Welcome to Head to Head, where we size up two like products with hands-on testing to determine which one you should buy.
No two brands quite dominate the work pant category like Carhartt and Dickies. Seen on everyone from construction workers and farmers to skateboarders and models, you probably know both's logos quite well. Not only are their products hard-wearing, but the two brands toe the line between work- and streetwear, casting a wide net of supporters on opposite ends of the style spectrum.
On one end lies those that wear Carhartt or Dickies for functional reasons. Both brands sell durable, damn tough tops and bottoms (plus a few accessories) that people trust, all for a reasonable price. In the middle, there's Instagram's obsession with vintage items from the two companies, especially those with evidence of daily wear in blue-collar workplaces. On the other end, we realize celebrities like Kanye West, new-age designers like Heron Preston, models like Kendall Jenner, and musicians like Rihanna wear them, too. However, they're doing so for the fashion statement — visual proof they know good stuff when they see it, too.
OK. So, they're both good? But whose work pants are better? Ask around. You're destined for a split decision. However, we did the work of comparing the most popular pants from both brands up-close, forming our own consensus based on four criteria, fit, fabric, the finer details, and the price.
Carhartt Double-Front Work Dungaree Pant B01
The fit on Carhartt's classic Bo1 Pant proves wide through the legs and seat, and they sit just above the waist. Cut with a Loose Original Fit, they're the widest on the company's sizing scale, which starts at Straight Original Fit, steps up to Relaxed Fit, and finishes with Loose Original Fit. Know that the clean-out double front patches, tool slots on either side and reinforced rear pockets add material in every direction. Needless to say, the B01 Pant is wide — very, very wide. But that's in! And if you're searching for slimmer pants, you shouldn't be shopping at Carhartt.
However, reviews have noted — and I've noticed through ordering my own — that these, no matter how many times you measure yourself, always end up longer than they are supposed to be. Order an inseam down from what you'd usually get: if you're a 34W by 32L, get a 34W by 30L.
The B01 pant is cut from 12-ounce, firm-hand, 100-percent ring-spun cotton duck. What's firm-hand fabric? It's what it sounds like: materials that are tougher to the touch. But the descriptor also applies to how apparel drapes. Firm-hand fabrics don't drape like soft ones (silk or cashmere). Firm-hand means these pants will withstand years of wear, save for extreme circumstances. The top review on Amazon, for example, details how the Double-Front Carhartt Work Pant saved a man's leg from the sharps edges of a rogue chainsaw. "They are very thick and might just save you a trip to the ER," BEER_ME_in_CT wrote back in 2016.
While some of Carhartt's pants are made overseas and imported, the B01 model is made in the U.S. Up close, you'll spot an assortment of loops and pockets on either side. Ideal for tools, trinkets, and heavy-duty EDC, these work well for the obvious things, too: a phone, your wallet and a ring of keys.
Flush rivets reinforce fabric layers at various points, typically in those stressed most often: where the double fronts are stitched on and where pockets have been placed. The B01 model comes in four colors, Carhartt Brown, Black, Moss and Gravel. Sizing spans 28-58-inch waists and 28-36-inch inseams. Plus, there's only on logo here: a tiny "C" on the right back pocket.
On both Carhartt's site and Amazon, the B01 Pant is priced at $50. They're $55 when you order a 50-inch waist size or bigger.
Dickies Loose Fit Double Knee Work Pant
As the name implies, Dickies' Loose Fit Double Work Pants fit loosely. But, they aren't as exaggerated as their competitor's — aka Carhartt's pant. These sit right at the waist with room in the seat and through the thighs but have a much straighter silhouette. Think: skater over construction worker. I'd argue the silhouette of Dickies' work pant has influenced the form of fashion's most popular pants more so than Carhartt's, but the latter's aesthetics — overt patching on the front and industrial features like tool loops — are more in, if that makes sense.
Most seen as part of school and work uniforms and on skateboarders and mechanics, these are streamlined with less bulk.
Dickies' work pants are stain and wrinkle resistant, save for extreme situations — like leaving them in a ball in your bag for months on end or getting sprayed with paint. Their blended twill construction — 65-percent polyester and 35-percent cotton — isn't nearly as durable as Carhartt's cotton duck, but these trade costlier materials for money-saving alternatives. It's also important to note that these are not moisture-wicking like Dickies' models with embedded flex.
However, these still have a heavyweight heft, making them something you should, by all means, avoid wearing in the summer months — whenever possible. (And the same goes for Carhartt's cotton duck, too.) The break-in period is much shorter with this pair, but you definitely get the sense they won't last as long.
Dickies' work pants don't have obvious extra layers where the pants have been reinforced. The double knee is constructed from two layers of the twill fabric seamed together. As such, for people putting these to use in the workplace, there are are not slots for knee pads.
At the waist, there's a metal hook and clasp closure; around it, there are thick tunnel loops for a belt; on the back, there are two pockets, both welted but only one has a button; down the side, there's a multi-use welt pocket big enough for small tools or utensils. Two logos are situated on both the front and side of the right leg, above the double knee and below the welted pocket.
Typically $48, you can usually find Dickies' Loose Fit Double Knee Work Pant for nearly 40-percent off on Amazon. (They're $30 right now.)
Considering both two pairs theoretically cost the same, Carhartt takes the crown. For sub-$50, they're durable bottoms made in the US with sensible reinforcements, a classic workwear aesthetic, and all of the finer details someone relying on these in real-life work scenarios needs. For those of us donning them for their look, they only get better as they get dirtier. Go do something outside. Spill on 'em. Then, when you're done with them, sell the used pair above retail — with the right wear, someone will happily pay that price.