ARGUABLY THE MILITARY’S greatest contribution to fashion, it’s safe to say that cargo pants are no longer a trend but as much of a wardrobe basic as the white T-shirt. Invented by the British army in 1938, the origins of these trousers are utilitarian, with compartmentalised pockets at the side of the knees for storing first aid and maps – or ‘cargo’. Since then, they’ve been adopted by the general population, because the utilitarian design translates well to whatever terrain you may find yourself in.

Lately, the humble cargos have reasserted their versatile status as brands have started to experiment with fabrication, features, and cut, offering boundless style options for fit preferences of all stripes. But are the pockets functional in an everyday sense? Since the pants have become so far removed from their functional origin, you should think of those walking compartments as more of an accessory, a bit like an actual bag.

Whether you’re looking for a roomy or tapered fit, drawstring-adjustable or something more tailored – whatever your pocketed persuasion may be – we’ve rounded up the best and most innovative styles on the market.

Uniqlo U wide fit parachute cargo pants

It goes without saying that the Japanese giant has dominated the basics game. In their latest Uniqlo U collection, a line designed in partnership with fashion’s favourite minimalist Christophe Lemaire, their parachute cargo pant is the all-rounder for its clean lines and adjustable features. And in a crisp cotton-nylon blend, these pants are some of the comfiest you’ll own.

Carhartt regular cargo pants in highland rinsed

Cargo pants’ popularity in the last decade is very much credited with the rise of workwear. And no brand has embodied this better than Carhartt, the original American workwear brand that, more recently, has translated durability and quality into streetwear. If you’re being a purist in this sense, their iterations are the most classic in cut and fabric, and in that camouflage-like highland rinsed colour, it might as well be from the army-surplus store.

BLÆST black klipra cargo pants

Proven to be a highly versatile basic, cargos also transcend whatever ‘-core’ you’re into. The latest development: BLÆST marries gorpcore to cargo pants. A likely and suitable union, their kilpra cargo pants are breathable, waterproof, and windproof in one hundred percent recycled nylon – making them perfect for wearing on the hiking trail or if you’re a Salomon wearing urbanite.

Thisisneverthat black active tour cargo pants

For those in the gorpcore space, you might’ve seen that some of your gear is also tagged with a black diamond-shaped Gore-Tex label. The premiere fabric manufacturer for outdoor gear, Gore-Tex upholds a “keep you dry” promise, ensuring a waterproof and windproof fabrication. With this undisputed seal of approval in mind, these cargo pants from South Korean label Thisisneverthat is a straight-leg iteration that blends the functionality with cut for those not wanting a gartered fit.

Stone Island tapered cotton-blend cargo pants

Sometimes the extra fabric of a wide-leg pant can be too overbearing, especially if you’re a shorter, slighter guy. Can you relate? Italian brand Stone Island has made their cargo pants in a tapered cut in its soft-cotton blend, and the gartered cuff at the waist and ankles make for a precise fit.

Needles khaki H.D. cargo pants

This is probably the most fashion a pair of cargo pants can get. Japanese brands have a knack for romanticising Americana, so it makes sense that Needles has brought the martial look to a more sartorially conscious level. It’s the best wide-leg option featuring a cord lock drawstring at the waist and adjustable ankle drawstrings for tightening up the wide-leg silhouette.

Venroy wool cargo pants

While known for fabrics that repel against the elements, this iteration by Australian brand Venroy makes them in wool too. More for the urban wearer than out in nature, making them this natural fibre keeps the look of cargos while keeping you warm this winter.

Nike tech lined woven cargo pants

Activewear is unashamedly a part of all our lives. Iconic sportswear brand Nike has made their cargo pants lined in mesh for easy and breathable movement that doesn’t cause too much friction (it’s designed for break dancing, after all). Also an option for those wanting pants that doesn’t scream workout gear, these make for an easy transition into your fit rotation.

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