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10 Best Tough Work Jeans for Men

By Andrew Peloquin  |  Updated January 10, 2024

10 Best Tough Work Jeans for Men
Courtesy of Ariat

All hard-working men need hard-wearing work pants capable of keeping up with their day’s labors.

Jeans are my go-to pants—they’re tough, versatile, and, best of all, grow more comfortable with every wear and wash.

For those days I’m going to get dirty digging ditches for plumbing, cutting lumber, hanging sheetrock, or doing any sort of DIY or contractor jobs, a good pair of work jeans is worth its weight in gold.


WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
  • Built tougher. While “fashion” jeans may be lighter and more versatile, work jeans will be heavier-duty and purpose-built for a hard day’s work. Some may be comfortable enough to wear on your days off (especially during the colder months), but for the most part, they’ll be tougher and thicker than your average casual jeans.
  • Work-specific features. Work jeans will likely have features specific for work—for example, a pocket for your trusted pocket knife or multi-tool, extra cargo pockets, sturdy and extra-thick belt loops for a work belt, a hammer loop, and the list goes on. These features aren’t a must, but are very nice to have.
  • Longer-lasting. Between their advanced materials (additional elasticity courtesy of the Spandex or elastane incorporated into the cotton denim), versatile features (like a gusseted crotch), additional reinforcement at the hems and stress points, work jeans tend to last longer than fashion jeans, even factoring in their heavy use.

Over the last decade, I’ve been obsessed with finding the “perfect” pair. I’ve personally tested at least twenty pairs and combed through hundreds of reviews to scrutinize every pair on the market.

My deep-dive research has led me to put together this list of the very best work jeans to keep you protected, comfortable, and dressed properly for the task ahead.

Best Overall

Ariat Rebar M4 Relaxed DuraStretch Basic

Why did I choose it?

Flexible, just the right amount of stretchy, and tough as nails. Their relaxed fit and boot cut leg make them the ideal jeans to wear under a heavy tool belt and over my favorite work boots.


Best Casual Style Work Jean
Kuhl The Law Jeans

Best Inexpensive Work Jeans
Wrangler Authentics Comfort Flex

Best Relaxed Fit Work Jeans
Dickies Relaxed Fit Duck Carpenter Jeans

Warmest Work Jeans
Carhartt Swing Flannel Lined Jeans

Toughest Work Jeans
5.11 Defender-Flex


Best Overall

Ariat Rebar M4 Relaxed DuraStretch Basic


$58
 

Pairing these Ariat jeans with my favorite steel toe boots is a match made in Heaven. Between the heavy-duty hardware, ToughMax DuraStretch denim that blends spandex and polyester with the cotton, relaxed fit, classic boot cut, and the integrated knife pocket, they’re the most reliable and versatile pair of work jeans I’ve worn. Best of all, they’re available in Big and Tall sizes (a must for my 6’6” frame).





Best Casual Style Work Jean

Kuhl The Law Jeans


$109
 

Durability meets comfort in all the best ways. The “Kloth” fabric (a blend of cotton and Spandex) flexes and stretches as you move, and the handsome vintage patina dye makes them look casual with a “lived-in” feel you’ll love.

With seven pockets—two for your cell phone, two front, two back, and one coin pocket—you’ve got storage space aplenty for all your EDC essentials.





Best Inexpensive Work Jeans

Wrangler Authentics Comfort Flex


$30
 

Plumbers, electricians, roofers, and carpenters, these jeans are for you.

The comfort flex waistband keeps the jeans securely in place while still allowing you freedom to kneel, bend, crouch, or squat. The flex denim and regular fit allows for a great range of movement and keeps the jeans from feeling constrictive or getting in your way when hustling up a ladder, fixing a pipe, or crawling through attics.





Best Relaxed Fit Work Jeans

Dickies Relaxed Fit Duck Carpenter Jeans


$40
 

For a more relaxed style, I recommend these jeans. They’re sanded and garment-washed to give them a faded, worn-in look and feel right out of the box, and the relaxed straight fit leg keeps things casual-looking while still being boot-friendly.

Work-specific features like a thigh utility pocket, hammer loop,  and rivet reinforcements at the stress points ensure they’ll serve you well on any job site.





Warmest Work Jeans

Carhartt Swing Flannel Lined Jeans


$55
 

These jeans are a reminder of why Carhartt is one of my all-time favorite workwear brands.

Though they’re tough enough to use on any job site, they’re flexible and surprisingly stylish, great for wearing on a weekend off.

Thanks to their flannel lining, I’m warm in all but the coldest Canadian winter months, and the exterior is abrasion-resistant so I can trust it’ll hold up to any work.





Toughest Work Jeans

5.11 Defender-Flex


$85
 

I’ve yet to find a pair of work jeans as tough as these 5.11s.

The Lycra T400 Tough Max fabric blends cotton and polyester to give them good flexibility, but they still feel like my favorite pure denim jeans, conforming to my shape with every wear until they fit like a work glove.

The nylon-reinforced front pockets, rivet reinforcement at the hand pockets, and double-needle construction guarantee they’ll last for years on the job.






Lee Regular Fit Straight Leg Jeans


$35
 

I’ve been a Lee jeans guy for nearly three decades now, so it was a delight to find these work-friendly jeans.

They’re available in both mid- and heavyweight, so I can have a pair each for the warmer and colder seasons. Best of all, they come in a wide range of fits, finishes, and washes, giving me a huge range of style choices to choose from.






Filson Rail-Splitter Jeans


$195
 

If I’m getting up to some muddy or dirty work (mucking stables or digging trenches), these are my go-to jeans.

The right-hand-twill denim is pure cotton and built at a heavier-than-average weight, with a tight knit that shrugs off abrasion and dirt. They’re particularly comfortable when paired with heavy, tall work boots or cowboy boots, and the roomy fit is just right for my thick frame.






Wrangler Riggs Relaxed Fit


$35
 

Wrangler sticks with the traditional 100% cotton denim for these jeans, delivering a pair that’s immediately comfortable and familiar to wear.

The high rise waist eliminates plumber’s crack while the boot cut leg makes them compatible with even the heaviest work boot.

Features like the front pocket reinforcement, relaxed seat and thigh, and gusseted crotch make them as versatile as they are tough. And there’s no arguing with that affordable price tag.






American Giant Dakoka Straight


$150
 

What I love about these jeans is that they’re built for both hard work and days off. Their classic colorways and relaxed fit pair perfectly with a heavy-duty pair of work boots but still look great with a t-shirt and All-Star Chuck Taylors.

The lightest-duty pair of jeans on our list, they’re ideal for a day when you’re heading straight from the office to the job site to a client dinner or date night.





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