Lifestyle Technology

6 of our favorite Carhartt work jackets of 2021


Other than taking an IV and mainlining hot coffee directly into your system, there’s nothing that can have a bigger impact on keeping you warm than a good, quality jacket. Whether you’re working in the cold, or the rain, or a combination of the two, there’s something in this list of the highest-rated and best Carhartt work jackets that will keep your core temperature up and make your outdoor work go a little more smoothly.

Plus, if you need a coat zipper strong enough to keep you from falling off a ladder, there might be an option in here for you.

Why choose Carhartt’s work jackets? Simple: The brand is synonymous with rural life, and for good reason. Not only are their coveralls, jackets, pants, and other clothing items well recognized as durable staples of farm life, but the company often takes the time to show its love for us in rural areas.

“Carhartt’s mission is to build product to serve and protect hardworking people; and it’s those very people we want to partner with,” the company says. “We don’t use models for any of our campaigns — in any of our content, you will find real people, fans of the brand. We strive to forge relationships with people who are authentic to Carhartt and have an interesting story to tell.”

We’ve worn lots and lots of different Carhartt items over the years (and we’ve written about many of them), so we know the brand inside and out.

Here are our picks for the six best Carhartt work jackets for 2021:

Relaxed Fit Duck Sherpa-Lined Jacket

This is where that super warm fuzzy feeling comes into play when you put on a thick jacket. It’ll fight the chilly month, keep the wind out, and be perfect for those days when you might not otherwise want to brave the elements. It’s made of 100 percent heavyweight cotton duck that’s sanded and brushed to make it particularly soft.

Other standout features include:

  • Sherpa-lined body for warmth; Quilted nylon sleeve lining for warmth and easy on-and-off
  • Attached sherpa-lined hood with hidden drawcord
  • Internal rib-knit storm cuffs help keep out the cold
  • Pleated elbows and a bi-swing back for extra stretch across the shoulders

This is what some of the reviews say:

  • “Really good pockets; the main outer ones are at the right height for your hands, and the angle ensures stuff won’t fall out.”
  • “Jacket is pretty warm during 10 degree weather, and is wind proof, 40 mph winds and 60 mph gusts, you’re warm.”
  • “Warmth and durability is what you get with this jacket. Best jacket I have owned by far.”

Rain Defender Relaxed Fit Midweight Softshell Jacket

I really love soft-shell jackets because the mobility is so nice, and I tend to run hot, so unless it’s really cold out, a soft-shell usually suffices for me. This one is great for everyday wear, and it’s just enough to keep some easy rains and winds away from your core while keeping you comfortable and mobile — and not overly bulky. It’s made of soft, textured fleece bonded to a stretch-fabric shell.

Other standout features include:

  • 90% nylon / 10% spandex
  • 100% polyester fleece lining for warmth
  • Rain Defender durable water repellent (DWR) keeps you dry and moving in light rain
  • Built to move with Rugged Flex stretch technology
  • Wind Fighter technology tames the wind
  • Hook-and-loop adjustable cuffs

This is what some of the reviews say:

  • “I would recommend this product. I definitely put it to the durability test the very first day I wore it. Very comfortable and looks great with anything you put with it.”
  • “Perfect jacket for us tall and bigger guys who are not fat! I’m 6’5” 290 and long arms. One of the only jackets I’ve found that’s long endings in both overall length and sleeve length.”
  • “Great jacket ! Perfect weight, water resistant, warm and easy to work in!”

Loose Fit Washed Duck Insulated Active Jac

This one feels like a classic in so many ways — from the durable outer shell to the heavy stitching, this is the kind of jacket that has long set Carhartt apart. But, it’s not technically a classic; it’s an updated version of one of Carhartt’s most popular Active Jac, the J130. And we reap the benefits of this midweight piece.

Other standout features include:

  • 12-Ounce 100% ring-spun washed cotton duck
  • Quilted nylon lining for easy on and off; 80g 3M Thinsulate featherless insulation for warmth without the weight
  • Cordura-reinforced sleeve hems resist wear and tear
  • Internal rib-knit storm cuffs help keep out the cold

What people have to say:

  • “It’s everything I hoped it would be. Needed a tough jacket to use when it got cold. Got this and love it.”
  • “This is one of the best jackets I have ever purchased, carhartt is the best in work wear! Nothing compares to the durability of a carhartt jacket.”
  • “My boyfriend says its his favorite jacket. It runs a little big but he likes his jackets like that. Looks great and keeps him warm.”

Shoreline Waterproof Breathable Nylon Jacket

If waterproofing is your focus, then this is the jacket you need to zero in on. And while many good waterproofed jackets fail to breathe well, this jacket does a good job at trying to find that balance. It aims to keep the water from coming in but still allows the sweat to escape. The waterproof seams are fully taped to keep you dry, including the map pocket in the top left. It has a polyester mesh lining in body, and nylon taffeta lining in sleeves and hood.

Other standout features include:

  • Snap-on/detachable visored hood with draw cord adjuster
  • Heavy-duty front zipper with outer and inner storm flaps

This is what some of the reviews say:

  • “I am a 6-2 slim fella and was looking for a somewhat rainproof and somewhat warm coat to take to Alaska with me. This coat is exactly what I was looking for, it is rainproof and provides some warmth as well.”
  • “One particularly nice touch is the way that the sleeves extend longer over the top of your hand than the palm-side, which makes it ideal for things like photography, biking, or working with tools where you need your fingers to be unencumbered.”
  • “The fabric is very similar to cordura, and having a German shepherd who likes to jump with long nails, this jacket has withstood many scratches.”

Storm Defender Loose Fit Midweight Jacket

This is another one that strikes gold in terms of waterproofing. Spring rains were in force the first time I put this jacket on to head out to feed the animals, and with a secure hood and real rain-stopping power, this jacket kept my torso 100 percent dry. The sizing runs just a bit larger than expected, but it’s less noticeable and more appropriate in the colder months when you may be layering your clothes underneath. The jacket cinches up at the waist if you so choose, but I run hot a lot, so leaving it looser aided breathability.

Other standout features include:

  • 100% nylon shell; 10K / 5K waterproof breathable protection rating
  • Storm Defender waterproof, breathable technology stops water from getting in but lets sweat get out
  • Two-layer membrane with Rain Defender durable water repellent (DWR) keeps you dry and moving in light rain
  • Fully-taped, waterproof seams
  • Visor on hood for extra coverage; Adjustable cord lock on hood
  • Full-length zipper with outer and inner storm flaps

This is what some of the reviews say:

  • “Absolutely love this jacket. It keeps me dry even in thunder storms.”
  • “Really nice, durable rain jacket. Very well made and comfortable. Would highly recommend.”
  • “The Dry Harbor jacket appears to be more substantial and better made than a well known competitor that I also own. The only thing I would like to see would be a way to open up the sides of the face for better vision when wearing the hood. I would highly recommend this jacket for spring through fall.”

Loose Fit Firm Duck Blanket-Lined Chore Coat

Capping off this list with some of the Carhartt heritage we love, because this jacket performs in the field but also looks like it fits in when something a little trendier is needed. And it’s heavyweight! This coat has a blanket-lined construction that’s water-repellent, wind-resistant, and warm. Also, according to Carhartt, “The signature corduroy collar is the same as it was in the late 1930s, and the rugged firm-hand duck fabric only gets better with time.”

Other standout features include:

  • 100% ringspun cotton duck
  • Blanket-lined body for warmth; Quilted nylon sleeve lining for warmth and easy on-and-off
  • Carhartt-strong, triple-stitched main seams
  • Corduroy-trimmed collar with under-collar hood snaps
  • Two rivet-reinforced lower front pockets lined with a soft brushed lining

This is what some of the reviews say:

  • “Excellent quality, fit, durability, appearance and maneuverability . Plenty of pocket room, plenty of space to where my car Harry vest underneath for added warmth.”
  • “Classic. Rugged as always. Love it!!”
  • “I already own one of these but bought another for work in my bio secure areas. Outstanding quality, though takes a while to break in and become comfortable. Pockets are ample, roomy, and easily accessible.”

What do we look for in the best Carhartt work jackets?

Bottom line, nothing is more important than durability. Whether you’re life is on the farm or on a job site, you don’t want a jacket that’s going to fray or break apart at the seams. Carhartt has long been a classic in this area, and the company has largely maintained this quality even as aspects of its production moved offshore. 

We also want jackets that are going to provide protection against wind and precipitation (be it snow or rain). More and more Carhartt jackets are focusing on their “defender” features, such as “Rain Defender” or “Storm Defender,” knowing that these things are vitally important to keeping you running throughout a full day of work in one of their jackets. No matter how fluffy or insulated a jacket is, once it gets wet on the inside, things outdoors become a lot less fun.


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