Dickies vs Carhartt Workwear
If you’re looking for some quality workwear, you’re probably not after something fashionable.
You’d rather have sturdy clothing that is ready to take some serious beating. Pants, overalls or jackets that will keep you warm even when it’s more than cold outside. Convenient pockets and durable belt loops to hold all your tools and accessories.
Carhartt and Dickies are two brands that understand any contractor’s needs well. For decades they have clothed generations of men and women from the trades. There’s a reason they’re still here – and still in booming business.
Which leads us to the BIG question: Is one better than the other?
For me – yes, indeed there is a winner. In most cases, Carhartt is a better choice.
For example, their take on classic duck pants stays true to the ‘You get what you pay for’ cliche. The quality and durability of the fabric are way ahead than Dickies.
However, there are some cases where Dickies clothing is sensible choice too.
Some trades involve more intensive work than others. Take steel workers or connectors for example – no matter what kind of pants you get, they will get trashed in no time. In other words, your workwear becomes disposable really fast.
This is one example when sticking to the more affordable Dickies is a sound strategy. Dickies also don’t fade as easily as Carhartt clothing. Their denim stuff is – generally – also a good bang for your buck.
That said, Carhartt workwear excels at pocket design (bigger/more convenient), the quality of the leg cut and seam durability (triple stitched.)
I’ve actually come up with a quick cheat sheet on picking one or the other in 5 departments:
Workwear for cold weather
Workwear for women in the trades
Denim style workwear
OK, let’s look at these points one by one. I’d be glad if you could give me your opinion in the comments too.
When to buy What:
A basic Dickies vs Carhartt cheat sheet
#1 Are you looking for duck-cloth pants or overalls?
Recommendation: Carhartt, no doubt. Their classic dungaree is legendary.
Why: Yes, both brands use 12 ounce thick fabric. However, Carhartt’s manufacture is better and more durable. The pockets and side pockets for your tools are bigger too. If you keep a lot of tools around, this is a must-have.
With pants, Carhartt belt loops are also reinforced and will withstand more wear and tear than the Dickies’ equivalent. The latter definitely suffers from what I call the ‘Pockets too narrow’ syndrome!
For overalls, Carhartt’s bib and its fit / overall design go a long way. For your safety and convenience, there’s reinforced paneling at the knees so you skip on the dreaded bruising or irritation around the area when you kneel down.
As a whole, Carhartt justify their higher price tag with sturdier fabrics and more intelligent design. The process of organizing your tools is simply easier. However, make sure that you order a larger size than your usual!
#2 Are you stuck with working out there in the cold?
Why: While Dickies is a good solution for milder weather, Carhartt’s Yukon series was sewn to keep you warm in extreme conditions. And it also looks quite stylish, unlike other goofier winter workwear.
We’re talking about a 1000-denier, ultra cozy, water-repellent champion! The pockets are spacious and in abundance – two upper chest ones, two inside pockets, two at the waist, a small sleeve pocket and two back pockets. Oh, and one pocket at each leg.
This is every contractor’s paradise – all your accessories and tools in one pace!
The additionally reinforced polyester lining is arctic-weight.
A cheaper solution, Dickies premium insulated coverall still performs well. As long as it’s not too cold!
It doesn’t look remotely as sharp, and the zipper is a little bit clunky. However, for its price, it will provide you with protection and convenience without any fuss. Good amount of pockets too.
#3 Are you a woman in the trades?
Recommendation: Definitely Carhartt.
Why: Including these overalls, Carhartt bibs fit way better and keep warmer. They’re also more stylish with that curve around the waist, instead of the typical square-formed bib.
The only thing that they get worse than the Dickies equivalent is that they’re hard to snap in the beginning.
As far as pants go, Dickies really makes mediocre women pants. Carhartt’s best option here is their Crawford pants.
Mid-rise, stretchy and flexible (letting you move freely, instead of being stiff like a lot of other work pants.) The pockets might be a bit less in numbers, but the agility and freedom you get are worth it. Also, seaming work is well done!
As for Dickies, you can see that a lot of women seem a bit dissatisfied with their work pants here.
#4 About Carhartt and Dickies jackets
Recommendation: As I mentioned before, if you’re looking for outerwear that fares well with low temperatures, go for Carhartt. They have a thermal lined duck jacket that is cozy, very flexible and wind-resistant plus water-repellent.
For regular use, Dickies actually have this sanded duck jacket which is an absolute bargain considering its price. It’s soft, the lining is good quality, the seams are double needle reinforced, and unlike other Dickies’ zippers, this one is darn good!
#5 For those into denim
I’d stick to Carhartt if you want denim work pants though. Their carpenter jeans are better than what Dickies have at hand.
That said, neither brand has jeans/denim pants that truly stand out…
The same applies for women work wear painted in this classic look. Carhartt also failing a bit in this department is rather surprising, but yet here we are.
Lots of tradeswomen grab a Dickies bib overall, but it’s rather mediocre if I’m judging by what reviewers say on Amazon…
Remember that things differ between the US and Europe
Funnily enough, Carhartt is a completely different brand if you go overseas. In the UK (and Europe as a whole), they are more of a fashion brand!
Sure, a little bit more on the mundane side of things – nothing too fancy. Yet this would be quite a shock for many Americans (or Canadians) who have grown accustomed to the brand associating itself with workwear only.
So, remember – European Carhartt is not its North American equivalent!