From their origins in 1938, cargo pants have changed a lot over the years. Originally worn by the British Armed Forces, they’ve now become a streetwear staple.
Today’s cargo pants are usually slimmer fitting than the originals, but there’s a lot more to cover than that.
Let’s go over some different types of cargo pants, things to keep in mind when shopping for a pair, and some tips on incorporating them into your outfits.
Cargo pants are usually made to bend easily at the hips and the knees due to their original use in physical environments, and are known for their characteristic pockets on the outer side of either leg (but the pockets can be elsewhere, too), near knee-level.
While the pockets aren’t usually used to carry much around these days, they used to have strategic purposes like allowing soldiers to carry more rations with them. The size and the shapes of the pockets can vary, but you’re more likely to find a cellphone or a Moleskine in those pockets than rations or maps.
Buying Cargo Pants
Here are a few places you can pick up the best cargo pants, no matter what you’re looking for.
Affordable basics, they have a number of styles to choose from, including ones with adjustable waists and cuffs which gives you some variety in how you can wear them.
None of them are going to be particularly over the top style-wise, and the quality is good but not exceptional. If you’re not looking to spend too much, this will be your best bet.
The Amazon Goodthreads brand has surprisingly a very quality pair of cargo pants.
The fit is slim and modern and price is super reasonable, and they pretty much come in every notable color you’ve seen cargo pants come in.
Military1st.co.uk: Here’s one for people in the United Kingdom. This site has a massive selection, including some styles that are geared more towards fashion, and others that are geared more towards function – and plenty that fall somewhere in between.
They have pants that go beyond the more simplistic style you’d find at H&M, while still remaining relatively affordable.
ManiereDeVoir.com: Their Hardware Cargo Trousers have a slimmer fit, and the pockets are on the front of the legs rather than the side.
They have a unique look to them, a good feel, nice fabric, and are still fairly reasonably priced, although they’re a bit more than the other options we’ve looked at so far. If you’re looking for something that will stand out more than typical cargos, you’re getting into that ballpark with these.
The zippers and pockets are good quality, the material is nice, and you get a more designer look without the price tag.
51PERCENT: The Utility Pants by 51PERCENT are where we start to get into the more upscale side of things, at least compared to the others. If you’re looking for a piece to build out your wardrobe around, these are a good look. The bottoms are adjustable with stoppers, and overall they offer a baggier fit.
Some people like to size-up and go with a bigger pant to get a bit more bagginess and a more casual fit. If you’re doing this, you can look for ones that adjust at the waist.
This will give you a bit more room, and still fit great at the waist. Some pants will also have straps at the cuffs that can make them fit fighter, so keep that in mind if you’re planning on getting them hemmed.
Khaki cargo pants go with just about anything, starting at a plain white T and working up from there. You can also pair them with a Polo shirt, or a sweater.
Some people swear against camo patterns unless you’re out hunting, others appreciate the style – at the end of of the day, it’s up to you.
If you’re going to be putting your cargo pants through their paces, you might want to think about getting a pair of Ripstop pants, they’re reinforced like parachutes to ensure they stay strong.
At the end of the day, it’s all about taking a timeless piece like cargo pants, and making them your own.