Several years back I was at the JLC LIVE trade show and an exhibitor was selling Scandinavian-designed work pants that had built-in sleeves for holding knee pads, waist-level pouches, and all kinds of specialized pockets. I bought a couple of pairs and before long I had stopped wearing my old work pants. Those first pairs of work pants were from Blakläder, but I have since switched over to a brand called Björnkläder.
I currently own five pairs of Björnkläder pants, three pairs of the Jubilee line ($83.00) and two of the Ace Carpenter ($95.00) style. After wearing European-style pants for so many years, I cringe at the thought of kneeling down on a non-padded knee. The pads are always there on the pants but they're not heavy and uncomfortable the way strap-on knee pads are. I have introduced any number of guys to European-style work pants and they all swear by them.
The Ace Carpenter pants are my favorite; they are built tough, with reinforced wear areas in all the right places. And they are cut for a slimmer fit around the legs which means the knee pads stay in front of your knees and don’t flop around to the sides. The knee pads are slightly longer than the Jubiliee knee pads which I like. The cut is definitely “European” compared to say, Carhartt carpenter pants which tend to be baggy. The duck-type canvas material used in the Ace Carpenter pants is heavier than the lighter twill cotton Jubilee material but I have yet to put hole in either style after years of hard use—even in the knees where I’m sliding around on rough surfaces frequently. I tend to wear the lighter Jubilee style on hotter days as they are slightly more breathable.
The Jubilee and Ace Carpenter pants have loads of pockets to the point that you’d be hard pressed to fill them all (I cut some of the smaller pockets and straps off). That being said, I tried to avoid wearing a tool belt whenever possible and these pants and their complements of pockets eliminate me needing to wear a tool belt on most days. Not only are you pounds lighter, you’re also more compact without a bulky tool belt. On the days I know I have to wear a tool belt, I wear a pair of Jubilee pants that I cut the waist pockets off of.
I’ve purchased my Björnkläder gear from www.jr-distributors.us, however a quick Google search will yield other online retailers.
An interesting side-note: I recently vacationed in Iceland and everywhere I went I saw tradesmen wearing this style of work pants. After hearing me comment on this for the hundredth time (and because I wear that type of pants all the time) my wife joked that I was finally with people of “my kind”.