The Armed Workwear Pants update is: these guys are still around!
Armed Workwear first hit our radar back in 2010 when we tried their pants and reviewed them. You can read that review here. Since then, for us and many of our readers, Armed became (quite literally) a moving target. Company founder Josh Banks moved the operation across the country from Utah to Maine.
Armed Workwear is a small company, falling into the same general “workwear” category as bigger names like Carhartt, Dickies and Blaklader, but perhaps more relevant for painters because their vision is driven by a painter in the field.
Here is an update from Armed, published earlier this year apparently in response to inquiries from people wondering where the company is and why they don’t stock a gazillion of everything. Read Josh’s update.
Disclaimer from the publisher:
This gear was provided to us at no cost by the manufacturer for testing purposes. We don’t publish reviews of all products that manufacturers submit to us for testing, but from time to time we highlight new and innovative technologies that are introduced. All product review information we share is objective, honest, unbiased and 100% our own.
Now, about the new Armed Workwear Pants.
The current generation of Armed Workwear improves on the previous features of the pants. These pants are best known and sought out for their knee pockets, where you can insert pads for protection. In the past, we tested and reviewed the Blaklader incarnation of this style of pants, and we found that the bottom loading knee pad pockets on them were more difficult to insert pads into, and it was difficult to keep the pads in place during work. All of this impacts overall comfort.
Armed Workwear features a topside knee pad insert.
However, the top opening of the knee pockets on their previous versions were a bit oversized and loose.
The pads slid in easily enough, but the top of the pocket was too open, especially when our knees were bent, which made them dust and debris catchers.
So, the first thing we looked for in the new pants was if Armed had tightened the design of the knee pocket opening, and they have.
The Rest of the Pockets
Personally, I am not one to keep more than necessary in my pants pockets while working. Usually, when I get out of the truck, the first thing I do is take everything personal out of my pockets and load for the typical tasks. So, out with the credit cards and cash, and in with hand tools. I do always keep a few business cards on my person, though.
What I like the most about the upgrades in the new version of Armed Workwear pants is that the hip pockets are better oriented toward the top of the thigh. This is always where my phone ends up, since we all stopped using the belt mounted phone cases in the past few years. My iphone slides into the hip pocket where it stays clean and out of the way, and most importantly, when in awkward positions on the job, I am my phone doesn’t get crushed between my leg and other surfaces. Also, if I get in the truck with phone in pocket, I am not sitting on my phone.
As with the previous version of these pants, I still use the hammer loop to carry a rag. That is much better than stuffing it in a back pocket. Also, I especially like the pen/pencil slots integrated into the thigh pockets. I make lots of lists and notes while I work. My hands are usually to dirty to want to add ideas on phone apps, so I stash a thin notepad in one of the large back pockets and always have a pen or pencil in one of the front slots and also a Sharpie for marking needs. Again, the top of thigh orientation makes it easy to carry these things without poking myself, and they never get lost. Most importantly, I never need to go find something to write with.
I have been using Armed pants for long enough now that I have most of the different versions of their kneepads. One thing is for sure, they never wear out. I have a pile of their original gray foam pads, which were thinner. They flatten out over time due to compression, but are still a good, thin protective layer for light duty needs.
Updated versions of the pads are a thicker black and feel more rubberized. I wear these when I am going to be sanding a deck all day or painting baseboard. I tend to take these out at the end of the day, whereas the lighter pads I will keep in all day and on the drive home.
Form and Function
I liked the earlier versions of Armed Workwear pants because they were baggier than Dickies, more of a Carhartt type of fit, which I prefer. The downside to the baggy factor was that when all the pockets were full of tools, I would really have to tighten up my belt a notch or two to keep the pants from sagging while in working positions.
The fit of the new pants is more snug, but still comfortable – especially when loaded for work. They encourage you to be organized and prepared to work, saving lots of trips to the truck or toolbox.
Points for Style
At the end of the workday, I don’t always have time to change out of my work clothes. It is nice to have an appearance, or a look, where you could pick your kid up at school or go to an estimate looking professional and capable. Let’s face it, every DIYer at the big box stores in shiny trucks and unwrinkled Carhartts wishes they could get some creases in their pants from hard use. Armed wears it well, and it’s nice to wear a brand that is less mainstream.
Armed pants have hit a nice balance with this version of the pants, especially in the styling. I think most of us are comfortable in jeans or Carhartt style pants as casual wear. The new line of Armed fits that desire nicely. I wear them a lot when not working, and even when traveling. You should see the looks on the faces of TSA folks at the airport when you go through security with them on.
These pants are available in tan, black and white. My preference is tan. You can have a look at all of their goods over at the Armed Workwear site, and you can order direct.
Do you have a beat up old pair of Armed Workwear pants in your collection of painter pants?