4 Best Carhartt Jackets for Working Outside

Manufacturer Carhartt is undoubtedly a powerhouse in the workwear industry, and it has earned its reputation and standing in a crowded garment sector. Why? Most likely because of their uncompromising commitment to quality.

They also can boast lots of experience considering that the company was founded way back in 1889 by Hamilton Carhartt. A company that doesn’t offer a quality product would find great difficulty in lasting more than 130 years.

Because Carhartt has such a solid reputation, we felt their work jackets merited a review dedicated just to them. So, we got a hold of the most popular work jackets by Carhartt and went to work testing them to help you analyze if there is a Carhartt work jacket for your professional needs.

Best Carhartt Work Jacket

We are more convinced than ever of the validity and functionality of Carhartt work jackets, but we selected as our overall favorite the Carhartt Full Swing Jacket #103283 thanks to the exceptional range of movement it provides for physical labor. The flex elbow®, the Mighty Back® technology bi-swing integrated between shoulders, and the Freedom gusset® in the underarms translate into restriction-free movement on the job.

Comparison of Top Carhartt Jackets

Work JacketMaterialInsulationWaterproofFit
Carhartt Full Swing Jacket #103283100% 12-ounce cotton duck80 gr. 3M Thinsulate insulationNoFull swing technology for great movement, Adjustable waist with drawcord
Carhartt Yukon Extreme Full Swing Active Jacket 500 dernier Cordura™ nylon150 g. Thinsulate insulation by 3MWater repellent, Rain Defender DWR coating
Carhartt J130 Active Jacket 100% duck cottonQuilted flannelNoAdjustable hood
Carhartt Shoreline J162 Waterproof Jacket 100% nylon outer shellPolyester mesh liningYesAdjustable waist

The Reviews

Best Overall Carhartt Work Jacket

1.) Carhartt Full Swing Jacket #103283

If you are not looking for a work jacket specifically for very cold climates, this Full Swing Jacket is a terrific choice.

The movability and agility offered mean it will not impede your working movements at all. On the contrary, you will be free to move as necessary meaning this is a very versatile jacket where work is concerned.  

This is not the warmest Carhartt work jacket available so that if you really require better insulation, we suggest looking at the Yukon Extreme Jacket. It is warm, just not for extremes.

Durability is excellent thanks to the cotton duck and quilted nylon taffeta lining used in the construction.

What makes this a really convincing work jacket is the flex elbow® meaning no movement restrictions, the Mighty Back® technology bi-swing integrated between shoulders, and the Freedom gusset® in the underarms together offering an exceptional range of movement, flexibility, and agility. It just doesn’t get any better in a work jacket for outdoor physical labor.

Dark brown, Carhartt brown, and black are available.

Pros

      • 100% 12-ounce cotton duck
      • 80 gr. 3M Thinsulate insulation
      • Full swing technology for great movement
      • Front zipper is two-way with storm flap
      • 2 pockets with buttons on chest
      • 2 pockets on sides
      • Adjustable waist with drawcord
      • Main seams are triple-stitched

Cons

      • Offers medium warmth
      • Could offer water repellency or protection
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Best Cold Weather Carhartt Work Jacket

2.) Carhartt Yukon Extreme Full Swing Active Jacket

Made for extreme winter weather conditions, this Carhartt work jacket incorporates 500 dernier Cordura™ nylon, a tough material, as its outer shell and the warmest insulation of 150 grams of 3M Thinsulate for an impressive winter work jacket.

As a result, this work jacket resists wind and abrasion like few others and is water repellent so snow will slide right off you, and should you need it, it’s bullet-proof too.

An insulated hood is attachable, and the side hand pockets are also lined to ensure warmth and feature snap closures.

But the absolute best thing about this incredible work jacket is that it integrates a full swing design meaning you will have no restrictions whatsoever in your movements.

Reflective taping helps with visibility while seams are triple stitched for resistance. Cuffs are rib-knit to maintain warmth together with a backdrop hemline.

Pockets have snap closure with the exception of the left chest pocket that has a zipper closure. Interior pockets feature hook and loop or zip closures. Small through 3X-Large Tall sizes are available.

Pros

      • 500 dernier Cordura nylon outer shell
      • 150 g. Thinsulate insulation by 3M
      • Reflective tape
      • Rain defender DWR coating
      • Seams are triple stitched
      • Attachable hood
      • Knit cuffs and drop back hemline

Cons

      • Could come in more colors
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Best Lightweight Carhartt Work Jacket

3.) Carhartt J130 Active Jacket

The Carhartt J130 work jacket despite its lightweight will keep you warm in cooler weather. Soft and flexible you will not have to deal with material stiffness at all during daily wear.

Movement is facilitated and easy. An adjustable hood uses a drawstring affording a better-customized fit. Four pockets are divided between two located externally and two positioned on the inside.

Manufactured in 100% sandstone duck cotton, it features a flannel-lined quilted interior to keep you warm. Although it weighs in at only twelve ounces, it does offer great protection from intemperate wind conditions.

Rib-knit cuffs impede cold from entering and an adjustable waistband improves fit. This Carhartt J130 jacket is machine washable so that care and maintenance are both easy and convenient for you. This jacket should be hung to air dry.

Pros

      • Machine washable
      • 100% duck cotton
      • Adjustable hood
      • Rib-knit cuffs and rib-knit waistband
      • Quilted flannel interior for warmth
      • 4 pockets/2 inside and 2 outside

Cons

      • Hood is not detachable
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Best Rainproof Carhartt Work Jacket

4.) Carhartt Shoreline J162 Waterproof Jacket

If you are in the market for a lightweight Carhartt work jacket, the Shoreline jacket may be just what you need.

Apart from the stylish design that will inspire you to wear it off the job site, this jacket is produced in 100% nylon and is machine washable for added convenience.

The slick outer shell is waterproof keeping you dry in a rainstorm or even a snowstorm. In fact, it is one of Carhartt’s Storm Defender jackets featuring reinforced seams that are waterproof.

The jacket features an attachable hood that snaps on and off depending on your needs, and the hood features Velcro chin straps at the chin for fit. Internally the jacket boasts a polyester mesh lining and a breathable membrane.

It will however most likely require layering underneath if you find yourself in particularly cold temperatures.

A zippered chest pocket protects phones or valuables. Sizes include from Small to 4X-Large Big Tall and it comes in black, navy, and olive shades.

Pros

      • 100% nylon outer shell
      • Polyester mesh lining
      • Machine washable
      • Waterproof
      • Breathable membrane
      • Attachable hood
      • Drawcord-adjustable hemline

Cons

      • Hood a bit oversized
      • Not meant for warmth
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The History of Carhartt

Hamilton Carhartt founded his company in 1889 in Detroit, Michigan, in an era characterized by locomotives, steel, and steam.  The company initially produced railroad overalls in a small loft with only two sewing machines. 

Because the beginnings were speckled with failures, Hamilton Carhartt did an early day version of market research, without the advantage of the internet, social media, or market research companies.

“Ham” as he was affectionately called went straight to the workers and asked them what they needed. Most importantly, he listened, and he used as his motto “Honest value for an honest dollar”. 

Consequently, the Carhartt bib overall was invented and became a standard in a fledgling workwear industry. By 1910, Carhartt had two mills and four sewing locations. Shortly after the company went international to Canada, England, and France.

Hamilton Carhartt’s conviction that “Merchandise that is honestly made to give service will create a lasting friendship,” bears out and explains the enduring reputation and popularity of Carhartt products more than a hundred years later.

Built to Last

Why a Carhartt? If you ask the professionals that have been wearing these jacket for decades, they’ll answer specifically because the jacket lasts.

Carhartt typically will over-construct their jackets to resist wear and tear for at least a decade if not more. The people at Carhartt are convinced that if you make a quality product customers will continue returning to buy your merchandise. 

Carhartt jackets often employ 12-ounce duck canvas that is triple-stitched to last. Brass YKK zippers, buttons, and rivets for reinforcement are all part of heavy-duty jacket engineering.

Style and Functionality

The Carhartt Work Jacket is designed with a simple yet very functional design. As a result, if you happen to be style conscious, you won’t need to replace these jackets often because a timeless classic style will always be relevant in your workplace.

These jackets are not designed to follow an annual trend or solicit attention, yet thanks to a classic design will always blend into the fashion of the times.

Expect to find adjustable hoods with drawcords, pockets, knitted cuffs and waistlines, adjustable button cuffs and waistlines, flannel linings (Why Do Farmers Wear Flannel Shirts?), quilted sleeve linings, and all sorts of details that make a work jacket comfortable, warm, but above all functional for your professional needs.

What We Looked for

Despite knowing Carhartt’s stellar reputation in manufacturing workwear, we nonetheless looked for some specifics while testing these jackets.

1.) Seams. You don’t want a work jacket that comes apart while you’re doing physical labor, nor do you want materials that tend to fray under stress.

2.) Weather protection. Any work jacket needs to include a bit of weather protection and in some cases a lot of weather protection, because work jackets are generally worn outdoors.

Does the jacket offer wind protection? Does the jacket offer rain or snow protection and if so, how much? If a jacket gets wet or even saturated, it will be of little use in inclement weather.

There are a variety of outer-shell fabrics available, and these materials will also influence the amount of warmth the jacket affords, the resistance to wear and tear, and inevitably comfort.

Outer fabric will usually be a firm shell or a pre-washed shell. While the pre-washed shell may be more comfortable and not require a breaking in period, it also may not offer the same amount of weather protection as a firm outer-shell.

3.) Insulation. This is a key factor if you need to work outdoors in colder climates. Carhartt jackets may incorporate thermal, fleece, flannel, quilted, Sherpa, and even 3M Thinsulate in their jackets. It will be necessary to consider how much warmth you need to protect yourself while on the job.

While Carhartt jackets do not come with temperature recommendations, it is crucial to consider the type of insulation incorporated in the jacket and the climate that you generally work in.

4.) Fit and Adjustability. You don’t want a jacket that doesn’t fit correctly or makes you uncomfortable. Most Carhartt jackets follow normal sizing but offer a bit more roominess underneath for some layering. 

This roominess will also contribute to your range of motion at the job site and the jacket’s functionality. Features like drawcords or buttons that permit a more customized fit are fundamental to the jacket design’s functionality.

5.) Pockets. These will be important for a number of reasons. Lined hand warming pockets can come in handy if you can’t or do not use gloves.

Plus, you’ll definitely want a pocket for your phone that is easy to maneuver in case of an emergency, as well as pockets for small accessories and valuables.

Pocket location will be important including internal and external pockets as well as pocket closure: snap, button or zipper. And finally, will an exterior pocket be waterproof or water repellent?

6.) Functionality and Movement. If you are involved in physical labor such as a logger or on a farm, you may want a Carhartt “Full-swing” jacket.

These jackets are designed and constructed with gussets in the shoulder area to enhance freedom of movement. Also, two-way zippers can come in handy, depending on what you need to do.

See also: Best Waterproof Work Jacket for Men and Women

Conclusion

Carhartt is a great manufacturing company that produces some of the most appealing and functional work clothes available on the market. Choose one that you really like, because it’s manufactured to resist wear and tear and last.