Men working in insulated workwear, including bib overalls and pants, doing road construction. RefrigiWear Extreme and HiVis Freezer Edge.

Do I Need Pants or Bib Overalls When Working in the Cold?

Get the Right Leg Protection for the Job with RefrigiWear

When the work you do keeps you in temperatures that make other folks stay wrapped up in blankets in front of the fire, you need the best insulated workwear to get the job done. When the temps drop to freezing or even sub-zero you need full body protection, so you can’t skip insulated gear for your legs. Jeans are great but there are some situations—like working in the cold—where they just don’t get the job done. So, when the time comes to outfit your lower half with cold weather gear, should you reach for pants or bib overalls? 


ChillShield Pants: Man wearing insulated workwear pants leaning on work truck in snow. RefrigiWear ChillShield pants.

Insulated pants for working in the cold have a strong “pros” list. They are versatile and pair well with many different types of upper body protection. Pants can be worn with sweatshirts, long jackets, multiple layers—whatever you need to be warm and still work hard. If your legs tend to get colder than your upper body, pants allow you to have higher insulation on your lower body than your upper body. Pants are more practical for wearing on breaks and even for commuting in the cold and are easy to put on and take off. They also take up less space when transporting to and from work.

Pants are a great choice for those who spend a good amount of their shift walking or doing physical tasks. Generating body heat with upper body movement means you don’t need as much core protection as those who aren’t as active. Indoors, selectors and production employees are often more comfortable in pants. Outdoors, employees who spend their day walking or who need different warmth for upper and lower body would benefit from pants. Pants are a great substitute for those who currently wear low-cut bib overalls.

RefrigiWear offers pants in several material types and temperature ranges, so you can find what works best for you. Some of our most popular pants include:

Text Box: Women’s Pants shotPolarForce® Sweatpants: These aren’t made for lounging. These are sweats made for work, with a durable, lightweight design. 

ChillShield™ Pants: Rated to 10°F, these pants are ready to work when the temps drop. It might not be sub-zero, but freezing temps are still dang cold!

Insulated Softshell Pants: When the subzero temps hit, reach for these tough pants to protect you all shift long.

Iron-Tuff® Pants: Own the cold even in scary low temps with the Iron-Tuff® Pants, rated to -50°F. The same tough, iconic protection you know from Iron-Tuff is ready to protect your legs.

Women’s Quilted Pants: Stay warm and mobile and give yourself a leg up at work with these pants, designed for a better fit and improved movement.

Pants might not be the best fit if you need more core protection, tend towards feeling cold, or if you need upper body warmth but feel like jackets make it hard to get the job done. In those situations, you may want to reach for bib overalls instead. 

Women’s pants: Woman wearing insulated workwear pants on a lift in harness. RefrigiWear Women’s Quilted pants.

Bib Overalls

Bib Overalls, or bibs for short, offer lower body protection plus core protection. Unlike pants, which are just the lower body, or coveralls, which offer full-body protection, bibs stretch from your legs to your chest but don’t cover the arms or shoulders. You get unbroken protection for your chest, back, and waist down to your ankles. This continuous coverage means no cracks for cold to creep in and better protection for your core and vital organs.

Ergoforce: Man with toolbelt on worksite wearing insulated bib overalls as workwear. RefrigiWear Waterproof ErgoForce Bib Overalls

Bibs work well in a number of job scenarios. Paired with one of our premium sweatshirts, bib overalls keep your core warm while leaving your arms free with more movement than a heavily insulated jacket generally provides. They also tend to be more comfortable around the waist and allow for more adjustment, thanks to the shoulder straps. For incredibly cold jobs, such as driving a forklift in the freezer, working in flash freeze rooms or blast freezers, or in heavy snow or sub-zero temps, a bib over a base layer or sweatshirt and under an insulated jacket provides the ultimate warmth.

Like our pants, RefrigiWear offers a range of bib overalls so you can find the best one for the job. Some of our most popular bib overalls include:

Cooler Wear™ Bib Overalls: Heavy duty jobs in freezing temps need the right protection. These lightweight bibs keep you warm even if the temps drop to 10°F.

ChillBreaker™ Plus Bib Overalls: If there are items you need to have close-by to get the job done, these are the bibs for you. With 6 pockets for storage and protection down to 0°F, you’ll save time and stay protected with ChillBreaker. 

HiVis Extreme Softshell Bib Overalls: When temps hit the extreme and you have to stay visible to stay safe these ANSI Class E bibs are the best bet. Rated to -60°F (that’s not a typo), these are the warmest bib overalls out there.

Women’s Insulated Softshell Bib Overalls: With protection down to -20°F and a cut designed to fit women for more comfort and better movement, these bibs are ready to work as hard as you do.

Ultimately, the best protection depends on your preferences. Choose the fit and warmth that helps you stay a Rockstar at work, no matter the conditions.

HiVis: Man in insulated high visibility bib overalls working on a truck. RefrigiWear HiVis Extreme Softshell Bib Overalls.