This article originally appeared on the TOOLS OF THE TRADE website.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, the temperature doesn’t get too cold. This time of year, it's in the mid 30s to mid 40s. My preference is to layer fleece to stay warm because it is so lightweight and doesn’t restrict movement. I asked Snicker’s to send me its FlexiWork Stetch Fleece Hoodie and its FlexiWork Stretch Waterproof Shell to test out. In addition, Truewerk reached out and wanted me to try out its T3 Werkjacket. About the same time, an Australian company, Eleven Workwear, also reached out, to send me its Hybrid Jacket. I had bought shorts and a hi-vis shirt from Eleven for the summer and loved both items, so I was intrigued to try out its winter work wear.
Snickers FlexiWork Stretch Fleece. I wear this fleece every day and love it. It is super lightweight and keeps me warm down to about freezing. It has a hood and longer arms with thumb holes. The chest pocket will fit my LG V20 with Otterbox case, meaning this pocket is plenty large for phones. At $90, it isn’t cheap, but its durability combined with its look justify the cost, in my opinion. I believe it is important for us in the trades to look professional and this fleece paired with a well-made, well-fitting construction work pant, like those made by Blakladder, Björnkläder, Snickers, TrueWerk, Eleven, and several others, add to that impression.
Snickers FlexiWork Stretch Shell. I’ve been a huge fan of Grunden’s rain gear for more than a decade, but after wearing this shell the last few months in the rain, I’ve come to prefer this jacket. The elbows have been reinforced with Cordura for longer wear. The sleeves are pre-bent and the fabric of the shell stretches. The sleeves are a little long, which is nice when reaching overhead, and they have Velcro straps to cinch tight to my gloves. The large pockets in the front can be left unzipped for ventilation.
I really like that the YKK AquaGuard zippers are two-way; this allows me to open up the jacket to air out. This jacket is much more expensive ($180) than the Grundens Neptune coat ($70) I wrote about last year. I haven’t missed a day of work due to the rain, partly because of this jacket.
TrueWerk T3 Werkjacket. TrueWerk has designed its work clothing very intelligently. I love that it features stretch fabrics, and well-designed pockets. This jacket features 4-way stretch, is waterproof but breathable, and has a longer shirt tail and double-stitched seams.
It has eight pockets total, two at the chest that will fit a smartphone and case. The hand pockets are large enough to fit my hands when I’m wearing gloves. The left upper arm has a pocket in which that you can fit pencils. A feature I really like is “cuff gaskets” in the sleeves. They keep water from running down my arms and keep the warm air in.
Sizing is funky with TrueWerk. I take a large and it fits well. The extra-long shirt hem is great because it doesn’t come untucked when I’m wearing nail bags. The XL is perfect for my friend who is 6’3”. He’s been wearing this jacket since October and said he loves it and it has been perfect this winter. You can order it for $140 in black or light grey. My recommendation is to order this in two sizes and send back the one that doesn’t fit .
Eleven Hybrid Jacket. This jacket is more like a vest with sleeves. It was a little snug on me so I gave it to my co-worker, and he’s been wearing it the last few months. The vest portion of the jacket is abrasion resistant and has large hand pockets. The arms are an anti-pill fleece fabric and have a medium-size zipper pocket for a small notebook, a pen pocket, and a small pocket with a flap. This jacket also has a hood.
It costs about $80 and while not waterproof, it is warm enough down to about freezing. The tail is long but it would be nice if it were a little longer as it can come untucked when you're wearing a tool belt. Since this is Australia’s summer, check the company's website for deals.