I tried Carhartt's rugged retro line—and it's surprisingly cozy
The Super Dux collection is comfy, durable, and sherpa-lined.
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Call me a poser, but I love wearing Carhartt despite it being workwear and my work is decidedly white-collar. No, I don’t do any hard labor (unless mowing my lawn counts), and these typing hands are usually callus-free. But there’s something comforting about the heaviness and oversized fit of Carhartt’s T-shirts that I can’t find elsewhere. And when it comes to finding functional pieces that can ward against the harshest protests of Mother Nature, Carhartt’s got the toughness I need, typically at a reasonable price.
So when the company reached out to tell me about its latest Super Dux collection and asked if I wanted to give some pieces a shot, I said, hey, why not? The product line is an ode to the company’s own heritage as much as it is to the great outdoors, made with strong long-lasting fabrics and weatherproofing properties. Carhartt sent me its Relaxed Fit Detroit Jac (which retails for $129.99), Relaxed Fit Sherpa-Lined Vest ($119.99), and Relaxed Fit Sherpa-Lined Active Jac ($159.99) to try out. Here’s what I thought about the Super Dux line after a few weeks of wear.
What is Carhartt Super Dux?
Workwear company Carhartt initially launched its Super Dux and Super Fab product lines back in 1930. This was the first time Carhartt made clothing with hunters, fishermen, and general outdoorsmen in mind. (Its women’s clothing came way later.) Like most of the company’s products, the Super Dux line consisted of tough-wearing fabrics, and includes heavy-duty pants and chore coats with an added layer of waterproofing properties. While Super Fab was discontinued in 1932, Carharrtt took Super Dux off the market and reintroduced it multiple times throughout the brand’s history, until 1973 when Carhartt pulled it entirely.
Four decades later, Super Dux has returned with a small batch of new outdoor apparel. In September 2021, Carhartt released an updated version of the line with a collection that included bib overalls, jackets with and without hoods, vests, and a graphic T-shirt and hoodie, in men’s and women’s sizes. Every piece of the collection, aside from the graphic T-shirt and hoodie, has been treated for wind and waterproofing, while some pieces have a sherpa-fleece lining for added warmth. The prices range from the $24.99 T-shirt to $199.99 bib overalls. Each piece is available in men’s standard and big and tall sizes S to 3XL and women’s sizes XS to XXL.
What I like about the Carhartt Super Dux collection
I’ve tried plenty of Carhartt garments in the past—heavyweight pocket T-shirts, midweight crewnecks, flannel work shirts—but I can’t say I’ve worn such hard-wearing pieces as these before. Every garment in the Super Dux collection feels structured, tough, and built for survival. Yet somehow they all feel cozy, too.
Each piece I tested has a tough, textured nylon shell that feels extra-durable—like it can take an accidental scrape of a knife without ripping, or keep its shape after being slammed inside of a car door. (I’m not embarrassed to say that this happens, on occasion, with my jackets.) It has spandex that gives it malleability, but the fabric is hardy enough to prevent creases and wrinkles from twisting or pulling at the fabric. It’s tough, as expected with workwear. It’s also heavy, as each piece bears a weight equivalent to—more or less—three cotton hoodies layered together from a fast-fashion retailer like Old Navy or Target.
Because of the baggy fit of Carhartt clothing, I usually size down when I wear one of the company’s T-shirts or sweatshirts. I wear an XL in tops, but for Carhartt, I usually reach for a medium. After reading that this line runs more true to size than usual, I grabbed a large in each piece, factoring in the collection's relaxed fit—and I'm glad I did. Though they may look bulky, some of that heft is tapered down by cinching the adjustable drawstring hem found on every top I tried. All pieces are also equipped with Carhartt’s Rain Defender and Wind Fighter technologies, which help ward off light rain and wind breeze. This makes the Super Dux collection best fit for fishing or boating in the fall or winter, when the air is cool and you need that extra layer for guarding against spray.
But to me, the coolest thing about the Super Dux collection is the inclusion of a sewn-in patch located on the inside pocket of every zippered piece. On it, Carhartt pays homage to its own heritage by printing a lengthy quote on it from the brand’s creator, Hamilton Carhartt, about the joys of being outdoors.
Here are my thoughts on every Super Dux piece I tried, ranked by order of favorite to least:
1. My top pick: Super Dux Relaxed Fit Detroit Jac
I thought I’d prefer the collection’s active jacket over this piece because I have a deep love for hoodies (who doesn’t?), but I’m the biggest fan of the Super Dux Relaxed Fit Detroit jacket. This piece has a heft to it without being too heavy, due to its lack of a hood, which would have weighed it down. The jacket’s fleecy sherpa lining is soft on the skin, particularly for being made of polyester. It has three pockets—one for each hand, one zippered on the chest—that are lined with a softer version of the shell’s nylon. The hand pockets, smartly, have extra padding in them that makes them feel plush when in use. And—like all good modern functional clothing—every pocket can fit a modern smartphone.
This jacket also has storm cuffs, which are elasticized and concealed underneath the jacket’s nylon outer shell sleeves. These cuffs are tight-fitting in order to prevent water or wind from creeping up your arms, but in the case of Carhartt’s Super Dux line, they’re also plush and padded. When zipped all the way up, the sherpa-lined collar covers the entire neck for warmth, and it keeps its shape due to the rigid nylon fabric. Despite the jacket’s polyester-fleece sherpa lining, nylon exterior, and slight heft, I’m happy to say I’ve worn this a few times for fall evenings and haven’t felt sweaty—and I live in Florida, where the temp seldom dips below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Definitely my favorite piece of the bunch.
2. Super Dux Relaxed Fit Sherpa-Lined Vest
I’m not a huge vest guy, but this one has me considering them. This vest looks really good on me, especially in the milk chocolate brown color that (also) makes it great for hunting.
This piece is essentially the Detroit Jac without sleeves and with four pockets instead of three. You can zip it all the way up and cover your neck, where there's a little piece of fabric for you to tuck that zipper into if you find the dangling zipper pull or the sight of silver bothersome. The vest is large enough to layer over a basic hoodie, and to par down any potential bulkiness you may encounter, you can easily adjust the hem with the drawstring to taper the piece’s fit to your liking. On the upper right side of the vest is a flap chest pocket that’s deep enough to store your smartphone with roughly three extra inches of room to spare. The left chest and two hand pockets are zippered for extra safeguarding.
Get the Super Dux Relaxed Fit Sherpa-Lined Vest for $119.99
3. Super Dux Relaxed Fit Sherpa-Lined Active Jac
Although I think each piece of the Super Dux line has a good heft to it, this one is the heaviest due to its hood. And even for a hood, it adds a few extra ounces of weight, but it’s for the sake of having a more customized fit: It features two drawcords to cinch it closed and the padded fabric is extra-room to help block against windchill. It also carries a small weighted piece of fabric within its stitching, located at the top center of the hood to prevent it from easily blowing back from the wind. This is something I really enjoyed with Lululemon’s Moon Drift Jacket, and I’m happy to see this sort of smart functionality here.
Hood aside, it has all the bells and whistles of the Detroit Jac and Sherpa-Lined Vest—wind and waterproofing, hem drawstring, tough nylon outer, polyester-fleece sherpa lining, lined hand pockets, and even a locker loop for easy hanging. It’s only my least favorite because of its weight.
What I don’t like about the Carhartt Super Dux collection
Not a single piece has a specific thing about it that I find irksome or of poor quality, but all items tested have a questionable length. Both jackets and the vest are surprisingly short on my 5-foot-11 frame. Each piece drops at my waistline at 27 inches or so. For comparison, a typical large-sized T-shirt by a company like Gildan or Alstyle is 29 to 30 inches in length. I think that short length helps convey a more tailored fit, but when throwing any of these pieces over a base layer, it also makes T-shirts flare out. It’s not a dealbreaker for me, but I’ve seen a few online reviews point the short length out as a bummer. Keep that in mind if you’re considering grabbing a piece.
Is the Carhartt Super Dux collection worth it?
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast with a love of hardwearing goods or are just in need of a hefty piece to keep close through the cold, this collection won’t steer you wrong. Although on the heavy side, the Super Dux Relaxed Fit Sherpa-Lined Active Jac is tough outerwear built for guarding against all elements and keeping warm. The Super Dux Relaxed Fit Sherpa-Lined Vest and Super Dux Relaxed Fit Detroit Jac are pared-down versions of the Active Jac, but can still handle just about anything the outdoors might throw at you. Workwear or not, these will serve through the cooler seasons—and maybe grant the opportunity to brag about some heritage pieces in the process.
Shop the Super Dux Collection at Carhart
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.