In this article we will compare Dickies vs Carhartt jackets. Both of these brands are well-known workwear brands that have been creating dependable gear for decades. But there are significant differences in their style, material, and price point.
In general, my advice is to buy Carhartt for warm winter workwear and to buy Dickies for light-weight spring work jackets (but there can be exceptions). These are the general recommendations I would make based on season:
- Carhartt Yukon Arctic Jacket – For extreme cold (northern US/Canada). This combines Carhartt’s toughest outer shell (Cordura Nylon Duck) with Carhartt’s warmest insulation (arctic insulation). This is Carhartt’s warmest and toughest jacket. Wind-resistant, water-repellent, abrasion resistant. Insulated hood. Front zip. Cuffed waist traps warmth and pairs easily with tool belt.
- Carhartt Quilted-Flannel Duck Active Jacket – This jacket is also ultra-warm, but instead of a nylon outer shell, it is cotton. The firm cotton is still tough and dependable. This jacket has the quilted-flannel insulation that is both ultra warm and comfortable. Insulated hood, front zip. Cuffed waist. Classic Carhartt style. Perfect as a work and casual winter jacket.
- Dickies Denim Blanket-Lined Chore Coat – This is one of Dickies warmest coats. Classic denim exterior with blanket-lined interior. Button front. 5 pockets for added storage. Bi-swing back for easy movement through shoulders. Great for farmers.
- Dickies Diamond-Quilted Nylon Jacket – Lightweight, bomber style nylon jacket. Medium warmth with poly/cotton lining. Perfect jacket to function both as a work jacket and as a casual jacket. Stylish, comfortable. Warm, but not for middle of winter.
- Dickies Insulated Eisenhower Jacket – Classic hipster style. Jacket can be worn as both a casual jacket and a work jacket. Perfect for mechanics and service technicians. Clean, simple, classic front. Poly/cotton shell with lightweight insulation. Medium warmth, but not a winter coat.
- Carhartt Men’s Crowley Jacket – Nice, versatile lightweight option from Carhartt. Mock neck can be used as casual jacket or work jacket. Nice everyday spring/fall jacket to keep by your door and wear almost everywhere. Front zip, water-repellent, with soft-shell fabric that moves with you.
Here is a look at me wearing the Dickies Diamond-Quilted Nylon Jacket:
In this article let’s take a closer look at Dickies vs Carhartt jackets based on warmth, toughness, style, comfort, and price. Of course it is important to understand that both of these brands make a wide range of jackets and have a history of providing dependable workwear. But there are some difference – let’s discuss.
***If you are shopping for extreme winterwear, we have a guide that discusses the warmest Carhartt jackets and coats. Visit our article: Warmest Carhartt Jackets.
Dickies vs Carhartt Jackets: Warmth and Toughness
Weather and region is going to play a huge part in what brand is better for you. Do you need a spring/fall jacket, or a winter jacket? Do you have mild south winters, or dangerously cold extreme winters? These things will matter.
It’s also going to depend on what you need this jacket for. Will you need a hard shell to stand up at a work site, or a soft-shell jacket to wear as a normal, casual jacket?
I like to generalize it in my own mind like this: Carhartt equals firm outer shell and ultra warm while Dickies equals soft outer shell and lightweight warmth. Obviously, for both brands, there are exceptions to this. But generally, that gives you an idea of where to focus depending on what you need.
Yes, both brands offer a full range of jackets and coats that vary in warmth and toughness, but if you are looking for an ultra-warm jacket to protect you from extreme conditions, I would highly suggest you stick with Carhartt. If you are looking for a soft-shell spring jacket that is easy to move around in, I suggest you look at Dickies.
Carhartt specializes in making tough outer-shell jackets that can be paired with ultra-warm insulation to provide protection that is both tough and warm.
Although Dickies provides dependable workwear, the more popular jackets in their catalog tend to be lightweight soft-shell jackets that are comfortable and easy to move around in (more on that later). If you need something to protect you from consistent sub-freezing work sites, my recommendation is to stick with Carhartt.
What you need to understand about Carhartt is both the outer-shell fabric and the inner-lining insulation play a part in determining the warmth and toughness of the jacket. Carhartt specializes in tough, duck outer shells that can be made of nylon, cotton, or a material blend depending on what type of toughness you prefer.
For example, the Cordura Duck Nylon is their toughest outer shell. It is abrasion resistant and wind resistant, and also water repellent. The Cordura Duck Nylon is used as part of the Carhartt Yukon Extremes Series of outerwear, which is Carhartt’s warmest and toughest outerwear for extreme winter conditions.
But in regards to warmth, Carhartt also has several types of insulation to choose from. These are the types of Carhartt insulation, and how they vary (in my opinion) for warmth:
Here is my opinion on what type of season and conditions these linings can handle:
|Carhartt Lining||Best for…|
|Blanket Lining||Mild Winter Days|
|Quilted-Nylon||Mild Winter Days|
|Arctic Insulation||Sub-freezing Winter|
The Carhartt Yukon Extremes Arctic Jacket is the warmest and toughest jacket that Carhartt offers. It combines Carhartt’s toughest outer shell fabric (Cordura Duck Nylon) with Carhartt’s warmest insulation (the arctic insulation). Here is a look at my Carhartt Yukon Arctic Jacket:
If you are looking for a warm, tough winter jacket, my advice is to stick with Carhartt. As I said, they offer many varieties of outer shells and inner linings. In general, if you need warm and tough, I would stick with one of these 3 Carhartt shells and one of these 3 Carhartt inner-linings:
- Cordura Nylon Duck (toughest)
- Firm/Classic Cotton Duck
- Sandstone Cotton Duck
- Arctic (warmest)
For example, the Carhartt Yukon Arctic Jacket I have pictured above combines the toughest shell (Cordura Nylon Duck) with the warmest insulation (arctic). This is best for those in the northern US and Canada who need the toughest and warmest.
But, for example, I live in Kansas and I mainly use the Carhartt Duck Quilted-Flannel Active Jacket for winter. It is plenty warm for this region. It combines the second warmest Carhartt lining (still ultra warm) with one of Carhartt’s toughest cotton Duck outer fabrics (I prefer cotton over nylon). Here is a look at my Carhartt Cotton Duck Quilted-Flannel Active Jacket:
When considering Carhartt vs Dickies for winter workwear, again, I recommend sticking with Carhartt because that is what they do really well: provide tough, warm gear. But although Dickies tends to specialize more in soft-shell and/or mid-weight work jackets, they do offer some good winter options that may make some sense for you if you need to compare price.
In fact, one thing that Dickies offers that Carhartt does not is an ultra-warm denim winter jacket. Dickies sells a blanket-lined denim winter coat that is a full button-front with the classic denim utility coat design.
In my opinion, Dickies specializes at making lightweight spring/fall jackets that can provide up to medium warmth. Many of their jackets are soft-shell jackets that are usually much easier, lighter, and more comfortable to wear than the hard-shell heavy winter jackets discussed above.
Of course, if you are in the middle of extreme winter conditions you can use all the protection you can get. But during the spring and fall months, instead of a heavy hard-shell jacket, you might just be looking for a comfortable, lightweight layer that can take the chill away. Dickies has several quality options for that time of the year.
One of Dickies most popular lightweight jackets is their Diamond-Quilted Nylon Jacket. It has a soft nylon shell that moves with your body and a lightweight lining that provides a medium warmth for temperatures in the 40’s and 50’s. Here is a look at me wearing the Dickies Diamond-Quilted Jacket:
Again, this isn’t a heavyweight jacket that can stand up to the toughest jobs. But if you are looking more for comfort, and need a lightweight layer, this is a perfect option. It doubles nicely as a casual jacket also.
Even though Carhartt is mostly known for its tough, heavyweight jackets and coats, they do offer some lightweight options that are perfect for spring, and still have a bit of toughness to them even though they aren’t quite as tough as some of the heavyweight fabrics.
The Carhartt Crowley Jacket is a perfect lightweight spring jacket that (just like the Dickies jacket above) can double both as a work jacket and a casual jacket. Carhartt actually refers to the Crowley jacket as a “heavyweight softshell”, which is another way of saying that it has a bit of toughness to stand up to the elements, but has the soft-shell, flexible fabric that makes it easy to wear and work in. Here is the Carhartt Crawley jacket:
Even though both companies make lightweight options, I personally tend to prefer the Dickies lightweight options like the Quilted Nylon Jacket featured earlier and the Dickies iconic Eisenhower jacket.
Dickies vs Carhartt Jackets: Style
The style of Dickies vs Carhartt jackets is quite different. As I said earlier, both of these brands have a wide range of styles, so it is impossible to pigeon-hole either company to one particular style. But in general, when you think of Carhartt, you think of the tough, rugged style. A large majority of Carhartt’s outerwear falls into one of these 3 styles:
- hooded jacket with zip-front
- traditional coat style with extra pockets and drop tail past waist
- mock-neck collar jacket
Carhartt’s hooded, active jacket style (tough, rugged, warm):
Carhartt’s classic coat style, with extra pockets and a drop tail:
Carhartt’s mock-neck jacket style:
Carhartt really does a good job of offering different types of outerwear so that you can find not only a fabric and warmth you like, but also a style. One thing that remains consistent throughout most all of their styles is their commitment to toughness and commitment to making outerwear that can stand up to tough work sites and elements.
As for Dickies, although they do offer some heavier coats, as we discussed earlier in the article, their most popular jackets tend to be light to medium weight jackets best for spring/fall, and mild winter days.
Many of Dickies jackets have a sort of hipster style that makes them popular both as work jackets but also as casual jackets. One of their most popular jackets is the Eisenhower jacket. It is a unique mixture of toughness and comfort, combined with that hipster style that makes it versatile enough to wear almost anywhere.
Dickies vs Carhartt Jackets: Comfort
If you are concerned mostly about comfort, there are a few things to consider when buying a jacket from Carhartt or Dickies. First, both of these companies make jackets that are, for the most part, very comfortable.
But one of the challenges in creating rugged workwear is you have to make a jacket or coat that can both 1) stand up to a tough work site and tough weather conditions and 2) be ultra-comfortable to wear and not bother workers.
When considering Carhartt, the inside of the jackets are very comfortable and easy against the shoulders and arms. The only potential issue you may run up against is the outer shell stiffness.
If you choose to buy one of the toughest outer shells (like the Cordura Nylon Duck or Firm Cotton Duck) you can expect there to be a stiffness to the outer shell of the jacket or coat until you break it in. The inner lining will feel very comfortable, but the jacket itself may be a bit stiff to move around in until you wear it enough.
This, again, is part of the issue when companies need to create super-tough outer shells. There is a bit of a trade off: do you want a soft shell that doesn’t stand up well to work sites, or a hard shell that does, but might be a bit stiff to start?
The good news is Carhartt offers a wide range of outer shell fabrics, some of which sort of meet in the middle and give you some flexbility and a broken-in feeling while also being tough enough to stand up to most conditions. For example, the Carhartt Sandstone Cotton Duck and Quick Duck outer shells have more of a broken-in feeling off the rack than some of the firm shells do, but are made in a way that makes them still tough enough to last.
If you need something tough, but are worried about a jacket being too stiff (and need an ultra-warm jacket), I would suggest checking out the Carhartt Sandstone Duck Quilted-Flannel Active Jacket. This jacket combines the Sandstone Duck shell, which has a tough, but broken-in feeling, with Carhartt’s ultra-warm quilted-flannel lining.
Now, in regards to Dickies, as I’ve said throughout, many of their most popular jackets are soft-shell jackets. As we discussed, the trade off is yes, the jacket might not stand up to abrasions well, but it is very comfortable to wear and easy to move around in.
My favorite Dickies jacket, the Diamond-Quilted Nylon Jacket, has the soft-shell nylon exterior and is very comfortable to wear:
Now, not all Dickies jackets are soft-shell. They also make some firm duck cotton jackets that can stand up to tough work sites, but their most popular jackets tend to be light to mid-weight jackets that have soft, or semi-soft shells.
The Dickies Eisenhower jacket I discussed earlier in the article is a perfect example of a Dickies jacket that is a semi-soft shell. The Eisenhower jacket is perfect if you need a medium-warmth, semi-rugged jacket that is tough, but not stiff. Here is a look at the outer shell of the Dickies Eisenhower jacket:
Dickies vs Carhartt Jackets: Price
Although both of these companies offer a wide range of prices, in general, Carhartt is a premium brand of outerwear, while Dickies offers more affordable options.
If you are willing to pay whatever it takes to get a warm winter jacket, stick with Carhartt. If you are operating on a budget, then consider Dickies.
Price, of course, isn’t the only reason to consider Dickies. As I said throughout, they are kind of my go-to company for versatile, light to medium warmth fall/spring jackets. But affordability is one of the most popular things about Dickies.
Carhartt vs Dickies Jackets: Fit
If you are interested in reading more about how these two types of jackets fit, visit the articles linked below: