The company 1620 is on a mission “to make the best workwear in the category,” providing skilled laborers comfortable apparel designed to meet the demands of the job. Made in the USA and constructed to last, quality material, ethical practises, and a “Guaranteed for Life” warranty cement the deal. There’s a lot of cross-pollination and shared objectives between workwear and overland apparel, and this product also stands up to life on the road.
Utilizing stretch NYCO (nylon and cotton) fabric, 1620’s Double Knee Utility Pant is engineered with Cordura fiber technology, which is up to 10 times more durable and abrasion-resistant than cotton. Over 1,800 gallons of water are required to grow the cotton required for one pair of traditional work pants. The company estimates that the average tradesperson will work their way through five to eight pairs of cotton pants per year, thus making 1620 a cost-effective and environmentally friendlier purchase.
At 1620, they believe that some of the best fabric available is made in America and that the country’s sewing talent “rivals that of any nation.” Additionally, manufacturing at home gives them confidence that proper environmental and labor practices are in place and is a way to keep money in local communities. Due to availability, a few small production exceptions exist, such as the woven labels on the Utility Pant, which are made elsewhere.
When the pants arrived for testing, it took just seconds to appreciate the quality and craftsmanship. There’s a reassuring weight to the fabric, and the seams, meticulous stitching, and overall finish are superb. There’s a premium feel that you don’t expect from workwear apparel, which is strange if you think about it because that’s the clothing you depend on every day.
The Utility Pant showcases a modern fit to eliminate bagginess and integrates double-layer protection in high wear areas, such as the knee and upper thigh. Tradesmen are the primary focus (no women’s products yet), so the inclusion of a hammer loop, knife clip and watch pocket, side phone pocket, 3/4-inch-wide belt loops, split tool/pen pocket, and side-zip security pocket are appreciated features. The gusseted crotch, articulated knee, military-spec shank button, and PFC free water/stain repellent finish further bolsters the product’s lifespan.
I subjected the pants to consistent hard use over two months to see whether they lived up to the hype. I struggle to find comfortable pants, but the “modern fit” is excellent and provides a smart-casual look whilst not restricting movement. The Cordura NYCO fabric manages to be both heavy-duty and remarkably stretchy; despite eight weeks of punishment, they still look brand new.
During summertime, the material was on the warm side, and for hot weather, I’d recommend checking out their Utility Short. Though not designed to be hiking pants, like a good pair of boots, they feel better with time. As the cold weather has drawn in, they’ve become my everyday option for yard work, walking the dog, sitting at my desk, fixing the van, and general day-to-day life. I’ve also used them for photography assignments because I spend a lot of time kneeling, sitting, and organising everything on the floor. The pants offer excellent abrasion and tear resistance, along with useful pockets for storing spare batteries, ND filters, film, etc. The pockets are deep, which is a blessing, as they prevent belongings from falling out or digging in when crouched or leaning over.
The reviews online are overwhelmingly positive (worth checking out here), but one critique was that the side phone pocket is small. I own the iPhone 8 Plus and, with a case, the pocket was admittedly snug but usable (without the case, it’s a perfect fit). I prefer using the front pockets anyway, as they’re deeper and more conveniently located. Finally, the PFC-free water repellent finish works great and ensures liquid beads on the fabric rather than soaking through. If you do become drenched in a downpour, they dry remarkably quickly (two times faster than cotton duck).
I have never owned a more durable pair of pants. At first glance, the $174 price tag may seem steep (cost can be spread with interest-free instalments), but the product is worth every penny, and I don’t say that lightly. I’m not someone who spends a lot of money on clothing, and I’m not interested in fancy labels. However, in the same way I’d invest a couple of hundred dollars into a pair of quality hiking boots, I would do the same for the Utility Pant.
After multiple conversations with Josh Walker (1620 co-founder), it was clear that he’s genuinely passionate about creating the best possible workwear apparel. Living on the road punishes clothing, but I’m confident these pants would endure a round-the-world overlanding trip with ease while providing excellent everyday comfort and functionality.
$174 | 1620usa.com
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