If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Rolling Stone may receive an affiliate commission.
Cargo pants are officially back. And it’s easy to see why, as the best cargo pants provide effortless military-inspired edge. Plus, all those pockets offer some serious convenience (say, when traveling). This resurgence of cargo pants is part of a wave of early 2000s trends coming back into vogue. But we think the return of cargo pants has another cause: hip-hop.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past two decades, you’ll know that rappers are some of the most influential people in the fashion business. The genre has completely redefined fashion, bringing streetstyle to haute couture and haute couture to the streets. We’re talking about Jay-Z’s hit “Tom Ford,” or the billion-dollar Yeezy brand or A$AP Rocky sitting front row at every major runway show, to name a few examples.
So where do cargo pants fit in? Well, everywhere. Cargo pants became a staple of the rap uniform back in the mid-nineties, and, since then, they’ve quietly maintained their position as a go-to for hip-hop artists. In the early 2000s, you could catch the military garb on icons like L.L. Cool J, Jay-Z and every member of Destiny’s Child. Recently, you might have seen them on Kanye, Drake and Travis Scott (the latter might be Cargo Pants’ biggest fan, as La Flame has sported them in videos including “Mamacita” and several paparazzi-captured outfits since then).
This time around, cargo pants are more accessible than before. Sure, you can still wear them super baggy with gold jewelry, but you can also sport a slim-fit pair with classic tees, low-key sneakers and other modern basics.
The Best Cargo Pants for Men
If you’re looking to channel some hip-hop style with a pair of the best cargo pants, read on. We’ve rounded up ten of our favorite pairs below.
1. RRL Khaki Cargo Pants
We love these khaki cargo pants from Ralph Lauren RRL because they balance minimalism with throwback military inspiration. They’re casual, but not costume-y, meaning you can wear them with laidback outfits such as classic sneakers and a tee. The fabric is a comfortable twill, and the relaxed fit is a bit baggy yet still flattering and modern. As with everything RRL, they might look vintage, but the pants boast premium materials and a durable build quality.
2. Stone Island Cotton-Blend Cargo Trousers
Stone Island has been having a moment with the compass logo popping up everywhere. The brand’s cargo pants, such as these black cotton-blend cargo trousers, are some of their best products. Sporting the appliquéd logo patch on the left cargo pocket, the pants are low-key yet instantly recognizable by in-the-know style enthusiasts. They’re also slim-fit for a more modern silhouette, making them a great option for casual office looks.
3. Nike SB Flex Cargo Pant
Skateboarders are some of the most avid cargo pants wearers, which is why Nike SB now makes some excellent cargo pants of their own. These SB Flex cargo pants are made of a durable ripstop that uses 3% elastane for a slight stretch. This makes the cargos very comfortable and durable enough to withstand skateboarding wipeouts. But, while they’re made for skateboarding, the olive color and classic military look make the pants great for any errand running, traveling and daily wear (skateboard not required).
4. Carhartt WIP Aviation Cargo Trousers
These Aviation cargo pants from Carhartt WIP are a prime example of the workwear brand nailing streetstyle. The trousers are very minimal with two cargo pockets, a straight leg fit and adjustable drawstring cuffs. The fabric is mid-weight and non-stretchy, providing a nice stiff look while staying comfortable enough to wear all day. They look best when paired with other streetwear (think, Nikes and a logo tee) but you can certainly pull them off with a button-up as well.
5. Dickies Edward Sport Cargo Pant
Don’t worry: camouflage pants aren’t as hard to pull off as they seem. Camo fatigues with the right fit and a simple camo pattern, such as these Dickies, can look great with just a white tee and simple sneakers. The camo adds some versatile flair and effectively channels that trendy early 2000s look we’re going for.
6. Acne Studios Pango Cotton-Canvas Cargo Trousers
If you’re looking for some slightly upgraded cargo pants, try these Acne Studios Pango trousers. As is typical with Acne, they’ve tweaked the classic cargo look ever so slightly with bigger pockets and a straight-leg, low-crotch fit. Combine those tweaks with a classic army green color and cotton-canvas material and you’ve got a versatile statement piece. Wear them with sneakers and a bold sweater for best effect.
7. John Elliot Back Sateen Cargo Pant
These cargo pants from John Elliot inject the military garb with the SoCal style that John Elliot is known for. With a cotton back sateen construction, tapered fit and drawstrings, the pants might just become your new casual weekend go-to. We recommend using the cargo trousers as a loungewear upgrade by pairing them with your favorite sweater and sneakers (or even slippers).
8. Air Jordan Flight Cargo Pant
It’s hard to get more on-trend than these Jordan cargo pants. The pants showcase a baggy, early 2000s fit that we’re all looking to try out right now, as well as the trendier-than-ever Jordan Jumpman logo on the right cargo pocket. Plus, thanks to a cotton-nylon blend, the pants are actually quite durable too. Our styling tips for this pair of cargos is simple: go as street as you can with, say, grail-worthy kicks and a logo tee or hoodie.
9. Stone Island Blue Cargo Lounge Pants
Since early 2020, our sweats collection has gotten more mileage than anything else in our wardrobe. These Stone Island cargo lounge pants introduce some much-needed sophistication to that sweats collection. The relaxed-fit lounge pants use a super comfy French terry fabric, a drawstring waistband and rib-knit cuffs. Because they’re higher-quality than most sweats – and feature the Stone Island logo – you can and should wear these outside the house.
10. Rag & Bone Navy Corbin Cargo Pants
For a pulled-together look, check out these cargo pants from Rag & Bone. The pants boast a flattering fit and an eye-catching nylon-cotton blend fabric. But they’re not all style. The nylon actually means the pants are water-resistant, making them an ideal transition piece that can get caught in the rain without a problem. In this dark navy they’re extremely versatile too. We recommend styling these cargos with other modern basics such as trainers and an upscale tee.