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I know that a lot of you northeastern Toolmongers are already freezing your asses off, but it’s finally starting to get a little cold here in North Texas. And I’m facing some pretty major automotive projects over the winter. Sans shop heater, my only means of staying warm is clothing. Last year I did the whole stuff-sweat-pants-under-your-jeans-and-wear-two-jackets route, but this winter I’m looking for something better.

In fact, we’re looking to schedule some of the best solutions in for testing. So which do you recommend?

I’m leaning toward the Carhartt models you see pictured above. But I know a number of manufacturers make good quality stuff. I’d really love to hear from some of you who’ve spent more than an hour or two in the cold. What do you wear?

Insulated Bibs/Coveralls [Carhartt]


22 Responses to Reader Question: What’s Your Favorite Coverall?

  1. McLane says:

    So I wear the quilt lined insulated bibs which are pretty warm but I am also looking for a pair of coveralls that zip in the front from top to bottom The only people I have been able to find these is a french company called LaFont. If anyone has suggestions on full length zippered coveralls I would love some input.

  2. jeff_williams says:

    I’m a quilted bibs guy too. If I get too warm I can always shed the coat to cool down a little. If I have to lay on the ground though I have to put down a tarp or something to keep the snow and dirt from getting up my jacket.

  3. Gough says:

    I gotta go with Carhartt insulated bibs and a jacket. Around here (N. Idaho) it’s nice to have the flexibility when we start moving around or when the day’s temps go from 25 to 55 in a few hours. They are also a lot easier to find the right size when you’ve got a longer than average torso.

  4. Cameron Watt says:

    On the West coast I find Stanfield wool long underwear and thrift store sweaters are money well spent; rain gear can be used as a wind breaker on dry days. Where I am, getting soaked to the skin is the big problem to deal with.

    I burn coveralls up so cheap and natural fibre are my two requirements.

    Coveralls and welders: Sew the breast pockets closed so they stop catching sparks.

    @McLane: Go work for Haliburton this winter and they might give you some. Theirs are fire retardant as well.

    @Chuck: Keeping your wrenches warm will ease your suffering when doing repair work in the winter time. In the absence of heaters I use lights for heat whenever I have electricity: A trouble light in a toolbox drawer or a halogen worklight shining on the spot where I leave my wrenches really takes the chill off.

    @Gough: I tried that years ago but found the straps to be short. For long torsos, try oversize coveralls. I’m a 52 extra tall but wear a 58 regular coverall and it’s OK while unbuttoned. You won’t know for sure if the coveralls are too short in the trunk until you reach up for something high but luckily having the crotch lowered is an easy alteration to make.

  5. Chris says:

    Bibs and a Coat are much better than the one piece overalls in my opinion. Im between sizes on the one piece so either it fits fairly nice but I can’t touch my hands above my head or its huge and gets in the way but I can move freely. Bibs are easy to get on, you can take the jacket off if its in the way and still be warm.

  6. Deelow says:

    My dad is a pipeline welder. He’s worked in more adverse cold weather situations then most people will in a lifetime. My dad has it all, full coveralls, insulated and non-insulated bib overalls and a plethora of jackets.
    Over the years one thing I’ve notice about my dad has remained true. When he buys a Carhartt brand jacket he always buys the wool blanket lined version. They don’t burn up as bad as the nylon quilted linings when a shower of hot sparks falls on you from welding the bottoms of pipe.
    If you know your going to be in below zero weather then you need to spend the extra money and buy the Carhartt’s with the black label and black lining. That is supposed to be their arctic rated stuff. When you find yourself in regular cold weather just grab their red lined stuff.
    Personally I agree with Gough and Chris. Layers are best. I always grab the bibs and a jacket. On those days where it starts out below 30 but warms up to 55 I grab my unlined bibs and throw them over a pair of work jeans. I stay plenty toasty in the morning and at 10:30 when the sun is higher I can strip down a layer and stop myself from sweating like a fat kid chasing an ice cream truck.

  7. Steve says:

    I often have to repair critical airport systems in adverse weather conditions (Northern Utah). I like Carhartt products.

  8. Kyle says:

    I have a set of bibs and a jacket, the jacket is Big Smith from home depot andd the bibs are either big smith or Walls from walmart. there great for ohio winters, the seperate jacket is nice if you are doing a lot of in and out of the truck work(plowing) i can take the jacket off in the truck to avoid burning up

  9. techieman33 says:

    Carhart bibs and a jacket. I also like to wear underarmors cold gear stuff under my jeans and shirt.

  10. ecrusch says:

    You just can’t beat Carhartt coveralls.
    That & a good hat and you are good-to-go!

  11. Mr P says:

    Duluth Trading Takes Carhartt on their fire house material product are “Guaranteed to never ever ever wear out. You betchya!”

    And “If you’re not 100% satisfied with any item you purchase from Duluth Trading, return it to us at any time for an exchange or refund of its purchase price. Simple, unconditional, no nonsense, NO BULL.

    Hard to beat that

  12. Bennicus says:

    I wear a fall harness most the time when I work and found coveralls to be well I guess bunchy is the technical term. I use old ski wear for the most part bought second hand. For shop work they are great but when your body gets active overheating is an issue for me. Once in SE Idaho I found myself on top of a flume repairing a lifeline in freezing rain wearing coveralls and was frozen stiff in a matter of minutes while scrambling to safety. Never done the robot as good since.

  13. zoomzoomjeff says:

    I use a Carhartt jacket lined with wool and I love it.

    I bought Dickies insulated bibs. Couldn’t justify $40 more for Carhartt brand there.

    Overall, I think the insulated bibs & jacket is the way to go. I don’t like that crotch grab you get when you reach up for something in a full coverall.

  14. browndog77 says:

    I have always been a fan of one piece coveralls for really cold days (for the same reason that mittens are warmer than gloves), but also have a bibs/jacket combo. WearGuard brand is every bit as good as Carhartt for about 20% less!

  15. PutnamEco says:

    Although I prefer the bib-jacket combo, there are times when a one piece comes into its own, like when your on your hands and knees or stomach crawling around in a crawlspace, Nothing like crawling out and having your jacket collect all the years of grunge and dirt through its bottom opening. Same for working on equipment. Carhart is my brand of choice. I did use a Polaris snowmobile suit (waterproof) when I lived up north and had to deal with crawling around in the snow.

  16. craig says:

    for bitter cold without a lot of activity (ie., hanging on a pole waiting for someone to answer the phone) Carhartt insulated coveralls are the nuts.

    normally i just wear a pair of uninsulated bibs over whatever i already have on. warm shoes and a hat generally complete the ensemble.

    i’ve worn dickies, wall and couple other brands but Carhartt has been the most durable and they just have great street cred.

  17. brew says:

    North texas and you are looking for coveralls? It was single digits above zero today and I worked in jeans and an insulated flannel.

    When it actually gets cold here (MN), I use the bibs and the matching work type coat.


  18. Simon says:

    I used to wear Carhartt by I’m now a fan of Tough Duck (http://www.richlu.com/index.cfm?PageID=2).

    I bought my first (and only) insultated bibs almost ten years ago and I’m still wearing it daily. Since, I added an insultated jacket but also uninsulated garment like pants and overall as well.


  19. Andy says:

    For me, nothing beats one-piece insulated coveralls. In Texas, I think the red-lined Carhartts would be sufficient. I swear by the arctic ones being from Minnesota. As poor farmkids, we all wore coveralls because they were great for being outside in all weather and because, quite frankly, we could get a pair of coveralls for what either a jacket OR a pair of overalls would cost. (No Carhartts in those days.)

    I have some buddies who swear by the Key/Polar King stuff also.

  20. Christian says:

    I’m going to jump in on a really old post here…

    I make snow for a ski track, usually between 10 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and working at night. I’m often overheated in my Carhartt Arctic Coverall wearing just a long-sleeved synthetic shirt and thin synthetic pants with moderate activity.

    It’s ballistic nylon, so it takes wear well, and doesn’t absorb snow or water like the cotton-duck stuff, although I’m not sure how well it would do in freezing rain, or a shower of sparks from a welder.


  21. Thanks so much for sharing this valuable information!

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