Rugged & Iconic: Carhartt’s Best Work Jackets Reviewed

“If it doesn’t last I’ll eat my shirt!” WellRigged.com only looks at the toughest products on earth. That’s why I’m doing a Carhartt jacket review today. Carhartt is one of those brands with a legit hard-earned reputation for durability. So, if you despise weak, half-baked products that don’t last then read on my friend because you won’t be disappointed!

In this Carhartt jacket review I’ll take a close look at two of their toughest men’s and women’s work jackets:

Why Carhartt?

If you asked someone to picture a carpenter’s work jacket. Most folks would describe a well-worn tan-colored duck canvas jacket -something that looks an awful lot like a classic Carhartt jacket.

Carhartt is largely responsible for defining that iconic look. That image has been subtly imprinted on an entire generation. Carhartt was able to shape modern workwear like this simply by leading the industry with dogged devotion to uncompromised standards of quality.

History

Early Version of Carhartts classic Chore Coat.
courtesy: Carhartt.com

Hamilton Carhartt started making workwear for railroad workers back in 1889. His most famous jacket, the Engineers Sack Coat, has been almost unchanged for over 100 years(since 1917). Now called the Chore Coat, it remains one of Carhartt’s best-selling and affordable jackets.

I BELIEVE THAT WHEN A MAN WEARS AN ARTICLE THAT I MANUFACTUR, HIS SELF-RESPECT IS INCREASED BECAUSE HE KNOWS THAT IT IS MADE BY AN HONEST MANUFACTURER…”

Hamilton Carhartt

Carhartts still have that vibe of being a cut above other workwear brands. It has an enviable reputation.

I was once a few days late picking up my Carhartt package at the post office and the young man behind the counter jokingly told me that he had been eyeing it for days secretly hoping that no one would show up to pick up the package. I grinned and promptly burst his bubble by telling him it was a lady’s jacket for my wife. Poor guy.

Typical Features of Carhartt Jackets

Over-Built

Carhartt jacket review

Carhartt jackets often use triple-stitched 12 oz duck canvas with heavy YKK brass zippers, reinforcement rivets, and buttons. Simply put, these jackets are over-engineered to go well beyond “reasonable” wear and tear conditions.

Folks who only use Carhartt jackets for medium-duty applications often find they last well over 10 years.

Carhartt’s “built to last” ethos kinda reminds me of Toyota’s. If you build something well, customers will come back. Carhartt owners are a lot like Toyota Camry owners…they just keep coming back decade after decade.

Mens and Womens Carhartt Jacket Review

I haven’t owned my Carhartt jacket for a whole decade, but here are a couple of typical testimonials of Carhartt jacket owners(gleaned from comments on Carhartt’s website):

Tamara S is still going strong with her Sandstone Sherpa lined Sierra Jacket: “I’ve had one of these jackets for 5-6 years and it is still my “go-to” for working outdoors. I did woodsmen competitions for the majority of those years and this jacket is what kept me warm during winter practices.”

Brett, is a farmer who wears the Duck Quilted Flannel Lined Active Jac. He says, that this jacket “stood up to 17 years on the farm” before he finally retired it for another of the same.

Understated Style

Carhartt women's jacket review

Carhartt jackets have a simple and functional design. They follow the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid.) Many of their jackets have a timeless style that will still look good in 15 years from now.

The brands understated styling communicates a confident and independent voice that seems to say, “I’m not desperate for your attention, I don’t give a rip about trends, and I’m tougher than you think”

It’s no wonder Carhartt is so popular brand among rappers! Just do a Google image search of “rappers wearing Carhartt.” You may be surprised.

Men’s Carhartt Duck Quilted Flannel Active Jac Reviewed

Carhartt Active Jac Review
Carhartt Duck Flannel Quilted Active Jac

Cold weather arrived early this year here in Canada and it was perfect to timing to do a Carhartt jacket review of their famous Active Jac I put it through its paces bringing firewood in, lugging snow tires and scraping ice off the walk-way.

The Active Jac’s water-resistant 12 oz duck canvas beads off the worst of Canada’s weather and has handled the abrasions from armloads of firewood without pulling a single thread yet.

Active Jac Features

  • Triple-stitched major seams
  • 12 oz cotton duck canvas shell
  • #10 brass YKK zippers
  • Quilted flannel liner
  • Large lined hood with drawstring closure
  • Insulated Hood
Carhartt Active Jac Review

Pros

  • Made in the USA
  • Very Durable Duck Canvas Shell
  • Flexible, relaxed fit
  • Plenty of pockets
  • Very affordable
  • Warm insulated hood

Cons

  • Hood is not detachable
  • The rib-knit cuffs and waist may not be your style(here’s a good alternative)
  • A Breast pocket would be nice(see alternative above).

The Duck Quilted-Flannel Active Jac is made in America and has been one of Carhartt’s best-sellers for a long time. That’s one of the main reasons I selected it for this Carhartt jacket review.

15 years of hard use is not uncommon for this jacket. I’m 38 years old now, I’ll be 53 before I’ll start thinking of replacing mine! That’s a heck of a lot of value for a jacket that only costs around 100 bucks.(check the latest pricing)

Comfort

Active Jack insulaation
Flannel Quilting

I find the weight of the quilted flannel insulation to be just right. I didn’t find myself cold or overheated while working in this jacket. For really cold snaps, there is still plenty of room to add layers.

Occasionally when getting into the car I did feel like the front of the jacket bunched up to much at the belly because the canvas isn’t fully broken in yet. Thankfully, the seatbelt tames that problem.

Hood

The Active Jac has a permanently fixed hood made from the same rugged 12 oz canvas as the jacket and is also triple stitched. You could probably even drag an injured man out of harm’s way just by grabbing the hood on this jacket.

The hood is large enough to fit over a hardhat and can be cinched down it down with the drawstring.

At first, the hood tended to flip up when I bent over or a light breeze came along. However, once the canvas was broken-in a little the hood laid flatter and the problem went away.

Pockets

The Active Jac has four pockets– two exterior and two on the interior.

The two front pockets are the toughest. The 12 oz canvas backing will handle a pocket full screws without perforation. The pockets also feature a deep well below the openings so the contents of your pockets won’t slide out when you get in the car.

On the inside are two flannel backed for valuables. One pocket has a zipper closure(great for a wallet) and the other has a velcro closure(great for quick access to a cell phone.)

Active Jac Conclusion

Carhartt Jacket Review

If I were to improve this jacket, I’d add a button top breast pocket for a cellphone as found on the Sandstone Sherpa jacket. While the inside pockets still work for this, it’s just not as handy and it’s harder to hear the phone ringing.

The knitted cuffs and waist aren’t too tight or restrictive and the jacket doesn’t ride up at the waist like many bomber-style jackets tend to do.

I have a lot of confidence in the triple-stitched seams and the well-constructed pockets. I have no doubt this jacket will last a long time.

The Active Jac is a well-built premium work jacket. Its a simple, flexible and no-nonsense work jacket designed to take a wicked beating day after day and just keep going.

So, If your the type that wants something that “just works” and is as tough as you are, I’d seriously consider the Duck Quilted Flannel Active Jac. This thing has cult following of hard-core tradesmen for good reason.

It’s a darn good value for around $100 too.

You can check it out the Active Jac here at Carhartt

Women’s Carhartt Weathered Duck Wesley Reviewed

Carhartt Weathered Duck Wesley Review

The Weathered Duck Wesley is actually the ladies’ version of Carhartt’s super-tough classic Chore Coat– the one I mentioned at the beginning of this article which has been in production since 1917.

For a lady’s perspective in the Carhartt jacket review, I turned to my wonderful wife Erin. She’s an outdoorsy girl with a keen eye for garment quality and style from her years in fashion retail.

Generally speaking, ladies prefer to look good even when working hard. The Weather Duck Wesley coat does an exceptional job of it without sacrificing an ounce of durability or functionality.

Features

  • 100% Cotton
  • Triple-stitched heavy-duty 12-ounce weathered duck canvas
  • Quilted flannel-body lining & Quilted nylon sleeves
  • Sherpa-lined collar for comfort Adjustable Cuff buttons
  • Premium brass buttons, rivets, and YKK Zippers
  • Adjustable waist buttons
  • Full-zip front with snap-button placket
  • Two chest pockets
  • Two lower-front flap pockets with snaps
  • Side entry quilted hand-warmer pockets
  • Inside Pocket: Hidden horizontal slash pocket with velcro for phone/wallet
  • Inside pocket: Medium verticle pocket with velcro closure
Carhartt Weathered Duck Wesley Review

Pros

  • Excellent freedom of movement
  • Versatile styling- looks as good on the town as it does at work.
  • Neutral color goes well with lots of outfits
  • Convenient cell-phone slash pocket
  • Front pockets are not too big
  • Enough room for layering
  • Good length.

Cons

  • The sherpa-lined collar doesn’t quite lay flat at first until it’s broken in.
  • Recommended sizing is not snug. If your purchasing this jacket for style more than function then consider sizing down.
  • DO NOT use the hand warming pockets for your phone..they are not deep enough it will fall out

Comfort

Erin liked the soft flannel lining. She says the jacket provides adequate insulation for low impact casual use down to about 23F(-5C). Below that and you’d better start burning some calories or add a base layer.

Work jackets like these are meant to allow space for extra base layers to cope with fluctuating energy exertion and weather changes.

Style

Carhartt Weathered Duck Wesley Review

The 3/4 length Weathered Duck Wesley has a warm classic look that is reminiscent of a Hallmark Christmas on the ranch while the sherpa fleece-lined collar carries an adventuresome aeronautical flair “à la Amelia Erhart”

The Duck Wesley is available in three colors(as of publishing): Black, Dark Worn Blue, and Carhartt Brown.

Erin chose the Carhartt Brown option mainly because it has a classic look, works with tons of outfits and won’t show stains as easily as the darker options.

Pockets

The Weathered Duck Wesley coat has pockets galore: Six on the front and two inside. The exterior pockets are all double-stitched and riveted at the top corners for extra measure.

The two bottom pockets and one chest pocket(right) are button tops. The left chest pocket is a slash pocket.

Under each bottom pocket is a discreet hand-warming pocket with a quilted flannel lining. Be careful though, these pockets don’t work with Phones. They are too small and they will likely fall out.

Inside you’ll find a traditional side pocket and handy hidden horizantal slash pocket just inside the zipper for your phone. Both internal pockets have velcro closures.

Weather Duck Wesley Conclusion

via GIPHY

Erin knows how to swing an axe…and a big one at that. She’s as much a country girl as she is fashion conscious. That’s why she really loves this jacket.

The Weather Duck Wesley is as good at being a casual jacket as it is a work jacket,” she said.

This jacket packs all the muscle and brawn of Carhartt’s industrial 12 oz duck canvas men’s jackets with all the refinements and styling becoming of a strong woman.

You can check the latest pricing for the Weather Duck Wesley at Carharrt.

Carhartt Jacket Sizing Tips

Before concluding the Carhartt jacket review, I think it’s important to give some parting pointers on how to size your next work jacket.

Work jackets are best used with mid-weight insulation while leaving enough room for multiple base layers if necessary.

You do not want a snug-fitting work jacket. It will limit your flexibility, and the ability to add base layers as work intensity and weather conditions fluctuate.


Remember, you can always add layers but if your work jacket is too heavy you’ll just marinate in your sweat and then freeze later on.

Carhartt’s “True Fit” Sizing Tool

Carhartt offers a handy sizing tool called True Fit which makes selecting your size super-easy. Basically, it translates other mainstream brand sizes that you already own like Nike, Columbia, Wrangler, UnderArmor etc… into Carhartt’s equivalent size while still allowing you to further specify your exact measurements.

P.S. Carhartt’s True Fit tool can be found in the size options section of each product’s detail page.

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