I’ve recently got a pair of ‘Cofra Frozen Work Trousers’ for mucking about outside with the kids this winter after a couple of years of layering up with tights and expensive over trousers and getting sick of getting a cold wet bum everytime I sit down.
They are about £45 and seem absolutely brilliant. Warm, waterproof, adjustable, solidly made. I can see me wearing them a lot and if I was going ice climbing somewhere cold I would wear them for that.
I’m also a huge fan of Skytech Argon gloves, which are a sort of Neoprene material with a rubberised outer, about £7 a pair. I wear them for pretty much everything cold and wet.
What other super cheap workwear is good for the outdoors?
Back in the 70's I had an army surplus combat jacket in a light weight material. It only cost me a couple of quid and worked very much like a modern soft shell. Haven't seen anything like it in recent years unfortunately.
Flexothane waterproof pants.
Not over heavy, stretchy, amazingly durable, moderate breathability. About £20.
On a related them, I asked the lab manager at my workplace to come and talk to our latest cohorts of students to help them with their project proposals. These require costings of consumables that they will require. She emphasised how 'science' suppliers can charge far more for basic items than one might pay if one looks elsewhere. For example, she found a 'science' supplier charging three times as much for blue-roll than you'd pay to 'any old' supplier.
She also mentioned a study she knew of that got published where a required item was described in the paper as a 'vibrating platform'. It was in reality a vibrator from a local sex shop, available at far less cost than something suitable would have been from a supplier of 'vibrating platforms' required for science experiments.
Fleece jacket, full zip pretty bog-standard and unremarkable specs:
I do most hill walking these days in wellies with old trainer insoles added, the cheaper the wellies usually the lighter they are. Surprisingly good on wet rock. Although the pair I have now I bought in Sports Direct, but I feel increasingly uncomfortable buying anything from them the way they treat their staff. Think I paid £14 for them, they have a lot of mileage in them now
These for ice climbing;
When they finally get wet they take ages to dry but 3 pairs of these beat every expensive glove I’ve tried.
This reminds me of a "cell disruptor" we bought. When something went wrong with it and someone took the top off it we could clearly see that it simply contained a modified hammer drill with the tube holder bolted onto the drill bit/chisel. So effectively we paid ~£3.5k for a cheap drill in a fancy box.
It's the same here in Australia. I get lots of bits and pieces from Bunnings (our version of Homebase). I use these for wet ice climbing:
They're more dextrous than most 'climbing' gloves, just as warm, and about a tenth of the price.
For my old Antarctic expeditions, I used to put our $15,000 DGPS unit in a insulated $5 case (kids lunchbox) from K-Mart, because it was the perfect size, in a bright unique colour, and I didn't mind cutting a hole in the end for the antenna cable.
The green marker wands we used up and down the Vinson Massif were Bunnings garden stakes, for growing tomatoes. https://www.bunnings.com.au/brunnings-120cm-natural-bamboo-garden-stakes-20...
The other avenue is hunting gear. In recent years it's gone ahead a lot and is much cheaper than walking/climbing 'outdoor' gear. I have one of these in black and it's great:
$160 is currently around 90 quid.
Ha, yes. I've been thinking that. Apparently there's no VAT to pay on safety clothing which helps make it cheaper.
Bin man gloves, those orangey yellow ones with a rubber lattice. I used to swear by these for scrambling-alpine-fast over rocky terrain stuff. Grippy, quick drying and about 1.99 a pair.
Scientific lab suppliers are on a racket (or have a stupidity tax). Our finance system was 'updated' and we were no longer allowed to buy aluminium foil from a normal supplier as this was 'catering'. Buying foil from a scientific source was at least 10x more expensive. Thankfully we got that one reversed (by insisting finance recompensed us for the extra costs).
I'm amazed at what you can get from the local H&S store. I needed it for fieldwork, but it's cheap and robust stuff.
> She also mentioned a study she knew of that got published where a required item was described in the paper as a 'vibrating platform'. It was in reality a vibrator from a local sex shop, available at far less cost than something suitable would have been from a supplier of 'vibrating platforms' required for science experiments.
On a slightly less exotic note, I recall when I was working on optical fibre interferometers, we needed combinations of lasers diodes, beam splitters and lenses. Buying from optics suppliers cost a fortune. Buying a cheap portable CD player gave us the same equipment at a fraction of the cost.
Not sure why it slipped my mind before but I am a big fan of these, which I actually forgot are classed as workwear. Don't know why Helly Hansen position it as workwear and not their high performance fancy range, but I'm grateful because it makes it way cheaper, probably if it became trendy they'd add £100 to the price
Prices vary but £55-60 is what I'd expect to pay, a bit pricey for workwear... but you pay for performance
They have an excellent warmth to weight ratio, somewhere better than standard fleece but they are not windproof so they shine as a mid layer. They are actually similar in many ways to an OMM core jacket, but a bit warmer. Very soft and lightweight and very breathable. If you treat them with Nikwax Polar Proof they have very low water absorption. Just brilliant as a mid layer. Everyone wore them in them in the Ron Hill trackers years and almost always in green for some reason. Popular with military at the time, maybe that was why? Mine died of old age but my son has one and I'm thinking of getting another for myself
Helly Hansen also do a range of Lifa base layer workwear which seems virtually identical to their sports stuff but costs about half the price.
these are good too, use them for work the thin and the 100g.
That's great to know, I've just seen these HH merino socks for £10 a pair.
Has anyone got any recommendations for waterproof, warm work jackets for actually working in? I'm a builder, so out in all weathers...
> Great thread.
> Has anyone got any recommendations for waterproof, warm work jackets for actually working in? I'm a builder, so out in all weathers...
> Cheers, Lex
When working on building sites in wet weather (Cumbria) , I found the best solution was to just wear a £20 site coat on top with a old gore tex mountain jacket underneath.
Gore tex site coats cost a few hundred quid but soon get ripped to shreds on rebar, tie wire and scaffold clips.
No working German would be seen wearing anything else - although.... It's not ALL cheap
Excellent thread. I have always bought my gloves from the local garden centre and my goggles from Screwfix. So much commercial/working kit out there, that is perfectly suited to our fun time out door pursuits.
I'm an electrician but I work mainly in events and temporary power so I'm outside most of the time.
Snickers have been my go-to brand for years, the all-round range has an insulated waterproof coat that I think is terrific for site work. HH Alna range is also good for winter. Tough face fabric is a must. I used to wear a goretex shell as my outer layer but it just ended up shredded, as Rick says.
If you want to spend serious money then look at Fristads, my mate's got a gore-tex parka with a seriously tough outer fabric layer that's amazing but it cost about £300.
I refuse to jump on the Engelbert Strauss bandwagon just because everyone else is
I've just bought a couple of workwear soft shells off Ebay for about £25 each, they are near-identical to the Berghaus branded one I've got that cost three times that much. There's some good stuff out there and very robust, and because workers come in all shapes and sizes they're a better fit on chunky me than the skinny fit shapes you often get in outdoor gear.
I use these when cycling. Cheap enough that it doesn't matter if I lose them round the house.
> amazing but it cost about £300.
I'm surprised your mate's jacket hasn't grown legs and wandered off into the night never to be seen again.
Or possibly re-emerged with a Snickers badge crudely glued onto sleeve.
Pre-lockdown, when I was more svelte and the same size as my mate, I'd often joked about it ending up in my bag.
Quite apart from the fact that I'd never skin someone's gear like that, he's from shipbuilding stock in Greenock and is double hard, so no way that would've actually happened.
That Helly jacket was a standard in the climbing shops in the 80's.
Still the best mid layer ever invented or better still next to the skin.
I think they still do the shirt/jumper thing with a tail, thumb loops but now the labels are on the fluffy side so we don't need to wear them inside out.
Ex German/Dutch army ones are the same thing but 15 quid or there abouts.
It's amazing the mark-up added by the scientific aspect. We use varnish for sealing coverslips microscope slides, for the proper "lab grade" stuff can be more than £40 for a 15ml bottle. Rimmel clear nail polish, £6 a bottle does the job just as well.
For skiing in overcast "flat snow" conditions use UV rated wrap around amber safety specs. Helps pick out the bumps and wrinkles. Easy to pocket and if you lose them who cares https://www.screwfix.com/p/jsp-stealth-amber-lens-safety-spectacle/731fr
> It's amazing the mark-up added by the scientific aspect. <
Agree entirely. Eg bog brush container for pipette washer. Petty cash spending became restricted and had to order everything via suppliers. Also waste of various items tremendous...where I worked used to have an NHS workshop, a medical school maintenance pair, and a large clinical engineering department that saved huge sums Vs repair/replacement via manufacturers and suppliers and could do same day work. Rationalisation and redundancy had their effect and clinical engineering spent more time arranging service contracts.
Ta for this and all other replies. I'm bored of buying non waterproof work coats that just about last a year. Will look at Snickers, and good ol' HH.
I was thinking about this very thing the other day, £34 on fleabay and ideal for in the garden/working in the shed type stuff. Though I’m sure I’ll just wear it as a fashion statement with PJ bottoms and be thoroughly shamed by my wife and daughter!
> how 'science' suppliers can charge far more for basic items than one might pay if one looks elsewhere.
To be fair, educational science suppliers generally charge a lot less for chemicals to educational establishments than they do to industry........