90’s and noughties kids rejoice! Cargo pants are officially cool again in 2021! No, really. A global whirlwind of strange events, including and especially the pandemic, stopped the clock on the ceaseless forward momentum of style and fashion, allowing the world a moment of reflection. Out of that moment of stagnation has come a revisitation of what is and isn’t “cool.” And we are here for it!
The verdict seems to be that what’s cool is not caring what the industry tells you is cool and instead making bold choices that may have been snickered at just a few years back. Some think that wearing cargo pants in the present era is an audacious, borderline confrontational fashion choice that requires huge confidence to pull off. But those people envision the awful baggy cargo pants our parents bought us on blue light special from K-Mart.
No longer are cargos relegated to the dorky handyman’s closet. The 2021 iteration still has all the utility and durability that made us love them in the first place, combining those aspects with a sleeker modern design that results in the perfect functional pants for urban wear. Indeed, enthusiasts of smart urban fashion and the hip hop community, in particular, have made these new cargos a must-have addition to your modern wardrobe.
Cruising around town on your electric bike in some sharp slacks, tactical pants or chinos is, of course, a viable choice. Still, if you’ve got any stuff in your pockets, especially your pricey smartphone or other intentionally breakable technology, you may want to take it easy on those bumps. Unless, of course, you have a tough zipper pocket or deeply pleated patch pockets that fasten tightly closed to protect your stuff. Cargos were originally military dress, after all, and in a warzone, you’ve got to be sure your personal effects will be right where you left them when they’re urgently needed.
If you’re thinking of taking the leap and joining in on this trend of functional fashion, you’re going to want the best choices available. We’ve gone through the trouble for you, curating a list of only the highest quality most wearable cargo pants for men. Before we go in-depth, here are a few of our recommendations.
BEST FOR WORK
Our pick for the best work cargos has to be Fjallraven Vidda Pro Trousers. They’ve pulled out all the stops, with reinforced fabric on the seat and knees for durability and pockets that can hold whatever you need, for whenever you need it.
BEST FOR TRAVEL
Volcom’s VSM cargo pants may not seem like an obvious choice for travel, but a few factors make it rise above the rest in this category. Like most of the options on our list, it combines durability, cargo capacity, and style flawlessly. Its internal passport pocket is, of course, great for keeping your important documents secure and hidden, and the antimicrobial treatment helps to stave off odours and moisture in case you’re far from civilization for a while.
BEST MEN’S TACTICAL CARGO PANTS
Propper Men’s Kinetic cargo pants are our pick for this category because they tick every possible box. A great pair of tactical cargos should have a dizzying number of pockets, reinforced stitching to prevent wear and tear, and a design that allows for unrestricted freedom of movement. These pants exemplify that definition.
BEST FOR HIKING
We like the Nike ACG “Smith Summit” cargo pants for hiking because of their unrivalled versatility. Ample storage pockets, weather-resistant material, and the ability to convert into a pair of shorts in the blistering heat make these an absolute ace on the hiking trail. Nike sent a team to climb Smith Summit in Oregon so they could experience first-hand the conditions they were designing against, and that experience honed the process until the perfect hiking pants were born.
BEST SLIM FIT
The best slim-fit cargo pants for men come courtesy of Todd Snyder, the Italian Wool Camps. Not only do these cargos feature a slim and flattering cut, but they also follow an old French army surplus design that gives them a unique look. I bet you never thought cargo pants could be classy.
1. Wrangler Authentic Men’s Premium Relaxed Fit Straight Leg Cargo Pant
At a glance, the slim profile of these pants makes them look as if the “cargo” designation was an afterthought, but on further inspection, that couldn’t be further from the case. Featuring eight total pockets (4 cargo flap pockets, two slash pockets, and two back pockets with flaps), you’ll have no trouble securing your phone, wallet, tools, hidden snacks, and any other smallish items you can imagine.
The durable 100% cotton twill ensures that the items contained therein won’t fray or otherwise wear down the material while providing breathability and comfort. They’re available in 4 attractive colours, and for a very affordable price, they’re begging to be bought in multiples.
- Eight total pockets provide maximum storage capability
- Secure zipper closure
- Velcro pockets
- Available in 4 colours
- Manufacturer: Wrangler Authentic Men’s Sportswear
- Relaxed Straight Leg Fit
- Durable 100% cotton twill
2. Carhartt WIP Regular Cargo Pant
These pants are stylish and tough, just loose enough to be recognizable as cargos without being excessively baggy. Carhartt’s brand is synonymous with its thick, hardwearing fabric that won’t fray or tear in various harsh conditions. These durable cargo pants are reinforced with a robust double layer at the knees, as well as bar tack stitching at vital stress points to make sure they don’t fall apart on you any time soon.
Camo cargo pants are a favoured choice for a dressed-down military look, and Carhartt supplies several camo patterns to choose from, as well as a range of other dark colours. Super deep cargo pockets can hold larger items like a flashlight or other lengthy tool, and the right pocket is embellished with the iconic square Carhartt label.
- Robust double layer at the knees
- Bartack stitching at vital stress points
- Available in a range of 12 colours, including several camo patterns
- Very deep cargo pockets can hold larger items
- Regular fit, low waist
- Extremely durable 100% Columbia “Ripstop” cotton
- Manufacturer: Carhartt
3. OCHENTA Men’s Casual Military Cargo Pants
If you’re looking for tactical cargo pants perfect for paintballing, hunting, or other activities that require a loose fit and unrestricted range of motion, OCHENTA has you covered. This military-inspired design comes in a dizzying array of colours, including several camo options suitable for outdoorsmen or those who just like a cool pair of army pants.
The action gusset crotch, aside from being a hilarious phrase, also ensures these bad boys don’t encroach uncomfortably on the goods while you’re crouching, running, or army crawling your way through the environment. Eight cargo pockets are great for storing hand tools, electronics, and other gear. The heavy-duty ripstop fabric ensures your garment will last and last, even in harsh outdoor or worksite conditions.
- Military BDU style
- Eight classic cargo pockets
- It comes in 22 colours, including camo options
- Ties at the waist and bottom
- 100% Ripstop Cotton
- Manufacturer: OCHENTA
4. Dickies Twill Cargo Pant
Dickies is the largest workwear company globally, getting its start as a humble overall manufacturer in 1922. But they cut their teeth in the world of durable and functional clothing during WW2 when they churned out millions of uniforms for the military. Their expertise for battle-inspired designs comes from first-hand experience, and it shows.
This elegantly understated design features two extra-large cargo pockets and a slim, modern fit. These are great cargo pants for work or pairing with a simple t-shirt and sneakers for an extended outing into the city.
- Slim, structured silhouette
- Two extra-large cargo pockets
- Sturdy twill style stitching
- It comes in 3 colours
- Polyester/Cotton blend
- Manufacturer: Dickies
5. VSM Stranger Cargo Pants
Volcom has been in the functional fashion game for a while now, producing stylish and nigh-indestructible clothing perfect for the boardsport lifestyle. These streetwear cargo pants are no different, with durability features like 2-ply layered knees, real metal buckle buttons, and a reinforced triple-needle center back seam. An interior passport pocket ensures no matter where you’re skating, your most prized personal effects will remain hidden and secure. Finally, a high-tech antimicrobial finish and water-resistant materials will keep any moisture or odours contained.
- Chino style slant front pockets
- Water-resistant and antimicrobial finish blocks odour and moisture
- Interior passport pocket
- Reinforced with a triple-needle center back seam
- Cotton/Polyester/Elastane blend
- Regular fit with tapered legs
- Manufacturer: Volcom
6. Dickies Men’s Loose-fit Cargo Work Pant
Dickies has put out some classic-looking khaki cargo pants, including this comfort-fitted option for getting things done while looking good. Adorned with two large pleated cargo pockets in addition to buttoned pockets on the back, these pants will keep your stuff secure when you’re working at the warehouse or surveying a job site. Wearability and comfort are paramount to the Dickies brand, so they’ve made sure to leave some extra room in the seat and thigh without making them look overly baggy.
- Pleated cargo pockets allow expandable capacity
- Casual waistband for comfort and wearability
- Button-back pockets
- Roomier in seat and thigh
- 4 colours
- 19” bottom leg opening
- 8.05 oz twill, 100% cotton
- Manufacturer: Dickies
7. Carhartt WIP Aviation Pant
These Aviation pants are notably slimmer than Carhartt’s regular cargos, lending them a modern streetwear aesthetic that’s highly versatile. This versatility extends to their adjustable waistband and the multiple sturdy pockets that mean you can take everything you need with you (and some things you don’t.) Slim fit cargo pants allow for all the utilitarian qualities we love in this clothing style, without the excessive bagginess that can be present in less fashionable cargos. Available in 8 stylish colours, including Air Force Grey and a Desert Combi Camo option.
- Slimmer style than Carhartt’s regular cargo
- Adjustable waist
- Double layer at the knee
- Reinforced with bar tack stitching
- Available in 8 colours, including Air Force Grey
- 100% Ripstop cotton
- Manufacturer: Carhartt
8. Carhartt Men’s Rugged Cargo Pant in Relaxed Fit
These relaxed-fit cargo pants are a great gift for any man who works and plays hard, especially if their usual activities would wear down a lesser pair of pantaloons. Straight legs fit perfectly over a pair of boots, while the relaxed seat and thigh allow for an unhindered range of motion. Secure snaps on both the cargo pockets and the back ones ensure their stuff doesn’t come flying out if they lift their knees too high. The cargo pockets feature a pen stall and cell phone storage, great for professionals on the move.
- Cargo pockets have internal pen and cell phone storage
- Pockets close securely with snaps
- Relaxed seat and thigh for range of motion
- 100% Cotton ring-spun canvas
- Pants sit slightly below the waist
- Manufacturer: Carhartt
9. Nike ACG “Smith Summit” Men’s Cargo Trousers
You know Batman’s utility belt, with its many hidden compartments and gadgets? Now you can feel like a well-equipped superhero on your next climb or hike with these utility cargo pants. Nike ventured to Oregon’s Smith Summit to test out the conditions while noodling on their design for the perfect climbing and hiking trousers. They’ve truly outdone themselves with this pair; not only do they look very distinctive, but they display several unusual and nifty features.
The main material is recycled nylon recovered from repurposed carpet fibre and fishing nets, which are cleaned and broken down into new nylon threads. The knees are covered by highly wear-resistant Cordura fabric for when you’re scrabbling your way up rocky hills and cliffs. If you’re in a warm climate, you can zip off the pant legs to convert these trousers into shorts to get some much-needed airflow. Finally, a spare ACG branded carabiner hangs aesthetically from one of the belt loops, so you can tackle whatever obstacles are at hand.
- Convertible trousers can convert into shorts
- Water repellent
- Carabiner attached to one of the waistband loops
- Tough Cordura fabric at the knees for durability
- Adjustable webbed belt
- 96% recycled nylon reduces carbon footprint
- Loose roomy fit for maneuverability
- Manufacturer: Nike
10. Columbia Silver Ridge Tall Cargo Pant
Columbia is in the business of no-nonsense outdoor apparel that keeps its customers comfortable and well-equipped for adventure. Their Silver Ridge Tall Cargo pants exemplify this philosophy, with many features geared toward comfort and literal protection from the elements. Dual “omni” technologies, OMNI-WICK and OMNI-SHADE, keep you cool and comfortable by efficiently wicking sweat off your skin to be evaporated, as well as absorbing UV rays to help prevent things like sunburns and potential skin cancers. Seven pockets make these great for keeping small hiking tools or fishing gear close at hand for when you need them.
- Available in a huge range of 27 colours
- OMNI-WICK: Fabric manages moisture from sweat
- OMNI-SHADE: UV Absorbent yarn helps prevent sunburn and long-term skin damage
- Seven pockets including a zippered security pocket
- Elastic waistband for the perfect fit
- 100% Nylon
- Manufacturer: Columbia
11. Italian Wool Camp Cargo Pants
Todd Snyder’s Italian Wool Camp Cargo Pants challenge everything we thought we knew about cargos. Featuring a vintage military-surplus design, they stumbled upon in France, these pants are made of predominantly wool fabric imported from the famous Subalpino mill. The dark stormy-gray fabric is sewn in a subtle herringbone pattern with faded pinstripes with two gusseted cargo pockets. While the top is looser fitting for comfort, the legs are slightly tailored for a slim, tapered look that goes well with heavy or casual footwear. You’re not going to wear these on a serious mountain climb or at a job site, but for what they are, they’re a stylish and elegant choice that brings a bit of old-fashioned military utility.
- Vintage military style
- Broken-in hand feel
- Subtle herringbone pattern in the fabric
- Two cargo pockets and back pockets button closed
- Imported Italian Fabric: 56% virgin wool, 24% viscose, 9% wool, 9% silk, 2% linen
- Dry clean only
- Genuine melamine buttons
- Manufacturer: Todd Snyder
12. Men’s Karakash Cargo Pant
Most well known for their warm and waterproof jackets, The North Face has adopted their techniques and materials to produce a great pair of cargos that won’t get weatherbeaten on your outdoor excursions. The cotton/nylon blended fabric has a waterproof finish, so you don’t have to worry about getting waterlogged while chilling at the beach or if you’re caught in the rain.
Encased elastic cuffs and waistband contribute to a relaxed, comfortable fit. These pants aren’t just great for the outdoors; they’re a stylish complement to any of your other fashion basics, so you can enjoy the extra storage of those two large cargo pockets while cruising around with friends or at an informal gathering.
- Two secure-close cargo pockets
- Encased elastic cuffs and waistband
- Comfortable, relaxed fit
- Cotton/Nylon blended fabric
- Waterproof finish
- Manufacturer: The North Face
13. Fjallraven Vidda Pro Trousers
Putting on a pair of Fjallraven Vidda Pro Trousers makes you feel ready to go on a quest in some far-flung Nordic forest, and if you find yourself following that urge, you’ll be well equipped for your journey. A multitude of pockets can easily accommodate things like your handaxe, a map, food rations, or your magic compass. The heavily reinforced fabric at the rear and knees not only contributes to the style with its striking dual-colour, but it’ll keep your pants in good condition for years, regardless of the trials you may face. A relaxed, work-minded fit is perfect for keeping you comfortable during fieldwork or a strenuous hike.
- 7 Pockets: 1 axe, 1 map, one internal security, multiple cargo
- Heavily reinforced fabric at rear and knees
- Relaxed work-minded fit
- Available in 7 dual colourways (with one uniform black option)
- Polyester/cotton blend
- Manufacturer: Fjallraven
14. 5.11 Tactical Men’s Stryke Operator Uniform Pants with Flex-Tac Mechanical Stretch
5.11 produces “purpose-built gear for the most demanding missions,” and these tactical cargo pants fit that description perfectly. An incredible 12 pockets of various sizes and locations allow you to bring all your gadgets, pocket knives, extra magazines, and personal effects wherever the mission takes you. The patent-pending Flex-Tac mechanical stretch fabric allows for comfort and flexibility. Gusseted inseams aid in an unrestricted movement without sacrificing the slim silhouette of the pants. A Teflon treatment to the material not only deflects dirt and stains but also doesn’t impact breathability and makes the pants easier to clean.
- 12 pockets for ample storage
- Flex-Tac mechanical stretch fabric
- Gusseted inseam for flexibility
- Teflon treated fabric resists stains and dirt
- Cotton polyester blend
- Available in 12 colours
- Manufacturer: 5.11
15. Propper Men’s Kinetic Pant
For decades, Propper has been manufacturing professional-level tactical apparel, supplying gear to the military, law enforcement, and civilians who appreciate aesthetics and utility. The Kinetic collection is Propper’s signature line of clothing that incorporates their durable stretch fabric, designed to allow for unrestrained movement and comfort. These stretch cargo pants feature notched hand pockets to reinforce the edge from fraying under a pocket knife, side pockets with interior dividers, and double-ply knees with openings for the insertion of knee pads. Finally, these military-grade cargos can house just about anything in 12 sturdy pockets.
- Notched hand pockets reinforced for knife carrying
- Side cargo pocket with interior divider
- Reinforced knee with openings for knee pads
- Teflon water repellent treatment
- Six colours available
- Ripstop cotton/polyester blend NEXStretch fabric
- Manufacturer: Propper
16. Adidas Adventure Cargo Pants
Another pair of sleek black cargo pants, this offering from sportswear giant adidas combines the athletic style they’re known for with the added benefit of roomy cargo pockets. Adjustable-bungee cuffs allow a degree of custom comfort tailored to the situation, and their nondescript look pairs well with any of the basics in your closet. A stitched adidas Adventure logo on the pocket lets everyone know these are the real deal. You can feel good about your purchase, too, since adidas participates in the Better Cotton Initiative, a nonprofit that promotes more responsible and sustainable cotton farming practices.
- Heavyweight feel
- Adjustable-bungee cuffs
- Two cargo pockets
- Belted waist
- Regular Fit
- 100% cotton (Better Cotton Initiative)
- Manufacturer: adidas