We talk a lot about tools in the shop, but rarely give space to the clothing we wear. In truth, the right clothing can be as important as good tools. Over the past few months I’ve been giving some Helly Hansen work pants and some Danner boots a workout in the shop and on my homebuilding construction project. They prove that what you are wearing can be just as important as the tools in your hands.
Euro work pants?
In woodworking, we’ve all heard of European-style cabinets, but European work pants? Yes, it’s a thing. When I was at the massive Ligna woodworking show in Germany, I saw lots of tradesmen sporting something other than the typical jeans or dungarees Americans are used to. The folks at Helly Hansen gave me a chance to put their European-style work pants (Chelsea Construction Pants) to the test.
These pants have lots of pockets, much like American painters pants, but they go beyond that. There are nail pouch pockets built in that can hold tools or fasteners when out or can be tucked out of the way into the front pockets when not in use. Of course, if you use a regular tool belt with pouches, you’ll appreciate the special belt loops that help hold it up and the extra-wide belt loops all around for more support for your regular belt.
Helly Hansen European-style work pants feature built-in nail pouches, pockets for knee pads, and durable construction.
My favorite part of these pants is the built-in pockets for knee pads. I’m not getting any younger, and when I have to get on my knees to work inside a cabinet or deal with flooring, my knees and legs appreciate the padding without dealing with straps that cut circulation.
Most importantly, these pants, which are 79 percent cotton, 21 percent polyester, and have Cordura nylon reinforcing patches, really hold up to abuse. After working on building my house and shop all summer, the pants show they’ve been used with stains and such, but there’s no serious knee wear or other damage.
I also tried out the Danner Gritstone work boots. These are nothing but heavy duty. In fact, my only complaint was they took longer than I am used to for the break-in period because they are so beefy.
The boots feature waterproof full-grain leather construction with an 8-inch height. They are laced with an interesting dual-lace system at the top, which gives you the option of hooks or eyelets (I tried hooks first and went to the eyelets later). And despite the heavy-duty construction, lightweight reinforcements make these boots 17 percent lighter than the Quarry models they are based on.