Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Review: Carhartt Dungaree

It's no secret to the hipster world that Carhartt makes a good all-purpose pant. Unlike most hipster cycling solutions, which generally introduce discomfort into bike riding (no brakes, no fenders, weird handlebars, etc) for the sake of fashion, there's a lot of sense to the Carhartt thing. I'm nearly 40, so maybe Carhartts ceased to be hip years ago. Maybe they're back to normal again, since they're not super "skinny," but I dig them.

I came across a pair of Carhartts about a year ago -- the kind with the double front. They took some getting used to as they were stiff and the legs are cut huge for boots. The only way I can find to keep the legs (both legs) out of the turning bike bits, is to roll up both cuffs. I could probably do some sewing or get really serious with a toe strap, but after a year of fussing around, I find rolling just works best.

Most of my daily riding consists of short trips: my house to work (4 miles). My work to downtown (2 miles), then home (2 miles). The longest I'm typically on a bike during the work week, is maybe 45 minutes. I've been wearing these pants most of the winter. There are a couple super features I dig about these pants:
  • I don't care how trashed they get. I can happily work on bikes, kneeling on my greasy dirty garage floor, and not care about staining them. I won't do this with my technical fabric, since waterproofing tends to die if the fabric it's attached to gets dirty. Which is kind of lame.
  • Pockets galore and they're deep. I carry a lot of crap every day in my front pockets: phone, ear buds, chap stick, pocket knife, change, cash-money. That's the baseline. Typically, I have lists, receipts, and other super important stuff. The Carhartts make hauling all this crap too easy.
  • Tough fabric. This stuff will last forever under general bikey usage. There is zero wear at the butt bones after a few hundred miles of riding. The fabric softens with use and washing.
  • High value: I think I paid $40 for these pants. I've worn them a lot this fall and winter, and they're just getting warmed up.
  • Here's the money feature: these double legs keep me dry. For my tooling around town in the dumping rain, I don't bother with RainMates when I wear these. The Cordura fabric sort of absorbs a bit of water, then expands to fill the gaps in the weave.
Yep, they're heavy. Yep, they're a weird color. But a couple times this year, I've actually found myself in these pants for Sunday morning SOS rides. They're becoming my go-to pants for non-warm weather riding. I've yet to do a ride that is longer than a couple hours in them, but I'm thinking they'd be pretty right on for those early season S24Os.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, but only a hipster would write "pant" on the internets.

They make good shants (hipster translation: "shant") if you hack them below the knee. No hipster sewing job or rolling required.

For a particularly awesome rodeo clown look, buy them way too big and hold them up with suspenders.

Not good with drop bar position, actually, because of the enormous knot of seams that meet in the crotch.

The knock-offs are cheaper and have better colors--Cabelas especially. I saw a hipster woman yesterday in a pair of pinstriped Dickies. She was very well-panted.

Did I say that right?

John Speare said...

For some reason, the roll up dorkitude looks appeals more to me than the cut-them-below-the-knee Alfalfa look. When I arrive at respectable places, as I am wont to do, I can roll down the legs, put on my ascot, and partake in the boudoir of the grape.

As for not-good-for-drop-bar assertion: I'm knot feeling the not of seams. At the moment, 50% of my daily drivers have drop bars. Taint no issues yet.

Thanks for the tip: I'll check out the knock-offs.

Michael said...

Thanks for the review, I've been wondering how Carhartt's would do bike wise.

Jeremy said...

I love my carhartts, but I found the only thing that could wear out their seemingly indestructible fabric was...my bike seat. Or at least the weight of my tucus and the friction of my bike seat. The ass in my first pair wore out in a couple of years. I had a friend patch the ass with some corduroy but it definitely didn't look respectable.

Now, i have a much longer commute that i change into Lycra for (what?) and i don't do quite as much around town riding as I used to, so my second pair has held up better. Totally great for working on the bike or doing dirty jobs. I also take mine backpacking.

zed said...

I have to say the double front carhartts are bad ass, but the double front overalls are even more bad ass for riding in crappy weather. I got some last year for my commute which is only about 6 miles. The best part is you can put on a bunch of stuff underneath and not have the tramp stamp gap as with pants. The legs are also a little slimmer, and you can do everything you say and be uber warm. I don't care what happens to them and they can take quite a beating. This winter sadly hasn't been consistently cold enough to don them.

Bryan B said...

John -

I am in dire need of instructions on how to properly wear an ascot while riding a bike.

Anonymous said...

I too have a pair of the double fronts that I've had for 'bout near a hunnerd years. They've been through quite a few commutes, but alas I did wear a hole in the crotch. Wade

Unknown said...

The only jeans I have owned for the last 15 years or so have been Carhartts, and I have worn through many a pair. I often carry a hammer and a couple other small tools on the left side(when working, I hate tool bags with a passion) and the right is always reserved for my cell phone and a pencil, tape measure clips to my back right pocket above my wallet and the back left holds my notebook.

My preference is the denim double front over the duck material but I have both, the duck ones are for work only. The denim wear out faster, in that the material breaks down around the top rivet on the double front eventually tearing open. On the duck ones I've never worn through the fabric, instead the seams eventually fail at the crotch.

Anyway, great pants for sure and I'll keep buying them as long as they keep working for me.

BTW, they go on sale at Fred Meyer a few times a year at a pretty deep discount and that's when I snatch them up.

doug said...

I have some. I don't mind riding with them, except in the rain. Wet, heavy cotton is just about the worst when riding. Also, the fire-hose color seems to show wet spots very, very well. Unsightly, even for an unkempt hobo such as myself.

I much prefer lightweight wool slacks for winter riding.

Paul a Spoklander said...

I'm late to this, but have to add that in addition to the heavy duck twill fabric, double-fronts are available in a lighter weight canvas version. Because of the light cotton and the loose fit I find them very comfortable for brisk commuting even in warmer weather. http://www.carhartt.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10101&storeId=10051&productId=100453&langId=-1&categoryId=10935 I still ride in the duck-washed pants for colder weather.

Noah Sutherland said...

I was down in Portland this weekend and stopped into the Carhartt store by the airport. These were on sale for $45. I picked up a pair so we'll see how I like them. Over the last two years, I've gone through two pairs of Wrangler Riggs work pants (similar style double front). They definitely were not as durable as I had hoped. I think they were slightly less expensive, but if these last longer I'll go with the Carhartt.

topoDcat said...

Dude...I was use'n carhartts rolled up back in '83 on my Mgoat in anadell...retrohipsta...guess I ain't cool no moe..got no carhartts now