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 fashion 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.
Different Types of Cargo Pants Styles
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 cell phone in those pockets than rations or maps.
Many modern outfits opt for baggy, slightly oversized cargo pants, which lean towards a skater style depending on what you pair the pants with.
Streetwear oriented brands will usually offer you cargo pants that give you different modern cuts and styles (such as tapered) but not necessarily the quality to perform the functions the pants were originally meant for.
Workwear brands still produce heavy duty cargos that are made to be used for heavy labor while still giving you a stylish look when worn correctly.
Additionally these cargo pants are usually made of a sturdier cotton or synthetic cotton blend, which allows you to wear them for more intense activities. The variety of cargo pants on the market allows you to choose the style that works best for you.
Amazon’s CQR Men’s Tactical Pants are a great example of the tactical cargo pants style. These pants are a standard fit, which makes them easy to move around in, and very lightweight. These are perfect for outdoor activities. These pants are water repellent, and the zippers and buttons are incredibly durable. They are made with a mix of polyester and cotton and designed to prevent ripping. They come in a wide variety of colors.
Amazon’s Dickies Mens’s Regular Straight Stretch Twill Cargo Pant is a popular cargo pant option. The Dickies brand has become increasingly popular and worn as streetwear, even though the pants originated as workwear. These cargos are slightly tapered and have a slim fit in the thigh. These pants are made with a polyester blend that is designed to wick moisture and resist wrinkling. They come in three subtle colors.
Another great pair of cargo pants from Amazon are the Match Men’s Wild Cargo Pants. These cargos have a loose fit and a straight leg, making them baggier and giving a modern look. These cargo pants are made of 100% cotton and are designed for activities such as sports, paintball, climbing, and hiking. They are easy to move in while maintaining their durability. They come in a variety of interesting colors.
Old Navy’s Loose Taper Ripstop Non-Stretch ’94 Cargo Pants are another great, versatile option. These are unique in that they have a loose fit in the hips and thighs but are tapered. This gives the wearer comfort and security. These pants also feature adjustable drawstrings on the bottom. They are made with 100% cotton and designed to prevent stretch and ripping. These cargo pants come in two colors.
ASOS’s Jack & Jones Intelligence Cargo Pants are a great pair of streetwear cargos. They come in a straight fit, making them easy to move around in. These pants have five pockets and the ankles are slightly tapered. They are made with 98% cotton and 2% elastane, which gives them stretch and comfort. They come in black.
The ASOS DESIGN tapered cargo pants are a more sophisticated option. They come in a regular fit, with tapering at the ankles, and have a zip-fly. These pants are made with 98% cotton and 2% elastane which adds comfort and stretch, but these pants are made with a slightly ribbed pattern which makes them very sturdy. They come in a soft brown.
Old Navy’s Loose Taper Non-Stretch ’94 Cargo Pants are a great casual option for cargo pants. These cargos have a loose fit in the legs with a tapered ankle. With plenty of pockets and drawstrings at the ankles, these cargo pants can be worn for many occasions. They are made with 100% cotton and come in four neutral colors.
Another great pair of cargos are the Nike Black ACG Smith Summit Cargo Trousers. These lean towards the streetwear style, with a straight leg cut and thigh pockets on the front rather than sides. The waistband is comfortably stretchy, and it comes with an integrated belt. These cargos are made with mainly nylon along with some spandex.
American Eagle’s Flex Slim Lived-In Cargo Pant is a great casual option for cargos. They are a slim fit throughout the thighs and legs with adjustable drawstring ankles. These pants are made mostly of cotton, with some recycled cotton and elastane for an incredibly comfortable feel. Another feature of this fabric is that American Eagle has designed these pants to look vintage and “lived-in,” which gives a fun, casual look. They come in three neutral colors.
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.