7 Types of Cargo Pants You Should Know About

Both appreciated and disliked, cargo pants are undeniably reliable and popular. The several pockets are highly functional but also become a downside in terms of style. Some like them and use them all the time, whereas other people need some convincing to add at least one pair of cargo pants to their wardrobe.

No matter which category you sit in, there are several types of cargo pants to choose from, so keep reading for the details.

What are cargo pants?

Cargo pants are widely available pants that managed to impress with functionality and even stylish details. Most of us own at least one pair of tactical pants, whereas people working in military, law enforcement, and outdoor enthusiasts already know which pants are best within the category.

Cargo pants are just a general label, as there are several types of cargo pants to select from. If this is the first time you’re interested in cargo pants, you may want to do due diligence about the topic. Cargo pants were conceived for challenging situations, but they have traveled a long way since then. Once purely functional, cargo pants make an essential category of pants you can find in any store.

When were cargo pants created?

It’s undeniable that children, adults, and senior adults have worn at least one pair of cargo pants. However, cargo pants were initially conceived for military personnel to wear in their missions.

Cargo pants were created for soldiers in the British Armed Forces. The deep, easy to access pockets on the legs of cargo pants were ideal for storing ammo, battlefield essentials and wound dressings, and such. Even if the cargo pants didn’t have the best start, they managed to turn into the everyone’s favorite apparel, men and women alike.

What features are essential for cargo pants?

Cargo pockets make the essential feature of cargo pants. They are generous pockets placed on the pants’ upper leg, above the knee, and on the outer thighs.

Cargo pockets should be expandable, so they become larger the more items you store in them; most pockets come with flap closures secured with buttons, magnets (sewn into the cloth), or buttons. Buttons are less functional for military activities, and Velcro and Prym snaps make the most common type of closure for cargo pockets on cargo, tactical pants.

Most of the time, cargo pockets are just one pocket on cargo pants, which commonly feature six pockets. Hip pockets, back pockets are also typical for cargo pants.

Most cargo pants have a somewhat loose fit, as they’re supposed to be very comfortable. Khaki and camouflage designs are widely available to remind the cargo pants’ primary purpose: used by military professionals. Over the years, cargo pants have changed a lot and went through many changes, explaining the several types of cargo pants you can choose from today.

Read also: TRU-SPEC Men’s 24-7 Series Original Tactical Pant Review

Who can wear cargo pants?

As ample storage is fundamental for cargo pants, people working in the military, law enforcement, or police will wear cargo pants the most. First responders and other working professionals also choose cargo pants to provide fast and easy access to the gear. Electricians, plumbers, construction works, and outdoor frenzies always use cargo pants for their daily uses.

It doesn’t mean that regular people cannot wear cargo pants. These pants are highly functional and versatile, which explains their popularity.

How many types of cargo pants exist?

Generally speaking, any type of pants with cargo pockets can be considered as cargo pants. Nevertheless, various features were added to the cargo pants, rending the multiple types of cargo pants.

How many types of cargo pants exist

Tactical pants

Police officers and swat team members use tactical pants for their activities. Tactical pants are made to last for a very long time, presenting superior resistance to the elements, excess wear, and tear. Teflon coating is also standard, improving the durability of the tactical pants.

Tactical pants also come with concealed pockets, smaller pockets that are subtle and placed inside the large cargo pockets to secure the most precious items. Double and even triple stitching is typical for tactical pants, for excellent resistance to wear.

Extra features like reinforcement for knees and seat (and knee compartments to add knee pads for better protection when crawling) or gusseted crotch is typical for best tactical pants.

Gray, green, khaki, blue, and green are the most typical colors for tactical pants.

EMT pants

EMT pants are conceived for first responders. They are commonly made with a blend of cotton and polyester fabrics that result in a long-lasting material. Carrying for and washing these pants is rather effortless.

Reinforcement in areas with high wear (knees) is also typical for EMT cargo pants. These pants also feature several pockets that are smartly placed for easy access to the items. The pockets can come with dividers for efficient organization of the medical supplies.

Grays, dark blues and black are the most common colors used on EMT pants.

Hiking pants

Hiking pants are cargo pants made to handle the elements while also providing numerous pockets for storing your hiking gear. These pants are rugged, which is why hikers, campers, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts use them all the time. Camouflage patterns and natural earth colors (khaki and brown) are popular colors for hiking pants.

Cargo jogger pants

Cargo jogger pants are a relatively new type of cargo pants; they’re conceived with an athletic purpose to mind. Soft, breathable fabric with drawstring/elastic waistband is standard for these pants, which are supposed to be comfy and contouring.

The cargo pockets are still present, but they’re lightweight and made with relatively light materials as you’re not supposed to wear heavy items in the pockets.

Slim fit cargo pants

Speaking of new types of cargo pants, we have to mention the slim fit cargo pants. These pants are a far cry from the initial cargo pants, as they’re supposed to provide a form-fitting and not loose like the traditional cargo pants.

Apart from the slim fit, these pants keep the other specifics of cargo pants, as they’re made with durable fabric and come with several cargo pockets.

Denim cargo pants

Denim cargo pants are also a new style and have a great chance of increasing cargo pants’ popularity even to a higher degree. Denim cargo pants come with spacious pockets on the legs, and numerous other pockets, as they still define as cargo pants- functionality trumps anything else.

High-end cargo pants

We bet that nobody ever thought in the beginning that cargo pants could become high-end at any point. However, the materials used on cargo pants are incredibly various, with anything from precious silk to expensive leather as the fabric used on cargo pants. High-end fashion designers have created their take on cargo pants, and celebrities embraced the new style without giving it a second thought. Colors and patterns are endless for high-end cargo pants, and the price tag could be the only thing stopping one from buying a pair.

Can you wear cargo pants any way you want?

Cargo pants can be made in any fabric and are incredibly easy to adjust. Cotton ripstop material makes the no.1 material for camping and tactical cargo pants, as it takes excess wear and tears. The fabric is woven, so any rip will practically stop.

You may wear, to some extent, cargo pants year-round. Some models come with insulation, so they make a safe choice for cold weather, whereas other models are ideal for summer wear since they’re highly breathable and quick-drying. Casual shirts, regular shoes, boots, and sneakers work very well with cargo pants.

The good news is that you no longer need to be a military professional for wearing cargo pants. These pants are widely available today and make an excellent choice for outdoor activities, part of a work uniform, or casual wear. When price tag isn’t an issue for you, look for the high-end cargo pants you like the most.

Cargo pants look very good on all people, which explains their incredible popularity. As long as you know why you’re buying cargo pants, you should be able to find the best for your activity and wallet on any given day.

Can you wear cargo pants in your day-to-day activities? How?

Even if cargo pants represent workwear and military style, that doesn’t mean that the rugged, utility sub-style doesn’t look appealing in everyday wear. Easy to recognize by the oversized pockets, baggy fit, and unique appearance, cargo pants haven’t been popular since the 90s when streetwear leaders (rappers and skaters mostly) were claiming them. Since then, cargo pants resumed being the top choice for workers and military professionals. That has changed in the last few years when trendsetters and street stylists have re-invented and given new meaning to cargo pants.

If you like the looks of cargo pants, but don’t necessarily involve hiking, camping, challenging activities, then this part is for you. You can actually style cargo pants in many ways. We recommend you take a look at our recommendations. We’re confident you will find one that suits your fashion style and needs. Unlike other clothing items, cargo pants stand out with style and functionality, so it’s nice to wear something that looks interesting and serves purposes too.

We want to remind you that there are countless designs and fits to choose from. If this is the first time you buy and wear cargo pants, we encourage you to consider three basic types of cargo pants: classic utility pants, cargo joggers, and skinny combat pants.

Classic streetwear cargo pants

Classic cargo pants are similar to the original utility combat pants and have a baggy fit and features from the men’s workwear utility pants. The classic cargo pants are the most popular streetwear style of all the cargo pant styles. They have been through many changes and variations in designs and color schemes.

If you want to include a pair of streetwear cargo pants in your wardrobe, you should select something that works best with your style. For instance, you should buy black asymmetrical cargo pants if you fancy the high-tech Japanese street style—similarly, tactical pants resembling the heavy utility-style work when you prefer traditional, skate-inspired streetwear.

Men’s cargo joggers

With a loungewear vibe and accent on comfort, cargo joggers represent the ideal choice for men looking for comfort and functionality with their wardrobe. The cargo joggers are typically made with fleece or cotton materials and they ensure a slimmer silhouette than the classic and rather bulky utility cargo pants. Needless to say, there are many styles within the cargo joggers category, so look for the one you like the most. You can opt for a casual, slim fit or go with classic cargo pants designed with extra comfort in mind.

Skinny cargo pants for men

Skinny cargo pants represent a modern update of the classic baggy cargo trousers of the 90s. The slim-fit cargo pants stand out with the nice balance between casual and formal wear without losing the subtle rugged vibe of the genuine cargo pants. Slim tapered cargo pants are trendy in earthy tones (green and tan). They’re highly versatile and you can wear them in many situations. You can find models for casual wear and a night out—the latter does have a more fitted build.

What can you wear with your cargo pants?

As with anything else in fashion, how you wear your cargo pants depends exclusively on the type of pants you pick, the occasion the outfit is for and your own preferences. We want to ease your efforts to style your cargo pants, so here are some suggestions. Feel free to add/remove items as you wish.

What can you wear with your cargo pants

Wearing classic combat pants

There are two main directions to choose from when it comes to styling your cargo pants. The first is to combine your heavy “workwear” pants with a utility overshirt. Similar to wearing double denim, the double workwear style is a top favorite, even if it requires attention and flair to pull it off. If this style seems appealing to you, we recommend avoiding combining the two styles too much. Stay away from using contrasting color schemes. For example, you shouldn’t pair your black combat pants with a green overshirt.

The second possibility to obtain a classic cargo pants outfit is to mix your combat pants with similar styles, like a relaxed-fitting tee underneath a matching hoodie. You can wear straight tapered cargos as a base, add a plain-grey t-shirt, and a classic pullover hoodie. The plain tee you use as a base layer will give extra dimension and the layered look works excellently in the cold season. It’s relatively common for streetwear style and chunky white trainers perfectly complete the look.

Wearing cargo joggers

Like the classic look, the most straightforward method to style cargo joggers is to look for items within the same category, the loungewear style. You can combine your cargo joggers with a loose-fitting tee and give a stylish vibe with a casual flannel shirt. You will obtain a relaxed, sporty vibe perfect for everyday wear, especially when adding a pair of high tops or chunky sneakers.

If you want to stand out truly, you can buy some black cargo fleece joggers from high-end brands and pair them with a plain white t-shirt. Add a tailored shirt and complete the look with a classic pair of black and white tennis shoes (for skaters). You can wear the outfit any time of the year and in any casual situation.

Wearing slim fit cargo pants

Since slim-fit cargo pants represent a modern update of the classic workwear, it makes perfect sense to mix them with another stylish piece of clothing. You can wear your slim-fit cargo pants with a smart white shirt and a trucker jacket. Complete your look with modern tactical boots for footwear—your slim-fit cargo pants will offer a neatly tailored look with an elegant edge.

Create your own cargo pants outfit

Whether you fancy the rugged street vibe in the classic cargo pants or aim for a refined appearance with slim-fit cargo pants, you have numerous items to create your unique cargo pants outfit. As long as you have the time, energy, and interest to create a cargo pants outfit, we encourage you to take your cargo someplace other than the mountains!

Robert Dwayne

Robert Dwayne

To say that I am an outdoors enthusiast is probably an understatement. I am hyper passionate about everything outdoors: hiking, survival, hunting. On this website I am sharing my stories and experiences, and I hope you'll find inspiration to take up your own adventures!