My Favorite Ripstop Cargo Shorts [Discussing Options]


I recently put my hands several of the most popular ripstop cargo shorts to evaluate them on several things, including weight, durability, comfort, and fit. I personally prefer the Carhartt Broxton Shorts because I think they find the perfect balance between comfort and durability. But if you want something ultra-lightweight, the Columbia Silver Ridge Shorts are best.

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These are my choices for the best cargo shorts made with ripstop fabric:

As I mentioned at the top, I put my hands on several different types of ripstop cargo shorts so I could evaluate them on several things, including weight, design, toughness, and flexibility. One of the major takeaways was the dramatic difference in weight depending on what type of cargo shorts you prefer.

For example, I found the lightweight Columbia Silver Ridge hiking-style cargo shorts to weigh 0.42 pounds for a size 32. Compare that to the heavy-duty Wrangler Riggs Workwear Ranger Cargo Shorts, which I found to weigh 1.37 pounds for a size 32.

If you are using these cargo shorts in extreme hot weather, I think either the Columbia Silver Ridge or the Carhartt Force shorts on the list above make the most sense. For casualwear, I like the Lee Swope shorts and the Nautica shorts the best.

As you can see, there is a wide range of weight and durability. Some styles are built to take on a rugged work environment, while other are built with more of a lightweight design either for outdoor recreation like hiking, or to be worn casually.

In this article I want to take a closer look at the ripstop cargo shorts that I own to give you a better understanding how these shorts differ, and which option might be best for you. I also want to discuss several things to consider when buying these types of cargo shorts.

My Favorite Ripstop Cargo Shorts

Carhartt Men’s Force Broxton Ripstop Cargo Shorts

Ultimately, these are my favorite ripstop cargo shorts because they are very comfortable to wear, but also have a durable material that is built to last a bit longer than some of the other options that use a lightweight ripstop.

These are perfect for me because they are breathable and comfortable to wear in the heat, but they are also still tough enough to use on a job site.

Here’s what these Carhartt lightweight cargo shorts look like:

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

  • Ripstop Material – These cargo shorts use a 7-ounce ripstop fabric that is both breathable and durable. Although there are options on this page that use a lighter-weight ripstop, think of these shorts as a sort of middle-ground between lightweight breathability and durability. These shorts are designed to wick moisture away.
  • Comfort – Built for ultimate ease of movement, the cotton/polyester construction of these shorts feature Carhartt’s durable Rugged Flex® stretch technology. These shorts also have an inseam gusset that runs the full length of the shorts and really improves the comfort and range of motion.
  • 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 (phone).
  • Fit – Sitting at the natural waist, these are relaxed fit work shorts with plenty of room to move throughout the seat and thigh. These shorts have an 11″ inseam. In my experience, they have a fit that isn’t too tight or too loose.

Although these shorts are durable, they are still reasonably lightweight compared to other heavy-duty work shorts. My size 32 weighs 0.98 pounds:

cargo-carhartt-force-weight

If you want something ultra-lightweight, I would stick with the Columbia Silver Ridge ripstop cargo shorts we discuss next. But these Carhartt Broxton shorts still have a lightweight feel despite being more durable.

That’s why I recommend these shorts if you need something for the job that is lightweight, but still quite tough. They’re also moisture wicking (pull sweat away) and breathable to help you during those brutal summer days.

Here’s a look at the ripstop fabric in these cargo shorts:

cargo-carhartt-force-material

Here’s a look at how mine fit:

cargo-carhartt-force

I also really like the pockets on these shorts, and they’re very useful on the job. The angled hand pockets make it very easy to slide your hand in and out, and I also like the phone-sized utility pocket on the outside of the cargo pocket (pictured below):

cargo-carhartt-force-pocket
cargo-carhartt-force-pockets
cargo-carhartt-force-phone-pocket

As I mentioned above, these shorts have a crotch gusset that runs the full length of the inseam to give you the freedom of movement needed while bending and crouching on the job:

cargo-carhartt-force-gusset

Overall, I really like the combination of toughness and breathability on these Carhartt ripstop cargo shorts, and they make for a great summer work short.

Click here to buy these Carhartt Broxton Cargo Shorts available at Amazon (paid affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). In my experience, these shorts fit true to size.


Other Ripstop Cargo Shorts to Consider

Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts

Okay, now for the ultra-lightweight option. These Columbia Silver Ridge cargo shorts were the lightest-in-weight out of all of the ripstop cargo shorts that I tried. These will be perfect for outdoor recreation like hiking, or if you just prefer something that is extremely lightweight and breathable.

But it is important to note that because they are so lightweight, they aren’t quite as durable as some of the work shorts on this list (yes, they are still made with a ripstop fabric). Here’s what these Columbia ripstop cargo shorts look like:

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

  • Ripstop Material – These shorts are made with a lightweight ripstop nylon. They offer UPF 50 sun protection to help protect you from UV rays. My shorts have a 10″ inseam.
  • Moisture Wicking – These shorts will wick sweat away from your body and distribute it in a way that helps it dry quickly. The evaporation process also naturally pull heat away from your body.
  • Ease of Movement – These shorts have a partial elastic waistband and also have gusseted details to allow you to move freely while wearing these shorts (best elastic waist cargo shorts).
  • Low Profile Pockets – These shorts have low-profile pockets that aren’t too bulky. The pocket on the left leg is a zip pocket, giving you a secure place to store essentials.

As I mentioned earlier, you’re buying these shorts if you want an ultra-lightweight cargo short. My size 32 weighs just 0.42 pounds:

lightweight-cargo-shorts

They’re so lightweight it almost feels like I’m wearing swimming trunks. This lightweight, moisture-wicking material really allows your legs to breathe.

That said, the reason these are tougher than swimming trunks (and still usable for work and outdoor tasks) is, yes, they are made with a nylon ripstop material that discourages rips and tears.

Here’s a close look at the material. If you look closely you can see the ripstop weave:

ripstop-cargo-shorts

Here’s a look at how mine fit. The inseam on these shorts is about an inch shorter than the Carhartt shorts we discussed first.

silver-ridge-shorts

One thing I like about these shorts is the low-profile zip cargo pocket that gives me a safe place to store essentials:

silver-ridge-shorts-zip-pocket

These shorts also have an inseam crotch gusset for comfort when bending and crouching. They also have side-elastic panels on the waistband that help provide a snug, but comfortable fit around the waist:

silver-ridge-shorts-elastic-waist

In my experience, these shorts fit true to size.

The main takeaway here is you are buying these Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts for their lightweight breathability. Just don’t expect these shorts to take on a beating like a pair of canvas shorts could.

Click here to buy these Columbia Silver Ridge ripstop cargo shorts available at Columbia.com (paid affiliate link takes you to Columbia.com). These shorts are machine washable.


Wrangler Riggs Workwear Men’s Ripstop Ranger Cargo Short

These are my favorite heavy-duty ripstop cargo shorts.

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 these popular cargo shorts that use a durable ripstop material.

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

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

  • Ripstop 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 (diamond gusset) 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. These shorts are made with a dependable ripstop material that, in my experience, holds up well over time.

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

As mentioned above, these shorts have a diamond 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

Not only are these cargo shorts 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. Here’s a look at mine:

wrangler-ranger-cordura-pockets

If you prefer a thicker, more durable ripstop fabric, these will be your best option. They make a lot of sense for workers who needs something that can stand up to a tough job site.

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


Lee Men’s Extreme Motion Swope Cargo Short

Now, onto a more casual option.

These Lee Swope Cargo Shorts are a great option if you are looking for something that is lightweight and extremely flexible. Yes, these shorts use a ripstop fabric, but they are extremely comfortable to wear with an “Extreme Motion” waistband and cotton/spandex fabric blend.

Here’s what these Lee Men’s Extreme Motion Swope Cargo Shorts look like:

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

  • Ripstop Material – These shorts are made with a 98% cotton/2% spandex stretch ripstop fabric will provide the durable comfort. This type of material would be a great option if you will be very active while wearing these shorts.
  • Pockets – Two front pockets, two flap rear pockets, side flap cargo/utility pockets, and a cell phone pocket offer plenty of space to stash whatever you need to meet your next job or adventure head-on.
  • Fit – If a traditional cargo is too bulky for you, the Extreme Motion Swope Short will be a refreshing change with its streamlined-yet-relaxed fit and slim pockets. The 10.5-inch inseam hits right at the knee and the Extreme Motion elastic waistband provides maximum flexibility.

These shorts use a lightweight, summer-friendly fabric that has a breathable feel to it. My size 32 weighs 0.84 pounds:

lee-swope-shorts-weight

But even though these shorts are lightweight, the material is a ripstop fabric designed to discourage tears. If you look closely, you can see the ripstop weave in the material:

lee-swope-shorts-material

These shorts have side cargo pockets, but also have additional pockets on the outside of the cargo pocket which gives me a nice spot to store my phone:

lee-swope-shorts-pocket
lee-swope-shorts-pocket-2

The biggest advantage of these shorts is the stretch material that makes it very easy to bend and crouch. They also have an elastic waistband that is hidden on the inside of the shorts (which means from the outside, the waistband looks normal):

lee-swope-shorts-stretch
lee-swope-shorts-stretch-waistband

In my experience, these shorts fit true to size.

Click here to buy these LEE Swope ripstop cargo shorts at Amazon (paid affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). These shorts are machine washable.


Carhartt Men’s Force Ripstop Lightweight Cargo Shorts

Okay, remember at the top of the article when we discussed the Carhartt Broxton Shorts, which are my favorite ripstop cargo shorts? Well, these Carhartt Force Shorts provide an awesome alternative to those shorts (and weigh less).

Even though they are lightweight, they’re made with a quality ripstop fabric that discourages rips and tears, which is perfect for working and hiking. And they also use front ledge pockets which make it so much easier to get my hand in and out while I work.

Here’s what these Carhartt lightweight cargo shorts look like:

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

  • Ripstop Material – Built for ultimate ease of movement, the lightweight 5-ounce, nylon/spandex construction of this short features Carhartt’s durable Rugged Flex® stretch technology. Yes, this is a ripstop fabric that discourages rips and tears.
  • 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 (phone).
  • Moisture Wicking – These shorts are designed to wick moisture away. They are built using Carhartt’s FastDry® technology.
  • Fit – Sitting at the natural waist, these are relaxed fit work shorts with plenty of room to move throughout the seat and thigh. A gusseted crotch provides more stretch between the legs for increased range of motion. These shorts have an 11″ inseam.

These shorts are made with a lightweight ripstop fabric. My size 32 only weighs 0.65 pounds:

carhartt-lightweight-shorts-weight

Even though these cargo shorts use a lightweight material, this is a ripstop fabric, made to discourage rips and tears. Here’s a look at the material – if you look closely you can see the ripstop weave:

carhartt-lightweight-shorts-material

These shorts have easy-to-access cargo pockets down the side, and also have the front ledge pockets that I like. The ledge pockets make it so much easier to get my hand in and out while working.

carhartt-lightweight-shorts-pocket
carhartt-lightweight-shorts-pockets

These shorts have wide belt loops, and also have an inseam crotch gusset for extra comfort when bending and crouching on the job:

carhartt-lightweight-shorts-belt-loops

I think these are the best lightweight option if you need work shorts. Again, I personally like the Carhartt Broxton shorts we discussed earlier in the article because those shorts have a bit more toughness than these shorts. But if you are looking for ultra-lightweight work shorts, these are probably the better option.

In my experience, these shorts fit true to size.

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


What to Consider When Buying Ripstop Cargo Shorts

Inseam Length

You will definitely want to consider the inseam length of your ripstop cargo shorts. Most cargo shorts come with inseams in the 10-11 inch range. Yes, there are exceptions both ways.

If you want to read about short or long length cargo shorts, visit my articles linked below:

Cargo Pockets

How many cargo pockets do you really need? If you buy cargo shorts that have too many pockets it 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.

You’ll also need to consider how bulky the cargo pockets are. For less bulk, consider low-profile zip close cargo pockets (the Columbia Silver Ridge Shorts on the list at the top of the page have low-profile pockets).

Crotch Gusset

A crotch gusset is extra material sewn into the crotch to add comfort and flexibility to your shorts (buying a stretch material is another way). To read more, visit our article about work shorts with gusseted crotch.

Here’s a look at two gusset ripstop cargo shorts I own:

wrangler-cargo-shorts-gusset
cargo-carhartt-force-gusset

There are several types of cargo shorts that have a crotch gusset. The size of the gusset can vary. Some crotch gussets will be smaller (diamond shaped) and confined to the crotch area, while others will run the full length of the short.

In comparison, the full length gussets will provide you with more range of motion when hiking and running. But for simple bending and crouching on the job, both types of gussets work just fine. Buying cargo shorts with a gusset adds flexibility and comfort.

Durability

Even though ripstop material is made to be durable, there are varying degrees of durability.

Some options will use a thinner, more lightweight ripstop fabric. A good example of this is the Columbia Silver Ridge Shorts that we discussed earlier in the article.

If you prefer a heavy-duty ripstop material, I would suggest sticking with the Wrangler Ranger Shorts we discussed.

Other Cargo Shorts to Consider

If you don’t like any of the ripstop cargo shorts on this list, perhaps some of these other types of cargo shorts might work better for you:

Quick Dry Shorts

Buying ripstop cargo shorts that are designed to wick away sweat can be a very helpful way to stay cooler and drier on the job. When moisture wicking shorts pull sweat away, it gets dispersed on the outside of the short allowing it to dry quicker.

Another small benefit from this is the evaporation process can naturally pull a small amount of heat away from your body. This quick dry evaporation is a sort of win-win process.

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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