Do you ever notice those contractors with the 700 pound tool belts loaded with every tool on the planet? They’ve got suspenders, suspension systems, and those little proximity sensors from car bumpers so they don’t accidentally back into something. Don’t get me wrong. We’re all for having a lot of tools on-hand. But there comes a certain point of diminishing returns. Eventually, you’re carrying so many tools you’ve lost your mobility, efficiency, and ability to get the job done. For the typical DIY’er or even contractor doing relatively specialized jobs, sometimes all you need is just a few tool essentials. In Europe, it’s not uncommon for tradespeople to not use a tool belt at all. They just have silly looking overalls with lots of pockets. And, they also have some kick-ass pants from Blåkläder (yup, I even found the umlaut button for their name)! Blåkläder sent us a pair of their Bantam Pants with Utility Pockets to review, and we’ve been strutting euro-style and practicality since.
On many of the pockets on the Bantam, including the big utility pockets, the cloth is actually folded over at the bottom before it’s sewn. That makes for a stronger pocket since the seam and stitching isn’t directly at the bottom, where it’s subject to the most abuse. The folded-over pocket bottoms also have the added bonus of separating stored items a bit from your leg, increasing overall comfort and possibly reducing leg stabbings. Back pockets on the Bantam pants are roomy enough to park a sandwich in (not recommended). Leg side pockets are thoughtfully engineered and can comfortably store your cell phone, utility knife, pencil, and even a wrench like our favorite Knipex pliers. You can even carry longer items like screwdrivers thanks to small holes and detached pocket corners that help direct the sharp tips of the tools outward more.
On a side note, we couldn’t help but notice the Euro-labeling of the Blåkläder Bantam pant.
We can’t forget about the knee pads! We first discovered the joys of integrated knee pads in pants when we reviewed the Duluth Trading Firehose Cargo Pants. Unlike the Duluth pants that use velcro, the Blåkläder Bantam Pants have an extra pocket of fabric sewn around the knee. You simply insert the knee pads (it takes a little wiggling) and then tuck the bottom of the pads into the little pocket at the bottom. I found the light weight makes them barely noticeable. You can also insert gel pads if you’re into that kind of thing, but I prefer the light foam personally. Plus the foam pads are cheaper. Blåkläder also thoughtfully chose to make the knee pad pockets out of extra-strength Cordura fabric. Good ‘ol cotton would likely wear out pretty fast on the knees, so the Cordura here makes a lot of sense. Once you try work pants like these that have a knee pad option, you may wonder how you and your knees ever survived without them.
Blåkläder offers a lifetime guarantee on seams, so you know they’re serious about the quality of these pants. Just about every seam I could find on the Bantam Utility Pants was double or even triple-stitched. Bar tacks are also located strategically to further fortify the Bantam’s strength to conquer whatever abuse you can throw at it, just no flamethrowers please.
If you’re looking for a comfortable, meticulously engineered, highly utilitarian work pant, look no further than the Blåkläder Bantam Work Pants with Utility Pockets. The only downside – sometimes I forgot which of my front pockets I left my keys in! Blåkläder also makes a number of other work pant variations, including pants with heavier weight cotton more Cordura reinforcement, and pants without the utility pockets. You can find the Blåkläder Bantam Work Pants for about $60 from these online retailers or with the Blåkläder local store finder.