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April 4, 2024

Carhartt Lightweight Solutions:

The Differences Between Our Lightweight Performance Technologies

Carhartt has been crafting heavy-duty, hard-wearing, dependable workwear for over 130 years. But not every job calls for the heavyweight materials we’ve perfected over the last century of working in everything under the sun. That’s why we’ve engineered a range of sweat fighting, lightweight performance clothing that’s tough enough to carry on the Carhartt legacy and won’t weigh you down when temperatures rise and the sun’s high in the sky.

The lighter weight fabrics of our Carhartt Force®, Force Sun Defender™, and the TENCEL™ Fiber Series don’t mean that we skimped on durability. Each and every piece of our lightweight summer workwear has to pass the same rigorous testing process as all our other gear and meet the same standards of toughness, reliability, and mobility—which includes bursting strength, snag and abrasion resistance, and durability of color and finish. With Carhartt Force®, Force Sun Defender™, and the new Women’s TENCEL™ Fiber Series, tougher just got lighter.

If you’re wondering which Carhartt lightweight clothing is right for you, we’ve put together a comparison to help you decide which features, fits, and fabrics will help you outwork the heat in the dog days of a Midwest summer, or through the year-round high temps of the Southwest.


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Carhartt force®

sweat fighting, Fast Drying.

Carhartt Force® technology isn't a fabric. It's a collection of properties that work together to fight sweat, dry fast, and cool you down when temps are on the rise. Force was our first line of sweat fighting, moisture wicking gear that has been beating the heat since 2010. Over the years, we've continued to test, refine, and update our designs based on real-world feedback from workers in the field. Here's a breakdown of the key features of Force gear:

  • Lightweight
  • Sweat wicking
  • Durable
  • Dries fast
  • Fights odor
  • UPF 25+

Our newest additions to the Force line are engineered for hotter days and harder work and include the men's Carhartt Force® relaxed fit short-sleeve pocket tee featuring enhanced stretch and updated seam placement for greater mobility, zoned ventilation for increased airflow in the areas where it matters most, and a drop tail hem for added coverage and comfort while you move.

Shop Force Gear

NEW force sun defender™

lightweight, breathable, protective.

The latest iteration of Force sun hoodies and sun shirts provide even more protection from harmful UV rays than traditional Force gear. Force Sun Defender™ UV protection clothing has a UPF rating of 50+ and stops 98% of UV rays from touching your skin. That means you can spend even more time getting stuff done in the sun more safely and comfortably. Here are the key features that make Force Sun Defender™ some of the best lightweight sun protective clothing available:

  • Integrated Force technology
  • -Sweat wicking

    -Dries fast

    -Fights odor

  • Legendary Carhartt durability
  • Our lightest lightweight sun protective clothing
  • UPF 50+

For comprehensive coverage, the men's Force Sun Defender™ lightweight long-sleeve sun hooded t-shirt weighs in at just four ounces, but punches well above its weight in terms of toughness and functionality. The high neckline provides more coverage than a standard crewneck and the hood is easy to layer over or under a sun hat to provide even more protection for your neck and ears.

Shop Force Sun Defender Gear

Women’s TENCEL™ Fiber Series

lightweight, comfortable, super soft.

Women are entering the trades at a faster pace than ever, and they need gear that can keep up. Our new women's TENCEL™ Fiber Series is redefining women's workwear so that it can be soft to the touch, but Carhartt to the core. Featuring sustainable, durable, and comfortable TENCEL™ fabric, these lightweight short- and long-sleeve tees have your back whether you're headed out for a long day on the ranch, suiting up for third shift on the factory floor, or pulling a double at the clinic. Here are the key features of the TENCEL™ Fiber Series:

  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Strong and Durable
  • Soft to the touch
  • Sustainable

Carhartt TENCEL™ tees are tested to the same durability standards as our classic workwear and thanks to the naturally smooth TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers, they're also comfortably soft. Best of all they contain body temperature regulating properties through moisture management, which is a fancy way of saying they're breathable, so when the going gets tough, you can keep going.

The women's TENCEL™ loose fit short-sleeve crewneck t-shirt is lightweight and soft against the skin for all day comfort on and off the clock, but is just as durable as our heavyweight cotton tee. Available in a range of colors, you'll find enough options for every day of the week.

Another benefit of TENCEL™ Fibers are their sustainable qualities. Derived from sustainable wood sources throughs sustainably managed forests, TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers are biodegradable and compostable under industrial, home, soil, fresh water, and marine conditions, so they can fully revert back to nature. We also created midweight TENCEL™ women's sweaters in a French Terry knit for days when there's a chill in the air. They're great for layering, but the soft, French Terry weave is just as comfortable next to the skin.

Shop Women's TENCEL™ Fiber Series T-Shirts



Carhartt Force® is a collection of properties and materials that we've engineered specifically to keep you more comfortable while working in warmer weather. Whether it's the cotton/jersey blend of the Force tee or the rubber outsole of the women's Force Nano Toe Composite work shoe with a breathable upper, it has to help you fight sweat, dry fast, and cool you down when temps are on the rise to be considered worthy of the Force label.


A key difference between core Force and Force Sun Defender™ is the UPF rating. Core Force gear has a UPF 25+ rating while Force Sun Defender™ gear has a UPF 50+ rating. There are also Force midweight styles with a UPF rating of 50+. Another key difference between Force and Force Sun Defender™ is hand feel. Core Force fabric is engineered with a cotton blend, while Force Sun Defender™ is a non-blended jersey.


Sweat- or moisture-wicking shirts, pants, and the materials they use draw perspiration away from the skin, helping you stay cooler and drier in high-heat conditions.

What is TENCEL™?

TENCEL™ is the flagship textile fiber brand under The Lenzing Group that represents its specialty textile fiber product offerings and resource-efficient production process innovations. TENCEL™ branded fibers are derived from controlled and certified sources including natural raw material wood. TENCEL™ Lyocell and Modal fibers can break down and compost at end of life (TUV Austria certified.) The fibers are also certified with the EU Ecolabel (license no. AT/016/001) for environmental excellence, recognizing the high environmental standards throughout their entire life cycle. To learn more about the TENCEL™ brand, please visit

Is Lyocell stretchy?

We like to say that it's “zero distraction”, which means that you won't feel restricted when you're trying to bend, reach, and move on the job.

Is TENCEL™ breathable?

Yep. It's one of our favorite features of the TENCEL™ Fiber Series. And it's also one of the key characteristics that makes it great for workwear.