Quality work pants come at a cost

Riktig arbeidstøy er alfa og omega for å lette jobben og beskytte kroppen ved fysisk arbeid.  Foto Rickard Kilström
The right workwear is paramount to ease the workload and protect the body during physical labor. Photo: Rickard Kilström
Buksene måles før og etter vask for å fastslå eventuelle endringer i bredde og lengde. Foto Weber & Leucht
The trousers are measured before and after washing to determine any changes in length and width. Photo: Weber & Leucht.
Test av fargeekthet. Foto Weber & Leucht
Test of color permanence. Photo: Weber & Leucht.
Materialets styrke og stretch måles med lufttrykk. Foto Weber & Leucht
The material's strength and stretch is measured with air pressure. Photo: Weber & Leucht.
Lufttrykket måles i kPa. Foto Weber & Leucht
The air pressure is measured in kPa. Photo: Weber & Leucht.
Stoffets slitestyrke testes ved slitasje. Foto Weber & Leucht
The durability of the fabric is tested by abrasion. Photo: Weber & Leucht
Test av avfarging mot andre materialer ved vask. Foto Weber & Leucht
Test of discoloration against other materials during washing. Photo Weber & Leucht

With a pair of comfortable, stretchy work pants, work becomes both easier and more comfortable. Our test shows that durable pants cost more but last longer, making them both more economical in the long run and a better environmental choice.

Malin Hefvelin Published: 2 Apr, 2024

The time of stiff work pants that could almost stand on their own is long gone. Nowadays, it's more the rule than the exception that the pants are soft and comfortable inside and made of stretch material that makes it easier to move without the pants feeling tight.

Regardless of ones preferred type of craftsmanship, fit and freedom of movement are important, and therefore a pair of comfortable and durable work pants is the craftsman's most important garment. They also need to be properly equipped for different types of jobs, for example, having several sturdy holders and pockets with durable zippers that can be securely closed. If you work outdoors, it's also an advantage if the pants are equipped with reflectors.

Feeling comfortable and stylish in what you wear is important too. For an active DIY enthusiast, it's not uncommon for a pair of comfortable work pants to become a favorite item of clothing that you're happy to wear even when going to the hardware store—or even the grocery store. So, work pants must live up to some tough demands.


In many countries, it is traditionally the employer who pays for work clothes, even if it is not always required by law. Then it is considered a benefit and is tax-free for the employee. However, if you're a DIY enthusiast, you must pay for the pants yourself.

The durability of work pants is influenced by several factors, including the choice of materials, construction, and reinforcements. How well work pants are cared for and maintained can also affect their durability. Washing them according to the manufacturer's instructions and avoiding strong chemicals and tumble drying can extend the life of the pants.

Testfakta has had the German textile laboratory Weber & Leucht test seven models of work pants. The laboratory tested, among other things, the material's resistance to wear by rubbing the pants against another fabric for up to 100,000 cycles or until the material of the pants no longer held together. The test result shows that there is a clear correlation between more expensive pants and high wear resistance. The three brands that receive the highest ratings, Blåkläder, Helly Hansen, and Fristads, all belong to the higher price range of over 200 Euro, and all lasted over 100,000 cycles without breaking.

The X1900 pants from Blåkläder receive the best rating overall and are a durable garment with a lot of stretch, a good fit for a comfortable feel, and plenty of pockets. However, the pants are perceived as rough against the skin. Softest of all is instead Fristads' work pants, which take third place, even though the panel feels that the fit is slightly worse there. Second place goes to Helly Hansen's pants, which also score full marks for wear and tear resistance and are very stretchy.

Even the newcomer MTX from Finnish Motonet receives good ratings for both wear and tear resistance and comfort, making it the best budget buy with its average price of 71 Euro. At the bottom, we find Snickers and Bluewear's models, which only withstand 25,000 and 30,000 cycles before breaking.

"We were surprised by the large differences in abrasion resistance between the different models," says Stephanie Leucht, test leader at Weber & Leucht.

"Work pants should have an abrasion resistance of at least 30,000 cycles, preferably more. This can be compared to a pair of everyday chinos-style pants, which should have an abrasion resistance of just over 20,000 cycles."

Both Snickers and Bluewear, however, receive high ratings for fit, something that raises the overall score. The models from Blåkläder, Helly Hansen, Fristads, and Snickers are available in several colors to choose from, while MTX, Biltema, and Bluewear only come in one color (blue or black).

About the test

In February 2024, Testfakta's editorial staff conducted a comparative laboratory test of work pants. The test was carried out by the independent textile laboratory Weber & Leucht GmbH in Fulda, Germany.

The following products have been tested:

  • Blåkläder, Work pants 4-way stretch X1900
  • Helly Hansen, Kensington work pants
  • Fristads, Green work pants stretch 2530 GCYD
  • MTX Workgear, Work pants stretch
  • Biltema, Craftsmen stretch trousers
  • Snickers workwear, Allroundwork stretch pants 6275
  • Bluewear Pro Workwear, Work pants men Steve

The selection consists of classic work pants with stretch where the different brands have determined which model should participate in the test.

Laboratory test

The laboratory test is based on the official standard for testing workwear ISO 15797:2018 and includes the following test points: After ten wash and dry cycles (40°C and air drying), the following were evaluated:

* Dimensional stability (shrinkage) in length and width

* The softness of the seams

* Functionality of the zipper

* The material's resistance to wear (abrasion) was tested with up to 100,000 cycles of abrasion. The test was stopped when the material of the pants no longer held together.

* Color permanence was assessed in three sub-elements:

     - Color change of the material after washing.

     - Material staining against the substrate when rubbed.

     - Material staining against other materials (cotton, polyester, polyacrylic, nylon, viscose, and triacetate) when machine washed.

* Strength and stretch of the material (penetration and elongation strength) were tested by measuring the force (air pressure in kPa) the material could withstand and the elongation (in mm) the force caused.

* A panel of five people from the laboratory staff evaluated and rated all pants concerning fit, feel against the skin, and how they were to put on. The functionality of the pants in terms of pockets and holders (number, design, detachability when washing, and zippers) was evaluated.

Interpretation and rating

The results of the laboratory test have been interpreted and rated in consultation with the laboratory. The rating follows a ten-point scale where ten is the best. Grades below six have only been given for results that can be considered poor or significantly worse than the other tested products in the selection.

In the overall rating, the different sub-elements have been weighted as follows:

  • Wear resistance 35%
  • Tear resistance 15%
  • Shrinkage 5%
  • Color fastness 10%
  • Fit & comfort 20%
  • Pockets & functionality 15%