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      • Published 17 Jan 2023
      • Last Modified 29 Aug 2023
    • 9 min

    A Complete Guide to Work Trousers

    Discover all you need to know about work trousers in our guide and learn why protective trousers are so important.

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    Reviewed by Stephen Bettles, Technical Support Engineer (March 2021)

    Whether you're a construction worker, a mechanic, or an electrician, finding the right pair of work trousers is essential for comfort, durability, and safety. But with a multitude of options available, it can be challenging to navigate the vast array of materials, types, and brands to find the right pair that meets your specific needs.

    In this article, we delve into the world of work trousers, exploring everything from their basic definition to the importance of protective features. We'll uncover the materials commonly used in their construction, the various types of work trousers available, and offer guidance on how to choose the most suitable pair for your requirements.

    We hope this comprehensive guide will provide you with the insight and knowledge you need when making your next purchase.

    What are Work Trousers?

    Work trousers provide protection and comfort when performing tasks at work, especially in dark, harsh, or potentially hazardous conditions.

    They are available in various colours, fabrics, sizes, and styles to offer the right solution for different environments and types of work. However, personal preferences may also be accommodated, with different leg lengths and waist sizes available for the ultimate mix of practicality and comfort.

    Some work trousers are intended solely for safety reasons, while others provide a range of attributes to ensure wearers are comfortable and productive throughout the working day. These features include knee pads and pockets for tools and other necessary equipment. Overall, work trousers are usually made from durable and hard-wearing materials designed to last when completing manual tasks.

    Certain types, such as hi-vis trousers and flame-retardant trousers, are personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE trousers protect the wearer against injury when working in hazardous or high-risk environments.

    Work Trouser Materials

    Work trousers are available in a variety of different materials, depending on the specific application they are designed for and the hazards they are intended to protect against. However, a durable polyester-cotton mix is among the most popular work trouser materials. It is commonly chosen to protect against scratches and sharp object injuries. The use of materials like polyester and cotton ensures comfortable and breathable trousers while remaining highly durable. As a result, they are ideal for those who work in challenging environments while promoting safety and security.

    Hi-vis trousers and workwear are typically made from polyester or cotton with micro-prismatic reflective bands. These reflective bands provide additional visibility and comply with PPE regulations for working in certain industries and environments.

    However, synthetic materials like rayon, nylon, acetate, and polyester could melt if they encounter fire or extremely high temperatures. This means they are not suitable for flame-retardant clothing. Instead, materials like Kevlar are preferred for flame-retardant clothing, as the material's strong fibres and heat resistance make it a great option for this type of application.

    Types of Work Trousers

    Listed below are some of the different types of work trousers alongside some of the environments where they are designed to be worn.

    Classic Work Trousers

    Classic Work Trousers

    Work trousers of this kind are tough and ideal for a variety of applications. These work trousers are more general-purpose options and the designs are typically manufactured in straight-leg styles.

    Key Features:

    • Hard-wearing
    • Smart and stylish
    • Multipurpose option
    • Comfortable

    Shop Classic Work Trousers

    Padded/Reinforced Knee Work Trousers

    Padded/Reinforced Knee Work Trousers

    Padded or reinforced knee pad trousers include a special pouch for knee pads within the trouser leg. As a result, kneeling is more comfortable and protected for prolonged periods of time. The best work trousers with knee pads are favoured among gardeners, electricians, and plumbers.

    Key Features:

    • Knee pads are kept in a dedicated pouch
    • Provides protection
    • Comfortable to wear

    Shop Padded Knee Work Trousers

    Bib & Brace

    Bib & Brace

    Also known as dungarees, these offer warmth and protection to wearers. Commonly worn in the industrial sector, the bib and brace can also prevent dirt or stains from damaging the clothes worn underneath.

    Key Features:

    • Protects clothes worn underneath
    • Helps prevent damage from stains and dirt

    Shop Bib & Brace

    Work Shorts

    Work Shorts

    Shorts are perfect for the warmer summer months when it is not practical to wear full-length trousers. Nonetheless, it's imperative to consider any associated safety risks when choosing work shorts. A risk assessment should be carried out to ensure compliance with the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.

    Key Features:

    • Compared to full-length trousers, they can be less restrictive
    • Suitable for warm weather

    Shop Work Shorts

    Waterproof Work Trousers

    Waterproof Work Trousers

    The best waterproof work trousers are ideally suited to those who routinely work in wet or damp environments. Many waterproof work trousers also include reflective stripes which ensure easy visibility in poor conditions.

    Key Features:

    • Wind and rain resistant
    • Provides visibility and protection

    Shop Waterproof Work Trousers

    Hi-Vis Trousers

    Hi-Vis Trousers

    Hi-vis trousers are PPE well suited to high-risk environments. In addition to providing protection against rain and wind, they also ensure that the wearer is highly visible at all times.

    Key Features:

    • Perfect for outdoor workers
    • Highly visible in the dark

    Shop Hi-Vis Trousers

    Flame Retardant Work Trousers

    Flame Retardant Trousers

    Flame retardant work trousers are heavy-duty and durable, designed to protect against heat and flames. The fabric is chemically treated so that when it is exposed to a naked flame or heat source, the chemicals react and release gases. This can help slow down the fire spread.

    Shop Flame Retardant Work Trousers

    Choosing the Best Work Trousers

    When choosing the best work trousers, here are some factors to consider:

    1. Durability: Look for trousers made from durable materials that can withstand your work demands. Sturdy fabrics resistant to tears and abrasions are most suitable
    2. Comfort: Opt for trousers that offer a comfortable fit and freedom of movement. Look for features like a relaxed or ergonomic fit, stretchable fabric, and articulated knees for enhanced comfort during extended work hours
    3. Functionality: Consider your work's specific requirements. Look for trousers with functional features such as multiple pockets, tool loops, and hammer holders. This will enable convenient storage and easy access to tools or equipment
    4. Protection: If your work involves hazards, consider trousers with added security. This could include flame-resistant materials, high-visibility strips for low-light conditions, or water-resistant coatings for outdoor work
    5. Quality: It's generally advisable to choose trousers from reputable manufacturers known for quality workwear

    Remember that the best workwear trousers for you ultimately depend on your personal preferences, work environment, and specific job requirements. Prioritise factors like durability, comfort, functionality, and protection to find effective trousers that meet your needs.

    Best Work Trousers for Electricians

    Electricians often need trousers that prioritise safety and functionality. Look for trousers made from non-conductive materials to reduce the risk of electrical shocks. Consider trousers with ample pockets to store tools, including specific pockets for carrying small electrical components. Additionally, trousers with high-visibility strips can enhance safety when working in low-light conditions.

    Best Work Trousers for Carpenters

    Carpenters need trousers that offer durability and functionality for their demanding work. Look for trousers with reinforced panels in areas prone to wear and tear, such as the knees and thighs. Consider trousers with carpenter-specific features like tool loops, hammer holders, and extra pockets for easy access to tools and supplies. Comfort and freedom of movement are also key, so choose trousers with a relaxed fit and stretchable fabric.

    Best Work Trousers for Plumbers

    Plumbers require trousers that offer durability, functionality, and protection against potential hazards. Look for trousers made from water-resistant or quick-drying materials, suitable for wet and damp environments. Trousers with reinforced knee areas and additional padding can also provide comfort during prolonged kneeling. Pockets for carrying plumbing tools and accessories, as well as features like utility hooks or D-rings, can be useful for organising equipment.

    Popular Brands

    Browse our extensive range of work trousers from leading brands by clicking below to view the full product offering. As well as protective trousers, we also stock a wide range of other personal protective equipment and footwear.

    Why are Protective Trousers Important?

    Personal protective equipment is designed to protect the wearer from injury and keep people safe while working. There are many different forms of PPE, trousers being just one example of protective clothing. PPE can protect all parts of the body including the hands, feet, head, eyes, and ears.

    PPE trousers are needed for a range of reasons, but the wearer's safety is undoubtedly the most critical. Different types of protective trousers and workwear are available. Each type offers different levels of protection to the wearer while being best suited to varying environments. As protective trousers can safeguard the wearer against hazards ranging from chemicals to extreme temperatures, it is paramount to choose the best work trousers for the particular task at hand.

    Hi-vis trousers are made from reflective material designed to improve wearer visibility in potentially hazardous environments. Another example is flame retardant clothing which can provide valuable protection in high-risk environments such as chemical plants and the oil and gas industry.

    Stain Removal Tips

    Work trousers are often exposed to liquids and products which can stain them. Therefore, it’s useful to know how to remove some of the more common stains from your protective trousers and workwear. Always refer back to the manufacturer's instructions for your specific garment as the below tips will not suit every material.

    Common stains include glue, paint and silicone – and while certain substances can't be removed, there are some tricks to get rid of marks. Here are some stain removal tips to try:


    If not treated properly, silicone can create a permanent stain on fabric similar to a grease mark. Most silicone types can be dissolved and removed from fabric using rubbing alcohol. After removing the majority of the silicone, wet a clean cloth with a substantial amount of rubbing alcohol. Avoid rubbing the silicone stain, as this could make it exacerbated, so blot the mark instead and it should disappear.


    To remove gloss or emulsion paint from work trousers, you need to determine whether it’s oil or water-based paint. The latter will usually wash out, however, oil-based paints can be more stubborn to remove.

    Use a paint remover to get rid of the stain. With a cloth dipped in paint thinner or paint remover, gently dab the stain then leave the trousers to soak in warm, soapy water. Always check the care label first, as you don't want to damage the garment.


    Choosing the best work trousers can be overwhelming, but our guide has offered practical tips and guidelines to simplify the process. Considering factors such as fit, mobility, reinforcement, and comfort, you can now confidently select work trousers that strike the ideal balance between functionality and style.

    Remember, finding the right pair of work trousers is essential for your comfort and safety. By utilising the information provided in our guide, you can confidently embark on your search for the perfect work trousers, knowing that you are equipped with the insights needed to make a good choice.

    Further Reading