I was outside all day yesterday replacing a roof. I can't say I wore my jacket all day long because I didn't want to ruin it when I was doing the tear off. It was about 40 degrees outside and it may not seem cold to most, but it was pretty cold. It was the first cold day of the year, so it always tends to feel a little colder than normal. When I was laying the felt down, I did have my jacket on. All I can say is this was very comfortable and surprisingly warm. The most important thing with this jack was how easily I still could move. When I swung a roll of felt on my shoulders or bend down to pound a couple nails in, the jacket moved with me. It wasn't like some jackets where the sleeves road up on you or you could feel there wasn't enough material in the shoulders etc. I think I have my new winter jacket.
Original Post 6-5-2011
Yes that's me in the shirt, the one I wear almost everyday. It's called Blaklader. You may or may not have heard of them, but they have been in business for over 50 years, so they know their stuff. Man that's a cool looking shirt.
Blaklader has a long line of products, but we are only going to cover a couple of their items, the shirt, jacket, pants and tool vests. Before I heard of Blaklader I was always a huge fan of Carhartt. If you wanted a quality piece of work gear, the first stop was always Carhartt for me. Now I am not knocking Carhartt because they do make quality work gear, but I think I just found my new workwear company, Blaklader. All I can say is this stuff is excellent and worth every penny. Everything we worked with was quality made, comfortable and best of all practical.
The first item I put on was my t-shirt. We know some of you might think isn't it just a t-shirt, what's so cool about that? Well you are right to an extent, but it's actually more than that. If you buy a great drill and the bits they include are cheap, what are you going to think? Well, you probably think the drill is great, but how much does this company really focus on quality. The same holds true for work gear. If you can't put out a quality t-shirt that lasts, then how much will a company put into the quality of their work gear. Are companies spending money on quality or are they spending it on marketing? Well let me tell you that I love these t-shirts and once again, I end up wearing it most of the time. Yes, I do wash it in between the times I wear it, well most of the time. This t-shirt has already been washed about 30 times according to my wife. While the color stays intact, the best part is it didn't shrink on me. I am not sure the thread count, but this is one quality t-shirt. It's thick, but when I wear it in the summer, it's not too hot. I don't know about you, but I like quality t-shirts like this, not the cheap junk shirts that are paper thin. Come on how cool is that logo on the back of the shirt?
The next item on the blaklader product line up is the Bantam Kangaroo Vest or the tool vest. I have never worn a vest before, expect in the 80's, but this thing is awesome. Not only have I worn it on a couple of jobs, but I also took it on my fishing trip, just had different tools in the vest. Actually not that we would recommend this, but we had a little ways to walk down to the boat, so my buddies would always load up the cooler and then because of my vest, they would load me up with drinks for the walk. Actually we fit 10 bottles of beer in the vest. So image the room for tools.
The tool vest is made from 100% 8 oz. lightweight cotton. As noted there is plenty of storage. There are 4 utility pockets on the front and back. The back two pockets are Cordura lined which provide extra strength for heavier loads. There are also two breasts pockets with safety straps to make sure your tools stay in place. Plus a pocket for your phone.
The jacket is held together by triple stitched seams for added toughness. On the back of the vest you have an extra long tail part which provides more protection for the person wearing the jacket. On the front you can zip the jacket shut with a nice large zipper, so even with work gloves on, you don't have a problem opening and shutting the zipper. The zipper is concealed, so it stays out of the way and prevents any rub ups. There is also belt loops which are wide to help accommodate almost any tool belt.
Now I am not one to have pants where I can have a lot of tools and other stuff in them. I like a tool belt I can take on and off. Having things in your pants makes it hard to maneuver, walk around and is just plain restrictive. Well, why I still feel this is true with most pants, I feel the mold was broken for the Blaklader work gear pants. I can honesty say these are very comfortable pants and I am not sure if it's the design or what, but when I have tools and other items in the pants, I did not feel restricted with my movement. Plus the big thing was when I was walking with pliers or other tools in the pockets, they were not banging up against my knee or thigh causing me to swear up and down.
These are not only cool looking pants, but as I just mentioned, they are practical. On the front top there are two utility pockets to store your nails, screws or whatever you need quick access to. What's cool is when not in use, you can easily tuck them into the other pockets in the front and now they are treated like the pockets on your jeans. This is a cool feature. You might want to watch the video to better understand this. These utility pockets are angled at the corners, so you are not trying to dig around and get those last couple of screws out, they are very easy to access. Bar tacks hold the belt loops vs. traditional rivets which prevent ripping.
Another cool feature is the built in knee pads. I hate always having to adjust my pads when I get up or kneel down, plus you end up having to cut off your circulation to get pads to remotely stay in place. With these pants, they are built in. You can insert the pads and you are ready to go. When you kneel they stay where they should, right below your knee. You don't have to move them around or readjust your kneeling position, they just work. They do offer foam and gel inserts. We used the foam, which are not too bad, but in the future I would spend the extra couple of dollars and invest in the gel. One thing to note since they are removable knee pads, it was much easier to insert and take them out of the knee pad holder when I was not wearing them.
As with other Blaklader gear there is even more storage. You have four Bellowed pockets, two in the front and two in the back. These are cool because as stated you don't get your tools slapping into your knees or thighs. There is also a phone pocket, security pocket and pencil pocket, not to mention a hammer loop. The pencil pocket has multiple slits that accommodate a pencil at varying lengths, so as your pencil gets shorter as you sharpen it you have a perfect spot for your pencil.
Since you might be carrying a good amount of weight on you, you can hold these pants up with almost any belt as there are 7 wide and thin belt loops. The fly uses a metal zipper for added toughness, just be careful on the zip up. As with their other products, these pants use a triple stitching for toughness and longevity.
This jacket is awesome. Very comfortable and very warm. This is Blaklader's two-fisted fleece jacket. As with all their work gear we tested, this is practical and well thought out, they didn't forget anything in this design.
On the left breast there is a zipper pocket which has enough room for a smart phone and a couple other items. On the right breast side there is a Velcro pocket which can be great to hold a small flashlight or something that size. As with most jackets their are two pockets down below to keep your hands warm. They do have a zipper which I like a lot since I tend to store my keys or other frequently accessed items. The jacket is zipped up using a zipper then you can Velcro the flap over for added wind resistant protection. Now I never use this, but I do see some people using this feature. On the bottom of the jacket there is a drawstring which I guess provides added comfort. Here is one thing I would have never thought I would ever use. On the back of the jacket there is a pocket for storing documents. Believe it or not it comes in very handy and it is easy to access. Instead of tossing the documents down because you need to do something, you can easily access the back pocket and put them in the storage. This way you don't have to spend half a day trying to figure out where you laid down those papers. What's nice is since you are storing paper in the pocket, there are no problems when you sit down and lean back up against the chair for your morning, lunch and afternoon coffee. Yeah, I tend to drink a lot of coffee.
As with the other Blaklader work gear we tested, this is built to last. The cuffs, elbows and shoulders are reinforced with extra strength Cordura. The inside of the jacket has a mesh lining for added warmth. I do wish they had a zippered pocket inside because I tend to use these pockets, but not a big deal. One cool feature is on the outside of the jacket there is reflective piping on the front and back pockets, plus the front zipper placket. Nice added safety feature.
If you want work gear, real work gear we suggest you take a look at Blaklader work gear. This is no fly-by-night gear. They have been in the business for over 50 years, so they know what they are doing. Not only quality and stylish work gear, but practical work gear. The pockets are layed out great for easy access, top quality material for longevity and strong stitching. These are all quality products and we bet they will outlast the competitors by two to three times, so it's also a money and time saver in the long run. The only downside is all of our work gear is made for the winter, so we have to wait another 5 months before it starts getting cold again to wear this. Luckily they have work gear made for the summer which we are sure is just as nice. One item I should mention is that Blaklader backs up their products. They have a lifetime guarantee on seams which they will repair or replace if it fails.
We always like to hear back from our readers on their experience with these tools – good or bad. Do you have experience with these tools? How has the long term use been? What applications have you used the tool for? Is this a DIY or professional grade tool? Let us and other readers know.