Winter weather can be brutal to work in without the right gear. Too many layers – or base layers made of non-moisture-wicking material – will cause you to get sweat wet while working. Too few layers and the elements will have you shivering.
With temperatures dropping, Equipment World has rounded up the best cold-weather clothing and accessories for construction workers.
At the end of the article, we also provide OSHA's recommendations for what employers and their workers should do to work safely in cold weather.
Undershirts and Pants
Ergodyne N-Ferno 6435 Midweight Long Sleeve Base Layer Shirt: The stretch fabric on the shirt won’t restrict movement, and the long, easy-tuck tail stays in place under jackets, bibs and sweatshirts. Cost: $54.05.
Forcefield Base Layer Pant: This antimicrobial base layer pant wicks sweat away to ensure freshness and warmth. Cost: $29.99.
Icebreaker Merino 200 Oasis Long Sleeve Thermal Top: Icebreaker’s best-selling base layer top helps regulate body temperature in all weather conditions and naturally resists odor. Cost: $115.00.
Minus33 Kancamagus Bottom: Available in sizes up to 6X, these midweight bottoms from Minus33 are designed for easy layering under pants. The standard fit offers room to breathe without being too baggy, the company says. Cost: $79.99.
UnderArmour ColdGear Fitted Crew: UnderArmour says their dual-layer fabric with a brushed interior and fast-drying exterior will keep wearers warm and dry without being bulky or riding up. Cost: $55.00
Bombas Merino Wool Calf Socks: Bombas blends their Merino wool with polyester and spandex for what they call “just the right amount of stretch, tension and arch support.” Cost: $20.00 per pair.
Carhartt Arctic Heavyweight Merino Wool Blend Boot Sock: The wool-blend fabric wicks away sweat, the company says, and they feature abrasion-resistant reinforcement in the heel and toe for durability. Cost: $27.99 per pair.
Darn Tough T4033 Heavyweight Tactical Sock with Full Cushion: With full terry loop cushioning throughout for maximum warmth, the company says these Merino wool socks are designed for “extreme cold climates or rugged terrain.” Cost: $31.00 per pair.
Duluth 7-Year Heavyweight Boot Socks: No holes here. Duluth says these socks have more than twice the durability of its original 7-Year Socks. The socks are constructed of Merino wool, Coolmax EcoMade polyester and NanoGlide nylon for comfort and warmth. Cost: $26.95 per pair.
Heat Holders Worxx Socks: Constructed from a specially developed heavy bulk yarn that has “extreme thermal qualities,” these socks will keep feet comfortable and supported on even the coldest days. Cost: $19.99 per pair.
Wigwam Merino Comfort Hiker: Wigwam says its midweight wool-blend socks resist odor, don’t shrink or itch, and offer a comfortable foot-hugging fit. Cost: $20.00 per pair.
Insulated Bib Overalls
Berne Safety Striped Arctic Insulated Bib Overall: Water-resistant fabric with wind and abrasion resistance creates a barrier against tough conditions, while double inside chest pockets, utility pockets and hammer loop keep tools within reach. Cost: $156.99.
Dickies Duck Insulated Bib Overalls: With elastic at the shoulders and waist, these durable, water-repellant bibs give you the right fit and all-day protection from frigid temperatures. Cost: $99.99 - $102.99.
Key Premium Insulated Bib Overalls: Key’s bibs have been designed with the construction worker in mind. The bibs get heel scuff plates, additional snaps at the ankles, heavy-duty, two-way front and leg-to-waist zippers, a waterproof barrier at the seat and knees and reinforced pockets. Cost: $109.99.
RefrigiWear HiVis Extreme Softshell Bib Overalls: Tested in conditions down to -60°F, RefrigiWear’s bibs will keep you warm and visible in the worst conditions. The 100% polyester, wind-tight, water-repellant thermal overalls have a higher front and back to keep your core warm. Cost: $239.35 - $257.58.
TrueWerk T4 Werkbib: These heavy-duty work bibs feature tear resistance and breathable insulation for extreme cold and four-way stretch fabric for flexibility while working. Cost $219.00.
Walls Outdoor Goods Frost DWR Insulated Duck Work Bib Overall: Designed to stand up to dirt and grime, the bibs are constructed of Walls’ 12-ounce Super Duck fabric. They get a durable water-repellant surface coating, waterproof double-knee patches, and six-ounce polyfill insulation to protect workers from rain, sleet, and snow. Cost: $109.99 - $129.99.
Winter Work Jackets
Blaklader Hi-Vis Winter Jacket: The wind and waterproof jacket with a heavy quilt lining features waterproof taped seams, storm cuffs, waterproof chest pockets, arm pocket and 3M reflective tape. Cost: $189.95.
Caterpillar Men's H2O Hi-Vis Waterproof Insulated Jacket: This jacket features 360 degrees of reflective tape to enhance your visibility during dark winter months. It is insulated, waterproof, and windproof. Cost: $129.99.
Helly Hansen Workwear Berg Insulated Winter Jacket: Lightweight but warm, the Berg jacket features 160 grams of insulation in the body and 120 grams in the sleeves. It also features a drop back for extended coverage and an adjustable hood and cuffs. Cost: $160.00.
Milwaukee Tool M12 Heated Toughshell Jacket: Powered by M12 Redlithium battery technology, the jacket features an advanced heat technology system that combines lightweight and durable carbon fiber heating elements, Quick-Heat functionality, enhanced fabric construction, and optimized interior liners to deliver up to 12 hours of heat. Cost: $199 for the garment, battery and charger.
Ororo Dual Control Heated Jacket: The jacket features two heating systems and five heating zones located on the upper back, left and right chest and both arms that are controlled separately by the dual-control buttons. When fully charged, the jacket’s Mini 5k battery provides up to 20 hours of heat. Cost: $279.99.
Insulated Work Boots
Ariat WorkHog CSA Waterproof Insulated Composite Toe Work Boot: Ariat’s ATS Max technology disperses pressure to keep feet comfortable from dawn to dusk. The boots also feature DRYShield waterproof construction and 3M Thinsulate insulation to keep feet warm and dry with less bulk. Cost: $254.95.
Keen Camden 8-Inch Insulated Waterproof Boot (Carbon-Fiber Toe): Full-grain barnyard-resistant waterproof leather helps these boots withstand the toughest jobsite conditions. A mesh liner offers breathability for year-round comfort. Cost: $230.00.
Red Wing Shoes King Toe 8-Inch Insulated, Waterproof Safety Toe Boot: This medium-duty boot with electrical hazard and non-metallic safety toe protection from Red Wing offers 44% more toe room than standard work boots, the company says. With 400 grams of 3M Thinsulate Ultra insulation, feet will stay warm even in damp conditions. Cost: $249.99.
Thorogood American Heritage Waterproof + Insulated 8-Inch Crazyhorse Nano Safety Toe Boot: These boots are constructed of tough, full-grain leather. They have a Nano safety toe to protect against falling or rolling objects and slip-resistant Vibram rubber soles. Cost: Varies by retailer.
Wolverine DuraShocks Insulated Waterproof Wellington: The DuraShocks rubber/polyurethane outsole provide traction and shock absorption, while the sweat-wicking Dri-Lex lining keeps feet dry and warm. Cost: $215.00.
Headwear, Neckwear and Face Masks
HotHands Fleece Neck Gaiter: Integrated pockets on the sides on this Pro-Grade fleece gaiter hold HotHands Warmers in place for all-day warmth. Cost: $19.29 for the gaiter. HotHands Warmers extra.
PIP Thermal EXO Dual Layer Balaclava: This head and neck wrap harnesses heat from the sun to create and exothermic warming effect. Wear both face layers on cold days or just the mesh liner when warmer. Cost: Varies by retailer.
Occunomix Hard Hat Winter Liner with Sherpa Lining and Mouthpiece: Wear this shoulder-length heavy-duty Sherpa liner under your hard hat for optimal warmth in the coldest weather. An elastic strip on the forehead helps the liner keep cold air out while locking body heat in. Cost: Varies by quantity purchased.
Stormy Kromer Original Cap: The wool blend on Stormy Kromer’s namesake cap resists the elements and the 100% cotton flannel lining helps keep you warm. If your ears get cold, pull down the built-in earband. Cost: $48.00.
Give’r 4-Season Gloves: Give’r gloves are made of top-quality leather, lined with a layer of insulation and have a waterproof membrane. They’re designed to fit snug at first until you break them in. Cost: $119.00.
Gobi Heat Drift Work Gloves: These gloves keep fingers warm while working in the elements. Battery-powered heat elements around each fingertip provide up to 6 hours of warmth and three different heat settings. Cost: $199.00
Mechanix Wear ColdWork Waterproof Leather M-Pact Driver F9-360 Gloves: Mechanix designed these gloves with 100g PrimaLoft Gold performance insulation to trap warm air and regulate body temperature in freezing conditions. At the same time, the HiPora waterproof membrane repels water and fluid. Cost: $78.99.
Superior Glove Endura 375GTVB: These winter-ready gloves provide warmth in temperatures as low as -4°F. Tough goatskin leather treated with Oilbloc ensures oil resistance and back-of-hand protection dulls impact without impeding ease of movement. Cost: Varies by retailer.
Wells Lamont Heavy Duty Leather Palm Winter Work Gloves: High abrasion and puncture resistance cowhide increases the durability of the gloves and fleece lining and 100 gram 3M Thinsulate insulation keeps hands warm. Cost: $18.99.
What OSHA Says
When working in cold temperatures, construction workers are susceptible to frostbite, hypothermia, and cold stress, all of which can be fatal. Contractors should keep tabs on the temperature and wind chill to better prepare for conditions and perform work safely.
OSHA recommends following these practices to stay safe in cold weather:
- Know the symptoms of cold stress: reddening skin, tingling, pain, swelling, leg cramps, numbness, and blisters.
- Dress properly: wear at least three layers of loose-fitting clothing, insulated gloves and boots, and cover your head.
- Monitor your physical condition and that of your coworkers.
- Stay dry and pack extra clothes; moisture can increase heat loss from the body.
- Take frequent breaks in warm, dry areas.
- Drink warm liquids.
- Clear snow and ice from walking surfaces, and spread deicer as quickly as possible after a winter storm to prevent slips, trips, and falls. Footwear should have good traction and insulation. Take short steps and walk at a slower pace to react quickly to changes in traction.
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