What is Heavyweight Cotton and How Does it Help?

Yes, we all know what cotton is. But have you ever seen a t-shirt or pair of jeans that boasts “heavyweight cotton” as its fabric and wondered what exactly that means? What is heavyweight cotton?

Heavyweight cotton, as the name would suggest, is denser and heavier than other cotton materials, and creates a more durable, sturdy product. Cotton is measured in ounces per square yard, and heavyweight cotton is usually 12 ounces or heavier.

But it is important to understand that there are many different types of cotton. Although, in general, heavyweight cotton is 12 ounces or heavier, each type of cotton can have its own heavyweight version.

For example, t-shirts are often made with cotton jersey, which is a lighter-weight cotton. But you can still buy “heavyweight cotton jersey”. Although cotton jersey in its heaviest form is still a lightweight cotton, that heavier version of cotton jersey will often be referred to as “heavyweight cotton jersey”.

Here’s what is considered to be heavyweight cotton for some of the most popular types of cotton commonly used in clothing:

Cotton Denim16+ ouncesJeans
Cotton Jersey6+ ouncesTees
Cotton Canvas12+ ouncesWork Wear
Cotton Flannel6+ ouncesShirts
Cotton Moleskin14+ ouncesWork Wear
Cotton Corduroy12+ ouncesCasual Wear

In this article let’s take a closer look at heavyweight cotton to discuss what types of garments use this type of cotton, and what the pros and cons are for using it. 

Qualities of Heavyweight Cotton Fabric

The amount of cotton that goes into clothing makes a lot of difference. Not only are there differences in the feel but also in the looks and uses. The heavier in weight the cotton, the stronger and more durable it will be.

For workwear, it is important to have something that is tough enough to handle a job site. With heavyweight cotton fabric, you get the following: 

  • A More Structured Fit: Heavyweight cotton clothing has a much more structured look. With lightweight cotton fabric, you may see it blow easily in the wind. Something sturdier, like heavyweight cotton duck canvas won’t be blowing in the wind. If it is, prepare for liftoff. For example, here are my 12-ounce cotton canvas pants. They almost look stiff:
  • More Durability: Normal cotton is created with fewer threads of cotton fused together. Heavyweight cotton has many more threads for an overall heftier construction. These threads are weaved all together for a sturdier feel and a longer-lasting lifetime for the fabric. Cotton canvas is often used in workwear, and has a durable, coarse appearance:
  • More Warmth: Lighter cotton fabrics are breathable and porous, allowing air to flow through to keep you cool. Heavyweight cotton is better for colder weather, adding an extra layer of protection from the cold. Certain types of sturdier cotton can also offer added protection from moisture.

Types of Heavyweight Cotton Fabrics

As we discussed, even lightweight version of cotton, like cotton jersey, can have their own heavyweight version. But if you are discussing a true heavyweight form of cotton, that weighs 12 ounces per square yard or more, these are the types to know: 

  • Canvas: A heavyweight cotton (usually 12 ounces) that is used to make very durable work jackets, pants, and coveralls. Lighter weight versions of cotton canvas will weigh 7-8 ounces, and will be used in work shirts and also for summer work pants. A very great choice when needing something that’s sturdy.
  • Corduroy: This hardwearing, medium-to heavyweight cotton texture is also known as cord, needlecord, and baby cord. The ribs (cords) and the quantity of strings per inch is known as the wale, with the texture generally changing from 4-wale (wide) to 21-wale (thin needlecord). Frequently utilized in the making of pants, dresses, skirts, shirts and other casualwear. 
  • Denim: A fabric that practically everyone knows, this strong, hearty, substantial weight cotton texture is thickly woven, utilizing a twill weave. Heavyweight denim usually weighs 16 ounces or heavier.  

Pros and Cons of Heavyweight Cotton Fabric

Tough jobs are rough on clothes and may have you on your knees, working with tools and materials, or dealing with all kinds of weather. Because the fibers of heavyweight cotton are knitted closely together, it is often used to make durable workwear.

For the job, cotton duck canvas is the most frequently used type of cotton. Canvas is a firm, heavy plain weave fabric and will feel rough when you run your hand across it.

But heavyweight cotton isn’t right for all situations. Let’s take a closer look at some of the pros and cons of heavyweight cotton.

Pros of Heavyweight Cotton 

  • Long-Lasting: When you make the transition to heavyweight cotton, you will notice the difference in the duration of your clothes. You will not have to constantly run to the store to replace your work clothes. Instead, you can wash them multiple times and dry them until there is no moisture left.
  • It Does Not Tear Easy: Another plus is the fact that heavyweight cotton is tough. If your work usually wears out other fabrics and you find that you get holes in your clothes, make the switch to heavyweight cotton. Because the fibers are woven tightly and very close, you will not have tears so easily.
  • Say Goodbye to Wrinkles: Your job might not require you to look nice and neat all the time. Even if it does not, you still may want to keep up your appearance for your own reasons. With other fabrics that are loose and tight, wrinkles come about easily, but with heavyweight cotton, you never have to worry about this being a problem. 
  • Warmth – Heavyweight cotton is heavier and denser, and does a better job at trapping heat. Some heavyweight cotton fabrics, like canvas, can even offer some water resistance and protection from light precipitation. An insulated canvas work pant can be a great option for winter.

Cons of Heavyweight Cotton 

  • It Is Heavy: Yeah, you will know it’s there. Put on a pair of reinforced heavyweight cotton canvas pants, and you won’t feel like going out for a jog. All things considered, this is a minor annoyance, but it does exist. If you are constantly on the move while working, you may want to go with a lighter blend.
  • It Is Stiff: Heavyweight cotton canvas in workwear will feel very stiff off the rack. The break in period will be weeks, and to be completely honest, it can feel uncomfortable in the beginning. PRO TIP: To skip the stiffness, buy heavyweight cotton canvas that is pre-washed to break it in (sometimes referred to as Sandstone Duck).
  • It Can Be Expensive: The more cotton that goes into clothing, the more expensive it is. Cotton is a commodity that is high in demand all around the world. Plus, because it is of great quality and lasts a long time, it is considered an investment. You will notice that heavyweight cotton items cost much more.
  • Warmth: Yes, this was a pro, but it is also a con. Heavyweight cotton won’t be a great summer option. This can be a problem if your job demands a durable pant. For me, I opt for a lightweight canvas in the summer. To read more, visit our article about the best summer work pants.

Heavyweight Cotton is Great for Workwear

Heavyweight cotton is great for many reasons, but its durability and toughness make it almost essential for those of us who need something that can stand up to a tough work environment.

Heavyweight cotton stands the test of time and stays solid for years and years. Its tight-knitted threads help create a strong feel and powerful hold. For heavy-duty options, visit our articles below:

Though it might cost a bit more than your average fabrics, it is worth the investment. Just beware, it may feel stiff at first, and doesn’t make for the best summer workwear.

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.

Recent Posts