The perfect pants don't exis-
June 18, 2020 5:37 PM   Subscribe

I need a couple of new pairs of heavy canvas work pants; Can you help me find the perfect pant?

Historically, I purchase a pair or two of carharrts every few years, but the last time I went to try some on (in the Before Times) I found their patterns had changed, and fit horribly. I need to find a substitute, as my last pair (and it's patches) are on their last thread. It's time. The new carhartts seemed to have a bananas amount of room in the legs and crotch and butt, even sizing the legs down a few. I tried on almost every pant they had in the store that would remotely fit me, and they were all comically huge and puffy in the legs. I felt like I was wearing a pair of 90's JNCO jeans. In the best fitting pair, I could almost fit both my legs up to the knees in one of the pant-legs. It was a sight. They also seem to have changed their fabric, to include a bit of lycra or other stretch fabric in them. I've been fooled by this before, and where a 100% canvas pant would last a number of years, the lyrca ones disintegrate in a matter of 5-6 months. Yeah, they're harder to break in, but once they are, nothing come close to beating the feel and fit of canvas. I lub lub lub it and am willing to put up with the break-in-discomfort.

In the past I have had several of the '1889' line carhartt pants, and they're much narrower in the legs, almost like skinny-jeans, but not quite skin tight; I prefer working in these as not to get caught on anything. These were like, my platonic canvas pant; snug, sturdy, utilitarian to the max. They've changed the line dramatically, and they don't really resmble the ones I used to purchase a few years ago (2017-18?). I was originally hoping they'd kick the pattern down to their 'fashion' carhartt-WIP line, even if it was more expensive, but no dice. Is there a place to find deadstock utility clothes?

My searching for canvas pants that are kind of narrow or more fitting, usually tends to veer off into japanese replica army pants, and while I'm not opposed to military canvas (I often will wear a german mechanic's jumpsuit to do certain jobs, and it is very comfortable), I really don't like looking like a paramilitary while I'm working on the house or going to the hardware store mid-job. They also tend to be ohmygod expensive. I've seen some higher end motorcycle technical pants, like the ones coming out of Earnest Workwear in NZ, but I can't try them on, and the price is beyond what I'm looking to get at...the fabric, at least by description, seems complete overkill. Like, if that pant was just regular duck canvas and available domestically, we'd have a winner.

Similar lines would be finding the mens equivalent of Dovetail Workwear...and would also wear women's pants if they fit the bill otherwise. Their Britt utility pant is very much the vibe of what i'm looking for in terms of how they fit on a human, but the stretch is a dealbreaker.

Perfect work pants in order of importance:
Significantly thick canvas with zero lyrcra or stretch fabric
Brown, black, green or grey, not blue or jeans
Slim-ish fit, especially in the butt and crotch, but really everywhere.
Double front knees that accept kneepads
Ideally less than $75
Able to try on in-person in Portland (or like, zappos style free return action)
posted by furnace.heart to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Check out the firehose canvas pants. Some models have flex/Lycra but I’m pretty sure that’s still avoidable.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:59 PM on June 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My husband swore off carhartts and swears by these Stan Ray Double Knee work pants. 30-day return policy from ironworkergear.
posted by evilmomlady at 6:04 PM on June 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

Maybe Dickies? 1,2 Though man, it seems like once clothing manufacturers figured out they could sell stretch fabric to men if they called it "flex", they've really gone all in...
posted by btfreek at 6:10 PM on June 18, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Patagonia?
posted by theora55 at 6:32 PM on June 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

They may still be a bit more baggy than you are looking for, but have you tried on the Wrangler Riggs work pants? They have both double- and single-front versions; I find the single layer ones considerably more comfortable than Carhartts.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:56 PM on June 18, 2020

Best answer: My mom (who is out in the woods with a chainsaw or something most days) loves her Patagonia workwear gear.
posted by rockindata at 7:01 PM on June 18, 2020

Best answer: The new workwear stuff from Filson is legitimately pretty great, and kind of a return to what they used to make before they got that fashion $$$. The CCF Utility Canvas Pants seem like they'd fit the bill.
posted by ZaphodB at 7:10 PM on June 18, 2020

Outlier Slim Dungarees are supposedly nice.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:18 PM on June 18, 2020

Check out the firehose canvas pants. Some models have flex/Lycra but I’m pretty sure that’s still avoidable.

I almost recommended these but then held off after actually trying to find the slim fit version on their website. AFAICT, they only offer slim fit versions of the DuluthFlex spandex crap. I own almost a whole wardrobe of Duluth stuff, but I find it hard to recommend them now, given that they have precious few non-synthetic garments any more. That, and the crotch gussets are a pretty big YMMV item. I like them, and I don't think they look "baggy", but there's a good chance others, especially those slimmer in build, might disagree.

On the plus side, they do have stores in both Portlands.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:18 PM on June 18, 2020

I really like the wrangler riggs.
posted by PinkMoose at 11:04 PM on June 18, 2020

They are a bit spendier than you wanted, but I have a pair of Epaulet chinos in 10z duck canvas and I like them very much. Mine are the Wilhelm cut cause I have big butt and thighs, you probably want the Rivet chinos which are on sale if you are the right size.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:12 AM on June 19, 2020

Best answer: (Also if you ever make it to New Zealand, the very best work trousers in the world are made by Cactus. When I lived in Christchurch a few years back, tradespeople who'd come from other countries to work on the post-quake rebuild were buying them to send home to their mates,)
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:14 AM on June 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

My husband has some thick, study ones from
posted by Neekee at 5:55 AM on June 19, 2020

Give Duluth Trading Company a look. Bonus: they have a store at Jantzen Beach!
posted by misterbrandt at 7:26 AM on June 25, 2020

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