Ah, autumn in the Northeast! A couple of weeks ago, I was enjoying the 74° weather as I toiled outside. When I woke up this morning, it was 31°, although as I write this, it’s warmed up to a balmy 48°. I guess this is my wake-up call, though; the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are a hazy, crazy memory, and it’s time to break out the cold-weather gear and start layering up. The arrival of a Milwaukee WorkSkin to evaluate got the layering underway.
I grew up near Buffalo, NY, and started work as a framing carpenter when I was 18. A few years have passed since then- OK, perhaps more than a few – but I still remember not being particularly eager to leave the toasty car and strap on the tool belt in the windy, frozen wasteland. And that was back when I still had metabolism!
Even then, I quickly learned the wisdom of layering to stay comfortable during the day’s labors. Long underwear, a flannel shirt, a sweatshirt, and a medium or heavyweight jacket, depending on how un-balmy the Lake Erie breeze was that day. The base layer was normally cotton, which feels soft and comfy against the skin – at least at first.
In framing carpentry, as with many jobs, the amount of exertion varies quite a bit throughout the day. You’ll work up a good sweat carrying sheets of plywood up to the roof, or moving stacks of 2X4s onto the decking to frame up some walls. Then you’ll slow down a bit, as you lay out those walls, or grab a nutritious treat from the Roach Coach. Unfortunately, as your body cools down a little, so does all that sweat, which leaves you with a cold, damp shirt plastered against your skin. Not very enjoyable.
Milwaukee wanted to design a garment that would eliminate the problem of cold, clammy clothing, while being durable enough to withstand the stretching, twisting, and abrasion that work wear is routinely subjected to. The result is the Milwaukee WorkSkin.
For the fabric in the Milwaukee WorkSkin, the designers chose durable 210g polyester. Since our upper-body sweat tends to be concentrated mostly under the arms and in the upper back area, Milwaukee incorporated fast-wicking sweat zones in those areas.
Getting the dampness away from the body makes for a much more comfortable experience, as we heat up and cool down throughout the day. The fabric is also designed to help reduce odor – no one likes a stinky coworker. Here’s a short video overview of the Milwaukee WorkSkin from our friends at Charles & Hudson, filmed at the Milwaukee New Product Symposium earlier this year:
Working In The Milwaukee WorkSkin
I have a couple of ongoing projects, and both require a mix of outdoor work and indoor work in unconditioned space. On the first project, we were pulling some of the siding off an old house, and installing new windows on the second story. When we started working, the temps were in the low 30’s. I donned the Milwaukee WorkSkin, threw a fleece on over it, and headed outside.
Our first step was to pry off the siding. We started at the bottom, which is the reverse of how it would normally be done, but we wanted to get some Tyvek wrap on the side of the house as we worked our way up, and wanted to avoid working it around the scaffolding as long as possible. After getting the first piece of Tyvek in place, we started setting up scaffolding.
The Milwaukee WorkSkin provided plenty of warmth, even when it got a bit breezy, which was just about the time we started hanging the Tyvek, naturally. By the time we had the siding off, and started setting up the scaffolding, the temperature was around 50°. I had the fleece unzipped for a while, and eventually just took it off. As long as I kept busy, and it wasn’t too windy, the base layer alone was very comfortable to work in.
We also had some indoor work to do, all in unheated areas. The first was doing some minor structural wall repair, window installation prep, and hanging some 12’ sheets of drywall on the ceiling. The temperature in the room was around 50°. I worked the entire time wearing only the Milwaukee WorkSkin, and was very comfortable. And before I get any smart-ass comments, yes, I also had on jeans and work boots.
I wore the Milwaukee WorkSkin on another project, which also involved an unheated interior. We partially gutted the kitchen, and put down some luan to provide a smooth surface for a new vinyl floor. I was outdoors a fair bit of the time, too, cleaning and doing minor repairs to a deck, and then using that as the cutting station for our interior work. I was very comfortable with the WorkSkin as my only upper layer, even though temps were once again in the upper 40s/lower 50s.
Layer Up And Get To Work
The polyester material is very comfortable against the skin, and I couldn’t feel any seams while wearing the Milwaukee WorkSkin. They intentionally moved the seams off the shoulder area, so if you are wearing a safety harness or carrying a backpack, you won’t have a seam grinding into your shoulders all day. The quality of the stitching is excellent throughout.
Other areas where Milwaukee’s designers nailed it are in the sleeves and shirt length. I have fairly long arms (35-36” dress shirt sleeve length), and the sleeves on the Milwaukee WorkSkin are plenty long. They stay nicely in place, and don’t ride up the arm, but if pushed back, they will stay where you put them.
The extra length of the shirt keeps it from coming untucked, and letting in that frosty winter air, even when you’re doing a lot of overhead reaching or bending and stretching. I wore the shirt a lot, and it never came fully untucked, even while working on the drywall overhead. Another nice “attention to detail” touch is that the tag is printed rather than stitched on, so there’s no annoying scratching on your neck.
The Milwaukee WorkSkin is available in sizes to fit most humans, assuming you fall somewhere in the sizing spectrum of Small to XXXL. I’m around 6’2” tall, with a waist that fluctuates between 36-38” depending on activity level and hops consumption, and a size XL shirt fit me very comfortably. I might even be able to wear a size Large, but it would probably be snug, and I prefer a looser fit.
I really like the Milwaukee WorkSkin. It’s comfortable, well made, and seems durable enough to survive many work (or play) days. I’ve worn it regularly over the past couple of weeks, and it’s gone through several normal washer and dryer cycles with no pilling or other ill effects. It has quickly become my favorite cold-weather inner garment, and since I want to be able to wear it pretty much every day, I’ve added it to my Christmas wish list. The Milwaukee WorkSkin comes with a one-year warranty, and is available in your favorite color, as long as your favorite color is gray. Get one, and get to work. Or go play!
Buy from our sponsor Ohio Power Tool for around $50: