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The 18 Best Cargo Pants for Men

Original to the military, the style's now an essential character in the menswear canon.

cargo pants for men
Gear Patrol

Like many men's garments, cargo pants derive from the military. First, they were a part of the British army's official Battle Dress uniform. Dubbed the Battle Dress Trousers, they featured a large front pocket for maps or other paperwork and a tinier hip pocket for finer items. They were an upgrade on the original outfit because pockets and belts and straps created cohesion between the soldiers' tops and bottoms. The makeover also improved the standard-issue pant's functionality, tying a thread back to the armed forces' fit-for-purpose focus.

Later, the US adopted a similar design. Lieutenant General William P. Yarborough, who served from 1931 through to 1971, created a jumper covered in pockets. Known as the M42 Jump Uniform, it debuted during WWII and set the standard for separates, known as the M-65 Field Jacket and, yes, you guessed it, Cargo Pants, to come. Cargo was a reference to the more than 100 lbs of equipment American paratroopers jumped from planes with, which was originally strapped to their backs exclusively but eventually distributed across the body (hence all of the pockets) with the introduction of Yarborough's Jump Uniform.

Nowadays, cargo pants exist in both tactical and fashion contexts. There's overlap between the two, but you can tell a lot about a pair of pants by how many pockets it has — and whether or not those pockets are specialized. We're avoiding iterations that have add-ons designed to accommodate weapons or anything beyond your usual EDC. TLDR: we're talking about fashion-focused pairs only. Find a few of our favorites below.

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Canvas Cargo Pants
Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren's ode to the iconic design comes cut from Cotton Canvas and finished with a retro-tinged "Utility" tag. Plus, the hems cinch courtesy of two strings.

Workwear Cargo Pants

The Workwear Cargo Pants are cut from cotton twill but embedded with spandex, meaning they look sturdy and stiff but stretch when you move.

Belted Cotton-Blend Cargo Pants

The Belted Cotton-Blend Cargo Pants come with, as the name suggests, a built-in nylon belt. They're 98-percent cotton and 2-percent PET, which means they look soft and drape nicely but stretch and perform, too.

UO Exclusive
Cutoff Cargo Pant

This version of Dickies' simple cargo pant comes with a tattered hem and a tailored, albeit kind of cropped, hem. It's available only at Urban Outfitters.

Regular Cargo Pant
Carhartt WIP

You know Carhartt WIP. The European offshoot of the American brand sells an extensive catalog of work-ready, streetwear-centric apparel. Apparently it takes cues from the military, too, as evident by the Regular Cargo Pant, an olive-colored rendition with a ripstop construction.

Corduroy Cargo Pants
Oliver Spencer

Unlike others on this list, Oliver Spencer's cargo pants are made from moss green corduroy. Plus, the pockets are atypical in that they are bucket-like, meaning they don't close (like the pocket on a T-shirt). 

Cargo Pants

Noah obviously specializes in prep staples with a twist, but it veers skate sometimes, too. The label's Cargo Pants are a departure from Ivy, but the cotton herringbone elevates the style. 

Poplin Cargo Pant
Stan Ray

These are trimmer than pairs true to the pant's army origins, but that makes them more practical. The pockets still have plenty of room, though. 

Tapered Cargo Pants

Like Stan Ray's, Levi's Cargo Pants are more tailored and trim than its predecessor. A tapered fit and angled pockets streamline the pant's silhouette.

Tepa Tober Cargo Pants

Built from beige denim, the Barena Tepa Tober Cargo Pants feature a single sort of mail pouch that pays homage to the front-facing cargo pocket the original pants had to carry a folded map.

Cotton Cargo Pants

RRL, the upper echelon of Ralph Lauren, has a distinct rugged yet refined aesthetic. As such, its releases pass for retro, a timeless find kept essentially mint. The Cotton Cargo Pants are no exception. 

Italian Herringbone Cargo Pants
Todd Snyder

There's a luxe air about Todd Snyder's cargo pants, probably because they're constructed from sturdy and sophisticated Italian herringbone. 

Military Cargo Pant
General Admission

LA-based label General Admission garment and stone washed this pair of cargo pants for a worn-in appearance, which they plainly called the Military Cargo Pant.  

Field Cargo Pants
John Elliott

This pair was approached through a streetwear lens, because that's where John Elliott pulls from most often. That doesn't mean they're covered in graphics, but rather that they come with accentuated pockets, super visible zippers and a wider leg.

Cargo Jogger Pants

A cross between sweatpants and slacks, Mango's Cargo Jogger Pants are made from a 60-40 mix of cotton and polyester, and are completed with a drawstring waist.

Peace Organic Cotton Cargo Pants
Story Mfg.

By far the most fashion-forward pair here, the Peace Organic Cotton Cargo Pants by Story Mfg. take the silhouette to a new extreme. The pant is super wide, dyed with plant-based colors and finished with an Indigo blue peace sign embroidery.

Relaxed Fit Cargo Pant

Because they're relaxed-fit, Rothco's cargo pants run wide but remain flattering. They flow down the leg and have a durable, somewhat smooth feel, because they're made from a mix of cotton and polyester.

Dutch Cargo Pant

British designer Nigel Cabourn is an avid collector of militaria and other vintage menswear. He leverages his collections into his own signature designs, which mix components and parts of several pairs into one original.

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