Layering Pros: Truewerk Ambassadors and the Workwear System
There’s no arguing the importance of the right tools for the job—but what about the tools you wear? From getting caught in a sudden downpour to soaking through your cotton t-shirt at the start of the day, nothing holds you back from a job well done than being uncomfortable or unprepared. That’s exactly why everything Truewerk designs fall into a greater Workwear System: transitional Base, Mid and Shell Layers that you can customize for any weather or working condition.
We called up a few members of the WerkForce, Truewerk’s ambassador network, to find out how pros that deal with unpredictable weather use our Workwear System to stay comfortable, protected and prepared on the job.
Travis Brungardt (@catalystbuilt) Greater Kansas City, Missouri
Could you give us a brief background on your trade and how you got your start?
So I am officially a master electrician. And I also have a mechanical license. But I have been in remodeling and specifically trim carpentry for about 25 years. I got started building sets in the drama department in high school. I worked as a construction documentation photographer for the heavy construction industry and then eventually ended up taking a job with a remodeling firm, where they were very small and self-performed everything on the job. So I got a very broad education. And that's kind of how I ended up with my master's license in electrical and HVAC. My business partner Joe has the general contractor's license and holds the master plumber certification. So our company pretty much does everything from start to finish on all of our small remodeling jobs and even on some of our smaller custom homes.
What are some of the most common weather challenges that you guys usually face on-site?
It is definitely the variety. Instead of having a reasonable winter wardrobe and then a reasonable summer wardrobe, it is not uncommon for a 40-degree temperature swing over a day. So your systems are perfect for us. Because it would be, you know, 40 degrees when I get up in the morning. And then by noon, it's 70. We get all of the seasons here and we get them in rapid succession. So we always joke that if you don't like the weather, just wait a few minutes. We get below freezing and ice in the winter, and we get several weeks where it's nearing 100 in the summer. And of course, we have tremendous humidity. With much of our work still outside, being able to work in layers is a tremendous benefit.
How does workwear help you overcome environmental challenges?
I tend to run a little hot, and, of course, we're working. So we’ve got to be mobile. So the base layer stuff is worn year-round daily, the B1 Sun Tee is probably my-go or the Tech Polo. I also use the Sun Hoodie like its a fall jacket. But the win for us is the flexibility of that Base Layer and Mid Layer. Heavier weight fabrics bind you, and you get a limited range of motion in your shoulders. When you start doubling up the handling of denim and all the old cotton stuff we grew up in, that's really problematic. So the flexibility and wicking are kind of the thing for me.
Are there any other specific favorite features of workwear that make your job easier?
Yeah, freedom of motion is key for me. And I think that I was late in my career in realizing the impact of the sun. So adding the hood was a nice touch, and frankly, adding the collar for the Tech Polos has definitely been a big benefit for me, but also having an SPF factor on those lightweight shirts is really a big deal. It will prolong a lot of people's careers. I don't know if you'd ever want to say, oh, you know, we're out here saving lives. But seriously, skin cancer is a thing and to have people thinking about us on that is awesome.
Are there any layering combinations that you kind of swear by or find yourself constantly reaching for?
I'm pretty much always going to be working with the B1 Tee for my Base. The M2 Grid Full Zip, I use that one all the time. And then I can layer under the Shell. Because having that hood, that's like a 10-degree swing. Like if the wind picks up, having the hood on the Mid Layer still keeps the cold off your neck.
Do you have any sort of final words or advice you'd like to share on the importance of having the right gear for the job?
I'm doing a lot of education in the trades now. And one of the things that I'm really stressing to the people that are getting started is that your most important tools are your mind and your body. As much as you want to spend money on the new gadget, the best thing you can do is take care of your body. Because that's all you got if you're going to work with your hands. So the mobility stuff, I taught yoga for a while and tried to do a fair amount of just physical fitness stuff. And I think that you guys have it nailed in that your products move with whatever I want to do, like yoga in Cloud Shorts? Totally normal. I don't need a diverse closet if I stay within the brand, I can pretty much do whatever I want, whenever I want. And I've really enjoyed the lighter-weight shorts and pants. It is nice to not have to suffer and sweat with heavier gear when you need to be wearing pants on the job. So I have appreciated the dedication to the lighter-weight stuff and the freedom of movement that it allows through all the layers. I don't know how you do what you do, but it works great for me.
Tyler Murphy (@timmurphylandscape) Syracuse, New York
Would you mind giving us a brief background on your trade, how you got into it and where you're located?
We're located in Syracuse, New York. We do a lot of pavers and stuff like that. Sidewalks, patios. My dad started the company in ‘87 and I've been going to work with him since I was probably six. So my whole life, I just turned 26. And who knows when my dad will retire. But it’s a family business sort of passed down. We've been very lucky.
Being out in New York, what are some of the most common weather challenges that you usually face on a job?
Well we only work probably nine months out of the year, we don't work in the snow. We get rain in the spring and fall which can get pretty cold. We've had a pretty dry summer this year, it was 90 degrees for a long period of summer, and then we get a lot of snow.
How would you say some of the Truewerk gear you've been able to try out helps you overcome these challenges, or does it make your job any easier?
All of the guys love it. Comfortable, lightweight, a lot of stuff that we've gotten so far is the B1 T-shirts and stuff like that. I've had a couple pairs of pants which were perfect in the spring for me. They’re not too hot. Everything so far that we’ve gotten, it’s really nice stuff. So I don't know if it makes your job easier, but it definitely makes everybody comfortable.
Are there any certain features that you love or that stand out to you?
Well, in the pants where you can put your phone down inside and the pencil pocket. That's really cool. All my other pants, they rip where my phone is from moving around. Obviously the Truewerk pants are designed for people at work and for those who are always moving. They're lightweight and comfortable. I wear my T1s regularly, but I’ll definitely be trying out the T2s and T3s this fall.
Would you say it's important for you to have workwear that layers easily together to help you transition through seasons? Or is that not something that you usually consider?
Yeah, I mean, layers are definitely important. Once you get going on a job, you start warming up. Starting off in the morning I dress up a little bit warmer, but as the day goes on, start taking some layers off. Whenever I take off a second layer and my shirt is all sweaty underneath, I just feel gross. And then you're stuck in a wet t-shirt the rest of the day, it's the worst. Having something underneath that breathes really makes all the difference.
While trying out other workwear brands, is there anything that you didn't like about the materials or anything that got in the way of your ability to layer?
Oh, yeah. I mean Carhartt, the t-shirts are so heavy. All the guys have said that, and Carhartt is pretty popular. So we gave all of them a long and short sleeve B1 Sun Tee, and every single one of them said it was a lot lighter and more comfortable. My dad has a pair of the WerkPants and he said that they beat jeans. With gear that isn’t so heavy and thick, you’re not spending all day sweating. You’re way more comfortable.
Murray Kurger (@krugerconstruction) Saskatchewan, Canada
I'd love to start with just a brief background, where you're located, your trade and how you got into it.
So we're located in Saskatchewan, Canada. We're in Saskatoon. It gets pretty cold, we get down to minus 30 degrees Celsius (-22 fahrenheit) in winter. And then we get really hot summers too. Yeah, so I guess for what I do, I'm a general contractor. But I had started just as a carpenter. That's what I am by trade, finish carpenter, and we do insurance repair work. So after there's been a flood or a fire, we go in and repair houses with insurance.
Amazing. Well, with crazy temperature swings, what are some of the most common weather challenges that you usually face in the summer or winter?
Well we've got a really good setup, because in winter, we're working in warm houses or basements. But hauling in materials gets really tricky. Because in winter, you’ve got to dress for the cold. But then when you're working in a house, you have to pull off all the layers so you're comfortable and not sweating like crazy. Summer isn't too bad, we do get pretty hot here. When we work on an exterior, we're trying to make sure that skin isn't exposed. I'm not a big fan of wearing sunscreen. So I do like a lot of the Truewerk products with sun protection, especially with all my tattoos. Tattoos fade with a lot of sun. So being able to wear full sleeves and not have to worry about putting sunscreen on is a pretty big deal for me.
Are there any other features of our workwear that helps you overcome challenges when it's cold?
You know, the layering system is so important here because a lot of people will go get a really warm winter jacket and then wear a hoodie and a T-shirt under that. Sometimes the problem is, you're fine when you're not working outside. But then as you start working up a sweat outside and you pull off that big, thick winter jacket and you’ve just got a hoodie on, then you start getting the chill, which is something you definitely don't want to happen. So, it's nice to be able to layer so that even though a guy's wearing like four different layers, you can always pull off one and cool down a bit, but still stay warm without getting the chill. I've tried so many different brands, and it's almost like everyone is chasing what Truewerk has because the materials are so different.
Awesome. Well, when you are layering up in cold weather, are there any certain combinations that you found really work well for you or that you swear by?
Oh, yeah, the M2 Hoodie. I'll toss that over a t-shirt. And then I’ll wear the M3 Woobie Hoodie and I'll usually toss a vest over top of that. It's sort of funny like in winter, I drive around with a lot of Truewerk stuff so that I can layer up or layer down. Some days are just so bitter cold, I'll toss on the S4 Tower Parka, that thing's just unreal how comfy it is. I wear Truewerk outside of work as well, they just fit in with every lifestyle. Your workwear should be pretty much your most comfortable clothes, because you wear them the most. Even last night, we went out on date night, and I was like, I'm gonna wear Truewerk to the movies and be comfortable and still look appropriate for date night.
I love it. That's our whole thing, you know, workwear for life.
It's a little funny because all the jobs that we go on like they'll ask me, is Truewerk stuff really that good? And I'd be like yeah of course, because they see me wearing it all the time. So it's not like I'm just saying something, I’m standing behind what I'm saying. And then all of a sudden, you see the stuff starting to show up on the job site. Next thing you know, everyone's wearing Truewerk. A lot of us work in tough situations and it's good to be comfortable when you're doing hard work for a dirty job. Anything to make that job easier, including workwear, I feel is really important.
Darius Rylander (@powerhausconstruction) Alberta, Canada
Hey, Darius. How are you?
I'm doing great. I just got home from a week long in the Rocky Mountains camping. It was cold, I was actually so lucky to have some of my Truewerk gear. One night it got to just about freezing and I would wear the B1 to bed. The first night I didn't think about it and the top of my head was ice cold when I woke up. I put that on and it was a huge difference.
That's awesome. I'm glad you had some stuff with you. That's definitely helpful.
Yeah, I only came across you guys when I was trying to find winter gear and Carhartt stuff was the only other option here. But the problem with Carhartt was it would get wet and it wouldn't stop the wind either. So it was only good for durability because of that coarse material, but it wasn't good for what I actually needed it for, which was keeping me dry, warm and comfortable working in the winter.
Totally. It really comes down to what’s going to leave you comfortable every day that makes a difference. Well that’s great. Would you mind just giving a brief background on your trade, how long you've been in it and where you're located?
Yeah, so I started framing in 2009. I was the guy that would make stuff and be more stoked on building it than actually using it. It's just this thing in your head where you want to see something come to life, just being able to create. We’re in Edmonton, Canada, which is the most northern city in North America.
I know it gets crazy cold up where you are. What are some of the most common weather challenges you face on site?
For sure the drastic changes throughout the day. I'm talking in the morning being freezing cold and then the afternoon in T-shirts. It’s important to have something to wear that’s easy, not some bulky thing that delays your work when you have to take it on and off. Truewerk is basically like street clothes but designed for people working, which is my favorite part about it. The last couple of years, we have been getting rained on in the middle of the winter for weeks. I've just been blown away by the ability that Truewerk has to just reflect the water away. As our weather and climate has been changing so rapidly, we’re looking for things that will keep us dry and block out these crazy winds. Any of that crazy weather can all happen in one day.
So you really have to be prepared for whatever might happen. You hit on everything I was thinking of, just making sure that you have the right gear to not only keep you comfortable, but protected.
Totally. Last year I got the full lineup and got a taste of everything. And it was crazy. I was unstoppable. That's when I noticed how in the gear I was wearing, I could outperform other people. I’d have to worry about my tools breaking from the cold, but when you don't have to worry about yourself being too cold, you're kind of unstoppable. So I was pushing my guys to it because yes it’s an investment, but how many days do you have to miss work because it’s so cold? There goes the cost of a full setup right there. And then going forward, you're just going to be so much happier.
With Instagram and whatnot now, it's not just about work. It's also about presentation. Sweatpants with holes and mud all over them just don't look good. But when my guys are in a shot wearing Truewerk it looks good. And so that's a whole new angle that I'm seeing. I appreciate the little details that you guys have put into this workwear so that it looks really good too. In the very beginning, I was almost reluctant to ever have myself in the shot. Because I was too self conscious of my gear and how it looked. And now I'm like, oh, okay, well, I'll be in the shot. I look like I'm prepared and ready to work or meet a homeowner. And ever since I started only wearing Truewerk at work, there's no question about who's running the crew. If anyone comes onto our site, they walk straight to me because I'm the most well dressed person. I've hired guys twice my age and people always assumed they were in charge. But once I started dressing professionally, nine out of ten times they would come up to me. And that’s just such a nice feeling. When you look good, you feel good.
That's really awesome that you said that and I feel like it pretty much sums up exactly why we do what we do.
Yeah, it's just the little things like the double stitching all around the pockets. And the hex fleece, you can wear that on your bare skin and it’s so nice. Or the double button. Like, how many times have I blown a button because there was only one button holding my weight? Or the phone pocket? I use that religiously.
That’s so great to hear. Are there any certain features you’ve found useful, especially working in the cold? Or layering combos that you swear by?
The T3 pants. I don't even have to wear anything underneath, I wore those in minus 30 and I was fine. They break the wind so much. The Woobie Vest is really nice in the winter. A vest is usually really bulky and hard to move in. But the Woobie is so lightweight, but yet warm. It's nice to have the mobility in your arms. As long as my head, feet and core are warm, it’s such an easy day. And the hoods of the shells are big enough to fit over a hardhat, which is just huge for me. With my hoodies, it would pull my neck down and make me super uncomfortable. But with your shells it’s easy. You just clip it, zip it up, and all of my heat is locked in. It’s my little secret to get through the winter.
So that's the magic recipe for cold weather then.
Yeah, honestly, it is. And then the wind or the rain hits and whatever, I’ve got that protection from the materials you use. My only problems last year were from the tools and the equipment. I did not have any problems with my human body.
That's priority number one. I know you touched on this a little bit, but were there any other issues that you found when trying to layer other workwear brands?
For sure. You guys have this stretchy material going on, it’s awesome. Because as soon as you feel like you can’t move is when you start getting colder. So the ability to stretch and get into all these crazy positions as framers is important. Mobility would be the main factor on how you can layer this stuff. Because it can fit over another layer but you’re still able to move. If you start layering Carhartt, you can only get a couple on before you literally can't move. It feels like you're inside cardboard.
Shop Base Layers that wick, Mid Layers that insulate and Shells that protect in Truewerk’s Workwear System.
Creating the M3 Woobie Hoodie