Another Y2K Fashion Trend Is Back: Here Are the Best Cargo Pants

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If you've been following all of the latest style trends, then you know that cargo pants are back in style. Yes, the bulky, pocket-laden, swishy-sounding pants are yet again gracing the runways and editorial shoots. With a resurgence of Y2K style (fashion is cyclical, remember?) the cool girl pant has arrived yet again. 

Now is the perfect time to live out your Kim Possible outfit fantasy with your own pair. Whether you’re interested in them more for their utility or for the more fashion-forward adaptations, there’s a cargo pant out there that works best for you. 

I don’t know about you, but I find cargo parts daunting to sift through. How should I style them? Which silhouette works best for me? When it comes to new trends, it can be difficult to integrate your style perspective with new pieces, which is why I’ve consulted stylist Marissa Pelly for all the advice on cargo pants. Having worked with talent like Bailey Bryan and Camrus Johnson as well as with platforms including Hypebeast and Complex, Pelly is an expert on trends and a streetwear queen.

Meet the Expert

Marissa Pelly is a stylist, fashion editor, consultant, and Creative Director at Ricco Noir Studios.

“I love using cargo pants to create structural balance within a look,” Pelly tells Byrdie. “I think the best cargo pants are workwear—Carhartt and Dickies are the best. If you want to go designer, John Elliott and Ralph Lauren are great places to start.”

 With Pelly’s expert advice and Byrdie’s product knowledge, we rounded up the best cargo pants options below.

Best Overall: Carhartt Rugged Flex Loose Fit Canvas Work Pant

Carhartt Rugged Flex Loose Fit Canvas Work Pant

Amazon

These work pants from Carhartt are the best option for cargo pants that are equally practical and stylish. You could wear them for outdoor projects or while on hikes, but you could also style them for casual weekend errands and chill nights out on the town.

Colors: Black, Navy, Dark Brown, Yukon, Coal | Material: 98% cotton, 2% spandex | Size Range: 2-26W (in short, regular, and tall) | Inseam: 31-32 inches

Best Budget: Old Navy High-Waisted StretchTech Cargo Jogger Pants

Old Navy High-Waisted StretchTech Cargo Jogger Pants

Old Navy

Old Navy always comes through when you’re looking for a great deal. These cargo joggers come in a variety of colors (eight, to be exact) and are made from a comfortable and durable polyester and spandex fabrication. They're available in sizes XS-4X and also offer petite and tall sizes.

Colors: Wish Bone, Date Palm, Ancient Forest +more | Material: 88% polyester, 12% spandex | Size Range: XS-4X | Inseam: 26.5 inches (regular)

Best Designer: Tommy X Romeo Dual Gender Hybrid Cargo Pant

Tommy X Romeo Dual Gender Hybrid Cargo Pant

Romeo Hunte

You get the best of both worlds with these cargo pants. Not only are they a gender hybrid that's suitable for everyone, but you get the best of Tommy Hilfiger and Romeo Hunte’s respective design aesthetics. Modern and classic streetwear meet in these pants, which are a great luxury version of the classic pants.

Color: Blue/Black | Material: 50% cotton, 50% leather | Size Range: XS-XL

Best Baggy: BDG Y2K Low-Rise Cargo Pant

BDG Y2K Low-Rise Cargo Pant

UO

If you love cargo pants for the baggy silhouette courtesy of Y2K fashion, then this is a great pair for you. With a wide leg, low rise on the waist, and fun color options, these are a great statement piece to add both comfort and flair to your wardrobe. 

Colors: Green, Black, Cream, Chocolate, Rose, Lime | Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: XXS-XXXL | Inseam: 30 inches

Best Trendy: Tna Cargo Pant

Tna green cargo pants

Aritzia

Inspired by the durability of cotton workwear, this cargo pant is both practical and stylish with fun additions, including a belt and a bright green color update. Byrdie's Associate Fashion Commerce Editor Erika Reals added these to her spring wardrobe; she loved pairing them with a white tank top or an oversized vintage tee. 

Colors: Nature Green, White, Flax Beige, Gd Outerspace, Fatigue, Black | Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: XXS-2XL | Inseam: 30 inches

Best Black: Good American Shine Boyfriend Cargo

Good American Shine Boyfriend Cargo

Good American

Good American has since expanded from its initial jean selection and may have found a new calling with the Shine Boyfriend Cargo. A nylon jogger-style cargo pant, these pants are great for transitioning from day to night while still being somewhat casual. Imagine how great they’d look with a strappy stiletto heel and bodysuit. The style is available in three other neutral colors, as well.

Colors: Mocha, Putty, Black, Brindle | Material: 100% nylon | Size Range: XS-5X

Best Straight-Leg: Off-White Straight-leg Cargo Trousers

Off-White Straight-leg Cargo Trousers

Farfetch

I don’t think we could have an article about cargo pants without recognizing the late Virgil Abloh’s revolutionary streetwear brand, Off-White. Abloh was partly known for his interesting updates and subversions to menswear staples, and these trousers are a perfect example of that. In a rich black colorway, these pants have been revised with a high-rise waist and wide-ish straight leg silhouette.

Color: Black | Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: XXS-3XL

Best Skinny: Rick Owens Black Mastodon Cargo Pants

Rick Owens Black Mastodon Cargo Pants

Ssense

Yes, these pants are over $1,000. But hear me out. Designed by streetwear and modern fashion maven Rick Owens, the Mastodon Cargo Pants are a premium version of the updated classic. Even with a slim-fit tapered leg and a drawstring waistband, there’s a subtle sophistication to these pants that’s hard to find outside of a luxury brand.

Color: Black | Material: 97% cotton, 3% elastane | Size: IT 46-56 | Inseam: 27 inches

Best Tailored: Nap Pleated Cargo Pants

Nap Pleated Cargo Pants

Nap

No need to sacrifice your love for tailored pants with your desire to wear cargo pants. The Nap Pleated Cargo Pants have the overall look of the original style but have subtle pleating details near the waistband that instantly elevate the trend.

Colors: Crocodile, Army, Darkly Grey, Swans Down, Tan | Material: 98% cotton, 2% canvas | Size Range: S-L | Inseam: 31-32 inches

Best for Work: Banana Republic TENCEL Soft Cargo Pant

Banana Republic TENCEL Soft Cargo Pant

Banana Republic

This pair of cargo pants is “extremely comfortable, versatile, and perfect for casual days,” according to the rave reviews from buyers. Completely sustainable from natural fiber, you get the styling of cargo pants with less of a carbon footprint for the environment. It's easy to dress up—just pair with an oxford button-down shirt and ballet flats or chunky loafers if you're wearing them to the office.

Colors: Preppy Navy, Sea Salt, Iced Latte, Sterling Gray, Black, Steel Green, Natural Stone | Material: 100% Tencel Lyocell | Size: XXS-XXL | Inseam: 28 inches

Best Denim: BAPE Black Denim Cargo Pants

BAPE Black Denim Cargo Pants

Ssense

This wouldn’t be a cargo pant roundup without mentioning streetwear titan BAPE. A fan-favorite garment because of the relaxed, modern twist of denim, these cargo pants can be worn by anyone and were even a favorite of the late actor and comedian Robin Williams. 

Color: Black | Material: 100% cotton | Size: S-3XL | Inseam: 28.5 inches

Best Silk: Banana Republic Silk Cargo Pants

Banana Republic Silk Cargo Pants

Banana Republic

For a more formal version of cargo pants, this pair from Banana Republic has been fabricated in silk. The extra sheen on these makes you instantly ready for a gala without compromising the menswear-inspired styling. 

Colors: Dark Olive Green, Rose Gold, Python | Material: 100% silk | Size Range: 00-14 (petite), 0-20 (regular) | Inseam: 25 inches (short), 27 inches (regular), 30 inches (tall)

Best Low-Rise: Miaou Raven Cargo Trousers

MIAOU Raven Cargo Trousers

Revolve

These are the cargo pants for you if you like a more tailored look with a low-rise waistband. The Miaou Raven Cargo Trousers take the design elements of cargo pants, like the fabric and pockets, and refine them into an elegant yet understated pair of fashionable trousers. 

Color: Black, Moss, Marseilles Stripe, Cry Baby, Facade | Material: 75% nylon, 25% spandex | Size Range: XS-4X | Inseam: 31 inches

Best High-Rise: Alo Yoga High-Waist City Wise Cargo Pant

Alo Yoga ​​High-Waist City Wise Cargo Pant

Alo Yoga

Alo Yoga created these pants to have the utmost functionality for all your needs. With ample pockets, drawstrings, and customizable cuffs, and made from water-resistant fabric, these pants are designed to keep you with your day, from a morning workout to an evening out with friends. 

Colors: Dark Olive | Material: DWR Plainweave | Size Range: XXS-L | Inseam: 29-30.5 inches

Best Sustainable: UpWest Hemp Cargo Jogger

UpWest Hemp Cargo Jogger

UpWest

Even though we love to shop, it’s good to keep the environment in mind when buying new clothing. If you want new cargo pants that are eco-friendly, then UpWest makes these sustainable hemp cargo joggers. Made with a combination of natural fibers, these are a suitable choice if you’re dedicated to supporting slow fashion.

Colors: Rope, Utility Green | Material: 53% hemp, 23% organic cotton, 21% Tencel lyocell, 3% spandex | Size Range: XS-XL

Best Nylon: Athleta Trekkie Convertible Hike Pant

Athleta Trekkie Convertible Hike Pant

Athleta

For a more traditional style of cargo pants, the Athleta Trekkie Convertible Hike Pant is perfect for hiking and any other outdoor adventure. These are also a great adaptable pair, since they can be converted from long pants to cropped pants to shorts via concealed zippers. 

Color: Black | Material: Recycled nylon, nylon, spandex | Size Range: XXS-3XL (regular, tall, petite) | Inseam: 30 inches

Best Faux Leather: Coloreve High-Rise Vegan Leather Cargo Pants

Coloreve High-Rise Vegan Leather Cargo Pants

Cultmia

For a fun twist on cargo pants, this lime green pair is a stand-out piece. Make a statement with the faux leather update of these while maintaining the edge of the stylist cargo pant silhouette. 

Color: Lime Green | Material: 60% cotton, 40% PES | Size Range: S-L

Best Shorts: Banana Republic High-Rise Cargo Short

Banana Republic High-Rise Cargo Short

Banana Republic

Long gone are the days when cargo shorts were reserved for dads and fishermen. For the cargo aesthetic that's appropriate for hot weather, consider these high-rise silk cargo shorts from Banana Republic. You get the look of cargo pants, but they're suitable (and a bit more comfortable) for upscale summertime fun. 

Colors: Passion Punch | Material: 98% cotton, 2% elastane | Size Range: 00-14 (petite) | Inseam: 3.5 inches

Best Cropped: Alexander McQueen Cropped Cargo Pants

Alexander McQueen Cropped Cargo Pants

Cettire

These cargo pants from Alexander McQueen are a luxury version of the style. With a large pocket on each thigh, pleating, and large cuffs, these pants feel like the perfect balance between a tailored wide-leg pant and the cargo aesthetic.

Color: Green | Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: IT 38-50

Best Jogger: Gritty Soul Soulja Rag Jogger Pant

Gritty Soul Soulja Rag Jogger Pant

Gritty Soul

If you love the military green color of most cargo pants but prefer a more tapered look on the leg, then these are a great option. With thoughtfully placed pockets on the legs, these cargo pants have all the style without the bulk.

Color: Camouflage | Material: 97% cotton, 3% spandex | Size Range: S-3XL

What to Look for in Cargo Pants

Wardrobe integration

Depending on your existing wardrobe, it might be good to purchase pants that complement tops you already own. If you prefer to wear more color, then you could invest in a funky hue of pants. However, if your closet leans more neutral, then pick a classic pair in black or army green.

Material and style

If you want to steer away from the usual nylon or khaki cargo pant, then try out different fabrications like denim, leather, and corduroy. While it may not seem like it, there is variety in the cargo pants that are on the market right now. Once you have an idea of what you’d like in your pair, it’s easier to find what you’re looking for.

FAQ
  • What are cargo pants?

    Originally designed for military use in the 1930s, cargo pants have become a symbol of utilitarian use and subversive fashion. Noted for their unique design with pocket detailing on each leg, cargo pants were solely menswear based in the military, and then they trickled into the uniforms of laborers and hikers. In the 1990s, the style became more ubiquitous as a unisex garment available in a rainbow of colors and prints.

  • How do you style cargo pants?

    As Marissa Pelly says, cargo pants can help with the proportions of a look. “A relaxed-fit pant juxtaposed with a crop top or baby tee and sneakers is a go-to for me, or a bra top with an open button-down shirt,” she explains. “You can certainly add a heeled boot or blazer to dress up a cargo pant look.”

  • What are the differences among cargo pants, khakis, and chinos?

    How are cargo pants distinguished from khakis and chinos? Well, it’s a bit technical but not too difficult to understand. Cargo pants are khakis with two or more pockets, allowing them to carry more “cargo,” hence their name. Khakis and chinos are different in that khakis are thicker, straight-legged trousers, while chinos are lightweight with a tapered leg. At the same time, the two pants are similar in that they’re both constructed from cotton twill. 

    “Cargo pants are traditionally relaxed-fit, straight-leg pants with cargo pockets on either side,” Pelly says. “Cargo pants should always be relaxed with the cargo pockets, whereas khakis and chinos are a bit more slim and formal.”

Why Trust Byrdie

Byrdie contributor Mallori Albright has six years of experience writing fashion and beauty content. She’s always shopping around the web and catching the latest trends to share the “it” products with Byrdie readers. You can check out more of Mallori’s work at Marie Claire and NYLON.

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