on April 9, 2009
I've never really been a "Jeans" type person. Some cuts and colors looked all right on me, but I quickly found that other pant types suited me better. Particularly cargo pants. In a search for some decent-looking, colorful, hearty cargo pants, I came to Amazon. Two brands kept popping up near the top of the lists: Carhartt and Wrangler's RIGGS. So, after owning them both for a little while, here's a comparison:
Wranglers RIGGS Pros:
-Very durable material, and double/triple stitched. It's slightly thicker than the Carhartt canvas pants, and the pants (as a whole) definitely weigh a few more ounces. The "Rip Stop Technology" is visible, and is basically a thicker strand of material lining horizontally across the length of the pants. I haven't put it to heavy testing, as I like my pants whole, but I can see the material stopping minor tears.
-Pockets. The RIGGS have more pockets than the Carhartts. The two leg-pockets are larger and button-down to close (something the Carhartt's lack). There are two smaller pockets more than the Carhartt's, about the size of a flip-top cell-phone and one that's cut at an angle (probably for rulers, but I use it for lip balm, mini-bungies while I'm riding my bike, and other small thumb-sized things). I have to say, I like the RIGG's pockets more. If this kind of thing is important to you: The hammer loop is on the RIGHT side. Carhartt's is on the LEFT.
-Leather tab on right-front pocket. It's stylish, but more than that - it's functional. If you constantly clip things to your pockets (measuring tape, cell phone holster, Leatherman, etc.) then you're not damaging the seems of your pockets with the little leather patch.
-The knees are double-thick from just below the front pockets to the shins.
Wrangler RIGGs Cons:
-They come a little shorter than the Carhartt's. I wear a 34W x 36L and the Carhartt's seem to have about 1" over the RIGGs in length.
-This is probably due to my own issues (shared washing facilities, too much soap?), but after washing the RIGGs once they were suddenly very "distressed." The fabric seemed fine, but it was if they were washed in mild bleach. Again, this is probably my fault, but it only happened to the pants. Just a warning.
Carhartt Canvas Pros:
-Casual look. I have to admit, the RIGGs are nice on the eyes if you have a "rougher" style, but if you want something more casual and even EASIER on the eyes, the Carhartt's win. They just plain look a bit more sleek. They also come in more colors.
-Cheaper. The Carhartt's I found for roughly $25/pair online. The RIGGs I've found for about ~$35/pair. If they wear the same, the Carhartt's may be the better value.
-Fit. The Carhartt's fit better. They're slightly longer than the RIGGs, and have a more "tailored" feel to them.
-Fabric and double/triple stitching. It may not feel as robust as the RIGG's, but it does definitely feel more rugged than your average pair of jeans (and far more rugged than thin 'designer' pairs). It's also smoother than the RIGGs, giving the pants a smoother, slightly more stylish look.
Carhartt's Canvas Cons:
-Pockets. Make no mistakes, I find anything with more than two pockets a good thing, but there are a few mishaps. The main cargo pockets don't close, and are about the size of my hand (minus the thumb). The RIGGs pockets do button-shut, and can fit my full cupped hand. There's also a few less pockets on the Carhartts, but it shouldn't usually be a problem. What I find slightly more annoying is the belt-loop placement. It sits directly, vertically over the left (slightly-smaller-than-the-right) cargo pocket. When I go to put things in the left cargo pocket, I often hit the belt loop first and spend a few extra seconds fumbling for the right spot.
-The fabric wrinkles easier than the RIGGs. It's lighter, but not so light that you can quickly pat them down or leave them to hang. They might be prime candidates for steam-pressing, but I've not had the opportunity to try. The RIGGs are probably not light enough for steam-pressing, and if they're wrinkled badly, you're looking at nothing short of an iron to get them back to smooth.
Conclusion: Overall, I'm a bit split. It really depends on how long they last (and I expect both to go for years under moderate use). The Carhartt's are definitely more appealing stylistically, and I can use them in a wider range of outfits. The RIGGs, I feel, are more rugged and suited to heavier use. Both feel more rugged than jeans, and I like the comfort in knowing that I don't have to worry about worn out knees or random rips for some time. I'm definitely a "quality over quantity" person, and both pairs have quality look and feel.
In the end, both get 4 stars from me. I love 'em, and I'm glad I have both.