June 14, 2011

Blaklader Bantam Pants with Utility Pockets - Review

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For the past decade, I've been fully devoted to Carhartts. They're honestly all I wear. If it wasn't for my wedding day, right now I'd be logging in ten years of daily uninterrupted Carhartt wearing. But recently I've had some issues with the company and their pants (which I may post about in the near future) so I've had my ear to the ground for other workpants of note.

As if on cue, we were contacted by Blaklader, the manufacturer of some very interesting work clothing. They offered to send us a pair of their Bantam Work Pants, and intrigued by their unique designs, we happily agreed.

First, a quick note on background. In the US, Carhartt is the top dog of work clothing. In Europe, it's Blaklader. So in the past decade (and seemingly stepping up in the past couple years), Blaklader is making a push to really establish themselves in the US market. After wearing their pants for over a month, we can't imagine the brand not taking off here. We've truly never worn anything quite like them.

Carhartts are durable pants with a leg pocket and a hammer loop down on the lower thigh. Blaklader's approach is far more holistic and their goal is to fully integrate the idea of a workday into their clothing line. We don't even know where to begin with these things. There's not a single stitch in these pants that isn't thought out and doesn't in some way, assist in this lofty goal.

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Utility Pockets
We'll start with the utility pockets. These are two pockets that are attached up near the belt area, over the traditional pockets, and remain loose at the bottoms. When not in use, they can be nested inside the regular front pockets. The right utility pocket has three separate pockets and the left has two.The seam of the pockets isn't at the bottom, but rather about two inches up the back, as it is on every pocket on these pants. This adds a great deal of strength to the pocket and makes it nearly impossible for a nail or screw to poke through the bottom. And nails and screws are exactly what I used these for. Why bother with the bulky tool belt when hanging drywall in a small room, just put a handful of screws in the utility pockets and away you go.

Because the pockets aren't attached at the bottoms, they can be easily accessed in the crouching position, and like I said earlier, tucked into the traditional pocket when not in use. So you can fill it with screws for the work portion of the day, but when it comes time for the client meeting, clean yourself up a bit and tuck the pockets in (in the above picture, my right pocket is out and the left is tucked in).

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Built-In Kneepads
The knees of the pants are designed to accept kneepads (sold separately). The opening in the pants is from the bottom and the pads slide up and into place easily. Once in, they're held in place by a fold in the fabric. The reason why the pads slide up into the pant and not down from the top is because Blaklader wanted to eliminate the possibility of dirt and debris falling in either between the pad and your knee (bad for you) or the pad and the pants (bad for the nice floor you're working on).

The pads are so light that when I was wearing them, I forgot they were on. At the time, I was working on the shelving project and was putting my boxes together on the floor so it was constant up and down all day long. Because I wasn't putting a tile floor in or anything like that, it would have never occurred to me to put on knee pads. But these were always there and came to appreciate them quite a bit. Unlike other knee pads, they never rode up my legs and because they don't have straps, they never became uncomfortable.

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Side Pockets
Blaklader has also put a lot of thought into the side pockets. On the right leg is a set-up sort of like what Carhartt offers, which is basically a place for my utility knife and pencils. Blaklader has detached the underside of the pockets to allow for easier use in the crouching position as well as making it less likely that whatever it is that is in the pocket will ride up and out when you crouch down.

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Then there are the pencil pockets (one on each leg) which have yet another small detail, but one that I think crystallizes the genius of these pants. These pockets are long and slender and they have what look like button holes spaced down them. These are additional entry points for your pencil and are intended to be used as the pencil gets sharpened down and becomes smaller and smaller. Get it? No more snaking a finger down the pocket to try to retrieve the 2" o f pencil that you have left. Like I said, it's a small detail, but one that truly takes into account what we tradesmen go through on a daily basis.

There's more good stuff about these pants (I think I only covered about 1/2 of the awesomness), but I feel I've gone on long enough. If you spend all day working, do yourself a favor and get a pair of these, they're amazing. They really are. I can't say enough about them.

About $40 at Amazon (worth every penny)

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at June 14, 2011 5:23 AM

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Recent Comments

PE - The pockets flap around a little, but nothing like a nail pouch. Nowhere near as irritating as that (I know exactly what you're talking about). Also, when they're tucked in they can be used like a regular pocket. I never tried tucking them in when they were filled with fasteners, but they've got some wiggle room when they're tucked, so it will probably work, but it might be uncomfortable.


Posted by: Tool Snob at June 21, 2011 7:47 PM

Do the exterior pockets bounce around annoyingly when you walk around with them filled with fasteners? Will they fit into the interior pockets when filled?
I sometimes have to walk considerable distances and often end up taking my nail apron off and sling it over my shoulder or wear it up high so as not have it bouncing around with every step.
I have been wearing the Wrangler Ripstop Ranger pants and shorts lately, they seem to hold up well, though they are heavy. When the heat become to unbearable for them I switch to Dickies painters shorts.


Posted by: PutnamEco at June 18, 2011 5:03 PM

40 bucks is pretty cheap, I will have to check these out. I usually wear dickies and believe it or not Faded glory (walmart brand) makes a decent fleece lined pair of pants for coldweather outdoor conditions.


Posted by: Kevin at June 14, 2011 8:00 PM
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