OK, confession time — I’ve got a dirty little secret. Despite my constant love for free resources, I actually spent money recently…
But before you start trolling, put down the pitchforks and keep reading — there’s an interesting story here!
Back in April 2016, I wrote a post called The Clothes For Financial Independence. Therein I showed off my incredibly fashionable wardrobe — worn-out jeans, thrift-store T-shirts, socks with holes, and my incredibly durable Mucksters.
You could tell I REALLY CARED about clothing from that post. 😉
Eventually those cotton accoutrements rotted away (as most organic materials do), and Mrs. Tako threw them in the trash when I wasn’t looking.
This happened right around December of last year. It was getting cold, and walking around pantless wasn’t going to be a good option for long-term early retirement success.
Thus began the my quest for a new pair of pants…
Pants! For Less! Pants-less!
Normally, I get most of my clothes from thrift stores, various free groups, or gifts. I consider this kind of clothing “pre-depreciated” from a financial perspective, and it’s significantly less expensive than full priced “retail” clothing.
Christmas was fast approaching, and I wanted to try out some of the industrial clothing ideas I brought-up in the clothing post — Was industrial clothing worth the higher price? Would it be tougher and more durable?
I wanted to do some experimenting! So, I put a pair of “industrial” cargo pants on my Christmas list and hoped for the best.
Thankfully I wasn’t walking around in my underwear for too long in the middle of December — Santa was willing to provide a pair for this experiment. (Ho! Ho! Ho!)
Yes, I could have just ran down to the mall and bought a $60 pair of “fast fashion” jeans that would have looked awesome … and they would have lasted a couple of months before they completely fell apart.
Weak cotton pants ARE NOT what I’m looking for anymore. Even fashion is optional these days. (Nobody cares what you look like when you’re early retired.)
Instead, I wanted stronger, more durable fabrics that would last for years. Ultimately this meant finding a better return on investment than cheapo “fast-fashion” clothing.
Most stores don’t sell this kind of clothing, you have to hunt online for it.
A typical retail store only carries “fashionable” cotton clothing, that gets refreshed frequently. It’s thin, and poorly constructed stuff — meant to keep buyers coming back over and over again.
Thankfully, Amazon carries just about everything…
Industrial Pants, The Review
Now, after nearly 5 months of wearing those “industrial” pants, I believe I can finally provide a proper review.
For this experiment, I opted for cargo pants. Specifically, I went with the Dickies Men’s Relaxed Straight Flex Cargo Pant, which also have a cell phone pocket.
Why did I go with Dickies pants over other industrial brands like Red Kap cargo pants? Mainly because Dickes offered more options when it came to fit control — Regular, Relaxed and Loose fit versions are available.
I’d also like to mention that this is not a sponsored review. I received absolutely no monetary or promotional consideration (aka I didn’t get any free pants) for this post. This review is entirely my opinion, and unless you go buy a pair of pants using affiliate links, I won’t see a dime from this review.
With that said, let’s get on with it…
The pants I chose were a 65% polyester 35% cotton blend, and they look exactly like regular cotton pants. (No plastic shine here.)
Polyester is a win when it comes to price/durability — It’s a durable synthetic fabric that does not stretch or shrink, and has a higher tensile strength than cotton or wool.
Because the fabric doesn’t stretch or shrink, getting the right fit was important. The first pair I ordered was way too small. I simply returned those and ordered the next size up. The second pair was a much better fit.
The fabric is also seems to be quick drying and wrinkle resistant — both traits that are fantastic for busy Dads who have no time to iron pants. (Hey, don’t judge me because I don’t iron!)
When it comes to tensile strength, Kevlar pants would be stronger than polyester, but also a hell of a lot more expensive.
Fiber tensile strength only tells part of the story when it comes to fabric durability. Abrasion resistance and fabric weave have just as much to do with durability as the fiber does. You can find entire scientific papers online that research the effectiveness of different fabric weave patterns, but it’s pretty dry stuff (TLDR version: Twill is pretty good).
In my size, the pants were $29 from Amazon. I could easily spend two or three times that buying a pair of “fashion” pants, so I consider this a great deal.
How do these fancy “industrial pants” hold-up to hard work? Very, very well indeed. After nearly 5 months, I would have expected to see some wear and tear … except I don’t!
Don’t believe me? Here’s a photo I took this morning:
Typically I wear the same pair of pants 3-4 days a week, and then wash them. That means they’re washed and worn at least once a week.
The difference in wear between these pants and regular pants is actually pretty astounding. I literally wear these pants everywhere — out in the garden, mowing the lawn, shoveling dirt, working in the garage … everywhere! These pants are no stranger to hard labor — Dirt, oil, and grass stains all seem to come out fine in the wash.
The pants are also double stitched at the seams. I expect the double stitching will provide additional durability over time….but so far I haven’t broken any stitches. So, too early to tell on that one.
And, before you start making jokes about my indestructible plastic pants — please consider that they’re still 35% cotton. They feel soft, breathable, and have a very comfortable feel after a few washes.
(In case you’re wondering, Dickes also sells work cargo pants for women too! Seriously ladies, consider these pants! They’re awesome!)
Then There Were More
“But wait a minute Mr. Tako! If you put them on your Christmas list, you didn’t actually spend any money!”
Well, that’s true … but ONLY FOR THE FIRST PAIR. I liked these pants so much, I purchased a second pair a few weeks later!
For the second pair, I went with a Khaki-colored Men’s Regular Straight Stretch Twill Cargo Pant. Basically the same pants as before, only with a slimmer fit.
Now I have two pairs of pants! One to wear when the other is in the wash! Nudity is now an afterthought!
So yes, I did spend actual money on these pants. And yes, if it’s not clear, I really really like them. Enough to spend real actual money buying another pair.
Based on the wear I’m seeing, I expect these pants to last significantly longer than a typical pair of thrift-store jeans at $10. Years longer in fact.
Will I end up getting my money’s worth? It seems very likely these pants will provide a very good ROI….but only time will tell.
So I consider this an ongoing experiment. If at any time the pants start to break down, I will provide an update to this review.
What’s my final review score? 7 out of 8 financially independent tentacles!
[Image Credit: Flickr]