10 Best Stretch Cargo Shorts for Work [2021]


Many of us rely on cargo shorts on the job, and using stretch cargo shorts with flex fabric is a great way to improve comfort and range of motion at work. Some flexible cargo shorts will also have a gusseted crotch for even more freedom of movement.

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These are our choices for the best stretch cargo shorts for work:

  1. Carhartt Men’s Rugged Flex Rigby Cargo Short (click here to view)
  2. Lee Men’s Extreme Motion Swope Cargo Short (click here to view)
  3. Wrangler Authentics Men’s Classic Relaxed Fit Stretch Cargo Short (click here to view)
  4. Duluth Trading Co. Men’s DuluthFlex Fire Hose 11″ Cargo Shorts (click here to view)
  5. Walls Men’s 11″ Performance Short (click here to view)
  6. Dickies Men’s Flex 13-Inch Relaxed Fit Cargo Short (click here to view)
  7. Lee Men’s Extreme Motion Crossroad Cargo Short (click here to view)
  8. Wrangler Authentics Men’s Performance Comfort Flex Waist Cargo Shorts (click here to view)
  9. *Women’s* Carhartt Women’s Rugged Flex Original Work Short (click here to view)
  10. *Women’s* Dickies Women’s 11″ Relaxed Stretch Cargo Shorts (click here to view)

There’s quite a bit to consider when shopping for flexible cargo shorts to use at work. Perhaps the most important thing to decide is how much stretch you want.

Many shorts will use a 98% cotton and 2% spandex fabric blend, but you can find options with more or less spandex depending on how much stretch you prefer. Many canvas shorts with stretch will still have that durable feel that you need on the job, but have just enough stretch to make you comfortable when bending and crouching.

The shorts I use are extremely lightweight and flexible, and I will discuss those in further detail later in the article. Let’s take a closer look at the shorts on this list so you can find a pair of stretch cargo shorts that make sense for you.


Best Stretch Cargo Shorts for Work

Carhartt Men’s Rigby Rugged Flex Cargo Shorts

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 Carhartt Rugged Flex Cargo Shorts are made with a flexible cotton/spandex blend, but will still have a durable canvas feel.

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

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

  • Material – These shorts us a lightweight 8-ounce canvas fabric that is tough enough for a job site. Yes, the material is a stretch blend made of 98% cotton and 2% spandex.
  • Pockets – There is abundant storage for all of your essentials with two front pockets, two rear flap pockets, a left-leg flap cargo pocket with hook-and-loop closure and a cell phone compartment, and a right-leg flap cargo pocket with hook-and-loop closure and utility pocket.
  • Fit – Built for maximum ease-of-wear, there is plenty of room to move with a gracious fit through the seat and thigh. The 11-inch inseam provides sufficient coverage while allowing you to remain cool.

Click here to buy these Carhart flexible cargo shorts at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). These shorts are machine washable.


Lee Men’s Extreme Motion Swope Cargo Short

LEE is another well-established name in apparel, and they make stretch fabric cargo shorts that also have an “Extreme Motion” elastic waistband to provide you with even more comfort and freedom of movement.

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

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

  • Material – Yes, this short is made with a 98% cotton/2% spandex stretch ripstop fabric will provide the durable comfort you need on the job.
  • 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.

The material is a stretch ripstop fabric. 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

Although these shorts use a durable ripstop fabric, they are still lightweight and breathable. My size 32 weighs 0.84 pounds:

lee-swope-shorts-weight

Yes, these shorts stretch and make it very easy to bend and crouch on the job. They also have an elastic waistband that is hidden on the inside of the shorts:

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

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


Wrangler Authentics Men’s Classic Relaxed Fit Stretch Cargo Short

Many are familiar with Wrangler, and Wrangler does make several types of cargo shorts. These shorts have a classic design with a relaxed fit and, yes, are made with a stretch material blend.

Here’s what these Wrangler cargo shorts 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:

  • Material – Constructed of 99% cotton/1% spandex, this durable, traditional cargo short allows you to comfortably take on the longest workday or active weekend. Although they have stretch, it will be a little less noticeable than the first two options we covered above.
  • Pockets – From your utility tools to your cell phone, you can keep necessities close at hand and valuables protected with a total of six pockets. Two slash pockets, two rear patch pockets, and two side cargo flap pockets allow for a variety of storage options that are easily accessible.
  • Fit – Wrangler’s relaxed fit sits at the natural waist and is cut generously through the seat and thigh with a 10-inch inseam to ensure maximum range-of-motion as well as all-day comfort.

Click here to buy these Wrangler flexible cargo shorts at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). These shorts are machine washable.


Wrangler Authentics Lightweight Comfort Flex Cargo Shorts

Okay, this is the stretch cargo short that I personally use the most for work. I don’t have them at the top of the list tough because they might not make sense for all jobs. These are VERY lightweight, which is what I prefer for extremely hot temperatures.

Here’s what these shorts 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.
  • Material – These shorts are made with 94% cotton and 6% spandex and have a lot of stretch. They do not feel restrictive. They also have a flexible waistband that allows you to move easily.
  • 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 – One other thing I like about these shorts is they use low-profile zip cargo pockets that aren’t bulky and don’t take up a lot of space.

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 certain 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 cargo shorts at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Again, in my experience these shorts fit true-to-size.


Other Stretch Cargo Shorts to Consider

  • 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).
  • Walls Men’s 11″ Performance Short – Walls is a well-respected name in workwear, and they do make these flexible cargo shorts that are perfect to use as everyday work shorts. These are canvas shorts made with 98% cotton and 2% spandex. Standard side cargo pockets with flap closures. I like the wide back belt loop for extra support. Click here to view these shorts at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
  • Duluth Trading Co. Men’s DuluthFlex Fire Hose 11″ Cargo Shorts – Duluth Trading Co. is another trusted name in workwear, and they are well-known for making comfortable workwear. These shorts have the “Fire Hose” material for toughness, but also have spandex added for flexibility. They have 11 total pockets and a relaxed fit that won’t hug tight. Gusset added to crotch for extra comfort. Click here to view these Duluth workwear shorts.
  • *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 stretch cargo shorts (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).

4 Things to Consider When Buying Stretch Cargo Shorts

Pockets

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.

With cargo shorts, you’ll also need to consider the bulkiness of those pockets. I personally prefer low-profile cargo pockets that don’t take up a lot of space.

Of course, if you don’t want a lot of bulky pockets, then you could also just use carpenter shorts on the job. To see more stretch work shorts, visit our article about the best stretch shorts for work.

Material Weight

I discussed this throughout the article, but how durable do you need your stretch cargo shorts to be? For me, I use a lightweight stretch style (Wrangler Comfort Flex), but that might not make sense for all jobs.

Which style is best for you will likely come down to personal preference and the demands of your job. If you need something that is quite durable, I’d personally stick with a pair of shorts that has a lower percentage of spandex (1 or 2%).

For a flexible waist, visit our article about the best elastic waist shorts. If you might prefer a denim fabric, visit our article about the best denim cargo shorts.

For lightweight options, visit our article about the best breathable work 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 flex shorts on our list have a longer, 13-inch inseam.

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

Crotch Gusset

A crotch gusset is extra material sewn into the crotch to add comfort and flexibility to your shorts. Buying stretch cargo 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 on our list use a crotch gusset. 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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