What Are Cotton Duck Canvas Work Pants? (w/ pics)


When you want durable work pants, there are many to choose from, but duck canvas work pants are the leaders of the pack. With such a tough material, these pants are built to take on tough job sites. What are duck canvas work pants?

Duck canvas work pants are made of cotton duck cloth, which is a heavy cotton fabric that is double woven with extra-thick threads. These strong and resilient pants can stand up to some of the toughest environments.  

Duck canvas is what the sails on sailboats are typically made of, so you know that they are great at blocking the wind and hold up to a lot of wear and tear. It’s no surprise they make great utility pants.

If your job is tough and demands heavy duty work pants, we’re going to talk about why duck canvas just might be what you need for your next pair. Here’s a look at a pair of duck canvas pants that I own:

duck-canvas-work-pants

Duck Canvas Work Pants Explained

No matter what kind of job you are doing, duck canvas pants can almost always take it. That’s why many people consider duck canvas pants to be the best workwear trousers available. They have reinforced stitching and double woven material that resists wear and tear.

The way they are made gives them that extra strength and durability to prevent a small snag from turning into a large hole. 

Although they are not naturally water or fire-proof, they do repel light precipitation in most situations. No these won’t be waterproof work pants, but they will give you a little protection from the elements. This, of course, can vary from brand to brand.  

Although these pants are warmer than most work pants, if you need winter work pants, duck pants often come in insulated versions for extra warmth. Of course, a trade-off here is that because these are heavyweight pants, they don’t always make for the best summer work pants.

Here are some of the other pros and cons of duck canvas work pants. They are: 

Pros 

  • Tougher than most work pants
  • Resistant to wind and cold weather
  • Some (but not all) versions may be flame resistant
  • Some (but not all) versions may be water resistant
  • Not prone to snags and rips
  • Durable for years of wear

Cons

  • They can be stiff at first
  • Some find them unattractive
  • They can be hot to work in during the summer

Duck Canvas Work Pants Common Features

Although your favorite features depend on your individual likes and needs, there are certain specifics that most people want when they are looking for work pants. Here are some of the most common features that workers are searching for. 

Reinforced Fabric

To stop snags in their tracks, reinforced fabric is a ripstop design that makes it more resistant to tears and rips. This is important for those who have a rough job such as construction or carpentry. 

This type of duck fabric is woven with a crosshatching of nylon to make it rip resistant.

Material

Duck cotton itself is 100% cotton. It does not naturally have any stretch to it. This is one of the main drawbacks. So most duck canvas pants are 100% cotton work pants.

There will be a break-in period with duck canvas pants that may last for a few weeks. They will be stiff at first, but over time, as you wash and wear them, they will become more comfortable.

Here’s a close-up look at Carhartt’s firm duck fabric:

carhartt-cotton

You also have the option of buying you duck cotton pants pre-washed. Some companies offer pre-washed pants that uses the same heavyweight cotton duck material, but pre-washes the fabric so it feel more broken-in on the first wear. This is a decent way to skip the break in period.

It’s also common nowadays to see certain companies combine a small amount of spandex in certain styles of duck canvas pants to give them a little stretch. This can be a nice balance between comfort and toughness.

Here’s a pair of duck canvas stretch work pants that I own:

stretch-work-pants-carhartt

Gusset

Men who are constantly moving know all about needing a gusset in their work pants. It is an extra piece of fabric shaped like a diamond that is sewn into the crotch.

Here’s a look at a crotch gusset:

gusseted-crotch-work-pants

Buying gusseted crotch pants is an excellent way to add some comfort to your work day, especially for duck canvas pants. This gusset not only provides comfort, it also helps eliminate ripped seams. No more pinching or pulling while you are trying to work.


Knee Protection

No matter what type of work you do, it always seems like your knees get the worst of it. If you have any kind of a job where you may be kneeling down more than usual, knee protection is important.

Some duck canvas work pants have pockets for knee pads and some even have knee pads already sewn in. Many duck canvas pants come with a reinforced double knee for extra durability.

Here’s a look at a pair of reinforced heavyweight duck canvas pants that I own:

carhartt-B01-work-pants

Tool Loop

For those who use a hammer at work, the utility loop is very important. For those who do not, the utility loop is sometimes an annoyance because it’s often getting snagged on things.

Many duck canvas work pants come with a tool loop. How important this is to you just depends on your needs. 


Cargo or Utility Pockets

The more pockets the better for most workers. And you really need to have a variety of sizes, shapes, and types of pockets. As you know, cargo pockets are an over-sized pocket that usually has a button or snap and pleat so there is plenty of room for whatever you need.

Unfortunately, not a lot of true duck canvas work pants come in a cargo style. The duck canvas material itself is heavy and bulky, and adding extra bulk and weight with cargo pockets isn’t always ideal.

Most cargo work pants instead use a lighter-weight ripstop fabric that does help prevent rips and tears, but won’t have that heavyweight canvas feel to it. It’s not as durable as duck cotton, but these ripstop work pants usually hold up at most job sites.

For example, here’s my cargo work pants. They use that lighter-weight ripstop fabric instead of a duck cotton canvas:

carhartt-cargo-pants

Most duck canvas pants do have some sort of small utility pocket on the legs. This at least gives you a place to store your phone or tools. If you are looking for heavy duty cargo pants, I’d recommend the Wrangler Ranger pants.


Fit

Most duck canvas pants are loose fit work pants. This can vary a bit by brand, but because these are work pants, most companies want a relaxed, loose fit so that you can freely move around while wearing these.

If you are a skinny guy looking for work pants, my advice is to visit our article about the best slim fit work pants. There are some options out there for you.


Popular Brands of Duck Canvas Work Pants

There are a plethora of different types and styles of duck canvas work pants made by various companies. The most common are: 

Brands like Filson and Carhartt still offer some work pants made in the USA. Not all their pants are USA-made, but if you prefer American-made work pants, they have some options.

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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