Having done a lot of tile flooring, I’m particularly fond of a new breed of work pants that incorporate kneepads right into pockets located on the pants themselves. There are now at least two manufacturers doing this, and it’s a really great idea that alleviates the behind-the-knee soreness associated with strap-based kneepads. The pants from Armed Work Wear run around $40 and are made out of 100% cotton—12 oz. cotton canvas to be precise. The pants are pre-shrunk and have 9 pockets for you to carry various hand tools, carpenters pencils and such. Of particular note, the knee pockets are oriented so that you drop in the included pads from the top. This makes the pads easier to insert and remove while the pants are actually on you, but it also means that you’re going to collect dirt in those pockets as well—admittedly not a huge concern in my mind, but good to note. Of course, the included pads aren’t what I would call “industrial strength”. In fact, they lasted about a day before they were flattened into near-uselessness by my knees—and I’m not exactly a big guy. The good news is that Armed sells heavy duty knee pads, but you have to order those separately, and they’ll run you around $14/pair. In my opinion, they aren’t optional if you want to use the pants as intended. They do last, however, and after months of use the heavy duty pads can go from pants to pants and hold up just fine.
The cotton material is very comfortable. I really like how lightweight the pants are, but they also seem perfectly able to handle the rigors of daily use. They hang well and feel extremely comfortable, even after an entire day of wearing them. For some, they might feel a tad tight when bending at the knees.
The pockets are nice, and there is a decent variety that handled some hand tools, pencils and even my iPhone with its obnoxious (but cool!) RealTree camouflage case. The pockets are oriented so that as you kneel down,the tools don’t dig into your leg. They also seem to be in all the right places. On the left is a hammer loop that took a full-size framing hammer just fine. It’s sewn in very well, and I never felt as though I had to baby the hammer when I pulled it out or let it drop back into place.
I did some tile work with these pants as well as an entire 1200 sq. ft. oak flooring job, and they held up very well. I also wore them for a couple weeks while doing some demo work on a couple of homes we’re in the process of renovating in my city. Armed Work Wear pants are definitely an option for those looking to pick up a relatively inexpensive pair of specialty trade pants. You’re just going to want to amortize the cost of the heavy duty pads. Armed Work Wear also makes them in white, marketed as Painters Pants, and you can get shorts in both versions as well.
Clint Everett DeBoer, when he’s not remodeling part of his house or playing with the latest power tool, enjoys life as a husband, father and avid reader. He has a degree in recording engineering and has been involved in multimedia and/or online publishing in one form or another for the past 18 years.