It’s important to find a pair of workwear pants that is tough enough to handle your job, but also comfortable and functional enough to help you perform at a high level. There are a wide range of workwear pants on the market today, all of which offer their own unique strengths and weaknesses.
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Here are our choices for the 15 best workwear pants:
- Carhartt Men’s Washed Duck Cotton Work Pants (click here to view)
- Dickies Men’s Original 874 Work Pants (click here to view)
- Wrangler Riggs Workwear Men’s Ranger Cargo Pants (click here to view)
- Filson Oil Finish Double Tin Work Pants (click here to view)
- Carhartt Men’s Washed Twill Cotton Work Pants (click here to view)
- CQR Men’s Lightweight Cargo Tactical Pants (click here to view)
- Carhartt Men’s Firm Duck Double-Front Work Dungaree Pants (click here to view)
- 5.11 Tactical Men’s Taclite Pro Work Lightweight Cargo Pants (click here to view)
- Dickies Men’s Relaxed Fit Straight-Leg Duck Carpenter Pants (click here to view)
- Duluth Fire Hose Ultimate Relaxed Fit Cotton Cargo Pants (click here to view)
- Carhartt Men’s Lightweight Canvas Dungaree Work Pants (click here to view)
- Duluth Men’s Duluthflex Fire Hose Slim Fit Cargo Work Pants (click here to view)
- Dickies Men’s Loose Fit Double Knee Work Pants (click here to view)
- Caterpillar Men’s Trademark Pants (click here to view)
- *Women’s* Carhartt Original Fit Crawford Pant (click here to view)
As I mentioned at the top, there are a wide range of options for you if you are looking for workwear pants. For example, do you need extra pockets? Do you prefer something heavy-duty, or something that is lightweight and flexible? Do you want a loose fit or a slim fit? Do you need work pants that can look good both in the office and on a job site?
Truth is, all jobs are unique and all workers are unique. It is important to find a pair of workwear trousers that feel comfortable but also fit the needs of your job.
In this article let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular workwear pants on the market today and try to categorize them so that you can find one that meets the needs of your job.
Best Workwear Trousers & Pants
Duck Cotton Workwear Pants
Duck cotton canvas fabric is used to make some of the most durable workwear on the market. If you need something ultra-tough, you will want to stick with cotton duck fabric.
If you’ve ever worn duck cotton canvas workwear pants or jackets before, you probably know there are different types of duck cotton fabrics. Some are stiffer and more firm than others. There are 2 specific types of cotton canvas fabric I want to highlight in this article:
- Firm Duck Cotton – This is going to be a 12-ounce heavyweight cotton canvas. It will feel stiff and firm off the rack, and take time to loosen and break in. The firm material offers more protection on a work site, and more protection from the elements.
- Washed Duck Cotton – This is also a 12-ounce heavyweight cotton, but it is pre-washed to give it more of a broken-in feeling off the rack. It will be softer. This type of cotton won’t feel as stiff, but it also won’t give you as much protection as the firm cotton.
Which type of cotton duck fabric works best for you will likely come down to the demands of your job. For some workers, you need that ultra-tough firm duck canvas to stand up to a tough job site.
But for many workers, the pre-washed duck cotton is a perfect middle-ground between toughness and comfort. The washed duck canvas is still tough enough to handle most all job sites, but gives you a little extra softness to make them easier to wear.
If you are looking for duck canvas 100% cotton work pants, there are 3 specific styles I want to discuss:
- Carhartt Men’s Washed Duck Cotton Work Pants – These Carhartt pants use the pre-washed cotton duck, so they will have more of a broken-in feeling on the first wear. Less stiffness. I recommend these as the best workwear pants because they often find that perfect middle ground for workers between toughness and comfort. Click here to view these Carhartt pre-washed workwear pants at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
- Carhartt Men’s Firm Duck Double-Front Work Dungaree Pants – These pants are made in the USA. They are going to be ultra-durable. Not only do they use the firm duck cotton canvas, they also have a double-front for extra protection. These pants are built to take knee pad inserts also. Click here to view these Carhartt firm duck workwear pants at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
- Filson Oil Finish Double Tin Work Pants – These pants are perhaps the toughest work pants you can buy. They use a duck cotton canvas and have a double-front, but also have an oil finish to make them extremely abrasion resistant. Because they have the oil finish to the fabric, they have special care instructions. These are for the toughest jobs. Click here to view these pants at Filson.com (affiliate link takes you to Filson.com).
If you want something tough, but not stiff, stick with the pre-washed duck. If you need something ultra-tough, stick with the firm duck. To read more, visit our article about the best canvas work pants to see an even wider selection for cotton duck canvas work pants.
Cargo Workwear Pants
Many workers prefer cargo pants due to the extra pockets which just make it easier to function while on the job. There are a wide range of cargo work pants to choose from.
You can buy the more traditional type of cargo work pants that just have the standard side cargo pockets, or you can buy a more modern tactical cargo work pant that not only has those side cargo pockets, but has other utility pockets that can be helpful.
There are 4 different types of cargo work pants I want to discuss specifically so you can decide which style might be best for you.
- Wrangler Riggs Workwear Men’s Ranger Cargo Pants – Wrangler has a special line of apparel dedicated to workwear called Wrangler Riggs Workwear. These Wrangler Riggs Ranger Cargo Pants have a traditional design. They are made with durable ripstop fabric and have standard cargo side pockets. Expect the relaxed fit and gusseted crotch to increase your freedom of movement in these pants. Click here to view these Wrangler cargo pants at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
- CQR Men’s Lightweight Cargo Tactical Pants – These CQR tactical pants are great if you are looking for something lightweight for summer. Many people prefer tactical cargo pants for work because these types of pants have an abundance of pockets. This cotton/poly ripstop fabric is shrink-resistant. Click here to view these CQR tactical pants at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
- Duluth Men’s Fire Hose Ultimate Relaxed Fit Cargo Pants – These Duluth pants are made using 100% cotton canvas fabric, and don’t have any stretch. The cotton canvas is pre-washed, which if you remember from the first section means these pants will feel broken-in. They have double-knee pouches that accept knee pad inserts. Expect the relaxed fit and gusseted crotch to increase your freedom of movement. Click here to view these pants at Duluth’s website.
- Caterpillar Men’s Trademark Pants – These Caterpillar pants are extremely functional and have a lot of pockets, including side cargo pockets. One cool thing is they have front pull-out tool pockets that can be tucked away when you don’t need them. These pants can accept knee pad inserts. Made with a cotton/poly blend that is durable. Click here to view these pants at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
Cargo work pants can be a huge help on the job, but it just mainly comes down to finding what style of cargo pants makes the most sense for you. Do you need a heavy-duty cargo pant, or more of a lightweight tactical cargo pant? To read more, visit our article about the best cargo work pants.
Khaki Workwear Pants
Some workers need a pant that they can wear both in the office and on a job site. Maybe you spend the first part of your day in the office taking meetings, then spend the back half of your day driving to job sites to monitor progress and meet with site foremen.
You’ll need a versatile pair of khaki workwear trousers that looks presentable enough to pass as an office pant, but tough enough to handle a job site. There are other certain professions, like maintenance workers, mechanics, and janitors, that often times need a professional work pant to match a uniform or collared industrial shirt.
These are the 2 pants I would encourage you to consider if you need Khaki work pants that are still tough enough to handle labor.
- Carhartt Men’s Rugged Relaxed Fit Work Khaki Pant – These are my favorite work khaki pants (pictured above). These Carhartt pants use a 9.5-ounce cotton. They still have enough toughness to handle a job site, but have a clean professional look. They have a small utility pocket on the backside that can be used to store a cell phone. Click here to view these Carhartt pants at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
- Dickies Men’s Original 874 Work Pants – These Dickies 874 pants are one of the most popular pair of work pants on the market in large part due to their price point, but also because they have an industrial-professional look that works for several jobs. They fit well with a mechanic, janitor, or maintenance uniform, and they also can be worn as khaki work pants for those who spend time in the office and in the field. These pants have a sturdy feel to them. Click here to view these pants at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
If you spend time both in the office and in the field, and want to read more, visit our article about the best khaki work pants.
Summer Workwear Pants
Finding a lightweight and breathable pair of summer workwear pants is critical if you are going to survive those brutal summer months on the job. There are a lot of lightweight options out there, but the question is, how lightweight do you want to go?
Some lightweight summer work pants may be too flimsy for your line of work. But there are also nice summer work pants that find a sort of middle ground, where they are lightweight, but still have a bit of toughness to them so they won’t rip and tear easily.
These are 2 summer work pants I would urge you to consider:
- Carhartt Men’s Lightweight Canvas Dungaree Work Pants – These pants are going to use a 7.5-ounce cotton duck fabric. Heavyweight pants use a 12-ounce fabric. This weight still is tough enough to handle a job site (don’t expect these to be flimsy), but they will be lightweight enough to give you a bit of relief in the summer heat. Click here to view these Carhartt workwear pants at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
- CQR Men’s Lightweight Ventilated Pants – CQR makes high-performance tactical and hiking pants that can be used as functional work pants. These pants are lighter in weight than the Carhartt pants above. They are made with a stretch fabric blend. The cool thing here is these pants also are breathable, and have backside knee vents for air circulation. Click here to view these CQR pants at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
For more information about summer work pants, visit our article about the best work pants for hot weather. Choosing summer work pants really comes down to how strong and durable do you need your work pants to be. If you aren’t worried too much about snags and tears, then you can really choose a lightweight pant that is breathable.
Winter Workwear Pants
Just like it’s critical to find summer work pants to survive the heat, you’ll need to find winter work pants to help you make it through those brutally cold winter months.
Most winter work pants are either flannel-lined or fleece-lined. In general, flannel-lined pants tend to be a bit warmer, but both variations will be warmer than your average work pants.
It’s also worth noting that a lot of firm duck work pants will naturally be wind-resistant and help protect you from the elements. But buying work pants with that extra insulation on the inside is never a bad idea. Here’s two pants I would recommend considering:
- Carhartt Washed Duck Dungaree Flannel Lined Work Pants – This is the flannel-lined version of our favorite work pant, the Carhartt washed duck dungarees. Remember, the washed duck will have a broken-in feeling on the first wear. These pants have a 100% cotton flannel lining to help keep you warm. Click here to view these pants at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
- Wrangler Authentics Men’s Fleece Lined Carpenter Pants – These pants use a fleece-lining. Fleece lining is usually not quite as warm as flannel lining, but the awesome thing about fleece is it doesn’t add much bulk. These pants have a relaxed fit that gives you plenty of space to move around. Click here to view these fleece-lined Wrangler pants at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
Slim Workwear Pants
The last type of work pants that I want to specifically discuss are slim work pants. The large majority of work pants on the market today are loose fit work pants.
A loose, relaxed fit does provide plenty of space to move around while you work – the last thing you want is to feel like your pants don’t let you move freely while working. But loose-fit pants don’t necessarily work for everyone.
As a life-long skinny guy myself, I know the pain of wearing loose-fit pants and having them swallow your legs whole. If you are a skinny guy, and looking for slim work pants, I’d recommend considering these two options:
- Dickies Men’s Skinny-Straight Double Knee Work Pant – These pants have a skinny-straight fit that will be very similar to a slim fit. These are for guys who really need something slim. These pants have a double-knee and are perfect for mechanics, flooring crews, painters, and other professions that need pants with a reinforced knee. These pants do have a stretch fabric so you can still move easily while wearing them. Click here to view these workwear trousers at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
- Duluth Trading Co. Duluthflex Fire Hose Slim Fit Cargo Pants – Duluth is well-known for making durable and comfortable workwear. These pants combine a flex fabric with a slim fit that will work well for skinny guys. These pants also have a gusseted crotch. These will be a bit looser than the Dickies pants above. Click here to view these Duluth workwear pants and Duluth’s website.
5 Things to Consider When Buying Workwear Pants
You may want to make sure your pants have a crotch gusset. A gusset is a diamond-shaped piece of material sewn into the crotch to give you extra space to comfortably bend, crouch, kneel, and drive.
Many workwear companies make pants that have a gusseted crotch. To read more, visit our list of pants with a crotch gusset.
Choosing a pair of pants with a relaxed fit through the seat and thighs will also help give you additional comfort and additional freedom of movement while working.
Also, workwear pants with articulated knees better mimic the natural shape of your leg, and allow not only for a more comfortable fit, but also make it a bit easier to move while wearing the pants.
Do you need a reinforced double-knee? Yes, this helps add toughness to the work pants, and helps them hold up longer, but it also adds weight and traps heat. For some jobs, a double-front is an overkill and just adds bulk.
Filson’s Oil Finish Double Tin Work Pants are, in my opinion, the toughest pants on this list. We did not put them at #1 though because not everyone wants workwear trousers with a waxed, oil finish. These type of pants are ultra-tough and add heavy-duty abrasion resistance, but also need to be cared for differently than standard canvas work pants.
There is a wide range in the price of workwear. USA-made heavy duty work pants can are usually quite expensive. Imported pants, with less specific details, can be much more affordable (but also likely won’t last as long).
You’ll need to weigh your options to figure out what type of workwear pants make the most sense for your budget. Sometimes higher priced quality can save you money in the long run because it lasts longer.