So you have a job to do, and you need a pair of pants that are as tough as you are. No problem. Whether you’re working indoors or outdoors, in blazing sun, pouring rain or frigid winter cold, there’s a pair of work pants ready to help get the job done.
No matter what the conditions may be, you need a pair of work pants that offer comfort and protection. It also helps if they’re made to take a beating. Not just any old pair of jeans or khakis will do.
Picking the right pair of work pants for your needs can be tricky, which is why we decided to do some of the work for you. We looked at the best work pants of 2020, and have narrowed the field down to the seven best.
- #1 best overall — 5.11 Tactical Men’s Taclite Pro Work Pants. With ample pocket space and water-resistant Teflon coating, these pants earn high marks across the board, from comfort and flexibility to durability; they’re also very budget-friendly.
- Best for electricians — Caterpillar Men’s H20 Defender Work Trousers. These work pants have abundant and adjustable storage options, so electricians can keep all the tools they need close at hand; plus, the knee pad pockets help take some stress off when you spend a lot of your day kneeling down.
- Best for construction — Wrangler RIGGS Workwear Men’s Ranger Pant. Thick yet breathable ripstop fabric makes these pants tough enough to withstand taxing construction work, and the hammer loop and tape measure clip are great for keeping tools handy.
Best Work Pants
1. 5.11 Tactical Men’s Taclite Pro Work Pants
Tough as well as comfortable, the 5.11 Tactical Men’s Taclite Pro Work Pants are made from a premium ripstop fabric blend that resists rips and tears while holding up to long-term use and repeated washing. Triple stitching and double-reinforced seat and knees add to their rugged construction, and they’re Teflon-coated to resist stains and water without compromising breathability.
These pants are utilitarian too. You’ll have easy access to all your gear thanks to the two large cargo pockets, with a phone or magazine compartment on the left, and an external knife pocket on the right. The thick, durable belt loops are made to accommodate oversize belts, and the YKK zippers and Prym snaps can take a beating. Overall, the Taclite Pro Work Pants are all but invincible, and a pleasure to work in.
Wrangler Riggs Workwear Men’s Ranger Pants are designed with a relaxed fit and gusset crotch to give you optimum comfort and a full range of movement on the job. They sit comfortably on the hips, with plenty of room to fit over your work boots. With reinforced construction and hefty 10oz 100% Cotton Ripstop fabric, they’re also about as tough as it gets. Extra reinforcement at the knees and seams means they won’t give out on you.
There’s plenty of room for all your gear too, with a hammer loop, reinforced leather tape measure clip, two roomy side cargo pockets, deep front pockets, a watch pocket, and two back pockets with 1000 Denier Cordura for added durability.
3. Carhartt Men’s Relaxed Fit Washed Twill Dungaree Pant
Carhartt has earned a reputation for making rough-and-tumble work clothes that hold up under punishing conditions, and the Men’s Relaxed Fit Washed Twill Dungaree Pant is no exception. It’s also surprisingly stylish for a relaxed-fit work pant, and comes in a range of colors. They fit well over a pair of work boots, and are made from tough 100% cotton twill fabric.
They lack the deep cargo pockets of some other work pants, so you won’t have quite the range of storage options. Still, the deep hip and seat pockets are plenty spacious, and several tool and utility pockets for odds and ends. The reinforced hammer loop is a nice touch for construction jobs, and the sewn-on-seam belt loops resist wear and tear.
4. Caterpillar Men’s H20 Defender Work Trousers
The Caterpillar Men’s H2o Defender Work Trousers definitely score points for water-resistance. Will they keep you dry in a downpour? Probably not. But the h20 flex cotton/polyester blend fabric is great for outdoor work, and holds up well in soggy conditions. It’s also just stretchy enough to provide extra comfort and allow a great range of motion.
We really liked the inclusion of knee pad pockets, a very welcome feature for anyone whose job requires a lot of kneeling. The extra-durable nylon cuff guards and reflective trim are nice features, and we really like the removable pocket pouches that turn into instant tool rigs. We noticed these pants tend to hold a static charge, so watch out around flammables and pet hair.
5. Dickies Men’s Tough Max Duck Carpenter Pant
With a modern work fit that sits slightly below the waist, the Dickies Men’s Tough Max Duck Carpenter Pant is a good-looking garment, and a durable one too. They’re made with Dickies’ Tough Max fabric (a blend of Cotton, Polyester and Elastane) which makes them incredibly tear- and abrasion resistant.
The fabric flexes nicely too, giving you ease of movement and comfort on jobs that require you to be able to move freely. Deeper hip pockets would have been nice; you might have a hard time carrying a larger phone without worrying about it falling out or being damaged. Still, the utility loop and dual tool pockets give you ample space to carry small tools.
6. Carhartt Men’s Rugged Flex Rigby 5-Pocket Work Pants
Carhartt Men’s Rugged Flex Rigby 5-Pocket Work Pants are a great all-around option for comfort and durability. Along with a comfortable fit through the seat and thigh, they’re made of 98% cotton and 2% spandex canvas fabric, which makes them highly flexible as well as breathable.
The straight leg fit also makes these some of the most stylish work pants we’ve seen this year, and the five pockets give you plenty of space for tools and gear. One of them is a right leg cell phone pocket, so you can safely keep your device handy while you work.
7. Dickies Men’s 874 Flex Work Pant
You might find the Dickies Men’s 874 Flex Work Pant a bit lightweight for heavy-duty work like construction, but there are plenty of situations where they shine. These are probably the most comfortable work pants you’re likely to try on in 2020, so if you’re doing work that doesn’t bring too much risk or ripping and tearing, they’re definitely a great option.
Made of a moisture-wicking polyester and cotton blend, these pants keep you cool and dry throughout the workday. The material also resists stains and washes easily, and is flexible enough that it won’t constrict your movements. We noticed that these tend to fit a little snug around the waist, so you may want to consider going up a size if you’re accustomed to a different brand.
Choosing a Pair of Work Pants
The best way to pick out a pair of work pants is to try them on. Of course, if you’re shopping online the way most of us do nowadays, you may not have the luxury of testing out the fit in person. With that in mind, keep a few key qualities in mind when you’re picking out work pants:
- Comfort — Few considerations are more important than comfort. You simply can’t get as much work done if you’re uncomfortable. Work pants should sit comfortably on the hips, and never be too tight. The best work pants are made of a fabric that is flexible and breathable, and never too heavy or stiff. Some might need to be “broken in” a bit, but the still shouldn’t feel too rigid right off the rack.
- Durability — Work pants need to be strong enough to withstand a lot of hard work, and repeated washing. They need to be resistant to rips, tears and abrasions. A good pair of work pants can, and should, last you years.
- Water resistance — This is more important to some than others, but it depends on your job. If you spend a lot of time working outdoors, you might want to consider the water resistance of your work pants. Few are truly waterproof, but many have a coating that helps them repel moderate amounts of moisture.
- Pockets — The more the better, generally, but preferences vary. Some guys like to carry around a whole toolbox in their pockets, but that’s not for everybody. Just consider whether a pair of work pants has enough room for the stuff you prefer to carry. And don’t forget about your phone!
- Features — A lot of work pants come with extra features that can make your job easier—or maybe just get in the way if you don’t actually need them. Examples include hammer loops, tape measure holders, reflective tape, knee pad pockets and extra belt loops. Look for a pair of pants that have the features you want, but without a lot of extras you’ll never really use.
- Affordability — You don’t want to sacrifice quality for cost, but we understand that everyone has a budget they need to work within. There’s a pretty wide price range when it comes to work pants—our top pick of the year also happens to be very affordable—but be careful about settling on low quality just to save a buck.
Work Pants FAQs
What are the most durable work pants?
That’s a hard question to answer, but there a few key qualities to look for. The most durable work pants have good quality stitching, and are reinforced at stress points like the seat and knees. Look for double stitching to make sure the seams don’t come apart easily, and ripstop fabric to prevent rips and tears.
What are the most comfortable work pants?
These days it’s more and more common to see work pants that are made of fabric that flexes, which is great for comfort. Look at the design too; a relaxed fit and gusseted crotch allow a full, unhindered range of motion. It’s also important to consider the material. Most work pants are made of cotton, polyester, or both. Cotton is great because it’s breathable and flexible, but polyester has better ability to wick away moisture.
How should work pants fit?
Above all, work pants should fit comfortably: snug around the waist (but not too snug) and just loose enough to allow free movement without being baggy. Most work pants come in one of three fitting styles:
- Classic fit— The average, middle-off-the-road style for work pants, the classic fit is just what it sounds like. The seat and thigh will have a little wiggle room, but classic fit work pants shouldn’t feel too loose. The leg opening should be just right to fit over a work boot.
- Relaxed fit— These work pants offer some extra space, particularly in the seat and thigh. Roomier than classic fit work pants, they’re ideal for situations in which you really need to be able to move a lot, and are often preferred by men with a huskier frame.
- Slim fit— This is a more modern fit, with a slimmer leg than classic fit pants. They’re a little more stylish than classic and relaxed fit, but make sure you can move freely. The leg openings on slim fit work pants should still fit over work boots, and you should be able to bend and kneel over without feeling too much tension .
Work clothing is made for a purpose. It has a job to do, and it’s always important to have the right tool for the right job. At the end of the day, wearing the right pair of work pants is just as important as having the right size wrench. We found a lot of great options for workwear in 2020, but for our money, the 5.11 Tactical Men’s Taclite Pro Work Pants stand out across all categories.
Whether they’re the right pair for you depends on your needs, but we’re pretty sure one of the men’s work pants we reviewed this year will match any situation. Whatever job you find yourself doing, here’s to having the tools to do it right!