Best Carhartt Winter Work Jackets [My Advice From Trying 15]


Finding the right Carhartt work jacket can be overwhelming. The choices feel endless and it’s often very hard to figure out what the warmest Carhartt jackets are, and what type of lining makes the most sense for your climate.

This past winter I tried 15 different Carhartt work jackets. I’ve tried even more than that if you go back years earlier. I’ve put time and research into understanding the different linings and outer-shell fabrics used in these Carhartt winter jackets.

I live in Kansas, and for this climate I like the Carhartt J140 jacket. It has a firm duck canvas shell with a warm quilted-flannel lining. It is one of the warmest Carhartt jackets you can buy. But for some climates, it can be too warm.

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Here are my recommendations for the best Carhartt Work Jackets:

Firm cotton duck is very durable, but it is also stiff off the rack. It will take time to break in. Eventually it will loosen up and be very comfortable to wear. Because of this, some people like to buy pre-washed canvas jackets that use the pre-washing to help break in the canvas fabric so it has a worn-in feeling on the first wear.

What I want to do in this article is give you a broad understanding of the different types of linings and shells used in these Carhartt winter jackets. I also want to discuss my favorite jackets and what I like about them.

**As a disclaimer, please understand that Carhartt currently does not assign a temperature rating to their jackets. I obviously cannot either. But I’m going to give you my best judgement on what climates makes sense for each jacket that I’ve tried. Just understand this is my opinion based on experience with these Carhartt winter jackets.

Understanding the Warmth of Carhartt Work Jackets

Probably the first thing you need to do if you are trying to find the best Carhartt work jacket is understand the different insulation linings that Carhartt offers, and how they differ on warmth. The table below should help you understand the options and how the linings in these Carhartt winter jackets differ.

Here are Carhartt’s available linings, and my personal opinion on how they rank from lightweight warmth to warmest. Just for reference, I would consider the thermal lining something I’d wear on a mild winter day:

Carhartt LiningWarmth
ThermalMild Warmth
FleeceMild Warmth
BlanketMedium Warmth
Quilted-NylonMedium Warmth
SherpaWarm
Quilted-FlannelVery Warm
Arctic InsulationWarmest

What Carhartt Lining Do I Wear?

I’ve used several Carhartt winter jackets over the years, and still do. For Kansas winters, I use the quilted-flannel lining the most. It is quite warm, and can handle even most of the coldest days we get here in this climate.

Here’s a look at the quilted flannel lining in my Carhartt J140 jacket:

What is the Warmest Carhartt Winter Jacket?

UPDATE – As of 2021, Carhartt has updated the J133 jacket and replaced it with a new Carhartt Yukon Extremes Jacket style #104458. The new jacket is very similar in that just like the old jacket it is extremely warm and durable, but there are design differences. For example, the new version zips all the way to the chin. I own both – to read more, visit my article about the Carhartt 104458 Yukon Extremes Jacket.

In my experience, the warmest Carhartt winter jacket is the Carhartt J133 Yukon Extremes Arctic Jacket. This jacket has a durable nylon duck outer shell that is wind resistant, and the arctic lining is built for extreme cold. Here’s a look at my Carhartt J133 jacket:

If you want to read more about Carhartt winter jackets for the brutal cold, visit my article about the warmest Carhartt jackets.

What Carhartt Jacket Lining is Best for Mild Winters?

For cool, but mild, winters that you’d experience in the southern US, I’d recommend either a thermal lining or a fleece lining. Those two linings is what I would describe as a mild warmth.

The blanket lining might also be a nice fit for those who like a warm jacket, but are in a mild climate. The blanket-lining is warm, but I would describe it as a medium-warmth.

Carhartt does offer un-lined jackets if you live in the deep south. I personally like the Carhartt Rugged Flex Rigby Shirt Jacket that I will use for mild Fall and Spring days here in Kansas.

Understanding the Outer Shell Fabrics of Carhartt Work Jackets

Canvas fabric is important for a work jacket because it gives you the abrasion resistance you need on the job. But firm duck outer shells also provide a level of wind resistance needed during those brutal winter days. Sometimes when comparing Carhartt winter jackets, this is the most difficult thing to understand.

In general, the tougher the outer fabric, the stiffer the jacket will be. Canvas will break in over time, but the firmer, stiffer outer-shells will take some time. If you do not like stiff jackets, you might want one of the fabrics that is pre-washed to help break it in.

Please understand that Carhartt does offer soft-shell jackets too, which means that not all their jackets use a canvas outer shell. But here are your options for outer canvas fabrics for the Carhartt Work Jackets:

Outer Fabric DuckDetails
Extremes NylonToughest; Wind/Water Resistant
Firm Cotton Toughest Cotton; Wind/Water Res.
Traditional Cotton2nd-Toughest Cotton Shell
Washed Cotton Tough, but Broken-in Feeling
Sandstone CottonTough, but Broken-in Feeling
Quick DuckLightweight, Flexible Blend

The nylon duck is the toughest, and also is very wind-resistant. I will warn you, although this nylon canvas is very durable and good for extreme environments, it is also very noisy. This might not be a huge deal, but it’s noticeably noisier than the cotton canvas duck fabric.

Here’s a look at the nylon duck canvas on one of my Carhartt work jackets:

arctic-yukon-carhartt-coat-review-material

If you prefer cotton, the firm duck and traditional duck (in my experience) are very similar, and both take time to break in. The Washed Duck and the Sandstone Duck are pre-washed canvas fabrics that will be durable, but feel broken in on the first wear.

Here’s a look at the firm duck on my J140 Carhartt winter jacket:

carhartt-duck-active-jacket-review-material-2

My advice – If you need something durable, I’d stick with the firm cotton duck shell. If you care more about comfort (but don’t want a soft shell jacket) I’d go with either the quick duck shell or the pre-washed cotton duck shell that has a worn-in feeling on the first wear. The nylon duck is best used for extreme climates and jobs.

What is Quick Duck Fabric?

Quick Duck is unique to Carhartt, and is a fabric blend that they offer which is lighter in weight than other canvas shells, but still durable. So, no, don’t think of this like a flimsy jacket.

The Quick Duck fabric still feels like canvas, but it is lighter in weight and, in my experience, more comfortable and more flexible. Here is a close-up look at the Quick Duck fabric on one of my Carhartt work jackets:

camo-carhartt-quick-duck-traditional-jacket-review-seams

As you can see, it still has a canvas texture. No, it isn’t quite as durable as the tough cotton duck or the nylon duck, but this is a nice middle-ground that still provides some abrasion resistance, without the stiffness of canvas.

My Favorite Carhartt Work Jackets

Carhartt J140 Jacket

The J140 jacket is my favorite Carhartt work jacket. It has a firm duck 100% cotton canvas outer shell. Yes, it will be a bit stiff at first, but it breaks in just fine with time. This is Carhartt’s toughest cotton outer shell fabric and one of their warmest linings (quilted flannel). Overall, this is a very durable and warm winter jacket.

This is the current price of this Carhartt J140 Jacket available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). This jacket has triple-stitched main seams for increased toughness and durability.

Again, Carhartt does not assign temperature ratings to their jackets, which just complicates the buying process. Here is my opinion based off wearing this jacket for years: this jacket will be warm enough to handle winters in most all continental US states (yes, there may be some extreme exceptions). But it also will likely be too warm for mild winters in the southern US.

This jacket has a zip-front with a built-in, insulated hood. Cuffed sleeves and waist help trap in the heat. There are two internal pockets, including a zip pocket, that provide you a place to safely store essentials.

Click here to buy this Carhartt J140 jacket available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). This jacket has a loose fit, but I order my normal sizing. The extra space gives me room to layer. To read more, visit my article about the Carhartt J140 jacket.

Carhartt J133 Jacket

The J133 jacket is, in my experience, the warmest and toughest Carhartt work jacket. It uses a nylon duck canvas outer shell that is wind and water-resistant. Yes, it will be a bit stiff at first, and also is noisier than cotton shells, but it breaks in just fine with time.

Again, Carhartt does not assign temperature ratings to their jackets. I wear this jacket just during extreme conditions. If you are working in brutal cold, this may be a nice solution. The cool thing about this jacket too is although it is very warm, the overall weight of the jacket is very reasonable.

This jacket has a zip-front with a built-in, insulated hood. Cuffed sleeves and waist help trap in the heat. There are two internal pockets, including a zip pocket, that provide you a place to safely store essentials.

Click here to buy this J133 Carhartt winter jacket available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). This jacket has a loose fit, but I order my normal sizing. The extra space gives me room to layer. To read more, visit my article about the Carhartt J133 jacket.

UPDATE – As I mentioned earlier, Carhartt has recently updated the J133 jacket and replaced it with a new Carhartt Yukon Extremes Jacket style #104458. The new jacket is very similar in that just like the old jacket it is extremely warm and durable, but there are design differences. For example, the new version zips all the way to the chin. I own both – to read more, visit my article about the Carhartt 104458 Jacket.

Carhartt Rugged Flex Rigby Shirt Jacket

size-carhartt-rigby

This is my favorite lightweight Carhartt work jacket. I use this a lot during the spring and fall months here in Kansas. This shirt jacket is not lined, but it’s pretty thick and does provide warmth against a cool breeze.

It’s made with a 6.5-ounce cotton/spandex blend, which gives it some flexibility. My freedom of movement is not affected when I wear this shirt.

It has a snap-button front that makes it easy to button and un-button even wearing work gloves. It has two chest pockets for storage, and the left pocket has a pencil slot. This is a nice mild jacket to keep in your work truck for those cool spring days, or for mild winter days in the southern US.

Click here to buy this Carhartt Rugged Flex Rigby Jacket available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). This jacket does run big in my opinion. If you don’t want a loose-fit, you may need to size down.

Carhartt Detroit Jacket

size-carhartt-detroit

The Detroit jacket (style J001) has a sort of trucker style or maybe you could even call it a bomber style. It is a collared jacket that finishes at the waist. This Carhartt winter jacket was at one point made here in the USA, although I’m not entirely sure it still is. It has a 12-ounce firm duck cotton canvas outer shell.

The inside of my Detroit jacket is blanket lined (best Carhartt blanket lined jackets). In my experience, this lining can work for mild to moderate winter conditions. If you are outside in extreme conditions, you will probably want a heavier insulation.

This Carhartt work jacket is a nice winter option for those of you who don’t like a huge, bulky winter work jacket. It has a cool trucker style that looks good even off the clock. This jacket finishes near the waist.

Click here to buy this Carhartt Detroit Jacket available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). This jacket has a standard fit. This jacket will finish near the waist for most people, but the waist is not cuffed on this jacket. For more options, visit our article about the best Carhartt trucker jackets.

Other Carhartt Winter Work Jackets That I’ve Tried

Carhartt Chore Jacket

This is a Carhartt Full Swing coat which means it has a bi-swing gusset panel in the back to allow for more freedom of movement (style 102707). This coat has a fleece lining.

In my opinion, this chore coat is best used as a mild winter coat. If you are in extreme conditions, you will want to layer underneath this coat for extra warmth. It has a 12-ounce cotton duck canvas outer shell, with plenty of pockets for storage. This is a button-front coat, with a drop-tail that finishes well past the waist.

Carhartt C55 Coat

The C55 coat is the coat version of the J133 jacket we discussed earlier. This C55 coat is part of the Carhartt Extremes Yukon series, which is outerwear built for extreme environments. This coat combines Carhartt’s toughest outer shell fabric (CORDURA Nylon Duck) with Carhartt’s warmest insulation (arctic).

This coat does not have a hood, but it does have snaps so a hood can be attached. This C55 coat has a drop-tail that finishes well past the waist. Plenty of pockets for storage. Mine has a corduroy collar. This coat is for extreme winter conditions. To read more, visit my article about the Carhartt C55.

UPDATE – As of 2021, Carhartt no longer makes the C55 Yukon Extremes Coat. They now have a newer version, style 104460, that is very similar to the C55 in that it has the durable nylon duck shell and is made for extreme conditions. It features 150g of 3M Thinsulate for insulation, and is water-repellent and wind-resistant. Click here to view this new Carhartt 104460 coat (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).

Carhartt Rough Cut Jacket

This is a soft-shell jacket, and a great option for you if you don’t like stiff canvas fabric (style 103829). My version of this jacket comes with a hood, but you can also buy a collared version. This jacket is water-repellent and wind-resistant (best waterproof winter jackets).

No, it won’t keep you dry during a hurricane, but it will fight off light precipitation. The main takeaway for this Carhartt work jacket is it is very comfortable to wear, has some stretch to it, and is not heavy. It has a lightweight lining that can keep you warm on cool spring/fall days, and maybe some mild winter days.

Carhartt Gilliam Jacket

The Gilliam jacket is a versatile, lightweight jacket that does have warmth. It is not heavy, and it is very easy to wear and pack. This is a soft-shell jacket that won’t have that durable canvas fabric that other Carhartt jackets have.

Probably the coolest thing about this jacket is it can function as either an outer or inner layer. You can easily wear it as a winter jacket, or even use it to layer underneath a heavier jacket for extreme conditions. To read more, visit my article about the Carhartt Gilliam Jacket.

Carhartt Quick Duck Camo Jacket

This Carhartt Quick Duck Camo Jacket (style 101444) is one of my favorite Carhartt work jackets. Quick Duck is a fabric blend that Carhartt created. It is lightweight and more flexible than standard cotton canvas fabric, but still has that durable canvas feel.

If you don’t like the weight and stiffness of typical canvas Carhartt winter jackets, but need something durable, Carhartt Quick Duck jackets might be a nice solution for you. To read more, visit my Carhartt Quick Duck Review.

Carhartt Rockford Jacket

This is a lightweight water-repellent Carhartt jacket for the spring/fall months. It’s a packable jacket that can stand up to light rain in mild winter and spring conditions.

This is a nice fishing/hiking jacket, with multiple pockets for storage. It has a drawcord waist to help keep the weather out. This is a zip-front jacket with an attached hood.

Carhartt Sierra Jacket

This is another Carhartt work jacket that is very popular. It combines a duck cotton canvas shell with a sherpa lining (style 104392). The sherpa lining is one of those linings that people seem to either love it or hate it. This is one of the warmer linings that Carhartt has.

Again, they don’t temperature rate their products, but this Carhartt winter jacket is suitable for mild to moderate winter conditions. If you are in extreme weather, you may need a heavier insulation.

Carhartt Full Swing Cryder Jacket

I like this Carhartt work jacket quite a bit (style 102207). This is a jacket that is probably best for mild winter days. It is very comfortable to wear. This jacket uses the Quick Duck fabric we discussed earlier in the article.

Quick Duck is durable, but not as heavy in weight as other canvas fabrics. The best way I can describe this fabric is to call it a flexible canvas fabric. It comes with a hood and is a Full Swing jacket with gusseted panels to improve your freedom of movement through your shoulders and arms.

Carhartt Crowley Jacket

Unless you live in the deep south, this isn’t a Carhartt winter jacket. This Crowley jacket (style 102199) is better suited for fall/spring temperatures and is a jacket that you can just keep by the door and wear practically anywhere. This jacket looks good both on and off the clock.

It is a soft-shell jacket, and is very comfortable to wear. No, this won’t be Carhartt’s most durable jacket, but it also isn’t flimsy. The fabric is durable enough to be used as a work jacket. The fabric does have some spandex in it to give the jacket a flexible fit.

This jacket is water-repellent, but this is not heavy enough to be a winter jacket. To read more, visit my article about the Carhartt Crowley Jacket.

Carhartt Shoreline Jacket

This Carhartt work jacket (style J162) is built for rainy days. Although there are other water-repellent jackets on this list, this is the only waterproof jacket included.

The cool thing about this jacket is it isn’t some flimsy rain jacket. It’s still durable enough for a job site. It has a full-zip front and an attached hood. Draw-cord waist to help keep out the weather. To read more, visit my article about the Carhartt Shoreline Jacket.

Carhartt Washed Duck Insulated Active Jacket

This jacket (style 104050) is an update to the J130 jacket (Carhartt J130 vs 104050), which was a very popular Carhartt work jacket. I’m not sure if Carhartt has chosen to discontinue the J130, or if they are just offering this as an alternative.

The J130 combined the pre-washed sandstone duck fabric (which takes away stiffness), with the quilted flannel lining. The J130 jacket was quite popular because it was very warm, very durable, but also was pre-washed to break it in. This eliminated that stiff feeling off the rack.

This updated version does has some differences. For example, this does not have the quilted flannel lining (but it does have a pre-washed shell). This updated version has a quilted nylon lining with 80 grams of 3M Thinsulate for insulation. Carhartt doesn’t put temperature ratings on their jackets, so it’s hard to say which is warmer.

Having worn both the J130, and this new version, the warmth is similar. I’d probably say the J130 was slightly warmer, but this jacket isn’t as bulky to wear. This new version also has storm cuff sleeves, but the old J130 just had normal cuffed sleeves.

Overall this is a very comfortable Carhartt winter jacket, that is suitable (in my opinion) for mild to moderate winter conditions. This is a hooded canvas jacket with a cuffed waist.

Carhartt Work Jacket Sizing

How Do Carhartt Winter Jackets Fit?

No two Carhartt jackets are sized exactly the same. In general, expect heavyweight winter jackets and coats to have a roomy fit that may feel big, but gives you space to layer. Expect spring/fall jackets to have a more regular fit.

My advice: In general, I recommend ordering your normal sizing in Carhartt jackets. Yes, some of the heavy winter jackets have a roomy cut, but normal sizing has worked best for me.

I would suggest visiting my article about Carhartt Jacket Sizing to get a better idea regarding fit.

Do Carhartt Work Jackets Shrink?

While, yes, you can expect 100% cotton Carhartt winter jackets to shrink some over time, in my experience, the shrinking is minimal, and does not affect what size I order. As with anything, after enough wash cycles, the cotton fabric will shrink a little bit.

Here’s a look at my old J140 Carhartt work jacket that has been washed and worn for 5+ years sitting on top of my new J140 jacket:

do-carhartt-jackets-shrink

As you can see, there’s a little bit of difference there, but once you consider how many wash cycles that Carhartt winter jacket has been through, and also consider how much rain/sun it has taken on, the change is minimal. I honestly didn’t even notice a change until I compared it. To read more, visit my article about Carhartt jackets shrinking.

Don’t like your Carhartt work jacket options? Visit my article about alternatives to Carhartt for more options, or my article about the best workwear winter jackets.

Paul Johnson

Paul is a lead content creator for Workwear Command. He has had several blue-collar jobs which have provided him a wide range of experience with tools and gear. He also has a business degree and has spent time in business casual office settings.

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