Even the most breathable pants can feel uncomfortable and constrictive in hot weather. Work shorts, on the other hand, will keep you cool throughout the day. After all, what we wear to work can affect our productivity.
Whether you’re a professional contractor or a DIYer, you can take advantage of the breathable materials, cargo pockets, and many other features that best work shorts offer. If you need to buy one, here are the three key features to check:
- Fabric: Work shorts are usually made of the same materials as work pants. Workwear designers use fabrics like cotton, polyester, denim, canvas, and ripstop fabric mainly because of these materials’ durability and comfort. If you squat or climb ladders, you also have to take note of the textile’s stretchability. On the other hand, moisture-wicking capabilities can help you prevent the stickiness that comes with excessive sweating.
- Size and fitting: Determining your size can be difficult since some shorts have gartered waistbands while others don’t. In any case, you need to factor in your fluctuating body weight as well as your day-to-day activities. Keep in mind that not all fabrics can flex. For example, work shorts that are wider around the seat and thigh allow you to move with ease.
- Loops and pockets: While shorts may only be half the length of your regular work pants, they have just as many pockets for your tools and gizmos. Many of them also come with D-rings and hammer loops. Moreover, manufacturers are now developing designs that cater to specific jobs. For instance, pirate shorts are longer than conventional designs as it provides knee protection. Meanwhile, the gusseted crotch keeps the seams from ripping when you crouch or climb.
No matter how many blogs or Reddit discussions we read, the decision-making process is far more nuanced. With that, I encourage you to read my review of the top twelve shorts for work and don’t miss the “Buying Guide” where I will share more tips on finding the top-tier options.
Table of Contents
- Top 10 Work Shorts Reviews
- 1. Amazon Essentials F16AE60004 Cargo Short
- 2. Wrangler Authentics Men’s Cargo Short
- 3. Lee Men’s Crossroad Cargo Short
- 4. Carhartt B147 Men’s Canvas Work Short
- 5. Dickies WR852BK 30 Relaxed Fit Work Short
- 6. Wrangler ZM6LSAH Relaxed Fit Cargo Short
- 7. Carhartt 103652 Flex Rigby Work Short
- 8. Dickies WR849BK Flex Work Short
- 9. Timberland TB0A12BTD02 Canvas Work Short
- 10. Rdruko Men’s Relaxed Fit Cargo Shorts
- What are Work Shorts
- How Does It Work
- Types of Work Shorts
- Why Do You Need Work Shorts
- Buying Guide
- Care and Maintenance
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Work Shorts Reviews
1. Amazon Essentials F16AE60004 Cargo Short
Beating the summer heat can be done in style thanks to these cargo shorts from Amazon Essentials. Apart from the usual black and brown colors, they come in unique colors like rust, washed red, indigo, nutmeg, and olive, as well as camouflage designs. Generally speaking, they look awesome when paired with long sleeve shirts. Plus, I find their versatile design appropriate for work, DIY projects at home, and casual get-togethers with friends.
As far as comfort goes, these men’s cargo work shorts are lightweight and soft, which is what I need for the summer. The classic fit affords me some wiggle room around the seat and thigh without appearing loose. Whenever I move, the semi-flex fabric makes me feel less constricted. Impressively, the seams can endure the type of work that I do even though I can be rough on my clothing.
2. Wrangler Authentics Men’s Cargo Short
Thanks to Wrangler’s laidback design, I get to wear these summer work shorts even when I’m going to the beach or trail. On top of the usual military colors like olive, beige, black, and camo prints, this one also comes in copper brown, which is something that I don’t see in other brands. At any rate, each color can make work and casual everyday clothes look stylish.
Made of 98% cotton and 2% spandex, these durable shorts can hold up to all the abuse that I put them through when I’m on duty. Moreover, the combination of this stretchable fabric and relaxed fitting enables me to move comfortably. The design and breathable material also make it possible to wear these pants during the summer. D
For storage, these contractor shorts have two pockets at the front, two at the back, and two cargo pockets on the sides. Each one is spacious enough to fit my smartphone, wallet, pen, small notebook, car keys, and other small items I use for work.
3. Lee Men’s Crossroad Cargo Short
Lee’s Extreme Motion Crossroad work cargo shorts promise unrestrained mobility; based on my experience, they deliver! This specific model is available in different army-inspired color palettes like olive, tan, and black, as well as camouflage patterns. As such, I never had a hard time styling them.
Composed of up to 73% cotton, the fabric feels soft and light, which makes for excellent hot-weather shorts. Yet, they do not tear apart, just like traditional construction work shorts made of heavier denim or canvas. Although these outdoor work shorts have a relaxed seat and thigh, they are not too baggy for my body type.
I also like that these shorts feature two cargo pockets, a phone pocket, and two front and two back pockets, bringing to a total of 7 pockets. At work, I get to store my pens, gadgets, and small tools in them. In the wild, I can put small bags of snacks so I can easily access them when I feel hungry while I trek.
4. Carhartt B147 Men’s Canvas Work Short
At the top of our list are these Carhartt men’s canvas shorts. Setting aside my biases for this brand, I’m featuring this mainly for its brilliant design that draws inspiration from a worker’s everyday needs. It has a left-leg hammer loop and a ruler pocket. On the other side, there is a tool pocket and utility band. In addition, there are reinforced back pockets and slant hand pockets in the front. With this storage, I don’t get to carry more items and keep them organized.
Made of cotton canvas, the fabric keeps things cool and comfy in hot weather. Yet these heavy-duty work shorts are reinforced at the seams. Thus, they do not show any sign of wearing down despite all the crouching and climbing. Maintenance-wise, this machine-washable clothing minimizes the time I spend doing the laundry so I can have some free time with my family and friends.
5. Dickies WR852BK 30 Relaxed Fit Work Short
Boasting wrinkle and stain-resistant flex fabric, these men’s work shorts are perfect for those who need to look clean throughout the shift while doing the “dirty job.” Moreover, the time I usually spend doing the laundry is significantly reduced. Even without ironing, the shorts do not form any creases. In terms of style, the simple yet modern design makes it appropriate for workplaces, schools, and non-formal occasions.
Where functionality is concerned, let me highlight the brand’s signature tunnel belt loops that are durable enough to hold loaded tool belts. Meanwhile, the shorts’ relaxed fit promotes ease of movement. It should not come as a surprise since skaters love them so much. At work, this feature comes in handy as I move up and down the ladder or bend over.
6. Wrangler ZM6LSAH Relaxed Fit Cargo Short
While this particular model is available in a wide array of fabrics and colors, these work shorts are collectively characterized by the same relaxed fit design. Both the seat and thigh are roomy yet not overly loose, which enables me to move with ease. Wearing these work shorts for hot weather makes the long shift feel less arduous.
Whether I choose cotton twill, denim, or ripstop cargo shorts, the reinforced construction ensures that the shorts will endure the demands of my job. Any of these choices are stylish and they go well with uniforms and casual attire. Just like other work pants, they offer ample storage in the pockets for assorted items. Even the back pockets are spacious enough to hold a thick wallet or a phone without slipping in and out.
7. Carhartt 103652 Flex Rigby Work Short
Combining spandex and cotton, Carhartt men’s rugged flex work shorts can stretch yet maintain the shape of the garment. On top of that, the hard-wearing construction ensures that the seams do not rip despite years of regular use. Made with a relaxed fit, the roomy seat and thigh enable me to squat or climb ladders without feeling constricted. Comfortable for the hot weather, the fabric is fairly lightweight and gentle on the skin.
Aside from the left-leg hammer loop, the cargo shorts feature pockets that can fit various tools and gadgets. In addition, the durable belt loops can support the weight of a fully-loaded tool belt. Both the button and the metal zipper fasten the waistband securely. Hence, I find these shorts appropriate for carpentry, handyman, and similar jobs. Furthermore, they are available in six colors that can go well with any shirt and footwear.
8. Dickies WR849BK Flex Work Short
Excellent for the hot weather, these shorts feature moisture-wicking fabric. What this means for workers like me is that the textile lets me move freely while simultaneously keeping things dry and cool. Sporting a plain design, these work shorts for men can blend in well with any work or school uniform, as well as an everyday outfit.
When it comes to storage, these shorts have five pockets that can fit a wallet, small notebook, and cell phone. The space can hold the items securely so they do not slide out of the pocket if I squat. Although these work shorts fall under the slim fit category, it sits slightly below the waist while the seat and thigh are quite roomy. Besides, I can move naturally since the textile can flex.
9. Timberland TB0A12BTD02 Canvas Work Short
If you’re looking for high-quality workwear for hot weather, you can never go wrong with Timberland. As expected, the brand’s line of work shorts is among the toughest. After years of wearing these shorts regularly to work, the seams and the fabric do not show any sign of damage. Since my job involves squatting and using the ladder, the gusset-reinforced crotch seams help in keeping the shorts intact. Besides, the canvas fabric feels soft and comfy on the skin.
Both the length and the fitting around the waist, seat, and thigh are just right. Although it resembles more like a classic than a relaxed fit, I don’t feel restricted when I move. Apart from the front and back pockets, the shorts include a right-leg pocket, all of which provide ample space to carry my tools and gadgets without letting them slip when I sit. At the same time, they are durable enough to carry the weight of the items.
10. Rdruko Men’s Relaxed Fit Cargo Shorts
Lightweight work shorts are your most suitable option to combat the summer heat. Although these are advertised as men’s cargo hiking shorts, the fabric’s moisture-wicking and quick-drying capabilities are useful to work outside and those who want to play sports. Aside from drawing out the sweat, the combination of nylon and spandex maintains remarkable breathability. With these shorts, I can stay fresh all day.
Thanks to the semi-elastic waistband, I don’t have to wear a belt to make sure that the shorts fit even when my weight fluctuates. Even after eating a full meal, the waistband does not cut into my stomach. If I need to put on a belt to attach some pouches, the loops are sturdy enough to hold them. Indeed, these are a great alternative to work pants. Furthermore, it comes with a nice selection of colors.
Wrangler 3W320VI Riggs Workwear Short (Outdated)
Say goodbye to workwear mishaps with these Wrangler Riggs Workwear Men’s Carpenter Shorts. Much like their work pants counterparts, they feature a crotch gusset. Therefore, no amount of strain or pressure could ever bust the seams. Of course, you don’t have to be a carpenter just to wear these shorts. I, for one, have found them convenient for repairs and DIY projects at home.
In addition to the Cordura-reinforced back pockets, the shorts have standard front pockets, a leg pocket specially designed for tools, a watch pocket, as well a utility loop. Each of them can handle quite a heavy load. For me, the leather overlay at the right pocket is a nice touch as it keeps it from getting dragged and torn by the hammer.
Red Kap PT4C Men’s Work Short (Outdated)
Built with wear-resisting fabric, the color of these work shorts does not fade easily. In fact, I have worn them for years and the color remains vibrant. Speaking of colors, these men’s black work shorts come in three neutral hues. Thanks to the simple yet versatile design, they match most of my shirts.
Besides that, these shorts can resist stains so I don’t have to go through all the trouble to clean up the mess. With a blend of cotton and polyester, the garment remains lightweight and breathable. In hot weather, I would skip the work pants and wear these shorts instead.
More importantly, the seams are rock-solid. Even though I crouch and climb ladders often, they hold up pretty well. That’s why I think these shorts are appropriate for those who are physically active and constantly exposed to the elements.
Dickies 42283ER 28 Loose Fit Work Short (Outdated)
Well, I can give you several reasons why these Dickies work shorts rock. Like most of the workwear made by this brand, the fabric has wrinkle-resistant and stain-release capabilities. This makes life incredibly easier since you can always skip ironing. If your job constantly exposes you to grease and other chemicals, you will like these shorts even more because washing them is a breeze.
For storage, these shorts feature a right-leg multi-use pocket, welt pockets at the back for a flap-free look, and side seam hand pockets. Even if I fill them with nails and screws, none of the items can poke a hole. Apart from that, the design renders more room around the seat and waist, which enables me to move effortlessly. Alongside the hook-and-bar closure, the sturdy zippers ensure that the waistband fastens securely.
Wrangler ZM6BSAO Twill Cargo Short (Outdated)
Offered in different colors, as well as camo versions, these affordable cargo shorts deliver a classic style. I can show off my style without having to blow up my savings. Regardless, the design can go well with my polo and sports shirts. In addition to the charming appearance, the cotton twill feels soft on the skin. At the same time, the fabric effectively maintains optimal breathability, which is why I like to wear them even outside of work.
As one would expect from this brand, every part of these shorts is durable. After more than a year, the button closure remains secure. Plus, I don’t feel it digging into my stomach when I sit. Built with a relaxed fit, the shorts sit snugly on my waist while the spacious seat and thigh enable me to move freely. So far, the seams are holding up nicely even though I have been squatting and climbing ladders at work.
What are Work Shorts
When we say “work shorts,” the first thing that comes to mind is the classic cargo style. Granted, it is one of the most common designs but other types can fall under the workwear category. What sets work shorts apart is that they are built for tough jobs. Since they are more breathable compared to traditional work pants, many workers wear shorts in hot weather. More notably, their pockets and loops are strong enough to hold the weight of your tools.
How Does It Work
Workwear shorts are naturally more breathable than work pants due to their shorter length. Not only does it allow the air to flow, but it also makes it easier for you to move. With spacious pockets, you can store and retrieve assorted tools whenever you need them.
Each part of the garment is put in place for specific reasons. The choice of fabrics used to make work shorts have to be durable and comfortable. Furthermore, the roomy pockets and hammer loop come in handy when you need to access your tools quickly.
Since you will move a lot as you work, the seams will be constantly strained. Hence, industrial work shorts are reinforced by double or triple-stitched. You will also notice that some have crotch gussets as they are stronger than the traditional crotch seam.
Types of Work Shorts
As manufacturers and designers are constantly innovating to address every worker’s needs, it’s not surprising that you will find a wide array of work shorts. For sure, there will be new inventions in the future. The definition of the best work shorts will change over time. But as of now, these are shorts that are suitable for work:
- Cargo shorts
- Pirate shorts
- Painter shorts
- Gardening shorts
- Hiking shorts
- Construction work shorts
- Tactical shorts
Why Do You Need Work Shorts
Experts agree that lightweight clothing can help prevent heatstroke. Perhaps, this is the most important reason for wearing work shorts when you have to complete a job on a hot day. Designed for specific jobs, these shorts offer unique features to help you perform better in different settings.
If you are a carpenter, you will find the durable pockets of the cargo or construction shorts useful since you need them for your tools. When your work involves long walks or hiking, you can opt for shorts with lightweight fabric. Besides this, you can wear your work shorts when you need to do some home improvement project or yard work.
One of the challenges in selecting the right work shorts is that “best” is subjective. Unless the company that you are working for imposes a specific type of shorts to wear, you can choose whatever you like. Ironically, having this kind of freedom does not make it easier for us to decide. For that, let’s discuss some of the things you need to consider when buying work shorts.
Loose threads or lifting at the backstitching are signs of weak construction. Yet most of us don’t take the time to inspect the seams when we’re at the shop. Once we find the shorts we like, we proceed to pay. A few months passed, a hole started to appear and we started regretting that we did not take the time to check the seams thoroughly before purchasing.
My advice is simple: break that habit of buying without inspecting the product. Regardless of the brand, make time to scrutinize the shorts inside and out. If you are buying online, familiarize yourself with the shop’s return and exchange policies.
Appropriate for the job
Carpenter work shorts typically feature utility pockets and loops but they are not strictly for carpentry. A handyman or DIYer can also benefit from the same features. Still, it would be best to take note of your habits or safety precautions concerning your work. For instance, some folks prefer carrying items in tool belts rather than pockets. In that case, then you don’t have to get shorts with multiple pockets. It all boils down to personal preference unless your employer says otherwise.
If your employer gives you some leeway in choosing your work attire, then I strongly recommend taking advantage of this freedom. Go for the most comfortable shorts for hot weather. Beyond the choice of fabric, consider the fitting of the shorts. Tight clothes can prevent you from moving properly while baggy garments may get caught in machines.
Also, think about how the shorts will feel once you put on the tool belt or load the pockets with your tools. When putting some nails in the nail pockets, do you feel the pointy side poking or scratching your skin as you move?
Workwear does not have to be boring. In this listicle, I’ve put together a dozen hard-wearing, breathable work shorts that are stylish. It is no secret that workwear is taking over the fashion scene. Dickies Clothing, for instance, is initially worn by those who hold blue-collar jobs. Years later, it became popular among skaters and eventually made kidswear. Whether you reserve your workwear strictly for work or use it for other occasions, it’s all up to you. But it is certainly nice to have some shorts that you can wear anywhere.
Care and Maintenance
The cleaning method and frequency depend on various factors. Each brand uses different fabrics or a combination of textiles. Besides, some jobs are “dirtier” than others. That said, you need to read the manufacturer’s recommendations before throwing your work shorts into the washing machine.
If you are not constantly exposed to grimes, oils, or dirt, then you can wash your shorts after wearing them two to four times. Washing the khaki or denim daily can cause the fabric to wear down faster.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do construction workers wear in the heat?
Protective clothing can feel hot and uncomfortable during the summer. To prevent this, workers can swap the heavyweight canvas pants for cotton paired with UPF 50+ sun protective shirts.
Another option is to wear lightweight polyester or nylon with moisture-wicking properties to help them with their sweat. More importantly, the clothes should be loose-fitting to help them move and stay cool.
For head protection, construction workers can opt for hard hats with vents and full sun brims. They should choose thinner high-visibility vests as well.
Note that the dress code will depend on the employer and job site requirements. In some cases, site managers allow shorts. If you’re tasked to weld, then the job will require full-on protection, no matter the weather.
Is ripstop the same as nylon?
Ripstop is usually made from nylon. The process of manufacturing ripstop fabric involves weaving the synthetic fibers at specific increments, producing tiny square patterns. As such, this technique stops the rip from going past the first square and prevents tearing the entire fabric.
However, ripstop can also be made from polyester, meaning the fabric is not necessarily the same as nylon.
Is it unprofessional to wear shorts to work?
Dress codes vary from one company to another. In the corporate world, wearing shorts is a big no-no, although some companies have become more accepting in recent years.
For example, some companies now allow their employees to don good cargo shorts as part of their uniforms. Workers in the delivery services, for instance, use the cargo pockets to store missed delivery notices.
Likewise, some retail workers and fast food workers are given the freedom to choose between trousers and shorts as long as they wear their company-provided shirts. For coaches and gym instructors, wearing shorts makes more sense since their main goal is to perform exercises or demonstrate techniques to improve their athletes’ performance.
In other industries, however, work pants remain an essential part of a worker’s personal protective equipment. For instance, carpenters, construction workers, and plumbers don thick canvas or denim pants with reinforced knees or knee pad pockets to prevent knee injuries.
What are the most trusted work shorts brands?
All the brands I feature here make high-quality workwear. The Carhartt work shorts and Wrangler Riggs Workwear Men’s have earned the approval of many employees and DIYers but I highly recommend trying out Dickies, Amazon Essentials, Red Kap, Timberland, and Rduko. Apart from the sturdy functionality, these are known for making a wide variety of shorts with reliable zippers, roomy cargo pockets, and other features that are useful for your job.
What is the top-rated material for work shorts?
Manufacturers commonly use pure cotton or ripstop fabric. These textiles can also be combined with spandex material, polyester, nylon, and so on to improve certain aspects, like comfort, stretchability, durability, or waterproof protection. Hence, there is no single top-rated material for work shorts since each fabric is made for specific purposes.
How to wash work shorts?
When you need to put them in the washing machine, don’t forget to undo all buttons and turn your shorts inside out to retain the shape of the shorts. Refer to the manufacturer’s recommendation for specific instructions.
In case you stained a small part of the pants, spot-clean the affected area immediately. Avoid rubbing the stain as it will push it deeper into the fabric. Instead, remove the excess substance with a knife or a card then use a paper towel to blot the area. Take another paper towel and blot the opposite side of the stain.
Next, apply some cleaning solvent onto a cotton swab and clean the opposite side of the splatter. Start from the center then work it to the center to prevent the stain from spreading. Repeat the process until it fades.
Classic workwear is designed to cover most of our body but staying outside for long hours during the summer can take a toll on our health. We can better protect ourselves by putting on some sunscreen, keeping ourselves well-hydrated, and wearing breathable clothing. Shorts are a practical option since designers have added crotch gussets, bellowed pockets, wide belt loops, and all the features that you need to perform your job comfortably.
By now, you know that cargo work shorts are just one option that you can wear to work. When you go to a shop or browse through different e-commerce sites, the choices are endless. Many of them claim to be the best work shorts but at the end of the day, we need to decide based on our job requirements, and more importantly, what is most comfortable for us.
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.