If you are welding, it can be a hot job and risky, because of stray sparks. You need fire resistance (FR) and you need to remember that welding has Hazard Risk Category (HRC) guidelines from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). So, what are the best pants for welding for Winter but also for Summer?
We previously did a detailed article on one kind of heat-based welding, which involved either torch guns or heated rods. There are many other kinds of even more intense forms of welding like MIG or TIG that require flame resistant pants, and others for welding safely. It’s important to be aware of NFPA, HRC and Arc Thermal Protective Value (APTV) ratings for clothes and apparel.
So, we’ve made a list of some of the best pants to wear while welding the brand for the money. After about 70 hours of research and testing, we found that the best welding pants are not necessarily the most popular or the highest price. We have recommended a range of different types and our top work pants for welding come in a range of costs. Animal rights and veganism are topical right now, so conventional solutions like leather welding chaps might not be for everyone. That’s why we’ll look at conventional pants to wear for welding. For a quick video that introduces kinds of arc welding try here.
What to look for in welding pants
There are many different types of heat-based welding, including gas weldings, such as oxy-acetylene, oxy-hydrogen and air-acetylene and also arc weldings, such as MIG (Gas Metal Arc), TIG (Gas Tungsten Arc), carbon arc, plasma arc and metal arc. There is also point welding, using a heating element similar to a soldering iron.
At the low end, you have straightforward blowtorches, which need some light protection and at the other, Arc welding which needs very heavy-duty protection.
If you are working at the heavy-duty end, you will probably be wearing a special apron or chaps over your welding pants, for added protection. If you are just welding some thermoplastic with moderate heat, especially if you are just using a heating element, rather than a torch, then welding pants alone are usually OK. we already mentioned our plastic welding article is worth looking at to find out more.
Remember that normal pants might seem OK for this kind of low-intensity work, but it is really easy to accidentally scorch them, meaning you now need replacement pants, which is going to cost you. That’s why investing in some welding pants makes sense financially, plus of course, it is also very much safer.
It’s important to mention that welding pants don’t last forever, and they are not fire-proof. They are only fire-resistant up to a point, through special treatments with chemicals like chlorine and bromine added to cotton, or the use of some synthetic fire-resistant fabric mixed into cotton. Repeated scorches or spark burns added to repeated washing, will tend to degrade them over time. It is important to follow the washing instructions fully.
There is highly fire-resistant totally synthetic full-covering apparel too, like one made from Nomex (used by race car drivers) or Kevlar, which are sometimes used in welding gloves, but this is a pricey way of solving the issue and you probably don’t want to be walking around in Kevlar pants all day long. Unless you want to appear on the cover of a ‘mechanic romance’ paperback that is.
Most welding pants apparently are designed primarily with guys in mind, though in practice anyone can wear them if they can find a size that works.
What about other safety clothes when welding?
Good question. In the article, we already touched on some upper body clothes to go with the pants plus of course you should wear gloves and either safety glasses (for torchwork) or specialist welding goggles or a full-face welding helmet for arc welding.
Specifically, with arc welding, it’s not just about Arc Thermal Protective Value etc. it’s also about protecting your eyesight from the very bright point source of light that can be generated by the arc. So make sure you have that in mind.
Even for less demanding welding, you might want to invest in a flame-resistant hat, like a cap or a beanie, to protect your hair form.
Now, let’s look in detail at our full list
Top Rated Welding Work Pants
Best welding work pants for all-day use
Bulwark makes a nice pair of jeans that look – well – like a nice pair of jeans. What’s cool (literally) is that they also meet HRC2 and Arc Rating ATPV 21 calories/cm² and are NFPA 2112 Compliant.
So, what does that all mean in English? HRC means Hazard Risk Category (in the case to do with flammability) which goes from HRC 1 (basic protection) to HRC 4 (high-level protection, for example, using a multi-layer full flash suit)
HRC2 means the jeans are one step above HRC1 and offer a degree of protection.
Then if we look at the Arc rating APTV value, which is 21 calories per square centimeter, that means 21 calories are necessary to pass through the jeans fabric to cause – with a 50% probability – a serious second- or very serious third-degree burn. Note that third-degree burns go deeper than the skin surface and can be very serious indeed.
NFPA 2112 compliance is about resistance to flash burns, for example, if torch fuel accidentally ignited.
So that all means the jeans are going to protect your legs but only up to a point. For the amateur/home welder doing less intense welding, they will be “good enough” for light work.
Sizes range from 28” waist and 24” leg all the way up to 50” waist and 34-inch leg, so most folks should be covered.
Flame resistant but also reasonable-looking, these are a little pricey but a definite candidate for the title of best pants to wear while welding.
Best high spec welding pants
These cotton plus nylon Caterpillar pants get a respectable safety score. Like the Bulwarks, they are NFPA 2112, compliant and HRC2. Unlike the normal jeans design of the Bulwarks, the Caterpillars have many specialized pockets, for Cell Phone, Cargo, Ruler, Pencil etc. which is a better and more practical working design.
They will be a little more comfortable to wear in the summer too, with their looser design, 9 Oz fabric weight, and it has a carefully designed crotch and knee, which allow very free movement. There are a number of sizes and color choices too. You can check out a product video here.
These caterpillar pants tick safety, practicality and comfort boxes when researching about the best welding pants.
Best low-cost welding pants
These budget pants only score HRC 1 but are cheap and effective enough welding pants for lighter work. Thie NFPA 70E Rating means that they are suited for electrical work where there is some amount of fire hazard, they are very lightweight, so that’s great for the summer too.
At an APTV related rating of 7.2 cal/cm2, the Occunomix pants are outclassed by the Bulwarks at 21 cal/cm2 – offering less protection – but the Bulwarks are far more expensive and at around $20 for these Occunomix pants, you get what you pay for.
Ok if you want something cheap, light and cool (temperature-wise). Otherwise, there are better choices in welding pants out there.
Best ‘second layer’ welding pants
Now for something a little different. Some people don’t want to buy welding pants per se – they just want to get something to cover existing clothes. That’s where this product form GazeChimp comes in. It is designed to be worn over normal pants (or shorts) plus a shirt or t-shirt and offers a lot of protection, at the expense of being pretty hot if you wear them over your existing clothes in Summer.
An alternative solution with a good degree of protection. It might be too hot for heavy summer welding and Vegans may be concerned about the choice of material.
Best alternative budget welding pants
At the next step up from Occunomix, we have these Magid welding pants. Although they look similar to the Occunomix, at 12 Oz the fabric is much stronger and there are some neat design features like the leather reinforced front snap and a range of useful and practical pockets.
They are designed to meet ASTM D6413-99 flame resistance standards, which is a slightly older standard but still useful to know. There’s a range of optional 12 Oz matching flame resistant jackets if the design is your thing,
You’ll pay a bit more for the Magid pants but they are still reasonably priced. If they are your thing, it’s well worth thinking about the matching jacket.
Best alternative jeans to Bulwark
Returning to the more fashion-conscious welding apparel category are these slightly pricey but good loose-fit Ariat flame-resistant jeans.
In terms of flame-resistant rating, they score well with an attribute of HRC2, and National Fire Protection Association ratings of NFPA20, and NFPA2112. What that means is that they look like jeans, and even have some fashion touches, like slight distressing and you can wear as jeans, but are reasonably flame-resistant as well.
Do you really need to pay for ‘light hand sanding’ on your jeans for your welding? If your answer is ‘yes’ then these Ariat flame-resistant jeans just maybe are for you.
Best flame-resistant dungarees
If the wild west cowboy look of flameproof jeans is not your thing, and the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachians or the Florida everglades are, then you might want to consider these durable but soft Carhartt dungarees, with a little more flavor of the South than the Old West.
Safety-wise these tick the NFPA 2112 Compliant, HRC2 and ATPV 15 boxes and just to prove the point they have a label with most of that sewn into the waistband. There are plenty of pockets to keep tools in too, one of which has a further ‘FR’ logo sewn on, just to prove the point.
They come in a range of colors but for that authentic Waltons/moonshine look, or for welding up a local NASCAR style-entry then you might want to get down with the brown.
If you were planning to make a guest welding appearance on Duck Dynasty, these Carhartt Dungarees could be for you.
Best Welding Pants
So, what are the best pants for welding? At the low-cost end, you are going to have less protection than those with better materials and better fire resistance. An HRC 2 rating is generally preferable to HRC 1.
The various jeans look good (and there are plenty more jeans we could have reviewed) but the tighter fitting jeans may be OK in the winter but not so pleasant to wear in the summer. Welding is a hot job.
We could also have looked at overall, dungarees, chaps, etc. in this review but we chose to go almost exclusively with pants that are multi-purpose and not really just for work.
So, what do you think are the best work pants for welding? Leave us some comments below and we’ll be happy to discuss what you think.