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Today's cargo pants are more streamlined and versatile — 20 picks style experts recommend

Think tomboy chic, updated silhouettes and fabrics, and casual to office-ready styles.
street fashion style. Beautiful Sexy Woman Wearing Fashionable Spring Or Fall Clothes (beige trench coat, cargo pants, accessorie) Outdoors. Female stylish Model walking Street. Autumn trend
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/ Source: TODAY

Cargo pants — aka utility bottoms with pockets galore — are making a comeback.

Originally a military style, cargo pants were designed to provide ample storage for small equipment. Fast forward to the ‘90s and ‘00s, and it rose into mainstream fashion. Over the years, the style has evolved and adapted to different subcultures, growing more and more popular.

“The post-pandemic fashion trends are all about comfort, focusing on oversized and looser silhouettes,” says Basia Richard, a Los Angeles-based virtual personal stylist and strategist. Think: mom jeans and wide-leg pants that offer a relaxed-yet-stylish look. Adding to that list are cargo pants that started coming back in style in the fall of 2022 — and are now continuing to trend for the spring and summer of 2023.

Over the years, the style of cargo pants has evolved and adapted to different subcultures, growing more and more popular.

Richard says that the cargo pants of today got a "fashionable edge" thanks to modernized silhouettes, fabrics and designs. "Outside of the traditional baggy, relaxed fit, you can also find new styles with slim silhouettes and tailored looks," she adds.

What are the main differences between cargo pants from back in the day and the ones now? Many modern-day styles feature a streamlined and tailored silhouette, which give them a major upgrade from their classic streetwear style, Richard explains. You can also find a wider range of fabrics like cotton, linen and even lightweight silk.

How to style cargo pants

There are countless ways to wear cargo pants, and the beauty of styling is that it’s based on personal preference. But if you’re looking for some inspo, style expert Christin Bryant of CBstyled has you covered.

“Pair them with a fitted crew neck tee or tank top and layer with a denim or bomber jacket,” she says. “Sneakers are an obvious choice for this casual style of pants but you can also dress them up with heels. [Wearing them with] flip flops are perfect for a cute summer look!”

Ready to see what the new and improved style looks like? Here are several pairs of women's cargo pants we're currently digging for work, leisure and everything in-between.

For easy shopping, use the links below to navigate:

Best budget | Best overall | Best baggy | Best linen | Best classic | Best lightweight | Best relaxed-fit | Best tapered/fitted | Best parachute | Best plus-size | Best wide-leg | Best cropped | Best camo | What to look for | FAQs | How we chose | Meet our experts

Best budget cargo pants

Viodia Hiking Cargo Pants

Quick-dry cargo pants that are flexible and breathable enough to hike in? Sign us up. These waterproof pants from Amazon are not only budget-friendly compared to other outdoor brands, but they are "durable" and "lightweight," according to reviewers. The pair also features four-way stretch and equipped with UPF 50+ fabric, making it a comfy and safe option.

Material: Nylon, spandex | Size range: XS to 3XL | Pockets: 5 | Maintenance: Machine-wash

All in Motion Stretch Woven Tapered Cargo Pants

Priced at $30, this is the ultimate pair that will get you the most for your money. Lightweight, moisture-wicking and stretchy, these cargo pants offer plenty of benefits. Of course, we have to note the convenience of the pockets with zippers, too.

One of the many reviewers on Target’s website noted, “These are easily my favorite pair of pants. I even just bought more. I’m sad I didn’t jump in on them sooner, because now I wish I could get more of them in more colors!”

Material: Recycled polyester, spandex | Size range: XS to XL (short and long) | Pockets: 4 | Maintenance: Machine-wash, tumble-dry

Venus Cargo Pants

Just call them the perfect mix of practicality, panache and price (at $22.99). This pair of cargo pants with a tapered ankle definitely caught our eyes since it blends utility and style in the most seamless way possible. The expansive size range is also right up our alley (although we advise you to act fast, as it's now only available from sizes 20 up).

If by the time you see this, all styles are sold out, Venus also offers a slightly pricier alternative: these straight-leg, side-striped cargo pants, which are available in sizes 2 to 24.

Material: Cotton, elastane | Size range: 2 to 24 | Pockets: 6 | Maintenance: Machine-wash warm (like colors), tumble-dry low

Best overall cargo pants

Uniqlo Easy Cargo Pants

This Uniqlo pair is the epitome of effortless dressing. Just pull them on — no buttons, zippers, or fuss. “It’s a baggier jogger style in lightweight fabric that’s also great for summer,” says Bryant. And in true cargo style, it comes with five pockets.

One reviewer on Uniqlo’s website wrote, “The best cargos I have ever bought. I absolutely love them. The fit is absolutely pleasing. I like my clothes a little loose, and this was the perfect amount. But if you’re a medium, a small would probably also fit.”

Material: Cotton, nylon | Trim: Polyester, cotton | Size range: XXS to XXL | Pockets: 5 | Maintenance: Machine-wash cold, gentle, dry clean

Best baggy cargo pants

Viatabuna High-Waist Baggy Jeans

Bryant recommends these high-waisted jeans that work well for everyday casual wear.

“It’s a great basic pair from Amazon that aren’t stiff and have minimal pockets, so it's a good entry-level pair,” she says.

It also comes in 42 (!) colors, so there’s no shortage of options. Just note that some colors are hand-wash only.

Material: Cotton and polyester | Size range: XXS to XL | Pockets: 4 (varies upon color) | Maintenance: Hand-wash (some colors are machine-wash)

Best linen cargo pants

Gap Linen Easy Cargo pants with Washwell

Say hello to your new favorite summer pants. “This is a versatile and comfortable option for everyday wear,” says Richard, who notes they’re made with linen, which feels breezy and lightweight. Other factors to note: It’s a mid-rise style and has a cropped, tapered leg.

Material: Flax linen, rayon | Size range: XS to XXL (regular and tall) | Pockets: 6 | Maintenance: Machine-wash cold, tumble-dry low.

Best classic cargo pants

Garage Straight Cargo Pant

Zip fly with snap button closure: check. Side flap pockets: check. This classic pair is another one of Bryant’s recommendations, and for good reason. Made with 100% cotton, it’s all about comfort and comes in a wide range of sizes (from 00 to 15).

“More side pockets makes this a trendier style but still very wearable and easy to style,” Bryant says. Choose between colors Army Green, String Beige or Jet Black.

Material: Cotton | Size range: 00 to 15 | Pockets: 4 | Maintenance: Wash cold (inside out)

Dickie's Cropped Cargo Pants

A brand famously worn by dads everywhere, now you too can don the popular Dickie's pant. With a relaxed leg, you can roll them up to show off a pair of high top sneakers, or wear them flat when wearing sandals. Available in seven colors (from Desert Sand Beige to Wild Rose Pink), easily mix and match these cargo pants for bright or neutral looks.

Material: Twill, cotton, spandex | Size range: 24 to 34 | Pockets: 6 | Maintenance: Machine-wash

L.L. Bean Stretch Canvas Cargo Pants

Available in regular, petite and plus sizes up to 20, these straight-leg cargo pants from L.L. Bean has earned countless raves for its stretchy cotton material that allows you to move easily and freely. Several shopper reviews also noted how sturdy the material and design feels for long-lasting wear.

Material: Cotton, spandex | Size range: 2 to 20 (regular, petite and plus) | Pockets: 6 | Maintenance: Machine-wash and dry

Aritzia Wilfred Free Maeve Pant

Are you the office's resident snack maven? These mid-rise cargo pants from Aritzia feature ample pockets for all of your midday treats, and they come in six neutral colors. Note: Reviewers have mentioned this pair running small, so don't be afraid to size up!

Material: Cotton, 2% polyester, spandex | Size range: 00 to 16 | Pockets: 6 | Maintenance: Machine-wash

Best lightweight cargo pants

Libin Cargo Joggers

These five-pocket joggers are perfect for everything from hiking to running errands and staying hands-free. The material feels oh so lightweight and it dries quickly, too. They're also Amazon's bestselling women's hiking pants and even come in a dozen different colors.

Material: Polyester, spandex | Size range: XS to 3XL | Pockets: 5 | Maintenance: Machine-wash

Madewell Straight Cargo Pants in Softdrape

Richard recommends these Madewell cargo pants that she says are stylish and versatile for summer. “They are made out of soft Tencel modal blend fabric, super lightweight, which makes them very comfortable,” she says.

One reviewer on the brand’s website rated it five stars and noted, “I bought these in a small and I normally wear a medium. The fabric is very light and breathable. They were long on me and I’m 5’5” so I had them shortened. I don’t normally wear pants in the summer, but these are so light I think they’ll be fine.”

Material: Cotton, polyester, spandex | Size range: XXS to XXL (petite, plus, standard and tall) | Pockets: 3 | Maintenance: Machine-wash

Best relaxed fit cargo pants

H&M Cargo Pants

With roomy pockets and a comfy fit, this pair of canvas cargo pants is ultra-versatile. Dress it up or down and style it with sneakers or heels. Six colors are yours for the taking, including this baby blue color perfect for spring and summer.

Scroll through the website and you’ll find many positive reviews on this pair, such as this one: “These cargo pants exceeded my expectations! Great quality and they look nice. True low rise.”

Material: Cotton | Size range: 0 to 20 | Pockets: 4 | Maintenance: Machine-wash cool

Gap Twill Cargo Pants

Not too baggy and not too fitted, this pair of twill cargo pants is somewhere in between. “A more tapered leg and lighter colors makes them perfect for warmer weather,” says Bryant.

Length-wise, they hit just below the ankle so you can show off your shoes. If they fit long on you, Bryant suggests to “cuff them and wear them with sandals for an effortless summer look.”

Material: Cotton, Tencel | Size range: XS to L (regular, tall and petite) | Pockets: 6 | Maintenance: Machine-wash

Best tapered/fitted cargo pants

Banana Republic Slim Refined Stretch Cargo Pants

Looking for a work-appropriate pair of cargo pants? Richard recommends this pick from Banana Republic. “It is specifically designed with a slim fit, making it suitable for professional or business-casual settings,” she says. It comes in five colors, perfect for every day of the work week if you love the fit.

More than 900 reviewers on the Banana Republic website rated this pair five stars. One user noted, “The fabric in these pants is wonderful! They have just the right amount of stretch and feel so comfortable!”

Material: Viscose rayon, elastane | Size range: 2 to 20 (regular, tall and petite) | Pockets: 6 | Maintenance: Machine-wash

Best parachute cargo pants

GapFit To-Go Cargo parachute Pants

“These parachute pants are designed for active and athleisure wear, making them more suitable for casual and sporty settings,” says Richard. It has a straight silhouette, relaxed fit, and it hits at the ankle, perfect for when you want to be comfortable yet chic. Take it with you on your travels for an easy go-to option on active days.

Material: Recycled polyester, spandex | Size range: XS to L (regular, tall, and petite) | Pockets: 4 | Maintenance: Machine-wash

Best plus-size cargo pants

Old Navy High-Waisted StretchTech Cargo Jogger Pants

Whether you're hitting the gym or grabbing lunch with the gals, Old Navy's comfortable jogger cargos (which runs from size XS to 4X) have got you covered.

Aside from having plenty of pockets on both legs, they're made with the brand's stretchy, breathable StretchTech material that's said to dry quickly and keep you comfortable all day long. One nurse who rated these five stars even said they're a perfect replacement for her scrubs during shifts!

Material: Spandex, 88% polyester | Size range: XS to 4X (regular and tall) | Pockets: 5 | Maintenance: Machine-wash cold, tumble-dry low

Best wide-leg cargo pants

Urban Outfitters UO Mae Linen Cargo Pant

If you're looking for a comfy, breezy look, you can’t go wrong with a pair of lightweight linen pants. This low-rise cargo style features oversized pockets at the legs and can be easily pulled on without buttons or zippers. Will you go for the one in green stripes, bright orange, ivory or navy?

Material: Linen, rayon | Size range: XXS to XXXL | Pockets: 2 | Maintenance: Machine-wash

Best cropped cargo pants

Mocoly Cargo Hiking Pants

Hoping to switch up your workout wardrobe? Try this capri-length cargo pant that’s both convenient (hello, pockets!) and comfy. This pair has 9,100-plus five-star ratings and has two features we're totally digging: UPF 50+ protection and an adjustable cord lock around the cuffs, so you can keep bugs at bay while you're out enjoying nature.

Material: Polyester, elastane | Size range: XS to 3XL | Pockets: 4 | Maintenance: Machine-wash

Best camo cargo pants

Spanx Stretch Twill Ankle Cargo Pant

This Spanx pair comes in seven colors (including this camo print that’s a nod to the military wear). It features a pull-on style, feels super soft and even has a hidden tummy-shaping design. Sizes range from XS to 3X in regular, petite and tall.

Material: Stretch twill | Size range: XS to 3XL | Pockets: 6 | Maintenance: Machine-wash cold (gentle), tumble-dry low

What to consider when shopping for cargo pants

Pockets. Cargo pants are all about pockets, pockets, pockets. Some styles feature them at the sides, near the waist or on the back. Be mindful that some pairs have false back pockets that are just for design. If you’re looking for a pick with more storage options, make sure to look for real back pockets.

Fabric. “Opt for natural fabrics like cotton and linen for summer,” says Bryant. These will keep you cool during warmer weather and are easy to take care of. If extra comfort is a key factor you’re after, consider fabrics with stretch. Fabric choice can also depend on your lifestyle; for example, the pair we recommend from Amazon is waterproof and made specifically for hiking.

Style. As Richard noted, modern-day cargo pants come in casual to dressy styles. Your preference and your taste, lifestyle and body shape can all play a role in which style you choose. For example, a slim-fit style may be suitable for work, while a baggy pair may work for a weekend outing.

Maintenance. And of course, how to care for the garment can be an important element in deciding which cargo pants to buy. Check the product description on how it's cleaned — such as machine wash, hand wash, or dry clean — to determine if the pair works for your lifestyle and schedule.

Questions about cargo pants, answered by experts

Can older women wear cargo pants?

“Absolutely. There is no age limit when it comes to wearing cargo pants!” says Richard. Age is just a number, and the best thing about style is that there are no rules. Wear what brings you joy.

Can I wear cargo pants to work? What kind of cargo pants are work-appropriate?

Richard says, “Yes, cargo pants can be worn to work, depending on the dress code and the nature of the workplace.” She adds, “With their side pockets, they create a more casual streetwear look, as opposed to other styles of pants. However, there are many dressy and tailored cargo pants these days that might be more than suitable to wear to the office.”

Should I wear cargo pants if I’m short?

“Any body shape or height can wear them,” says Bryant. “Style in 2023 is less focused on the notion of what is traditionally considered ‘flattering.’ If you like a certain style, then wear it with confidence and it will look great!”

How can I find a pair of lightweight pants fitting for my body shape and height?

Bryant suggests looking for a high-waisted pair to elongate your legs. For those who are shorter, she advises avoiding really baggy styles with many pockets that will add bulk. Some styles with stretch can be more flattering to fit a variety of body types.

How we chose the best cargo pants for women

To find the best cargo pants, Shop TODAY interviewed two style experts for their top recommendations based on their experience. We also thoroughly surfed the web, reading through reviews upon reviews to source top-rated pairs people are raving about.

In addition, we kept in mind cargo pants' key features (number of pockets, fabric, style and maintenance) while sourcing our selections.

Meet our experts

Christin Bryant is an Edmonton, Canada-based style expert who shares realistic outfits and shopping links on her social media account, @cbstyled. She defines her style as casual yet polished, and she's known for wearable, neutral-colored everyday looks.

Basia Richard is a Los Angeles-based personal stylist and strategist. She has styled top celebrities for over 15 years. She currently focuses on styling women who are corporate leaders, so they can dress for success at work. She also constantly shares resources on everything style-related on her Instagram, @basia.richard.