Cargo shorts came from cargo pants, originally designed for military purposes and later became popular among workers in different industries. These shorts have just as many utility pockets as their predecessors.
Manufacturers have developed several variations to suit work requirements, fashion preferences, or leisurely activities like hiking. As such, our criteria for the best cargo shorts usually will depend on the intention for buying. Whatever the case may be, don’t forget to check these three key features:
- Pockets and loops: Most cargo work shorts have heavy-duty utility pockets and loops that allow the worker to carry tools and gadgets. Some fashion cargo shorts are made for everyday use. While they may feature the same number of pockets, they are not built to carry nails or hammers. If you need to wear cargo shorts for certain jobs, check if the pockets and loops are double or triple-stitched, as this type of construction can prevent tearing.
- Fabric: Cargo shorts are usually made of cotton, cotton twill, canvas, denim, polyester, ripstop, or a combination of these fabrics. Polyester is wrinkle-resistant material and does not absorb moisture, which is why restaurant workers prefer them. Conversely, cotton is more breathable, making it perfect for those who spend long hours in hot environments.
- Fitting: Just like trousers, you can find loose, relaxed, and slim cargo shorts, all available in different sizes. The slim fit is slimmer around the thigh and tapered around the leg opening. Meanwhile, a relaxed fit is roomy around the seat and thigh area. Loose-fitting cargo shorts are wider at the bottom. To find the best fit, you need to consider your body type.
Once we start looking for clothes to buy, it can be hard to decide based solely on the three features. Hence, I have picked out fifteen cargo shorts to suit different needs. Be sure to read the “Buying Guide” if you need further information on choosing the right pair of cargo shorts.
Table of Contents
- Top 11 Cargo Shorts Reviews
- 1. Amazon Essentials F16AE60004 Cargo Short
- 2. Unionbay Y188X36 Cargo Short
- 3. Levi’s 23251-0155 Cargo Short
- 4. DONGD DS-082-AGR-30US Cargo Short
- 5. Lee 21829 Cargo Short
- 6. Match Men’s Cargo Short
- 7. UNIONBAY Y186F3D Cargo Short
- 8. WenVen wvmena00015176 Cargo Short
- 9. Dickies WR557BK 30 Cargo Short
- 10. Goodthreads GT1911066 Cargo Short
- 11. Kolongvangie Cargo Shorts
- What Are Cargo Shorts
- Types of Cargo Shorts
- Why Do You Need Cargo Shorts
- Buying Guide
- Care and Maintenance
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 11 Cargo Shorts Reviews
1. Amazon Essentials F16AE60004 Cargo Short
Summer is fast approaching and you are checking these affordable men’s stylish cargo shorts to find out if they are any good. Let me assure you that their quality is worth your money. Not to mention, the brand offers a wide selection of attractive hues, as well as camo cargo shorts in different color combinations that suit a plethora of casual shirts or shoes.
What I love the most about these cargo shorts is the fabric. Made of cotton twill, the shorts feel soft on my skin yet are capable of withstanding a lot of wear. In my case, the shorts’ color has not faded and the stitching remains intact even after more than a year. Moreover, the design allows for natural movement as the thigh and seat are roomy.
2. Unionbay Y188X36 Cargo Short
Not many brands offer diverse sizes, so I’m featuring these long cargo shorts men with tall and big frames swear by. That said, these shorts also come in regular sizes. Although the length falls right on the knees, it does not affect my movement. Designed with a classic fit, the seat and thigh offer enough space without appearing too baggy. Best of all, they are equipped with drawstrings at the hems that I can tighten if needed.
Made of breathable cotton, these cargo messenger shorts are another great option to complete my summer wear. The vintage wash gives a classy yet laid-back vibe, which pairs well with most of my polo or t-shirts. Even during the hottest day, the fabric keeps things cool. More importantly, it feels gentle on my skin. Plus, it has multiple pockets that can fit a wallet, phone, and other small items.
3. Levi’s 23251-0155 Cargo Short
Many adventurers prefer a lightweight pair of ripstop cargo shorts like Levi’s for outdoor trips. The material and design allow for a range of motion, which I need when I’m hiking but I also think it can be used as work shorts. It should not come as a surprise since it features two cargo pockets apart from the usual back and front pockets. As such, it lets me bring some items while keeping my hands free to pitch a tent or cook.
Wearing this pair for years says a lot about the construction. I can be rough with my clothing and yet the seams never bust. Since these shorts sit below the waist, they prevent my stomach from getting compressed. The regular fit from the thigh to the legs forms a straight silhouette. As a result, I don’t look sloppy. Meanwhile, the belt loops are wide enough to accommodate any strap.
4. DONGD DS-082-AGR-30US Cargo Short
Since cargo shorts are trending this year, most people prefer to wear them for everyday outfits. In terms of style, the design can fall under the urban wear category. After all, they come in a handful of color options and some nice-looking camo prints. Judging by the quality, they also make for a decent pair of work shorts.
Alongside the front and rear pockets, the shorts have two cargo pockets found in the leg area. Thanks to the button closure on the flaps, the items I put inside will never slip out if I squat or sit down. Furthermore, I can stuff more things because they are deep and spacious. Let me also add that each pocket can open wide enough so I can easily retrieve whatever is inside.
5. Lee 21829 Cargo Short
If you’re digging the loose fit trend, look no further than these high-quality cargo shorts known as the Lee Men’s Dungarees. Although they are roomy from the seat to the legs, I guarantee they do not look oversized. Furthermore, it ensures good breathability. Let me also add that it settles comfortably around the waist without pinching the stomach when sitting, squatting, or bending over.
Built with durable seams, these shorts are perfect for activities that are rough on the clothing. As such, I highly recommend these cargo shorts for gardening or carpentry, especially when it’s hot in your workshop. Because the cotton twill fabric has been washed for a “broken-in” feel, it felt soft and comfy when I first wore it. What stands out for me are the neutral color options that can match most of my shoes and shirts. Even better, they do not fade quickly.
6. Match Men’s Cargo Short
One of the things that excite me about these cool cargo shorts is the wide array of unique colors like blue, maroon, and green, as well as light and dark khaki. Admittedly, I was tempted to buy all of them because I knew they would blend well with most of my summer wardrobe. Considering its affordability, I can buy a few more colors to mix and match with different shirts and sport a new look each day.
Besides the fabric’s looks and feels comfortable on my skin, the casual yet dressy style makes it suitable for traveling. From the looks of it, the construction is durable, while the straight cut leaves room for me to move quickly. At the same time, the drawstring at the leg’s hem lets me adjust the fitting.
7. UNIONBAY Y186F3D Cargo Short
Earlier, I reviewed a pair of half-pants made by this brand. Check out these men’s black cargo shorts if you want something slightly shorter. For those looking for other colors, you can also find some nice khakis and camo prints in a handsome vintage wash. Since they are made of cotton twill, wearing these shorts in the summer makes the weather more tolerable.
Storage-wise, I’m happy with how the pockets are designed and laid out. In particular, I like the bellowed pockets at the legs because they can expand a little more. Hence, I can carry more items with me.
8. WenVen wvmena00015176 Cargo Short
At number eleven, let me present this pair of men’s lightweight cargo shorts. Living in the tropics will make you want to wear shorts daily because they are more breathable. Well, this one offers a handful of unique colors that come in two different styles so you can break away from the usual black and brown. More importantly, the relaxed fit lets you sit or squat without feeling any tightness around the thighs.
In total, these cargo shorts have eight pockets. I like that the back and hand pockets are open and wide and provide spacious storage for my items. On the legs, there are two cargo pockets for bigger items and two smaller ones where I like to keep some coins. Thus, it is easier for me to reach for specific items I need to get since they are not mixed in one deep compartment.
9. Dickies WR557BK 30 Cargo Short
When it comes to work shorts, expect no less from Dickies! If your job requires you to stay neat and clean in an environment that could make your clothes dirty, then these cargo shorts should be your fashion staple. Blending polyester and cotton to form the crease and stain-proof material, I no longer have to spend long hours getting rid of nasty splatters of sauces or chemicals. Also, I can ditch the ironing and wear these shorts once they are washed and dried.
Even though these may not exactly be ripstop cargo shorts, I get more or less the same benefits. Compared to others, they are substantially lightweight and durable. Aside from that, the stretch fabric enables me to move without limitations. What impressed me the most is that the pockets can maintain a straight silhouette even if I put items in them. Speaking of storage, it has two spacious cargo side pockets and front pockets. Meanwhile, the back welt pockets add an excellent detail to the shorts.
10. Goodthreads GT1911066 Cargo Short
Here’s another summer outfit staple. These cargo shorts for men are made with a combination of cotton and elastane. By nature, it is soft and breathable. Yet, this material is also strong enough to withstand daily use. Available in vibrant color options, they all go well with button-downs, tees, and polo shirts.
Moreover, the cargo shorts form a lovely flattering silhouette that makes the whole ensemble look refined. In terms of length, it hits right above the knee, which I like because it supports a wide range of motion. Since it has an elastic band at the back of the waist, it can keep up with my fluctuating weight.
For my use, the back and front pockets are deep enough to hold my keys and wallet, while the cargo side pockets come in handy when I need to store slightly bigger items. Instead of buttons, the flaps have snap closures to help me open and close the pocket swiftly.
11. Kolongvangie Cargo Shorts
Loaded with exceptional features, these cargo shorts are a must-have for those who conquer the wilderness. Combining nylon and spandex, the shorts have fast-drying capabilities, which allow me to indulge in water sports and hiking in wet conditions. Also, this translates into quicker laundry time, especially when I’m traveling.
Another reason why these are the highest-ranking cargo shorts for men living an active lifestyle is that the fabric is both lightweight and stretchable. Aside from enabling me to move effortlessly, they also keep my luggage’s weight down to a minimum. Despite all the adventures that I embark on, the shorts’ seams and fabric do not weaken. Even better, the elastic waistband lets me wear these without a belt. If my stomach expands a little, the shorts will not feel tight.
Nautica 3B1050 Ripstop Cargo Short (Outdated)
As one of Nautica’s top-selling shorts, this pair is the top choice for adventurers. While it comes in three neutral colors, they can all pass off as tactical cargo shorts. Aside from the ones on the front and back, they have cargo pockets on both legs. Made of ripstop, it boasts tear resistance that can hold up to different outdoor activities. With this kind of durability, I don’t mind wearing them as work shorts.
When I’m traveling, I like bringing these shorts with me since the fabric does not add much weight to my luggage. With the ability to stretch and let the air pass through, they instantly became my summer wardrobe essential. After all, the design flaunts a minimalistic yet laid-back look that goes well with most of my athletic, outdoor, or casual shirts. For my body type, the length hits the knee, while the seat, all the way to the legs, is loose but not too baggy.
Wrangler ZM6ACAH Relaxed Fit Cargo Short (Outdated)
What sets these cargo shorts apart from the rest is their pockets. Aside from placing them in easy-to-access areas, the storage is spacious and durable. I can confidently say that they are useful for work, outdoor activities, or daily use. Thanks to the flap and velcros, slipping my phone or any item in one of the leg pockets does not cause them to bulge. To top it off, the back pockets are deep enough to fit my wallet without letting them slide out when I sit.
Impressively, the combination of spandex and cotton allows the shorts to flex. Not to mention, they are designed with a relaxed fit while the length of the shorts falls slightly above the knee, which enables me to move with ease. Moreover, it makes them look classy and in vogue. There is no denying that I love everything about these cargo shorts.
Dickies WR888DN 32 Twill Cargo Short (Outdated)
Hailed as one of the top workwear brands, Dickies fashioned these men’s long cargo shorts with a laborer’s needs in mind. In addition to the durable materials and construction, this specific model provides ample storage space for wallets, keys, phones, and an assortment of tools. Aside from the front and back pockets, it sports two bellowed pockets on each leg that can house slightly bigger items.
Another important feature that I think workers can take advantage of is the wrinkle and stain-proof fabric. Working in a restaurant, for instance, would require you to look bright and clean but food and beverage can spill on your clothing. Moreover, they make for top-notch carpenter shorts. With these cargo shorts, you don’t have to spend too much effort washing them. In my case, I skip the ironing altogether.
Wrangler ZM6BSAO Men’s Cargo Short (Outdated)
Cotton twill is one of the finest choices of fabric, especially if you need half-pants that are comfortable and durable at the same time. Let’s check out Wrangler’s men’s heavy-duty cargo shorts. Besides the rugged twill, the stitchings are strong enough to handle rough activities on my clothing. Yet, the shorts are breathable for a humid day.
With that in mind, I can wear this for trekking, camping, DIY projects, or some repair jobs at home. Nevertheless, the design is also trendy and versatile, making them appropriate for casual parties or traveling. In fact, this particular model is available in different colors. The options for size make them an ideal pair of cargo shorts for fat guys. At any rate, I bought them because of the relaxed seat and thigh, which lets me move freely.
What Are Cargo Shorts
Just as trousers with plenty of pockets are called “combat pants” or “cargo pants,” the half-pants with the same features are called “cargo shorts.” Manufacturers and designers are constantly developing new iterations. Some have longer legs, while some have drawstrings. Meanwhile, some models are made of quick-drying fabrics.
Types of Cargo Shorts
For the past years, I have spent some time researching the right cargo shorts. Since manufacturers are always coming up with new styles, it can be confusing for first-time buyers. From what I learned, here are the different types of cargo shorts:
- Cargo work shorts
- Fashion cargo shorts
- Quick-dry cargo shorts
- Tactical shorts
Why Do You Need Cargo Shorts
Cargo shorts are one of the most versatile and dependable pieces of clothing ever invented. While they are made for specific jobs, these shorts are comfortable enough to wear at home, on vacation, running errands, or going out with friends. Many workers and DIYers use the short’s heavy-duty utility pockets to store some of their tools as they move around the workplace or climb ladders.
Finding the perfect cargo shorts for men cannot be done just by looking at the products I reviewed in this article. In reality, we also need to consider other aspects carefully. So, what attributes set excellent cargo shorts apart from the rest? Well, let me give you some advice!
Whether you are at work, hiking in the outdoors, or having a casual barbeque party, getting your shorts ripped apart when you crouch can be humiliating. That’s why it is important to inspect the seams, fabrics, loops, pockets, velcros, and buttons for any signs of weakness.
Before buying, check if they have loose threads or buttons and lift in the backstitching. This goes for both high-end or cheap cargo shorts. Furthermore, familiarize yourself with the shop’s return and exchange policies so you can get a replacement if you discover any anomalies when you get home.
Aside from being the top choice of summer workwear, cargo shorts are convenient for those who are into DIYing, hiking, playing sports, traveling, fishing, and other recreational activities. Even fashionistas have at least one or two nice cargo shorts in their closets. Nevertheless, it is top-rated to think about what you need before you go shopping.
For construction or DIY work, you must ensure that the pockets and loops are durable enough to hold your tools. If you want to go hiking in the summer, you will need to check whether the fabric is lightweight and breathable. You can also consider water-repellant versions if you work in the yard and are constantly exposed to moisture.
Apart from the functionality, it would be most suitable to consider what is comfortable for you. Most of us wear shorts during the hot season since they are naturally more breathable than trousers. That said, keep in mind that external factors will affect your comfort. For instance, some fabrics can feel stiff at the beginning. It will take a few wears and washes before they soften. In other cases, the shorts may fit your waist but feel tight around your thighs when sitting. Moreover, the fitting should not change if you put your smartphone in one of your pockets.
Back in the day, cargo shorts for men looked more or less the same. However, today, brands are actively designing garments to improve functionality, durability, and comfort to cater to specific target markets. At the same time, they are making sure not to fall behind in style. Hence, you will find modern cargo shorts with variations in design, color, fabric, or other details. As a result, you can show off your unique personality and fine taste.
Care and Maintenance
Each manufacturer will recommend a different way to wash the cargo shorts. This usually depends on the fabric so it is most suitable to read the washing instruction labels or check the manufacturer’s website.
If you accidentally stain your cargo shorts, spot-clean them immediately rather than wait until you get home to put them in the washing machine.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the top-quality cargo pants’ color?
When these trousers were first invented for the military, their khaki, tan, and green shades were intended to provide top-tier camouflage in specific environments. Tan offers a significant advantage in deserts, while green is better for tropical climates.
Outside the battlefield, most trendy cargo-style shorts and utility pants with zipper pockets in the fashion boutiques adapted traditional army palettes. Besides, fashion gurus recommend sticking to these colors as they are easy to mix and match with any shirt color or design for women and men.
For hiking, the rules are different. Hikers prefer light-colored, cargo-style shorts, such as white or beige, as they absorb less heat. On the other hand, darker shades are a better choice for higher altitudes or cold regions, as they absorb light and heat to keep the wearer warm.
How tight should cargo shorts be?
Your comfort and ability to move should be a priority if you want to wear cargo shorts in style. Ideally, a few inches should be between the fabric and your skin.
Try pinching the pants at the hip and bust to see if there is enough space. You should be able to pinch 1 to 2 inches of fabric. If not, go back to the shop’s designer cargo shorts rack to see if they have slim, regular, or relaxed-fitting designs and pick one that suits your body type.
For example, when choosing cargo shorts for fat guys, opt for a looser fit. Men with a regular build need to steer clear of relaxed shorts as they can bury the bottom part of their bodies.
That said, bear in mind that types of fitting and sizes vary from one brand to another. If you checked out a size 34 Wear First shorts with a slim fit, expect it to have slight differences compared to the ones from Unionbay or Wrangler.
How often should you wash cargo shorts?
Generally, fashionable cargo shorts and utility pants should be washed after two to four years. That said, dirt and stains may show up more prominently on lighter-colored shorts, so you may need to clean them as soon as they get soiled.
Should you buy shorts a size bigger?
Since clothing brands do not have standardized sizing conventions, it is best to ignore the size tags if you are shopping at a physical store. Just put on the men’s cargo shorts in the fitting room to see if they fit.
If you’re in between sizes, pick one size bigger or opt for short cargo pants for men with garters, stretchable fabrics, or drawstrings.
Are cargo shorts running out of style in now?
Although cargo shorts have been the laborer’s staple workwear, it has been a different case for fashionistas. This piece of clothing has been in and out of the fashion scene ever since they were invented. In 2021, they were officially back in vogue. Today’s cargo shorts for men are slightly above the knee with a slimmer cut.
What can I wear with cargo shorts?
By now, I’m sure you know that cargo shorts are quite versatile. If you are not wearing them with your uniform, I recommend a t-shirt, polo shirt, button-down shirt, casual dress shirt, Cuban collar shirt, flannel, and short sleeve shirt. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations!
What is the problem with cargo shorts?
Wearing cargo shorts offers plenty of benefits, but fashion critics are pointing out that filling those large pockets with items can drag the cargo shorts down to the waist. Even with men’s slim-fit cargo shorts, the large pockets tend to make them look a little wider, which defeats the purpose of tapering the leg area to accentuate your small frame.
Keep in mind that what looks cool changes over time. While these fashion connoisseurs have a point, you are free to decide what is most suitable for you at the end of the day.
How do you make cargo shorts look good?
A good start would be to consider your body type so you can determine the right fit. Men with a small frame can go for cargo shorts with a length that falls above. Wearing below-the-knee cargo shorts can make their legs look shorter. Tall men can opt for shorts with at least a 7” inseam or a little longer.
That said, the general rule is to never go below the knee as this will restrict your movement. Just save those long cargo shorts for men or “pirate shorts” for work as they are meant to protect your knees.
On the other hand, cargo shorts for big guys should have straight cuts or wider legs. That’s because a slim fit can emphasize the stomach.
In this day and age, you will find several cargo shorts brands in the market. While having a wide variety of choices is good, it can be hard to tell which one is suitable for our needs. The metrics that make up the best cargo shorts depend on personal preference.
However, reading cargo shorts reviews on Reddit or blogs does not always lead to a better decision because of all the conflicting inputs from different users. That’s why I wrote a comprehensive article on this topic and I hope you find this helpful!
Veronica is our content editor. She is a talent in delivery. Her main work is editing and writing articles that are both informative and simple to follow. She is in charge of synthesizing our understanding of what personal protection equipment (PPE) is needed in each job, how to best apply it, and how to visualize that equipment.