You might not call raw denim a warm-weather staple. So, as temperatures rise, consider lighter chinos — a cooler alternative to heavyweight jeans. Chinos, like denim, are made from cotton-twill fabric, which typically ranges in weight between 7 and 10 ounces per yard. Lighter weight summer options, meanwhile, are exactly that — lighter — and they provide a more flexible, less-insulating pant.
What Counts as a Lightweight Chino?
While there are the straight-ahead chinos some know simply as khakis, the range of this classic pant goes a bit wider than sandy-tones and twills. You'll find options fit for the rising temperatures, both in hue and total weight. While most chinos range from 7 to 10 ounces, or occasionally even higher if you're buying something for work, these lightweight chinos rarely hit 10, promising a total weight of, well, way less.
You'll also find that most of these options feature an internal cooling mechanism like COOLMAX fabric or four-way stretch. If your pants give, they won't stick to sweaty legs, creating room for moisture to evaporate and a breeze to blow through. Naturally, chinos aren't all that bad in regards to breathability, but these brands make improvements nonetheless.
The Best Lightweight Chinos for Men
We’ve got a full spread of chinos ripe for the rising mercury and here are what we consider to be 11 of the best options out there.
- The Best Overall Lightweight Chinos: Everlane The Slim Fit Performance Chino
- The Best Splurge Lightweight Chinos: Bills Khakis M2 Island Twill
- The Best Budget Lightweight Chinos: Uniqlo Ultra Light 2-Way Stretch Pants
Generally speaking, any "performance" chino will wear better in warmer weather than a traditional iteration. Sure, polyester doesn't breathe as well as cotton or linen, but Everlane's slim-fit Performance Pant promises better moisture-wicking, a quick-drying seat and plenty of give so air moves through them more consistently. Plus, these come in nearly a dozen colors.
Weighing in at a featherweight 5.5 ounces, Bills Khaki's M2 Island Twill is a lightweight chino fit for tropical trips. It's made from lyocell, cotton and elastane to be both super soft to the touch and on the body when worn. The pockets are deep; there are 8 belt loops; and the waist can easily be altered over time.
Editor’s Note [5/11]: The Ultra Light 2-Way Stretch Pants are currently out of stock as of this update. As an alternative, we recommend the Smart 2-Way Stretch Cotton Ankle Pants from Uniqlo [not in this guide]. They have similar pricing, fit and stretch, but are just a tad heavier.
Uniqlo's entry-level chinos offer comfortability without sacrificing formality. These 2-Way Stretch Pants feature a front pleat for structure, plus a tabbed waist. They were designed in collaboration with golfer Adam Scott, who is sponsored by the brand, to be quick-drying, comfortable, slightly cropped and wrinkle-resistant.
Not only does the fabric of Patagonia’s airy chinos weigh a mere 4.5 ounces, it’s also a 76/24 organic cotton/hemp blend that punches up its cooling power. The elasticated and drawstring waistband offers improved comfortability, but that does make them look more casual — at least at the waist. But, if you wear an untucked shirt no one is likely to see your cinched waist.
Madewell uses a popular quick-drying technology called COOLMAX for its lightweight chino, which makes these capable of competing with more performance-focused pairs without looking like a performance pant. Aesthetically, these are about as casual as they come, but they'll help you keep cool by staying separated from your skin, stretching when you move and drying fast when you sweat.
Bonobos' Stretch Washed Chinos offer the look of dress pants with the comfortability of breathability of lighter options. They're cut from a 92-8 cotton-elastane blend, which makes them non-iron but wrinkle-resistant. There's embedded four-way stretch, plus a zipper pocket for safekeeping.
I'm not usually the biggest fan of Lululemon's lifestyle designs. They look too Lulu, if that makes sense. But the Commission Pant, seen here in slim-fit, is an OK alternative to the brand's super fitness-forward stuff. These will pass for a classic pair of chinos, but they perform like activewear, because they're made with the brand's proprietary wrinkle-resistant, quick-drying, shape-holding material, Warpstreme.
These lightweight pants are treated with a garment softener for a velvet-like feel, but that doesn't make them any less breathable. They're plenty airy, impressively put together and polished once buttoned up, courtesy of a French bearer that keeps the front tight and tidy. These are also slightly customizable, considering you can choose your own combination of color, fit, waist size and inseam.
Featuring a lightweight stretch-cotton blend, these chinos come in a slim fit with a tapered leg. They are available in sizes 30 to 36 and eight different colorways. The front flap adds formal flair, but these are far from stuffy.
Rather than featuring slanted pockets, which most chinos have, Faherty opted for a 5-pocket style — like jeans. While that does make these less formal, it doesn't make them any less versatile. Dubbed the Movement Pants, they feature four-way stretch and an organic cotton-COOLMAX-elastane construction that promises quick drying, lasting comfort and permanent coolness (at least in temperature).
Spoke London says its Cotton Lightweights are 25 percent lighter than its traditional chinos, which makes these 5.5 ounces overall. That's as light as Bills Khakis' slightly pricier pants, but these are made from Italian cotton instead of Island Twill. Spoke's signature chinos are also made with 3 percent elastane, so they give when you stretch.