shrek sized crowd. There aren’t many of us and we commonly have to make do with what is on the rack to fit us, but Carhartt stands out in this regard as well. However you want to term it – big and tall, plus sizes they have them and in great quantity.
First we will look at the pants. Three different styles were sent. A pair of black duck cloth heavy duty work pants which are actually called the “Washed-Duck Work Dungaree”. These proved to be very rugged. I dare say you could bush whack some serious brush with these and come out none the worse for wear. As it was, during the time of my review period we here in my native Ohio was in the midst of winter. My use for these pants mainly consisted of my daily chores. Normal stuff for a county life – cutting firewood, running the tractor for snow plowing, snow shoveling, working in the garage, cleaning up brush, and I did take them on a few hikes to try them out. As I said these are very rugged pants, well built with heavy stitching. The fabric puts you in mind of the quintessential Carhartt barn coats; I believe it may be the exact same material. I didn’t find them binding or uncomfortable in anyway, in fact they are a generous cut with ample room in the thigh for kneeling and squatting. That being said they are a heavier cut of cloth, you will notice a difference to your broken in jeans and such but it isn’t anything that will hinder you. It is simply due to the ruggedness of their construction. Pockets were of ample size for me, that’s saying something because I typically have a wicked hodgepodge of junk in my pockets. On the right thigh there are two utility pockets and one the left though a single utility pocket and hammer loop. I have been using them at least once a week on and off for a little over two months and can report no breakdown in integrity. They didn’t even fade or bleed in the washer, but I did wash on cold as is the habit in our home for energy savings. All in all a great pair of work pants.
The next pair of pants were a ruggedly built pair of denim jeans called the “Relaxed Fit Jean – Straight Leg”. These are even a little more rugged then you typical jeans. Which, I suppose we should expect from a name like Carhartt. The jeans are a standard blue jean color with no wash, I can’t tell you a shade – I work from the Crayola eight crayon box color scheme. If it doesn’t fit one of those I won’t know it, so to me they are simply blue or dark blue. These pants more or less matched the overall construction of the black washed-duck pants in sizing, stitching, and cut. They are however just enough lighter of a fabric to be a bit more comfortable. Here again we find amply sized pockets in the standard five pocket jean setup. They are a little better quality than your off brand jeans and much heavier than your, what I will call, fashion jeans. The Carhartt relaxed fit jeans are a fine looking pair of jeans but you can tell they were crafted by people with a working man’s mindset. They may look good enough to get you by for dinner and drinks or some yuppie function with the right shirt but make no mistake these babies were made for being a field and putting in a days work without having to worry about scuffs and tears.
The last pants I received were the “Canvas Khaki”. They are some softer derivative of the duckcloth; duckcloth’s younger brother if you will. The pair I received was Khaki; yes I know what color khaki is – my ninth crayon. The pocket scheme is like unto that of the jeans save for a cell phone pocket on the right thigh. My IPhone fit without the Otter Box but with it installed the pocket was a little too tight. This bit is going to sound misleading but follow what I am explaining. Were the other two pants were a bit stiff out of the pack they wore in over time with use, and will continue too I should imagine. These khakis were broke in out of the package. Not to say they are not just as rugged and tough. They have been softened by some means that makes them feel like your favorite old boots the first time you wear them. I was thoroughly impressed by this but it left me doubting their strength. There was of course a simple enough way to remedy that – torture testing. I made it a point to put these softer pants through just as much or a little more beating than the other two pants and I must say they passed with flying colors. From bucking logs to continuous kneeling in gravel at the shooting range they took it all. I even pulled off wearing them to church such is the quality of the pants look. These I think will become my favorite and most used of the bunch. They have proven to be tough enough to take the rigors of work pants and have thus far come clean without anything more than a spot treatment in the laundry. They were just a smidge to thin for the coldest days but no more so than regular jeans. The addition of a pair of long underwear remedied the situation and they felt great in tandem. All the pants offered performed remarkably well, they will be going into regular rotation in my wardrobe without question.
The three shirts I received are the next things to discuss. The first one is the “short sleeve logo T-shirt”. My first thought when opening the package to find the tee was how am I supposed to do a gear review on a tee shirt? I still don’t know if I represent the shirt well but here is what I came up with. I had all the products for about the same time frame. So I’ve worn and washed the articles numerous times. This shirt hasn’t shown any sign of shrinking or fading from laundering. It was a little stiff out of the package but after the first wash it feels pretty good. The cut is good; it looks decent tucked in and doesn’t bunch up or bind when you twist and such. Sometimes a shirt with a logo printed on it will crack when you use it roughly; this one has not shown any signs of such wear. As a stain test I wore it to work one day. I work in a stainless steel melt shop and our personal protective equipment is pretty extensive. We are required to wear NFPA 70E clothing, if you don’t know what that means imagine a long sleeve shirt and pants that are roughly the same pliability as a cereal box. Maybe it isn’t quite that bad but close. Under this we have to wear long sleeve long underwear that is flame retardant. Under this most all of us choose to wear a tee shirt to have a clean layer on. This is all topped off with an aluminized wool or carbon cloth trench coat with a hood made of the same material. Suffice to say that you can have some serious opportunity to sweat stain a T-shirt. The Carhartt tee took it in stride, washing clean and showing no signs of wear. The fit to size is good to, the 3XL I got to review is way roomy and I dare say I could have gotten away with a 2XL.
The next shirt is the “long sleeve flannel plaid”. Here again we see true to form good quality construction. No threads sticking out when you first put it on. No shrinking when laundered or fading, something most flannels are prone too. Soft out of the package and remains soft. Something else I noticed is that the shirt didn’t get fuzzy like lower quality flannels I’ve owned. I believe the term for this is pilling. This shirt was amazingly comfortable and had a good insulating property that I am guessing is due to the closeness of the knit and not being skimpy on the thickness of the shirt. I wore it a few times when cutting and splitting firewood. I soon found myself shedding my jacket and ended up more often than not with the sleeves rolled up and a few buttons undone. On rolling the sleeves up, like I mentioned earlier I am the Ogre size tester and though I could surely stand to drop any number of pounds of fat I am pretty big under my insulation. Long sleeve shirts that I can roll the cuffs up and be comfortable are few and far between. To give you an idea I just performed an odd task and measured my forearm – it is sixteen inches around. The cut of the Carhartt flannel was ample enough that I was comfortable with the sleeves rolled up even while working hard. It was a feature greatly appreciated.
Next up on the shirt front is the “Mid-weight logo hoodie”. I’m going to make one suggestion to Carhartt here that sums this thing up; you guys need to rename this thing the woobie. Talk about comfortable? Soft inside like a fleece bag liner and tight knit enough outside so a spill will virtually run off it. This thing is super spacious, again my model was a 3XL since that is what I submitted for my size but I think I could have swung a 2XL. One feature I liked was the elasticity of the sleeve cuffs was loose enough to feel unconstructed with the sleeves pushed up but tight enough that they stayed snug and did not become misshapen when pulled back down. The belly pouch is huge and the hood is over sized enough to block the sharpest wind. Again with the decal logo there has been no sign of cracking or wear. Launderings have had no ill effects. All in all a great casual piece of clothing awesome for a night by the campfire or when the weather just isn’t cold enough for a full jacket.
Last but certainly not least, the piece de resistance offering from Carhartt in my gaggle of goodies. The “Waterproof Breathable Coat” in a word good reader – “STORMPROOF”. Sealed construction throughout, seam sealed stitching, bonded zippers with storm flaps, big pockets with storm flaps, cuff closures, and more. This thing is built like a wet weather tank. The jacket is spacious for layering insulation underneath. Starting at the top we find a removable storm hood complete with button snap attachment and flaps at the neck and chin area. The coat has Velcro cuff closures and interior wrist collars. Longer than an average jacket it overlaps the waist to provide better draft protection and also a draw cord at the waist. On the top of the jacket we find dual chest pockets, one on the left breast zipper facing center which is itself waterproof and one on the right breast there is an open top pocket with Velcro closure flap. This thing is a real barrier to the elements. Most rainwear is thin and you end up babying it so much that you can’t wear it working because of a fear of damaging it. This jacket takes a beating well. It is a little heavier than most other rainwear but it is breathable so it doesn’t turn into a sweat box. I really enjoyed this coat and found it very comfortable. Rainstorms, snow storms, and average use never found this coat lacking.
I dare say I wasn’t a totally unbiased reviewer for this line of products as I was a user and believer already. I did make a good attempt for a thorough review and test though and found none of the offerings wanting. My picks would be the canvas khakis, logo hoodie, and T-shirt for comfort. The jeans and flannel for moderate work. For a tough day of work try the washed-duck pants. Finally should you have to spend a day in the elements you do far worse than the waterproof breathable coat. Treat yourself to the right tool for the job and the right apparel to accomplish it comfortably. Carhartt.
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