Stretch shorts can make life much easier for those of us who constantly bend, crouch, and kneel on the job. These flexible work shorts find a healthy balance between comfort and durability, using fabric that increases range of motion, and is still tough enough for a job site.
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These are my choices for the best stretch work shorts:
- Dickies Men’s Tough Max Duck Carpenter Work Shorts (click here to view)
- Carhartt Men’s 11″ Rugged Flex Rigby Work Shorts (click here to view)
- Ariat Men’s Rebar DuraStretch Made Tough Work Shorts (click here to view)
- Wrangler Authentics Men’s Performance Comfort Flex Waist Cargo Shorts (click here to view)
- Dickies Slim Fit 11 Inch Flex Work Shorts (click here to view)
- Lee Men’s Extreme Motion Swope Cargo Shorts (click here to view)
- Duluth Trading Co. Men’s DuluthFlex Fire Hose 11″ Cargo Shorts (click here to view)
- 5.11 Men’s 11″ Tactical 4-Way Stretch Shorts (click here to view)
- Dickies Men’s Flex 13-Inch Relaxed Fit Cargo Short (click here to view)
- *Women’s* Carhartt Women’s Original Fit Crawford Shorts (click here to view)
- *Women’s* Dickies Women’s 11″ Relaxed Stretch Cargo Shorts (click here to view)
Probably the most important thing to consider is how durable you need the fabric to be. I personally own both the top two options on this list, but I also wear the Wrangler Comfort Flex Shorts (#4 on list) a lot because they are incredibly lightweight and flexible (pictured later in article).
But the Dickies Tough Max shorts and the Carhartt Rugged Flex shorts will be a better option if you need a tougher material. Every job is different so just make sure you are considering the balance between durability and comfort.
Buying stretch shorts that have a gusset is another way to help improve comfort and flexibility.
In this article let’s take a closer look at the best stretch work shorts so you can find a style that fits your needs. I want to start off by discussing the top two options since they are very similar.
Comparing the Top Two Best Stretch Shorts for Work
*Weight above is based on size 32 and is in pounds
I own both of these two options, and they are very similar. I wanted to point out a few specific differences to help you make your choice. Photos of each are later in article.
- Fit – Both of these stretch work shorts have an 11-inch inseam. The fit is VERY similar, although the Carhartt shorts feel a slight bit looser. As you can see below, I have my Dickies shorts on top, and they look just a bit slimmer at the bottom. But it is very close.
- Weight – My Dickies size 32 shorts weigh 0.89 pounds and my Carhartt size 32 shorts weigh 1.01 pounds.
- Fabric Weight – The Dickies shorts use an 9-ounce stretch blend, while the Carhartt shorts use an 8-ounce stretch blend. But the Carhartt shorts weigh more. Why? Design – read on.
- Belt Loops – Couple extra design features of note for the Carhartt stretch shorts. Carhartt shorts have 7 belt loops compared to only 5 for Dickies, and the Carhartt belt loops are wider. Here’s a look comparing the belt loops:
- Extra Pocket – Both shorts have a left leg tool loop and right leg dual utility pockets, but the Carhartt shorts have an additional utility pocket under the tool loop. Helps hold the hammer in place. Also known as a ruler pocket.
- Feel – Both of these shorts have a flexible design, but still have a canvas toughness. Between the two, I feel like the Carhartt shorts are a slight bit softer to the touch. Carhartt uses a cotton/spandex blend while the Dickies stretch shorts use a cotton/poly/spandex blend.
Ultimately, these two shorts are very similar, and it may just come down to which brand you personally prefer. Of course, you may also want to consider cost like I did.
But it is worth noting the extra design details on the Carhartt shorts. They have more belt loops (and thicker belt loops), and they have the additional utility pocket.
Let’s take a closer look at these two stretch work shorts, and others, so you can have a better idea of what to expect. I’ll use photos of the shorts I own.
Best Stretch Shorts for Work
Dickies Men’s Tough Max Duck Carpenter Shorts
Dickies is a trusted name in workwear and they are well-known for making clothing for a wide range of jobs. And yes, they do make stretch work shorts.
The thing I like about these shorts is even though they use a flex fabric, the material is still a durable duck canvas material that makes them tough enough for rugged work. Here’s what these shorts look like:
This is the current price of these Dickies flex work shorts available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Here’s what you need to know about these shorts:
- Material – Need something durable but don’t want it stiff? These shorts use a 9-ounce duck, cotton/polyester/spandex fabric blend that gives you a durable fabric that is also comfortable and flexible. Dickies’ “Tough Max” fabric provides two times the strength and durability, as well as abrasion resistance, than an all-cotton fabric.
- Tool Loop – These shorts have a hammer loop on the left leg.
- Pockets – Two front scoop hand pockets and two rear pockets. Dual tool utility pockets on the right leg for storing basic work essentials and/or your phone.
- Fit – The regular, modern work fit sits slightly below the natural waist. These shorts have an 11-inch inseam, providing excellent coverage.
I personally think these shorts are the best shorts to own if you prefer a little stretch in your work shorts, but still want them to have that canvas feel. It’s easy for me to bend and kneel while wearing these shorts:
That said, the material itself still feels like a canvas fabric. This is not flimsy material. It still has plenty of toughness for a work site:
Overall, it’s also a lightweight short that won’t weigh you down. Here’s the weight of my size 32:
Standard front and back on these shorts with side dual utility pockets on the right leg, and a tool loop on the left leg:
Again, if you prefer a little bit of stretch in your work shorts, these shorts are a great option. But don’t expect these shorts to feel like gym shorts.
Yes, there is flexibility, but it is just enough to matter. The overall toughness of the shorts is not compromised. When I put these shorts on, they still have that canvas feel to them.
Click here to buy these Dickies stretch work shorts available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). These shorts are machine washable.
Carhartt Men’s 11″ Rugged Flex Rigby Work Shorts
As we discussed at length earlier in the article, these Carhartt shorts are very similar to the Dickies shorts. When I bought them, these Carhartt shorts were the more expensive option, but do have a few extra design details compared to those Dickies stretch shorts.
Here’s what these Carhartt shorts look like:
This is the current price of these Carhartt flexible work shorts available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Here’s what you need to know about these shorts:
- Material – This stretch short is constructed of 8-ounce, 98% cotton/2% spandex canvas. Carhartt’s “Rugged Flex” durable stretch technology provides added ease of movement.
- Pockets – There’s room for your cell phone and work essentials with multiple utility pockets, including reinforced front slash pockets in addition to a right leg pocket.
- Tool Loops – These shorts have a tool loop on the left leg. Dual utility pockets on right leg.
- Fit – Move comfortably throughout your day with a relaxed fit that sits at the natural waist and is cut generously through the seat and thigh. The 11-inch inseam is an optimal length for a wide array of heights.
Here I am wearing these Carhartt stretch work shorts:
Yes, I can comfortably bend and crouch while wearing these shorts:
My size 32 weighs 1.01 pounds, making these shorts a little heavier than the Dickies shorts we discussed first.
Yes, although these shorts have a flex fabric blend, they do still have a canvas toughness that can hold up on a job site:
Tool loop on the left leg and dual utility pockets on the right leg:
Again, it’s really close between these shorts and the Dickies shorts we discussed first. It may just come down to which brand you personally prefer.
These Carhartt shorts have extra belt loops, and also have the extra utility pocket below the tool loop (ruler pocket) that the Dickies shorts we discussed first don’t have.
Click here to buy these Carhartt flexible work shorts available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). These shorts are machine washable.
Wrangler Authentics Lightweight Comfort Flex Cargo Shorts
These Wrangler Authentics Comfort Flex Cargo Shorts are a completely different type of option compared to the first two shorts we discussed. These are my go-to work shorts when it is extremely hot and I need something lightweight, and flexible.
I’ve owned these shorts for several years. Here’s what they look like:
This is the current price of these Wrangler stretch 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:
These are the shorts that I turn to when I need lightweight flexible cargo shorts. So why aren’t they at the top of this list?
Well, again, these are a lightweight option. I personally prefer a lightweight summer work short when it gets extremely hot.
If you are like me and you just want something super lightweight, flexible, with some 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.
They feel lightweight and won’t weigh you down. My size 32 shorts only weigh 0.66 pounds:
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.
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.
Overall, it fits very comfortably around the waist. The belt loops have quality stitching:
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.
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 stretch shorts at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Again, in my experience these shorts fit true-to-size.
Dickies Slim Fit 11 Inch Flex Work Shorts
Sometimes it can be tough to find options if you prefer slim fit work pants or slim fit work shorts. If you are looking for slim fit stretch work shorts, these Dickies shorts are a great option.
Here’s what these Dickies slim flexible work shorts look like:
This is the current price of these Dickies stretch shorts available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Here’s what you need to know about these shorts:
- Material – Yes, these are flexible work shorts. They are built for durability as well as all-day comfort. They have a 7.25-ounce 65% polyester/35% cotton stretch fabric blend.
- Care – The moisture-wicking, flexible fabric not only allows for increased ease-of-movement, it is also stain- and wrinkle-resistant, making it exceptionally easy to care for.
- Fit – The fit of this short sits below the natural waist and is cut slim through the seat and thigh for a streamlined look that can easily carry over from day to night. An 11-inch inseam hits just above the knee, making it an optimal length for a wide array of heights.
- Styling – In addition to five-pocket styling with the left back pocket featuring a button closure that is dyed to match the short, there is a multi-use pocket on the right leg for whatever you need to keep close at hand.
Click here to buy these Dickies flexible work shorts available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). These shorts are machine washable.
Other Stretch Work Shorts to Consider
- 5.11 Men’s 11″ Tactical 4-Way Stretch Shorts – 5.11 makes tactical work gear, which means their clothing needs to be comfortable and responsive. These shorts are 100% polyester stretch fabric and also have a crotch gusset for extra comfort. There are 7 total pockets for storage. 11-inch inseam will fit down near the knee for most. 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 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 stretch shorts.
- *Women’s* Carhartt Original Fit Crawford Shorts – If you are a woman looking for stretch work shorts, these Carhartt Crawford shorts have multiple utility pockets and a side tool loop. And yes, they are made with a 9.5-ounce stretch canvas for flexibility. Slightly fitted through the hips, with a mid rise. Click here to view these shorts at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
4 Things to Consider When Buying Stretch Shorts for Work
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 Duluth Trading Co. shorts on our list that have 11 total pockets.
I discussed this throughout the article, but how durable do you need your stretch work shorts to be? For me, I personally prefer super-lightweight summer work shorts and that is why I use the Wrangler shorts on our list.
My size 32 Wrangler flex shorts weigh just over half a pound. That lightweight breathability is something I personally prioritize during the brutal summer months.
But a lightweight option might not make sense for all jobs. If you need something that is flexible, but still has dependable toughness, I’d probably stick with the Dickies Tough Max shorts at the top of our list.
Also, if you are just interested in a stretch waistband, visit our article about the best elastic waist work shorts.
You will definitely want to consider the inseam of your work shorts. Obviously, your height matters, but a 10″ inseam will often hit near the top of the knee.
If you prefer long-fitting shorts, we have a couple options on our list that have 11-inch inseams, including the Carhartt Rugged Flex Work Shorts. Most work shorts have a loose, relaxed fit. If you prefer slim, visit our article about the best slim fit work shorts.
A crotch gusset is extra material sewn into the crotch to add comfort and flexibility to your work shorts. Not only does it make it more comfortable to crouch, bend, and kneel, it 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. If you are looking to maximize comfort, this is a great extra feature to combine with your stretch shorts. To read more about gussets, visit our article about the best gusset shorts for work.