11 Best Cargo Work Shorts to Wear on the Job


On the job, you need your essentials. Whether it be your phone, tape measure, or utility tools, it’s nice to have them within reach. Cargo work shorts provide you with plenty of pockets to store those essentials so you can perform your job more effectively.

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These are our choices for the best cargo work shorts:

  1. Wrangler Riggs Workwear Men’s Ripstop Ranger Cargo Short (click here to view)
  2. Carhartt Men’s Cotton Ripstop Cargo Work Short (click here to view)
  3. Tru-Spec Men’s 24-7 Series Cargo Tactical Shorts (click here to view)
  4. Carhartt Men’s Rugged Flex Rigby Cargo Short (click here to view)
  5. Duluth Trading Co. Men’s DuluthFlex Fire Hose 11″ Cargo Shorts (click here to view)
  6. Dickies Men’s Flex 13-Inch Relaxed Fit Cargo Short (click here to view)
  7. Walls Men’s 11″ Performance Short (click here to view)
  8. Wrangler Authentics Men’s Performance Comfort Flex Waist Cargo Shorts (click here to view)
  9. *Big & Tall* Boulder Creek® Ripstop Cargo Shorts (click here to view)
  10. *Women’s* Carhartt Women’s Rugged Flex Original Work Short (click here to view)
  11. *Women’s* Dickies Women’s 11″ Relaxed Stretch Cargo Shorts (click here to view)

There’s quite a bit to consider when shopping for the best cargo work shorts. You’ll need to decide what type of material you prefer (100% cotton vs stretch), and you’ll need to decide what length of inseam fits you best. Of course, the type and amount of pockets can also vary, and may affect your decision.

I own a couple different types of cargo work shorts, one heavy duty pair and one more lightweight pair (I’ll explain why later). The main takeaway is this list contains a wide variety of options so you can find a style of work shorts that fits your needs.

Many cargo shorts for work will come with a gusset to help improve range of motion.

In this article let’s take a closer look at the shorts on this list and I will use photos of the styles that I own. Let’s also discuss what things you’ll want to consider when buying work shorts.


Best Cargo Work Shorts

Wrangler Riggs Workwear Men’s Ripstop Ranger Cargo Short

Many are familiar with Wrangler, but did you know Wrangler has a specific line of apparel dedicated to work clothing called Wrangler Riggs Workwear? And they make what I consider to be the best heavy duty cargo work shorts.

Here’s what these Wrangler Riggs Men’s Ranger Shorts look like:

This is the current price of these Wrangler work shorts available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Here’s what you need to know about these shorts:

  • Material – The Ranger cargo short is an ideal option for surviving summer days on a tough jobsite. Resistant to rips and tears, the 10-ounce ripstop cotton construction features reinforced contrast taping on the pockets for enhanced durability.
  • Fit – In my experience, these shorts fit true to size. They have a relaxed fit through the seat and thigh along with a gusseted crotch for increased range of movement.
  • Pockets – These shorts have two front pockets, two rear pockets (lined with 1000-Denier DuPont Cordura), two cargo pockets with button snap flaps, an oversized watch pocket, and a right-leg hammer loop.
  • What Makes These Shorts Unique – Toughness. In my experience, these are the most well-rounded cargo work shorts for durability. Made with 10-ounce ripstop fabric, they have Cordura lined back pockets, and a tape measure reinforcement on the front pocket.

These are my go-to heavy-duty cargo work shorts (I also have a lightweight short I will wear that we discuss later). These shorts are made with a dependable material that, in my experience, holds up well over time.

best-cargo-work-shorts
wrangler-cargo-shorts

As mentioned above, these shorts have a crotch gusset that provides extra space for comfortable bending and crouching:

wrangler-cargo-shorts-gusset

These are sturdy work shorts, and my size 32 weighs well over a pound:

wrangler-cargo-shorts-weight

If you prefer lightweight work shorts, I’d recommend skipping to the Wrangler Comfort Flex shorts we discuss later. I also own those shorts and they only weigh half as much as these shorts.

But the main takeaway is these shorts are built to last. Not only are they made with ripstop fabric and have a tape measure reinforcement on the front pocket, they also have durable back pockets that are lined with 1000 denier DuPont Cordura:

wrangler-ranger-cordura-pockets

Click here to buy these Wrangler work shorts available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). In my experience, these shorts fit true to size.


Carhartt Men’s Cotton Ripstop Cargo Work Short

It’s impossible to discuss workwear and not mention Carhartt. They offer a wide range of work shorts, including several types of cargo shorts. These shorts are their 100% cotton cargo shorts (they also offer flex cargo shorts).

Here’s what they look like:

This is the current price of these Carhartt cargo work shorts available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Here’s what you need to know about these shorts:

  • Material – The 9.5-ounce 100% ripstop cotton construction of this short is designed to bear the brunt of tough jobs, resisting snags, rips, and tears. Reinforced front ledge pockets provide added durability, helping to minimize wear and tear.
  • Pockets – These shorts have two front pockets, two rear pockets, and two generously-sized cargo pockets with snap closures. There is a hammer loop on the left leg.
  • Fit – A comfortable, relaxed fit through the seat and thigh as well as a gusseted crotch offer maximum ease-of-wear. An 11-inch inseam is an optimum length for a variety of heights.

These shorts are actually very comparable to the Wrangler Riggs Ranger shorts we discussed first. Which is better? Truthfully, it’s very close. I’ve stuck with the Wrangler shorts because I just found that I liked the design.

But these Carhartt short are also very tough, and built to last. They have Cordura-lined front pockets and are made with durable ripstop fabric (best ripstop cargo shorts).

One detail that sticks out about these shorts in a positive way compared to the Wrangler Ranger short I wear, is these shorts have deep front ledge pockets, that make it very easy to get your hand in and out of your pockets. Might be worth considering.

Click here to buy these Carhartt work shorts available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). These shorts are machine washable.


Tru-Spec Men’s 24-7 Series Cargo Tactical Shorts

Tru-Spec specializes in tactical workwear. One thing I like about tactical work pants and work shorts, is they really maximize pockets. If you are someone who needs a lot of pockets on the job, these might be a great option.

Here’s what these Tru-Spec shorts look like:

This is the current price of these Tru-Spec cargo work shorts available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Here’s what you need to know about these shorts:

  • Material – This versatile short is constructed from lightweight, 6.5-ounce 65% polyester/35% cotton ripstop fabric. The 9-inch inseam is an attractive length for a wide array of heights.
  • Water-Repellant – Treated with a durable water repellant coating, it can stand up to moisture while also resisting fading and stains.
  • Pockets – If you need to maximize pockets, these are a great option. These shorts have two extra-deep front pockets, two expandable back pockets, two cargo pockets (with hook & loop closure) as well as several other utility pockets to store small essentials like your phone.
  • What Makes These Shorts Unique – These are a middle ground of comfort and toughness. Yes, they use a lighter-weight fabric than our first two options, but they are still heavy enough to stand up on the job. These shorts also feature an adjustable slider waistband that can add extra comfort to your work day.

Click here to buy these Tru-Spec cargo shorts available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). These shorts are machine washable.


Wrangler Authentics Lightweight Comfort Flex Cargo Shorts

Okay, this is my other go-to work short. I love these Wrangler Comfort Flex Cargo Shorts for two reasons: 1) they are super lightweight and flexible and 2) they have non-bulky zipper cargo pockets.

I’ve owned these shorts for several years. Here’s what they look like:

This is the current price of these Wrangler cargo shorts available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Here’s what you need to know about these shorts:

  • Comfort – These shorts, in my opinion, feel almost as lightweight as swim trunks, and that’s why I like them. In my experience, still tough enough for most types of work. Overall, a nice blend of lightweight and toughness.
  • Fit – These shorts have a relaxed fit in the seat and thighs. They do not hug tight against your legs (but also aren’t obnoxiously loose). That relaxed fit in combination with the flex fabric makes these easy to wear. They have a 10″ inseam.
  • Pockets – As we discussed earlier, pockets are usually essential for work shorts. These Wrangler shorts have 2 cargo zip pockets, 2 slash front hand pockets, and 2 back pockets.

Here I am wearing these Wrangler Authentics Lightweight Comfort Flex Cargo Shorts:

wrangler-shorts

These are the shorts that I turn to probably the most during summer because I prefer lightweight shorts, especially on extremely hot days. So why aren’t they at the top of this list?

Well, again, these are a lightweight option. Yes, I personally prefer a lightweight work short, but many people need something heavier in weight. All the options we covered above will have a bit more toughness than these shorts, and therefore might make more sense for more jobs.

If you are like me and you just want something super lightweight, flexible, with some cargo storage pockets, then these are a great option. I have no complaints. In my experience, they still have enough toughness to handle most types of jobs.

Again, they feel so lightweight and won’t weigh you down. My size 32 shorts only weigh 0.66 pounds:

wrangler-shorts-weight

The moisture wicking fabric can help you stay dry while you sweat in the brutal summer heat. The fabric is also rated UPF 30, so it will also provide some protection from the sun.

Here is a close-up look at the material on these stretch shorts. Again, although it is a lightweight material, it still has a bit of toughness to it.

wrangler-shorts-material

One thing to note about these shorts, is they have a snap button front. This may affect your decision, so I wanted to make sure I pointed it out.

wrangler-snap-button

Overall, it fits very comfortably around the waist. The belt loops have quality stitching:

wrangler-shorts-belt-loop

These shorts have low-profile zipper side pockets to help you safely store essentials. If you like low-profile pockets, visit our article about the best cargo shorts with zipper pockets.

wrangler-shorts-zip

These shorts are great for summer and really allow your legs to breathe in the hot weather. Obviously, they won’t be as tough as super heavyweight canvas shorts, but there has to be a trade-off for summer.

Click here to buy these Wrangler flex shorts at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Again, in my experience these shorts fit true-to-size.


Other Cargo Work Shorts to Consider

  • Carhartt Men’s Rugged Flex Rigby Cargo Short – If you prefer a flexible fabric, but still want a heavy duty work short, these shorts are a great blend of flexibility and toughness. These shorts are made with an 8.5-ounce cotton/spandex blend. Relaxed fit that doesn’t hug tight against your legs. Click here to view these Carhart shorts (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
  • Dickies Men’s Flex 13-Inch Relaxed Fit Cargo Short – These shorts have a very long inseam in case you prefer your shorts to fit down near the knee. This flex material by Dickies is moisture-wicking and resists both wrinkles and stains. Click here to view these Dickies shorts (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
  • *Big & Tall* Boulder Creek® Ripstop Cargo Shorts – Do you need extended sizing? These Boulder Creek shorts are offered up to a size 68 waist and are made with a durable ripstop fabric. Side-elastic panels on the waist for extra comfort. These shorts featured cargo pockets and two secure zip pockets for storing essentials. Click here to view these Boulder Creek shorts (affiliate link takes you to kingsize.com).
  • *Women’s* Carhartt Women’s Rugged Flex Original Work Short – If you shopping for women’s cargo work shorts, these Carhartt Rugged Flex shorts are a nice option. Made with an 8.5-ounce flex fabric blend, these shorts are built with a mid-rise that sits just below the waist. Cargo pockets, utility pockets, and tool loop. Click here to view these Carhartt women’s cargo work shorts (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).

4 Things to Consider When Buying Cargo Work Shorts

Design

How many pockets do you really need? Having too many pockets can be overkill and just add bulk and weight to your work shorts. That doesn’t help anyone. But not having enough pockets can be a problem too.

Most work shorts will have utility pockets on at least one leg that can store basic work essentials, and even your phone. If you need to maximize the amount of pockets, I’d recommend the Tru-Spec tactical shorts on our list that have 11 total pockets.

Regarding comfort, elastic waistbands can help remove stress off the waist and increase range of motion. To read more, visit our article about cargo shorts with elastic waist.

For other functional work shorts, visit our article about the best carpenter shorts.

Material Weight

I discussed this throughout the article, but how durable do you need your cargo work shorts to be? For me, I own both a heavy duty style (Wrangler Ranger) and a more lightweight style (Wrangler Comfort Flex).

I personally prefer more of a lightweight summer work short, but which style is best for you will likely come down to personal preference and the demands of your job. To see options, here are my favorite lightweight cargo shorts.

Also, if you prefer a stretch fabric, visit our article about the best stretch cargo shorts. If you might prefer a denim fabric, visit our article about the best denim cargo shorts.

Inseam

You will definitely want to consider the inseam of your workwear shorts. Obviously, your height matters, but a 10″ inseam will often hit near the top of the knee. If you prefer long-fitting shorts, the Dickies shorts on our list have a longer, 13-inch inseam.

For shorter options, visit our article about the best short work shorts or our article about short cargo shorts. And regarding fit, most work shorts have a loose, relaxed fit. If you prefer slim, visit our article about the best slim work shorts.

Crotch Gusset

A crotch gusset is extra material sewn into the crotch to add comfort and flexibility to your shorts. Buying cargo work shorts that have a crotch gusset helps you comfortably crouch, bend, and kneel while on the job and also takes some stress off the crotch seams, which can help prevent tears and rips.

The Duluth Trading Co. shorts and the 5.11 shorts on our list have a gusseted crotch. To read more about gussets, visit our article about the best gusset shorts for work.

Paul Johnson

Paul is a lead content creator for Workwear Command. He has had several blue-collar jobs which have provided him a wide range of experience with tools and gear. He also has a business degree and has spent time in business casual office settings.

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