When you’re shopping for work trousers, the amount of choice can be overwhelming. All the talk of holster pockets and tool loops can make you wonder: how complicated can buying a pair of trousers be?
In this guide, we want to demystify the world of work trousers, and help you find the best pair for you. Whether comfort, pockets, or movement are the priority, we’ve got some great recommendations from the UK’s most trusted workwear brands.
What are Work Trousers?
Work trousers are any trousers worn specifically for the type of job you have. Chefs, gardeners, and even office workers will probably have trousers for work, but the term ‘work trousers’ is commonly used to describe the trousers worn by tradespeople.
Work trousers made for tradespeople, such as electricians, construction workers, and plumbers, often have additional features that mean they’re well-suited for hands-on jobs. For instance, plumbers and carpenters tend to prefer work trousers with plenty of pockets, or holster pockets which gives them easy access to their tools.
Landscapers, on the other hand, would probably be more inclined to choose work trousers with built-in knee pads, because they spend so much time down on the ground. For those who work outdoors, there are a number of features that can be useful in work trousers, from thermal lining and waterproofing for foul weather, to zip-off bottoms for the warmer months.
Work trousers help you to feel comfortable throughout the day, while convenient features like holster pockets can help you to work more efficiently.
What are Safety Trousers?
Safety trousers and work trousers are terms which are often used interchangeably, however there are some slight differences.
If your employer or site manager asks you to wear safety trousers, they may be referring to specific Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Depending on your trade, this could mean trousers which are spill-proof, heat-resistant, or hi-vis to keep you safe in environments like a construction site.
If you’re unsure of the requirements, you should always check with your supervisor or site manager, as coming to work with the wrong clothing could result in an accident, or serious injury.
The Best Work Trousers for Tools
Although many of us that work with tools have a trusty tool bag, when you’re working in small spaces, it can be useful to keep a few tools closer to hand.
Tool belts are a good option, but they can be bulky, and a pain when they fall down. Many tradespeople opt for work trousers with multiple pockets, specifically designed for the kind of tools you use every day.
From holster pockets, to cargo pockets, tool loops and zip pockets to keep small items like screws from going walkabout, a good pair of work trousers or cargo shorts can save a lot of headaches. Anybody who’s ever put a tool down for two minutes and then found it’s slipped into another dimension will know exactly what we mean!
Our recommendation: Snickers 6208 LiteWork Trousers with Detachable Holster Pockets
Our Price: £124.95
Features: If it’s pockets you’re after, the Snickers Litework Trousers will give you plenty to work with!
These lightweight work trousers boast a pair of detachable holster pockets, a ruler pocket with knife fastener, a stretch cargo pocket with space for your ID, and zipped back pockets. Perfect for keeping the tools of your trade close, as well as your wallet and house keys.
But the pockets aren’t the only selling point for these trousers. The elastic, stretch fabric gives great ease of movement and will help you stay comfortable throughout the day. The quick-drying material means that they are plumber-friendly, whilst being durable enough for construction and site work too.
These work trousers also feature Snickers’ unique Kneeguard™ system – a pair of built-in, adjustable knee pads, which will offer extra protection and comfort for jobs at ground-level. As well as being our top pick for pockets, the various features of these work trousers make them an excellent all-rounder that’s well worth the price tag!
Best suited for: Carpentry, building work, plumbing and DIY.
The Best Work Trousers with Knee Pad Pockets
Although work trousers with built-in knee pads, like the Snickers trousers above can be handy, there may be times when you need knee pads, and others when you don’t.
If you only work at ground-level on occasion, a pair of trousers with built-in knee pads can be a bit of a hindrance. You’re likely to be hyper-aware of them as you work, and having a pair of trousers you can only wear occasionally isn’t exactly good value for money!
To solve this problem, many workwear manufacturers have started producing work trousers with internal pockets for knee pads, so you can use them when you want to, and remove them when they aren’t necessary.
You may even find that some of your trousers have these internal pockets already, and if so, why not make good use of them with a pair of removable knee pads? Even for little DIY jobs and gardening, these flexible pads can make all the difference in terms of comfort!
Our recommendation: TuffStuff Excel Work Trousers
Our Price: £23.95 (Usual price: £29.95)
Features: The TuffStuff Excel Work Trousers are wonderfully versatile, and suitable for a range of trades. As well as internal pockets for knee pads, these trousers have reinforced panels on the front of the leg to prevent excessive wear and tear to the knees. This is ideal if you do a lot of ground-level work, and will help you get more out of your work trousers in the long run.
These trousers are built to last, with Tuffstuff’s great reputation for performance and durability. With triple-stitching and TuffTex technology, these are a great investment if you’re tired of your work trousers falling to pieces after a few months. And with handy holster pockets with multiple compartments, you can keep your tools and belongings close by.
Best suited for: All trades, including construction, plumbing, and decorating. Also, suitable for DIY and work in the home
The Best Waterproof Work Trousers
Out in wet and windy conditions, there’s nothing worse than water creeping through your knees or seeping up your trouser legs. Most work trousers you’ll find on the market are at least water-resistant. However, when you’re working outdoors in foul weather, you’ll soon discover that there’s a real difference between water-resistant and waterproof.
Waterproof trousers, or over-trousers, are essential when braving your typical British weather. If you’ll be outdoors all day, it’s nice knowing that you won’t be stuck in a sodden pair of trousers until you can come home and peel them off.
Our recommendation: Fort Flexible Waterproof Trousers
Our Price: £16.95 (Usual price: £19.95)
Features: The Fort Flexible Waterproof Trousers are a pair of entirely waterproof work trousers, made with stretchy PU tricot fabric. Unlike many waterproof trousers, which have no stretch and can be uncomfortable to wear, these trousers are made with a flexible fabric to give a greater range of movement and better comfort while you’re working.
They can be worn as waterproof trousers, or over-trousers, so they are easy to layer on and off if the weather changes. Side access slits with Velcro fastenings mean that you’ll still be able to get to your inner pockets, without exposing yourself to the elements.
The cuffs have popper fastenings, which can be done up over or under your work boots, to prevent water getting in. Finish your workday as dry as you started with a pair of these excellent waterproof work trousers.
Best suited for: Landscapers, gardeners, road workers, and agricultural workers. Anybody who works outdoors (or just enjoys spending a lot of time in nature) will benefit from a pair of these waterproof trousers.
The Best Hi-vis Work Trousers
In some trades, such as construction or roadwork, one of the most important things is that you’re easy to spot. In industries like this, hi-vis clothing is essential.
Hi-vis jackets and vests are the norm, but for added visibility, some employers will ask you to also wear hi-vis work trousers. Sometimes they will specify the colour, such as yellow or orange, and hi-vis trousers normally come with reflective strips to catch the attention of passing vehicles.
Hi-vis work trousers can be a great help in summer, when the weather is warmer. If the weather is too hot for jackets, then most employers will be happy for you to wear a normal t-shirt, as long as you have hi-vis trousers.
Hi-vis joggers are also available and can help you stay comfortable and cool on-site, whilst still meeting the PPE requirements of your job.
Our recommendation: Pulsar Rail Spec Class 2 Combat Trousers
Our Price: £29.95
Features: These Rail Spec Hi-Vis work trousers by Pulsar have been designed by PPE experts to be safe for use on railways, roadsides, and more. In an eye-catching neon orange, with light-reflecting strips on the legs and pockets, these trousers will help you to stay safe and seen - wherever you happen to be working.
As well as being hi-vis, they are also supremely comfortable, and made with a 20% cotton twill for added breathability. The waistband is also partially elasticated for extra comfort and a better range of movement.
Like all combat trousers, these Pulsar hi-vis trousers are equipped with multiple pockets, and the entire garment has been treated with a genuine Teflon® coating. This prevents dirt, mud and grease from sticking to the trousers, as well as repelling water during long shifts outdoors.
Best suited for: Roadwork, railway workers, construction, and more.
The Best Thermal Work Bottoms
In the winter months, it isn’t just the wind and rain that outdoor workers have to contend with. Low temperatures can be punishing, especially if you’re working at night. As well as gloves, hats and a warm jacket, you should consider investing in some thermal bottoms for work too.
Most work trousers don’t come with thermal or fleece layers, so that they remain lightweight and suitable for all seasons. However, wearing base layers, both top and bottom, will help you to keep the heat in without adding too much bulk to your workwear.
There are a number of benefits to adding thermal bottoms to your work wardrobe. For one thing, you will save money, as you won’t need to buy an entirely new set of clothes for the colder seasons.
Thermal bottoms can also be more versatile. If you find that you’re getting too warm, it’s easy to nip to the bathroom to remove the extra layers. They’re also handy to keep in the boot of your car or work vehicle, in case you’re hit by a sudden chill. Trust us: you’ll never regret having your thermals to hand when the weather turns!
Our recommendation: TuffStuff Thermal Basewear Bottoms
Our Price: £10.95
Features: These affordable thermal bottoms from TuffStuff are the perfect companion to help you face the elements while working. The close-fitting design helps to trap your body heat, whilst the 4-way stretch material gives freedom of movement and a comfortable fit.
Although these thermal bottoms are designed to trap your heat, the moisture-wicking technology wicks sweat away from your body, and the breathable material prevents you from overheating or feeling too constricted. So lightweight and comfy, you’ll forget you’re even wearing them, TuffStuff base layers are ideal for working in the great outdoors.
For full-body warmth and protection, you may also like to check out the TuffStuff Thermal Basewear Top.
Best suited for: Construction workers, landscapers, and anybody who works outdoors.
The Best Work Trousers for Women
According to research conducted by GoConstruct, more women than ever are choosing careers in construction, accounting for 37% of new entrants into the industry from higher education in 2019. This trend is mirrored across a range of other trades, and the workwear industry has responded with creating more unisex clothing options, as well as work clothing tailored specifically for women.
Men and women have similar requirements when it comes to work trousers. After all, everybody tradesperson wants to be comfortable, free to move, and have plenty of pockets to store their tools! However, there are some key differences when it comes to sizing.
Women’s work trousers tend to include a range of smaller sizes, with a slightly different fit to accommodate things like smaller waists, shorter leg length and wider hips. At Wilsons Workwear, we are proud to support women in every industry, and we only stock the best and most reliable brands for women’s workwear.
Our recommendation: Dickies Ladies Eisenhower Trouser
Our Price: £40.95
Features: The Eisenhower work trousers from Dickies are designed with ladies who work in mind. The material is tough enough to withstand any work site, with a wide variety of pockets for tools, personal belongings, and zipped pockets for small items like screws or coins.
These trousers come equipped with a handy hammer loop and holster pockets, and internal pockets in the trouser legs which can be used for knee pads. They also come with an adjustable waist, for the best possible fit while you’re on-site or outdoors.
Designed for comfort, as well as performance and durability, we’re confident that these work trousers won’t disappoint.
Best suited for: Women of all trades, including construction, plumbing, landscaping, and more.
The Best Work Joggers
Since the home-working boom of 2020, a lot of people have got used to wearing joggers to work. However, for tradespeople this has always been one of the perks of the job.
For painters and decorators, a good pair of work joggers are essential. Paint-splattered though they may be, joggers are extremely comfortable and allow you to move freely around a space and do detailed work, without feeling too restricted. For this reason, they are also allowed on some minor building jobs, as well as for carpentry and agriculture work too.
If you’re self-employed, you’re fortunate to often get the final say in what you wear, but if hi-vis is a requirement at your place of work - never fear. We also stock a fantastic range of hi-vis work joggers too!
Our recommendation: OX Joggers
Our Price: £26.95 (Usual price: £31.50)
Features: Our favourite work joggers have to be the OX joggers, which are available in both grey and black. Smart enough to still have a professional feel, but comfortable enough for putting in a hard day’s graft, the OX joggers are the ideal pair of comfy, casual work trousers.
Made with 80% cotton, the brushed fleecy interior of these joggers as well as the cuffed ankles will help you stay warm all day long. Breathable enough to be worn in all seasons, they also come with zipped pockets to keep your phone, keys, and any other belongings safe while you’re working.
Make your comfort a priority with these premium work joggers, from one of the world’s leading workwear brands.
Best suited for: Painters, decorators, carpenters and any indoor construction work.
The Best Work Shorts
When the weather gets really hot, even the most lightweight and breathable pair of work trousers can begin to feel like a prison with pockets. A pair of good quality work shorts can be a great alternative, as long as there are no health and safety-related reasons that mean your lower legs need to be covered.
With the same high-performance materials and handy features as work trousers, work shorts allow you to work more effectively in the summer months, without the heat getting the best of you. But if you work outdoors, don’t forget your sun cream - the drumstick lolly look isn’t the most attractive!
Our recommendation: Scruffs Trade Flex Holster Shorts
Our Price: £29.95
Features: These all-purpose Scruffs Flex Holster Shorts are the perfect wingman for site work on hot days. With stretchy, elasticated panels for free movement and a slim-fit design, you can work in comfort while still staying cool.
And even though they’re shorts, you can expect the same amount of pocket space as standard Scruffs work trousers. These work shorts have a number of handy features, including tools loops, a D-ring which you can clip your keys onto, holster pockets, cargo pockets and even a pocket just for your phone!
Made with triple-stitching and hard-wearing, breathable material, these work shorts are built to last.
Best suited for: Any trade, agriculture or DIY work when the weather turns warm. Suitable for indoor or outdoor use, but always check with your site manager that work shorts are permitted under their health and safety policy.
The Best Work Trousers for You: Final Thoughts
Whatever your job requires, we hope you feel a bit more confident in choosing the work trousers that will be the right fit for you. It’s essential to not only have the right clothing for your job, but that it’s comfortable as well, and the right pair of trousers can really make a difference to your work day.
At Wilsons Workwear, we’re passionate about making sure that every person, no matter their title, is equipped for the job at hand. If you’d like to browse our full range of workwear, safety boots, PPE, and more, feel free to visit our online store. We cater to all professions, including construction, agriculture, and hospitality.
If you’d like to read more guides like this one from our workwear experts, you may enjoy our article about how to find the best work boots for you. Or for more articles about trade clothing and selecting the best workwear, feel free to visit the Wilsons Workwear Blog.