Recently I put my hands on some of the most popular summer work pants for hot weather to compare them on many things like toughness, breathability, and weight. My conclusion is this: The Carhartt B151 pants are the best summer work pants if you still need durability (they use a lightweight canvas). If you prefer, instead, ultra lightweight work pants that are breathable, my favorite options are the Columbia and CQR pants listed below.
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These are my choices for best breathable work pants for summer:
- Carhartt Men’s B151 Lightweight Canvas Work Pant (click here to view)
- Columbia Silver Ridge Lightweight Cargo Pants (click here to view)
- Carhartt Men’s Force Relaxed-Fit Ripstop Work Pant (click here to view)
- CQR Men’s Vented Knee Lightweight Cargo Pants (click here to view)
- Wrangler ATG Men’s Moisture Wicking Reinforced Utility Pant (click here to view)
- Dickies Cooling Temp-iQ™ Performance Hybrid Utility Pants (click here to view)
- Duluth Trading Co. DuluthFlex Fire Hose CoolMax Cargo Pants (click here to view)
- Dickies Relaxed Straight-Fit Duck Lightweight Carpenter Pant (click here to view)
- *Women’s* Red Ants Pants GSD Work Pants (click here to view)
- *Women’s* CQR Women’s Quick Dry Lightweight Work Pants (click here to view)
- *Women’s* 5.11 Women’s Taclite Pro Lightweight Cargo Pant (click here to view)
Heavy duty work pants are too hot for summer work, but most lightweight work pants aren’t tough enough to hold up on the job. That’s why I like the Carhartt B151 pants. They use a lighter-weight canvas, which is still durable, but allows my legs to breathe a little bit in the heat. My size 32×34 weighs only 1.33 pounds. Here’s my Carhartt B151 pants:
If you want something even lighter in weight, I also like to use the CQR Hiking Pants because they have vented knees which allows the air to circulate around my legs. The vent is on the backside of the knee and hard to see. My size 32×34 weighs only 0.68 pounds. Here’s my CQR vented knee pants:
The list above contains a wide range of fabric that varies in weight. Yes, they are all lightweight compared to heavyweight 12-ounce cotton, but some will be lighter in weight than others. Ultimately, you know the demands of your job better than anyone.
I own the top 5 options on this list, so I can give you a helpful advice on what to expect from these summer work pants, including photos and weights of the pants I own. Let’s take a closer look at these pants so you can decide what style might be best for you.
Comparing the Best Summer Work Pants
I own all of the first five options on our list. Here’s how they compare (in my opinion) on weight, toughness, and breathability:
|Carhartt B151 (#1)||1.33||7||7|
- Weight – Weight in pounds. Information from table is based off size 32×34. Photos of the weights are below.
- Toughness – Based out of 10. This is not a scientific study, it is just my opinion based on wearing these pants. A 10 in toughness would be a heavyweight 12-ounce canvas pant.
- Breathability – Just like toughness, this is based out of 10 and is not a scientific study. Simply my opinion from wearing these pants. 10 would be the most breathable pant.
- My advice – Although the CQR pants have my best combined score between toughness and breathability, I personally use the Carhartt B151 pants more because I prefer a canvas fabric.
- The Lightest – If you want a super lightweight summer work pant, I’d stick with the CQR pants or the Columbia pants. The CQR pants are one of the few options on the market that have a vented knee for extra air circulation, but the Columbia pants are the most lightweight work pants that I own.
- The Toughest – If you need something that is very durable, but made for summer, I’d stick with either the Carhartt B151 or Wrangler ATG pants. The Wrangler pants have reinforced knees, are made with canvas, and are probably the toughest pants on this list. But the Carhartt B151 pants are also made of canvas, weigh less, and have tool loops.
Best Summer Work Pants for Hot Weather
Carhartt Men’s B151 Lightweight Canvas Work Pants
Here’s why I like these Carhartt B151 pants the most: they still have that canvas toughness you need for a work site. These pants use a lighter-weight 7.5-ounce canvas so it gives you that perfect middle ground between breathability and toughness.
I own this pant in several different colors. Here’s what the B151 pant looks like:
This is the current price of these Carhartt summer work pants at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Here’s what you need to know about these pants:
- Material – Many types of traditional heavyweight work pants use 12-ounce cotton. These lightweight Carhartt canvas work pants use only 7.5-ounce cotton (100% cotton).
- Fit – No, these pants won’t hug tight against your legs. Plenty of breathing room to move around. These pants have what Carhartt calls an original fit, which is a bit looser in the seat and thighs than some of their other styles. Straight leg opening fits over the top of most all types of work boots.
- Pockets – I like the front slash pockets that are easy to slip your hand in and out of. These pants also have standard back pockets, side utility pockets, a hammer loop on the left leg, and another small tool band on the right hip.
- Sweat Wicking – These pants are not sweat wicking. These are best for you if you need something that is tough. If you aren’t so worried about durability, then I’d probably recommend going with a lighter-weight moisture wicking pant. For example, the CQR pants we discuss next, that also have vented knees.
No, these aren’t the most lightweight pants on this list, but in my opinion these pants have a great blend between lightweight and toughness. Ultimately, the amount of toughness you need will come down to job demands and personal preference.
Here’s what my brown Carhartt B151 summer work pants look like. In my experience, these fit true to size:
Again, this is a canvas material that will still hold up on the job despite being lighter in weight than heavy duty work pants:
These pants have a hammer loop on the left leg and also a tool band on the right hip:
Another thing I like about these pants is the slash front pockets that are angled in a way that makes it easy to get your hand in and out:
Click here to buy these Carhartt pants at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). To read more about how Carhartt pants fit, visit our article about Carhartt Pants Sizing.
CQR Men’s Vented Knee Lightweight Cargo Pants
CQR makes a wide range of pants, many of which are designed to be lightweight and responsive. In my experience, this is one of the few vented knee work pants you can find on the market today.
Here’s what these CQR Vented Knee Cargo Pants look like:
This is the current price of these CQR vented knee work pants available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Here’s what you need to know about these pants:
- Material – Yes, these pants are very easy to move around in. They are built with a very lightweight cotton/nylon/spandex blend that, in my experience, is still reasonably durable.
- Vented Knees – Again, this is like the one summer work pant I can find on the market today that offers vented knees. I have just found that this is an awesome way to get air circulation and keep the legs a little cooler.
- Moisture Wicking – These pants are designed to wick sweat away from your skin, allowing it to dry quickly. The evaporation process naturally helps pull some heat away from your body.
- Please Note – As a word of caution, if you click through to buy these at Amazon, just be sure the color you select has vented knees. Some styles of this pant do not have the vented knees. *These pants are not flame-resistant.
Here I am wearing these CQR vented knee pants. In my experience, these fit true to size:
These pants are very lightweight, but I have found that – all things considered – they are still reasonably durable. No, they aren’t as durable as canvas pants.
These pants have plenty of storage options, including flap-close cargo pockets and front utility pockets, a perfect place to store smaller utility tools:
These pants have a diamond-shaped crotch gusset for extra comfort and range of motion while bending and crouching:
But the main takeaway here are the vented knees. The vent is on the back side of the knee.
This is an awesome way to improve air circulation and help keep you a bit cooler out there in the heat. The vent has a mesh panel and small flap that covers it:
Click here to buy these CQR summer work pants available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). These pants are machine washable.
Carhartt Men’s Force Relaxed Fit Ripstop Cargo Work Pants
Carhartt is synonymous with workwear. When you think of Carhartt, you often think of heavyweight 12-ounce duck cotton canvas, but Carhartt does have a nice selection of lighter-weight work trousers built more for summer.
These cargo pants use a 7-ounce ripstop fabric that is both breathable and durable. Here’s what these Carhartt moisture wicking cargo pants look like:
This is the current price of these Carhartt summer work pants available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Here’s what you need to know about these pants:
- Material – Built for ultimate ease of movement, the lightweight 7-ounce, cotton/polyester construction of this pant features Carhartt’s durable Rugged Flex® stretch technology. This is a ripstop fabric that discourages rips and tears.
- Sweat Wicking – Yes, these pants are designed to wick moisture away. They are built using Carhartt’s FastDry® technology.
- Pockets – There’s plenty of room to stash anything you may need on the job with reinforced front slash pockets, heavy-hauling reinforced rear pockets. The side cargo pockets also have utility pockets on the outside for extra storage. No tool loop.
- Fit – Sitting at the natural waist, these are relaxed fit work pants with plenty of room to move throughout the seat and thigh. Straight leg opening. A gusseted crotch provides more stretch between the legs for increased range of motion.
Here I am wearing these Carhartt summer cargo pants. In my experience, these fit true to size:
These pants sort of fall in a middle ground for weight compared to all the other options on our list. They are made with a durable ripstop fabric:
These pants do have a large inseam gusset for extra comfort and range of motion while bending and crouching:
Plenty of storage options, including side cargo pockets. There’s also a utility phone pocket on the outside of the cargo pocket:
If you are looking for cargo work pants for hot weather that have a bit more weight and toughness than the CQR pants from earlier, these will be a nice option.
Click here to buy these Carhartt summer work pants available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). These pants are machine washable.
Wrangler ATG Men’s Reinforced Utility Pants
You’re probably familiar with Wrangler, but you might not know that Wrangler has a specific line of apparel called “ATG by Wrangler” which stands for All Terrain Gear. A lot of Wrangler ATG collection can make for ideal work clothing in outdoor, rugged environments.
Here’s what these sweat-wicking Wrangler ATG Utility Pants look like:
This is the current price of these Wrangler moisture wicking work pants available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Here’s what you need to know about these pants:
- Material – This reinforced utility pant is constructed of an 8.9-ounce cotton/spandex-blend stretch canvas. So although this pant is made with a durable canvas fabric, it still has flexibility for comfort, and is lighter in weight than heavy duty canvas pants.
- Sweat Wicking – Yes, these pants are moisture-wicking to keep you dry and comfortable. The fabric also offers UPF 30 to help block the sun’s harmful UV rays.
- Pockets – Securely store your valuables in the zip utility pocket and hidden inside pocket, perfect for a wallet or cell phone. Two front pockets as well as two rear pockets provide even more space for whatever you may need. No hammer loop on these pants.
- Fit – Featuring a mid-rise and a regular fit through the seat and thigh, this straight-leg pant is made for all-day comfort. Lending to their durability is an articulated, reinforced knee and kick plate. Gusseted crotch for additional comfort.
Here I am wearing these Wrangler ATG pants. In my experience, these fit true to size:
These are one of the toughest, most durable options on our list. They are made with a stretch canvas blend that has reinforced knees and a back reinforced kick plate:
But with all that reinforcement, comes extra weight. These are one of the heaviest pants on this list:
But even though these pants weigh more than some of the lighter-weight options on this list, these pants are still built for summer. This material is moisture wicking to help keep you dry, and help pull some heat away from your body.
These pants also have a diamond-shaped crotch gusset for extra comfort while bending and crouching:
For storage, these pants have a side-zip utility pocket which gives you a secure place to store essentials:
Again, this just comes down to how much toughness you need. These are a great option for those of you who rely on canvas pants to get you through a harsh work environment.
Click here to buy these Wrangler summer work pants available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). These pants are machine washable.
Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Cargo Pants
Columbia specializes in making outdoor activewear, including a lot of hiking gear. In my experience, hiking pants can make for great summer work pants for hot weather because they are usually lightweight, breathable, and easy to move around in.
Here’s what these Columbia Silver Ridge sweat wicking pants look like:
This is the current price of these Columbia lightweight work pants available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Here’s what you need to know about these pants:
- Material – These pants are made with a 100% ripstop nylon fabric. This is a lightweight fabric that won’t weigh you down, but is still designed to discourage tearing. The Omni-Shade exterior is a UPF 50 shield that helps protect you from the sun. Moisture-wicking fabric.
- Pockets – Two front pockets, two tabbed rear pockets with hook-and-loop closures. These pants have side cargo pockets – the left leg cargo pocket is zip-close, giving you a secure pocket to store essentials. No tool loop.
- Fit – This regular-fit pant with straight-cut leg is not only functional and durable, but exceptionally easy to wear. The partial elastic waistband with an exterior adjustable belt offers a custom fit while the gusseting detail and articulated knees allows for increased mobility.
- Work – Again, although this is primarily hiking pant, it fits perfectly for those of you who prefer a super lightweight summer work pant. No, this won’t be the most durable pant on the list, but the ripstop fabric does offer some toughness. You’re buying this pant for its lightweight, breathable design.
Here I am wearing these Columbia Silver Ridge summer work pants. In my experience, these fit true to size:
You’re buying these pants for their lightweight breathability:
Despite being lightweight, they are made with a nylon ripstop to help discourage rips and tears. No, these won’t be as durable as canvas pants, but this helps add some durability:
These pants have a large inseam gusset so you can comfortably bend and crouch on the job:
Another bonus for comfort is these pants have side-elastic panels on the waistline:
These pants have a side cargo pocket on the right leg and also have a side-zip utility pocket on the left leg:
If you are looking for something that is very breathable, moisture wicking, and lightweight, these pants are a great option. These are typically used for hiking, but the nylon ripstop makes them durable enough for most types of jobs.
Click here to buy these Columbia summer work pants available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). These pants are machine washable.
Other Summer Work Pants to Consider
- Dickies Relaxed Straight-Fit Duck Lightweight Carpenter Pant – Dickies is another well-known name in workwear, and their lightweight cotton-duck carpenter pants offer a nice blend of comfort and toughness. These pants use a 9-ounce cotton fabric. These are relaxed-fit pants that have been pre-washed for comfort. Click here to view these pants at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
- 5.11 Men’s Taclite Pro Lightweight Performance Pants – 5.11 is well known for making tactical work clothing that needs to be lightweight and responsive. These pants have 8 total pockets which gives you plenty of storage options. They are made with flexible ripstop fabric and have a gusseted crotch for comfort. Click here to view these 5.11 lightweight work pants (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
- Duluth Trading Co. Men’s DuluthFlex Fire Hose CoolMax Relaxed Fit Cargo Pants – Duluth Trading Co. offers their famous “Fire Hose” work pants in a summer version. These pants are made with 30% “CoolMax” polyester which helps wick away sweat, and helps keep you cool. Made with 7.8-ounce canvas fabric and has a crotch gusset for comfort. Click here to view these Duluth summer work pants.
- *Women’s* Red Ants Pants GSD “Get Stuff Done” Pants – These are great canvas summer work pants for women. They are still very durable, but made with a lightweight canvas fabric that also has a bit of stretch to it. The lightweight fabric allows your legs to breathe a little bit out there in the summer heat. Offered in both “straight” and “curvy” cut, made in the USA. Click here to view these pants at redantspants.com.
6 Things to Consider When Buying Work Pants for Hot Weather
Buying workwear pants that have a gusseted crotch is a great way to add additional comfort to your work pants.
A crotch gusset is extra material sewn into the crotch to increase your freedom of movement. Not only does it make it more comfortable to crouch, bend, and kneel, it also takes some stress off the crotch, which can help prevent tears and rips.
Some gussets will be large inseam gussets that run down near the knee, while others will be diamond-shaped, and confined to the crotch area. To read more, visit our article about the best gusseted work pants.
Lightweight Work Pants
Are you okay using a lightweight work pant, or do you need something with a bit more toughness? Most lightweight summer work pants will use a ripstop material which, even though it isn’t as durable as canvas, still helps discourage rips and tears.
But if you need toughness, I’d recommend the Carhartt B151 pants at the top of our list. Those pants use a lightweight 8-ounce canvas fabric, which I’ve found to be a nice compromise between toughness and breathability. For more canvas options, visit our article about the best lightweight canvas pants.
Moisture Wicking Work Pants
Moisture wicking pants are designed to combat sweat. They are made out of a fabric engineered to move sweat away from the body and disperse it across the outside of the fabric in a way which causes it to evaporate quickly.
Not only does this help keep you dry, but the evaporation process naturally helps pull heat away from the body, which can provide a minor amount of temperature relief.
No, it won’t feel like a cool spring day, but it will provide you with some small relief, and as we all know, every little bit counts in the summer heat. If you are looking for the most breathable work pants, I’d stick with something that is moisture wicking.
Vented Summer Work Pants
Using vented work pants is a very sneaky way to find nice relief in the heat. The bad thing is, there isn’t much selection for these types of pants.
The CQR pant that I posted photos of earlier in the article is one of the few vented work pants I’ve been able to find. These pants have vents behind the knees and just really help air circulate inside the pants.
I recommend the Carhartt B151 as the best summer work pant due to the combination of toughness and breathability. But if you are truly looking for a the best breathable work pant, I’d recommend these CQR pants instead (just don’t expect them to be as durable as those Carhartt pants).
Hiking Work Pants
If you are working in brutal heat, and looking for breathable work pants for hot weather, it might not be a bad idea to turn to more of a hiking pant. These types of pants are usually made with a ripstop fabric that, despite being lightweight, is still reasonably durable.
For example, Columbia is well known for making hiking pants, and the Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Pants are that perfect type of pant that can also function as a hot weather work pant. Lightweight, moisture-wicking, breathable, but also made with ripstop fabric that won’t tear easily.
To see more options, visit our article about the best lightweight cargo pants.
Convertible Work Pants
Another good option for summer that we didn’t get to discuss are convertible work pants that zip off at the knee. Yes, these aren’t necessarily for everyone. Some people don’t like the way they look.
But these types of convertible summer work pants do add versatility and allow you to adapt as the temperature changes. To read about your options, visit our article about the best convertible pants for work.
***In this article we discussed the best work pants for hot weather. For more summer workwear, visit our article about the Best Work T-Shirts for Hot Weather.