Berne vs Carhartt: Is Berne a Good Alternative?

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Since I’ve worn a ton of Carhartt and Berne apparel, people often ask me whether one is better than the other.

Similar to a lot of other things in our daily life, things are not black and white. Both have their opportunities to shine.

In fact, Berne can be quite underrated when it comes to their mid-range bib overalls. These are amazing, both men’s and women’s bibs. Proper insulation and durable duck material on a total bargain of a price.

Generally, I’ve found that Carhartt’s higher price tag is 100% worth it with:

  • Most of their pants: dungarees, chinos, workwear pants
  • Their warm jackets (some examples): from their duck jackets to sherpa vests etc.
  • Women’s apparel and workwear: much more choice here

For several years now, I’ve been exclusively sticking to Carhartt for my pants (these are their blended twill chinos):

Berne vs Carhartt Pants: Carhartt wins the dungarees and chinos for me

In any case, both brands stick to what workwear and general rougher look apparel should feel like:

  • Functional: Think utility pockets, enhanced knee protection on pants etc.
  • Durable:  Our clothes go through more wear and tear than usual.
  • Rugged, but stylish: We’re a rougher crowd, but we still value style and looking good.

I’ll cover most products Berne and Carhartt have on the market right now. But before we get there, let’s look at a few more important spotlights.

First, as I said – Berne’s best apparel piece are their insulated bibs:

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Berne Insulated Bib
  • Heavy duty cotton duck shell
  • Tough zippers & lots of utility pockets
  • Pretty darn cheap for the quality you actually get
Check Price on Amazon

Carhartt’s ultimate excelling point: duck jackets and outerwear to tackle harsh winters.

Especially if we’re talking about active jackets/outerwear like their warm and soft Sandstone duck jacket. This bad boy right here:

Berne vs Carhartt Jackets & Apparel: My vote for cold weather goes to the latter

Their gear for extreme weather conditions such as their Yukon apparel with Arctic Quilt lining and reinforced nylon construction is unmatched.

This extends to both their coveralls and one of Carhartt’s signature products – their Big & Tall active jackets in traditional coat style:

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Carhartt Big & Tall Traditional Coat
  • Made of 12oz durable, classic style cotton duck.
  • Arctic Quilt insulation keeps you warm even in harsh winters.
  • Utility: 2x chest pockets, 2x lower front pockets, 2x inside pockets. Snaps for optional hood.
Check Price on Amazon

Good insulation costs a bit – but isn’t your comfort pretty much the best thing you can invest in?

Berne and Carhartt actually differ in three fundamental ways. Let’s see how and check out a few of their top clothes.

Feel free to use the Table of Contents to navigate to what apparel interests you.

Berne vs Carhartt apparel:
The 3 core differences

I was about to confess how much cooler I think the Berne logo is…but nobody really cares about that, right?

With working apparel, all we care about is quality/durability, whether they keep us warm in extreme conditions and price/product lines.

(Berne’s logo is still quite cool, though!)

So here’s how things stand basically.

➥➥Berne’s price is its main attractive point as a brand comparable to Carhartt. Generally, the brand’s workwear is more affordable across all comparable product lines between the two.

This is especially true for their pants, but as I mentioned, their bibs are the highlight here.

➥➥Speaking of product lines, Carhartt covers a lot more bases when it comes to workwear. From fundamental pieces of clothing to accessories, from apparel for men to clothes for women…Berne can’t even compare, honestly.

A few quick examples are Carhartt’s liner masks or their gorgeous (but also functional!) women sherpa-lined vests.

Interestingly enough though, Berne’s women bibs come in way more exciting colors – like plum, pomegranate etc:

Berne Women's Bib

Adds color to your workwear. Very durable, has three inside pockets and keeps warm. A very, very soft feeling too!

➥➥Last but not least, Berne is a sound choice for general to mildly cold conditions. If we’re talking about extreme conditions, however, Carhartt is a wiser choice. The Arctic Quilt technology plus Cordura® duck fabric excels over any Berne workgear.

There’s insulation (both brands have good products here), and next level insulation where Carhartt shines.

So any specific recommendations?

Well, I do have some, yes. Obviously I can’t go into all product lines, but let’s cover the basics, shall we?

Bibs & coveralls

As I pointed out, Berne is great for mid-range bibs on a killer price: men / women. Both of these are lined and have decent insulation that should be fine for general late autumn/mild winter.

Additionally, they also come with reinforced knee design for all the times you’ll have to tinker around, putting pressure on your knees.

Once again I want to note that at least for women’s bibs Berne offers a few eye-catching colors that stand out (plum, titanium) compared to Carhartt sticking to the classic workwear palette.

That said, you might prefer unlined overalls. Carhartt’s post popular representative is this great bib.

Carhartt Duck Bib

Unlined goodness made of sturdy 12oz cotton duck. Reinforced paneling for knee protection, multiple utility pockets. Classic workwear, in classic colors.

And generally if you’re looking for thicker, ultra insulated overalls Carhartt should be your pick.

As far as coveralls go, Carhartt’s Yukon piece is an uncontested winner:

Cordura tech nylon shell that’s 1000 denier thick (that’s A LOT), extremely water repellent, reinforced with Arctic Quilt lining and geared with a lot of pockets and utility compartments for your convenience.

Jackets/Outerwear

Carhartt’s duck classics are the way to go here. If you want the quick memo: their Sandstone active jacket is unmatched in terms of softness/comfort when it comes to fabric feel. For extreme conditions, go with the J130 Yukon tough monster.

I’ve actually written a comparison between their three most popular jackets. Give it a read if you want some more in-depth information.

If you prefer active jackets with a traditional coat design, this one should tickle your fancy.

Sweaters & Henley Shirts

Berne actually have a very good sweatshirt that’s thermal-lined and really cheap. You can check it out here. So if you’re looking for a classic looking sweater for late autumn, this one will be perfect for that season.

The Henley shirt award goes to Carhartt. Their henleys just look cool – not only in terms of design, but also because you have so many colors to pick from.

For example, I’m partial to the royal blue:

Carhartt Henley Shirts: more design than most other brands, including Berne

Accessories & Misc

As I pointed out earlier, Berne’s product line is limited compared to the variety you can find with Carhartt apparel. Hats, wallets, neck gaiters or glasses – there are a ridiculous amount of misc items you have at your disposal.

Women workwear

Yes, Berne’s overalls for women are neat. They have some comfy sweaters too that should suit the taste of contractor ladies and general want-to-be-comfy-during-the-winter ladies too.

However, Carhartt’s product line once again excels here. From headbands to socks, from leggings to beautiful knit hats in various colors you can both stay warm and look fabulous at the same time.

You can see the brand’s best clothes and accessories for women here.

Berne vs Carhartt: Their workwear & apparel compared thoroughly

As always, the bottom line

I hope I could both outline the difference between those two brands and give you some good recommendations at the same time. Berne can be a good alternative to Carhartt, but as I mentioned the scope where it’s really worth it is rather limited.

If price is a huge concern, you could extend that scope. It’s not a crazy mistake or something, you won’t get ripped off. However, please keep in mind my recommendation to stick to Carhartt by any means if we’re talking about more extreme weather conditions. Their Yukon line is probably the best contractor-focused piece of gear among the popular construction worker brands.

Founder of ToolingFun. Couldn't even change a lightbulb in my teenage years. Discovered the joy of DIY projects during my 2nd year in college. All about tinkering around, trying fun tools and projects, and giving my opinion on industry brands!