If you're the kind of person who likes to get your hands dirty while working on your car or bike, you've probably succeeded in getting a lot of your clothes filthy, too. Sure, you could pull out that sad pair of stained, stonewashed jeans buried in your bottom drawer, but trust me when I say it's way easier to ditch the street clothes and just jump into workwear like a set of work overalls or coveralls before heading out to get 'er done.
When it comes to coveralls, there are tons of choices out there, from disposable coverall options that you can toss after particularly dirty jobs to pricier protective coverall suits that include insulation, pockets, zippers and other useful features (you can even find a flame resistant coverall if you look!). Personally, I like investing in workwear that lasts, so I only considered options that will hold up -- even if they're put through their paces. After testing out a bunch, these are hands-down my favorites. I'll update this list periodically.
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At $130, the DuluthFlex long sleeve coveralls are way more expensive than my more affordable jumpsuit choice to come, but damned if they don't feel worth it. It starts with the material. The company calls it DuluthFlex Fire Hose and it manages to be a lot more comfortable than a real fire hose yet stretchable enough that the suit doesn't bind when crouching down to grab that washer that keeps leaping out of your hand.
The generously sized chest pocket and thigh pockets are big enough to swallow your new Galaxy S20 Plus and close with Velcro to keep it from plopping into the drain pan. Plus, zipper pass-throughs mean you can get into the pockets of the work shirt you're wearing beneath -- assuming you choose to wear clothing beneath. Zipper legs mean you can kick these on over work boots and overall there's just not much to dislike. This workwear suit is on the heavy side, so it's not ideal for sticky days, and the lack of support for knee pads is unfortunate. Finally, while the metal rivets on the pockets give me confidence you won't have to worry about any seams blowing apart, you will want to be a little careful when leaning over that new cherry pearl paint job you got last summer in this costume.
If the Duluth coverall option is a bit too rich, don't fear, Red Kap has a range of basic but excellent cotton work clothes that will keep you clean while you're getting dirty. This is definitely a no-frills sleeve coverall, but it starts at $38, and you're getting a durable, well-made cotton coverall suit with generous chest and waist pockets, plus pass-throughs. No zippers here, just some quick snaps to keep yourself in, but since all of them are concealed snaps hidden behind fabric, no worries about damaging your paint with these clothes.
If you routinely find yourself dealing with sweat running down your back after an hour or two of wrenching, you might want to think about opting for this ventilated work uniform from Red Kap, which starts at $53. You're giving up some durability with this clothing -- the fabric here is noticeably thinner than Red Kap's other suits -- but that sheerness and the generous ventilated panels on the back make it remarkably comfortable on hot days.
Closure here is via zipper and snaps, but they're hidden behind fabric, and you have the same complement of waist and chest pockets as on Red Kap's other mechanic coveralls.
If your problem is more about keeping your vital parts from going numb in cold weather, Carhartt has a workwear suit for you. The Yukon Extremes long sleeve coverall is the most expensive on our list at $250, but it'd be just as well suited to a day on the slopes as a morning spent swapping wheels and winterizing. This is a heavy insulated work coverall suit that will keep you toasty, even more so if you snap on the optional hood. The pant leg zipper goes all the way up, so jumping in is quick and easy, while the huge, zippered chest pockets do a great job of doubling as hand warmers. This Carhartt deluxe insulated coverall is a premium, heavy-duty suit top to bottom, but it comes at a premium price.
Looking for a more vintage look to go with your vintage ride? There are plenty of boutique, period workwear clothing out there if you want to shell out some serious cash, but the herringbone weave on this cotton Red Kap jumpsuit gives it a simple, classic look that would fit right in at the Goodwood Revival, all without a high price. This sleeve coverall suit is available for as little as $39. The cotton fabric here looks and feels more appropriate than the polyester synthetics used elsewhere, while the heft gives this suit plenty of durability -- if you don't mind a little extra warmth.
Comparison of the best coveralls for mechanics
|Best coveralls for mechanics overall||Duluth Trading||DuluthFlex Fire Hose Coveralls||$130|
|Best coveralls on a budget||Red Kap||Snap-Front Cotton Coverall||$31|
|Best lightweight mechanics coveralls||Red Kap||Performance Plus Lightweight Coverall||$47|
|Best mechanics coveralls for extreme cold||Carhartt||Yukon Extremes Insulated Coverall||$250|
|Best vintage-look mechanics coveralls||Red Kap||Herringbone Button-Front Cotton Coveralls||$41|
Some notes on the best coveralls for mechanics
- Coveralls vs. bibs or overalls: Coveralls do exactly what the name says: cover everything. Overalls, meanwhile, usually just cover your chest and lower-body, leaving your shoulders and arms exposed. Bibs and bib overalls may be quicker and easier to get on, and they tend to be lighter too, but if you want to keep your upper-body clean as well as your trousers, you'll want a full set of coveralls. Short sleeve coverall models are available, but if you ever find yourself rolling around on the garage floor -- as I often do -- opt for the extra protection long-sleeve workwear clothing provides.
- Durability vs. weight: Thicker workwear clothing will put up to whatever you can throw at them, meaning you can crawl around on asphalt all day long without a tear. They also tend to be a little easier to get clean in my experience. But, that extra durability comes with additional weight and heat. If it's often hot while you're wrenching, you may want to opt for a lighter coverall suit.
- Materials matter: Synthetic materials like polyester generally stretch more and are easier to clean, but natural fabrics, like cotton, can offer some advantages when it comes to breathability and overall feel. If you can, see if you can try out a synthetic polyester option and a cotton option. Most of these shops that sell workwear clothing offer generous return policies, so take advantage!
- Not for the style-minded: I'm sorry to report that not a single jumpsuit that I tested had anything approaching a fit that I'd call flattering. Even the models with an elastic waist insert just leave you looking like you're in a slightly cinched burlap sack. That bulk makes these workwear suits easier to get into and out of, and more comfortable too, but you're going to look a bit shabby when shuffling around the shop in this clothing.