Americans love bib overalls, for their utility, toughness, and wholesome good looks. And they love them for the symbolism, too. Overalls mean that you like to get your hands dirty. And for the people who make them, they are a point of pride. To build a good-looking and long-lasting pair is a badge of honor for these companies. If you make workwear, you’ve got to be able to build overalls. If you can’t, hang up your denim.
Knowing Americans love these garments, we gathered a range—in denim, brown duck, and dark brown insulated—and wore them over approximately a six-week period to help you find a pair that fits you and your needs best.
Check out quick info below on some of our tested top performers. Then scroll down to see how we tested, along with in-depth reviews of all the most worthy overalls.
How We Tested
To begin our test, we looked over each pair of overalls. Then we sought advice from an experienced seamstress about how to inspect them more thoroughly. She said we should spend more time looking at the inside of the garments than the outside because that’s where manufacturers hide slap-dash pocket construction, skimpy hems, and hasty serging (a serge is a type of sewing machine that binds fabric together with an overlock stitch created with three or four different threads). She also advised us to wash the garments to see what threads come loose in the machine and how neatly, or not, the overalls come out of the dryer. Then we turned them inside out to examine each pocket, strap, seam, hem, bar tack, and rivet. We used an 8x magnifying glass for close inspection of the thread count and the quality of sewing inside button holes and seams. We ironed each pair, even the great big billowy carpenter’s overalls from Ben Davis.
In addition to inspecting each pair for quality and construction, we wore overalls, sometimes multiple pairs a day. We did yard work, fix-up projects, and tool testing. We wore them at the desk, to the office, and on runs to the lumber yard. We judged them on fit, comfort, warmth, ease of movement, and how well the hardware (zippers, clasps, and buckles) works.
If you want a great conversation starter, wear bib overalls. People have fond memories of them and will ask you where you got them. It’s fun. Here are nine that are sure to get people talking.
Dickies 83294 Indigo
Fabric: 100% Cotton, 11.75 oz denim | Cut: Traditional | Workmanship: 4 stars
Dickies’s overalls are about as traditional as you’re going to find. And with a few exceptions, their workmanship is good. We can’t rate them on the same level as the Round House bibs (below), which we gave one full star more in that realm. There’s good workmanship, and there’s meticulous workmanship; these are the former. They feature triple-needle stitching on the inside and outside of both legs, a traditional layout of the bib and its pockets, a full cut through the hips and legs, and plentiful (18) bar tacks—in red thread, no less. If your tastes lean toward the traditional and you want a pair of overalls in which you have confidence and ease of movement, these would be a good choice.
Fabric: Coated polyester | Cut: Updated traditional | Workmanship: 5 stars
Grunden’s Tourney bib is a waterproof and lightweight garment that works well for people who need a bib for saltwater fishing or want the same garment for doing light work outside. It’s waterproof, made from polyurethane-coated polyester. A flap protects the hip pocket, and the chest pocket is closed with a zipper. Two snaps on the side help the bib seal to your hips, and the absence of a zipper at the front (typical of waterproof bibs) provides additional sealing, though it decreases the convenience when you need to pee. All these features aside, the bibs fit nicely for a garment with so much drape. And we appreciated their elastic nature, including the elastic suspenders, which meet at an X-shaped juncture in the back. A plastic clip at the meeting point improves their adjustability. In all, this is an outstanding, versatile, and well-made garment.
Berne Highland Washed Insulated
Fabric: 100% Cotton-sanded duck, 12 oz (shell); 100% polyester (insulated quilted liner) | Cut: Updated traditional | Workmanship: 4.5 stars
Berne tells us this is one of its best-selling garments and one that it takes particular pride in. We can see why. This is about as fully featured as bib overalls get. The B377 is equipped with 11 pockets, zip-to-hip legs, rivets and plentiful bar tacks at stress points, and elasticized straps and waist. It’s so warm that it exceeded the cold autumn mornings on which we tested it. This is a winter garment, at home in at least 30-degree weather. And depending on your base layer and what you have immediately below, it will work just fine for much colder weather. Of course, a lot of that depends on your thermostat and how much movement you’re putting in. A final thoughtful detail that we like: the hanger strap between the shoulders on the back panel—a feature that should be standard on every heavy-duty overall.
Helly Hansen Oxford
Fabric: 75% cotton, 18% polyester, 3% elastane | Cut: Euro traditional | Workmanship: 5 stars
Helly Hansen’s oxford cloth bib is a distinctly European take on the overall. The slim garment is extremely comfortable, thanks to that tailored feeling and elastic gussets at the hips, an elastic waist and elastic shoulder straps (X-shaped suspenders), a crotch gusset, and a pair of soft elastic bands that keep excess shoulder strap neatly tucked. The hip and back pockets are open; the chest pocket is held closed with hook-and-loop fastening (Velcro), while two different types of thigh pockets are either open or held shut with hook and loop. This Helly Hansen is the only one of its type that we’ve seen equipped with belt loops. We’re not sure why you’d need that, unless it’s to help hold a tool belt. The blend of synthetic material and cotton (36 percent organic, the balance synthetic) should make it more stain-resistant than all-cotton overalls.
—PREWASHED BUT RUGGED—
Carhartt Unlined Washed Denim
Fabric: 100% Cotton pre-washed indigo denim, 11.75 oz | Cut: Traditional | Workmanship: 4 stars
Carhartt is well familiar with denim overalls, having built duck and denim bibs decades before most workwear companies were even founded. That heritage shows in this heavy pair. It exhibits good workmanship, and its prewash makes it comfortable right out of the package (it also makes it a bit easier to wash at home). It comes out of the dryer nicely. One small complaint, and something we’re not particularly fond of: The slide buckles on the straps, though sturdy, require break-in and don’t slide easily when new. But overall, this is a well-rounded garment with deep pockets, triple stitching on the legs, and numerous bar tacks. If your tastes are traditional but you lean toward pre-washed denim, this should suit you nicely.
Round House 966 Rigid Denim
Fabric: 100% Cotton rigid indigo denim, 12 oz. | Cut: Traditional | Workmanship: 5 stars
We could find but two companies left in the U.S. producing bib overalls. One of them is Round House, a no-nonsense manufacturer in Shawnee, Oklahoma. And this pair was the hands-down winner in this test in two important respects. First was the superior workmanship. Careful outside-in and inside-out analysis, even with a magnifying glass, found flawless seams and properly executed bar tacks. Nothing was crooked, slightly off, or hastily serged—all things we found on nearly every other garment in this test, especially on the inside. Next, the hardware (buckles, clasps, and zipper) performs flawlessly. These overalls are traditional and old-school, not built for turning heads. The cut is true to size, with wide legs and room through the hips. If you bend, squat, and turn in these, you stay comfortable. In short, this Round House performs the work it’s called to do. If every pair of pants, every shirt, jacket, and suit in the U.S. were sewn with the same quality, Americans would be more neatly dressed.
Carhartt Relaxed Fit Duck
Fabric: 100% Ring-spun cotton duck, 12 oz | Cut: Updated traditional | Workmanship: 4.5 stars
This is an updated version of the Carhartt workwear classic, the R01, which the company still offers. But this has features that Carhartt says arose from user feedback, such as a large cell phone pocket in the bib secured with a hearty brass zipper. And there’s an elastic gusset where the legs and back panel meet to provide stretch where you tuck in an unruly sweatshirt, and the already-heavy material is doubled at the cuffs for wear-through resistance. Our take is that this is a primary garment; the cut is true to size (same as your pants size). A base layer is about the only thing that will fit under these. If you prefer to wear sweatpants and a sweatshirt, you’ll need to size up. Their workmanship is outstanding, almost as good as the Round House, which served as the workmanship demarcation line for this test.
Berne B910 Cobblestone Pre-Washed
Fabric: 100% Cotton pre-washed indigo denim, 10 oz. | Cut: Contemporary | Workmanship: 4 stars
Berne’s overalls were the only ones that we could describe as being more modern in their design and cut. They are pre-washed and very soft. They are also slightly slimmer and not quite as wide through the hips. The bib’s large pockets are sized to fit a phone or a wallet, or both at the same time; the largest of the two pockets is zipped to keep a cell phone from falling out. The Cobblestone was also the only overall in the test to have an extra pocket below the hammer strap.
Ben Davis 862 Carpenter’s
Fabric: 60% cotton, 40% polyester rigid brown duck, 12 oz. | Cut: Traditional | Workmanship: 4 stars
Ben Davis is the last company that still makes a bib overall with an attached nail apron, and we were very pleasantly surprised by what we found in this pair First, it’s fashioned from perhaps the toughest form of brown duck we’ve ever seen, a blend of 60 percent cotton and 40 percent polyester. We’re sticklers for all-cotton duck, but this stuff made a believer out of us. Its post-laundry color retention is excellent, and it came out of the dryer almost as nicely as pre-washed denim. Second, since this is traditional workwear and meant to be worn over clothing, its cut is generous. Even with that, Ben Davis recommends sizing up one or even two sizes, which we did. You can slip these on right over chunky workboots; however, you’ll need to take your boots off to take the bibs off. The knee padding is nice and might even add a little warmth in the winter. We suspect it will flatten with use, but it’s good while it lasts. And the 12 pockets should see the average carpenter through a day’s work.