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Graduation Day: Trade Your Sweatpants for Joggers

Wait. Aren't joggers just sweatpants? Sort of, but no.

Gear Patrol

What are joggers, huh? Well, they're kind of like sweatpants. (Key words: kind of.) Their shapes are similar — an elasticated waist, a comfortable fit through the leg, and cinched hems — but joggers are typically made of alternative materials, or at least made to look more elevated than normal sweats.

So they're simply nicer sweats? Not necessarily. Initially, the style as we know it was to be made from fleece, by California brand Publish. Its designers sent technical packs — think of these as instructions for the manufacturer — to their factory and received a total error in return. Instead of soft fleece, they were made with durable twill. The accident stuck, though, and marked the arrival of the jogger stateside. (European streetwear fans were wearing drop-crotch pants for half a decade now, but they didn't catch on in the US until someone slimmed the seat.)

In fact, Publish trademarked the name "Jogger Pant" in 2014 — three years after they first used it — but abandoned the holding a year later, when the craze really kicked into high gear. The rise of athleisure compounded with the widespread acceptance of the practicality of sneakers over stiffer shoes contributed to the pants' popularity, too.

To put the recency of the style into perspective, a jogger was streetwear-store-turned-retail-giant Kith's first successful clothing launch. Owner and designer Ronnie Fieg refurbished some old camo pants and added cinched hems. He called them the Mercer pants. They've been updated since, but you can still find a few originals on resale sites. (Not saying you should wear them, but history, you know.)

Today, joggers are as utilitarian as they are technical. There's usually some stretch, which helps with comfortability and mobility, a handful of pockets, and a more polished fit than found in the sweatpant style. You'll find versions made from ripstop nylon, spandex, cotton twill, canvas, and even cordura. Shop a few of our favorites below.

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Best Overall Joggers
Ripstop Traveler Jogger

These are made from a durable ripstop fabric that deters snags, with an articulated knee for increased mobility and a Teflon coating for stain resistance. They're as technical as they are casual, and a must-have for fans of the look.

Best Upgrade Joggers
Drawstring Camp Jogger
Todd Snyder

Although Todd Snyder likens himself to timeless designs, he's well aware of the jogger trend — as evident by these Italian cotton bottoms. They're made with 3-percent elastane, which offers stretch, and finished with a drawstring waist and slant side pockets.  

Best Affordable Joggers
Slim Canvas Joggers

Gap makes a bunch of solid basics at sensible prices. These are one of those basics. They're slim-fitting canvas joggers cut from fabric infused with Gap's GapFlex tech, which adds noticeable stretch. 

ABC Jogger Warpstreme

You know the name. This brand lead the way with athleisure, and, as such, had a head start on this style. These are made with a mix of recycled polyester, lycra and nylon, with four-way stretch, moisture-wicking properties, and incredible shape retention. These won't stay permanently stretched like most sweatpants.

Gym Pant
Beams Plus

Beams Plus' Gym Pant isn't a bottom I'd wear to lift weights or play basketball. They're a bit more lifestyle than the name leads on, courtesy of a hand feel that's like stretchy chino.

All Day Every Day Jogger
Public Rec

A combination of 88-percent nylon and 12-spandex makes a pant that's as smart as it is stretchy. 

The ReTech Jogger

These ReTech Joggers are part of a matching set meant for sportier, casual days. They're made from a mix of recycled and virgin material, and backed by Everlane's 365-day guarantee: if any issues arise in that window, they're 100-percent covered.

Tapered Cotton Trousers
Club Monaco

Think of these as your favorite chinos altered to fit the jogger mold. They're straight through the legs but taper into a cinched hem. The cotton's soft yet totally sturdy.

Marshall Jogger
Carhartt WIP

Hell will freeze over before Carhartt makes a jogger. But Carhartt WIP? You can count on it. The Marshall Jogger is made from 100-percent cotton ripstop with two pockets on both the front and back. 

Saturday Jogger
Marine Layer

Ideal for the weekend, as implied by its name, Marine Layer's Saturday Jogger has a super subtle cinch on its hems, and the softness of sweatpants but the structure of a good pair of chinos.

Slim Motion Tech Jogger
Banana Republic

This polyester option features four-way stretch, a water-repellent finish, and wrinkle resistance. It's a do-it-all iteration at an OK price.

Mercer VI

Here's the legendary pant that (sort of) started it all. It's been tweaked and toyed with six times since its debut, and it's very nearly not a jogger anymore, but we'll count it. It comes in stretch cotton twill with four zip pockets.

365 Jogger
Flint and Tinder

Are you familiar with Flint and Tinder's 365 Pant? It's a super comfortable chino with unparalleled practicality. It can go anywhere and endure it all. These are made from the same fabric but feature a few tweaks: cinched hems, a drawcord waist, and elastic at the back of the belt loop.

Bouldering Pants

Technically bouldering pants, Battenwear's bottoms of the same name come in a luxe, 100-percent cotton corduroy fabric. There are the obvious technical elements, though: elasticated hems, a crotch gusset, zip pockets, and a nylon belt. 

Relaxed Cotton Jogger Pants

A pair of pants for under $20? Impossible — unless you're at Uniqlo. These are not the brand's finest product, but they're pretty good, especially if you're uncertain about how you might look in pants that taper down the leg and tighten around the ankle. 

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