The Best Work Pants for DIYers and Pros

Designed for those who enjoy DIY projects as well as swing a hammer on a construction site, a good pair of work pants should be able to withstand the tasks at hand—and be comfortable to boot.  

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Best Work Pants

Photo: amazon.com

Work pants, designed to take more wear and tear than other trousers, must be tough enough to withstand the constant bending, kneeling, and climbing required on active job sites. They should be made from highly durable fabrics to resist rips and sewn together in ways that make them stronger and more resilient to splits. The best work pants should not only be up to the physical demands of your projects, they should be comfortable enough to work all day in without binding, pinching, or scratching. Ahead, learn what to look for when shopping for work pants and find out why the following are among the top choices for DIYers and pros alike.

  1. BEST OVERALL WOMEN’S: Alfiudad Women’s Tactical Pants
  2. BEST OVERALL MEN’S: Carhartt Men’s Ripstop Cargo Work Pant
  3. BEST WOMEN’S BUDGET: Maevn Women’s Utility Cargo Pants
  4. BEST MEN’S BUDGET: Benchmark Men’s Carpenter Cargo Work Pant
  5. BEST MEN’S CARGO: Amazon Essentials Men’s Stretch Cargo Pant
  6. BEST WOMEN’S CARGO: Raroauf Women’s Army Cargo Work Pants
  7. BEST MEN’S DOUBLE KNEE: Dickies Men’s Loose Fit Double Knee Work Pant
  8. BEST WOMEN’S DOUBLE KNEE: Dickies Women’s Stretch Double Front Carpenter Pant
  9. BEST MEN’S CANVAS: Carhartt Men’s Canvas Dungaree Work Pant
  10. BEST WOMEN’S CANVAS: Carhartt Womens Rugged Flex Canvas Pant
Best Work Pants

Photo: amazon.com

Types of Work Pants

Some types of work pants are designed with a specific career in mind, such as carpenter pants, while others, like cargo pants, are a good fit for a variety of work environments. The following types are among the most common work pants available today.

Cargo

With one or more large pockets located on the thighs and sometimes even on the calves, loose-fitting cargo pants are styled after military combat pants and have ample pockets to hold a plethora of small tools or other items. Cargo pants are suitable work attire for a number of jobs, including those in the construction trades—plenty of room for plumbers to carry fittings or for repair technicians to carry nuts, bolts, and other items for quick retrieval. Cargo pants typically have zipper closures and loops at the waist for wearing with a belt.

Double Knee

Occupations where the worker frequently bends and squats can wear out the knees of pants if the fabric is thin. That’s where pants with double knees come in: either as a patch of the same fabric sewn inside the pant leg at the knee area, or a larger, double-front panel that runs from mid-thigh to mid-shin. This reinforced area is available on many styles of work pants to prevent them from wearing thin or splitting at the knee. The tradeoff is double knees can make the fabric stiffer and less breathable.

Carpenter

Also called painter’s pants, these tough trousers have multiple pockets and feature a hammer loop sewn onto the side of one leg. Like cargo pants, carpenter pants are designed to hold small hand tools or other items. The legs are often loose-fitting, but not quite as loose as most cargo pants, and they may be made from fabric that stretches to allow for easy movement. Depending on the brand, carpenter’s pants may also come with double-knee reinforcement. They typically feature strong zippers (such as brass) and waistbands with oversized belt loops to accommodate wearing a tool belt, if desired.

Dungarees

Dungarees are sometimes used as a catchall term for jeans or carpenter’s pants but in the trades, dungarees refer to denim bib overalls. They’re favored by painters, mechanics, and other tradespeople because they’re comfortable to move around in—no tight waist. Overalls also don’t slide down the backside as some pants can, especially when bending, squatting, and stretching.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Work Pants

In some industries, a specific type of work pant is required, and in those cases, you’ll most likely be given instructions on where to purchase your work apparel. For others, though, finding the best work pants means paying attention to fabric, fit, and the extra details that suit your trade, such as water-resistant fabric.

Fabric/Material 

The different fiber/fabric combinations found in work pants increase durability while offering flexibility and comfort. Here are some of the most common:

  • Ripstop: Rather than a specific fabric, ripstop is a method of weaving fibers in order to make the material resistant to tearing. Ripstop can be made from various fibers but is often a combination of cotton and nylon, which produces a lightweight, very strong fabric.
  • Stretch: Work pants that are designed to stretch slightly will wear longer and are less likely to tear at the knees, gusset, and seat. They also tend to be more comfortable when you bend, crouch, and otherwise maneuver your body to get the job done. The stretchiness comes from incorporating a synthetic fiber, such as spandex, into a cotton-blend fabric.
  • Cordura: Manufactured by DuPont, Cordura, a type of synthetic nylon, has been around for decades and was originally used for military attire. Today, it’s often used in work clothes, tactical gear, and even luggage due to its high tensile strength, which resists punctures and tears. Cordura is also water-repellant to an extent.
  • Denim: A durable cotton fabric, denim of different weights is often used for work jeans. The heavier the weight, the thicker and stiffer the denim, but the fabric is likely to soften up with repeated launderings.
  • Canvas: This heavy, plain-woven cotton fabric is also called “cotton duck” or “duck cloth” in the textile industry, and it is widely used to make durable work pants as well as duffle bags, aprons, shoe uppers, and a host of other items. Canvas is popular for work pants because the surface of the fabric is smooth, and so it’s less likely to snag and tear, while its tight weave offers a measure of wind-resistance. Canvas work pants are often stiff on arrival but after a few launderings will soften up nicely.
  • Waterproof fabric: Few work pants are completely waterproof, but rather they are water-resistant, which allows workers to stay out in rainy conditions for up to an hour, or more, before the fabric becomes saturated. What’s often called waterproof work pants are typically laminated with a waterproof product that contains wax, Teflon, polyurethane, rubber, or polyvinyl chloride to resist water.

Fit 

No matter how durable your work pants are, if they aren’t comfortable, you’ll likely have trouble focusing your entire attention on doing a good job. Work pants are often available in four common fit styles, and your body shape will help determine which is right for you.

  • Classic fit: The best choice for most people, classic fit work pants feature a straight leg from the hip to the ankle and a waistband that sits right at, or near, waist level. The fabric of classic-fit pants tends to lay comfortably over the seat and hips without binding or bagging.
  • Slim fit: The waistband on these pants sits just below the natural waistline and the fabric fits closely over the hips and thighs. If you bend a lot while working but prefer a slim fit, look for pants with stretch fabric. A slim, stretchy fit may be desirable when working around machinery, where the loose fabric may present a risk of getting caught in the machinery.
  • Athletic: This fit is similar to the classic fit around the seat and hips but the waist is slightly lower than the wearer’s natural waistline and the legs are roomier to allow for more movement, such as squatting and climbing.
  • Relaxed: With additional fabric in the hip and seat area, relaxed fit pants are designed to be comfortable and non-binding. The legs are also slightly roomier than classic fit pants.

Seam Construction 

For work pants to withstand constant bending and stretching, seam construction must be durable. Look for double- or triple-stitched seams that will prevent the pants from pulling apart. Rivets may also be used at key stress points, such as where front pockets are sewn onto the pants.

Pockets and Zippers

If you’re tough on your pants, it’s a good idea to consider the zipper before buying. Some heavy-duty work pants come with beefier brass zippers for durability; nylon zippers are prone to stretching and breaking. Lots of deep pockets can be a worker’s best friend for carrying along with small nails, screws, or other items needed to do your job.

Our Top Picks

In order to qualify as a top pick, the following work pants had to be durable, comfortable, and designed for the needs of DIYers and pros alike.

Best Overall Women's

Best Work Pants Tactical
Photo: amazon.com

For comfort, durability, and sheer pocket storage, it’s tough to beat Alfiudad Women’s Tactical Work Pants. Made from breathable, 100-percent cotton, these casual work pants feature a loose fit that makes it easy to bend and squat without binding or pinching. They boast a whopping eight pockets, two at the back, two at the front waist, two on each thigh, and two below each knee for carrying screws, nails, wingnuts, or even small handheld tools. The pants feature straight loose legs and drawstring ties at each ankle to make it easy to slip the bottom of the pants into a pair of boots.

Best Overall Men's

Best Work Pants Carhartt
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With tough-as-nails ripstop fabric and a gusseted crotch, the Carhartt Men’s Ripstop Cargo Work Pants will withstand a lot of abuse without ripping or tearing. The ripstop fabric is made from breathable, 100-percent cotton to keep you comfortable and sweat-free. A gusseted crotch (an extra piece of fabric sewn into the crotch area for flexibility) lets you squat without fear of bursting a seam. These rugged work pants come with reinforced knees and multiple cargo pockets that are lined with Cordura fabric to keep sharp tools, such as screwdrivers, from poking through. A hammer loop is located on the left side. These Carhartt pants are designed with a relaxed fit for added comfort and flexibility, and the straight leg opening is easy to tuck into boots.

Best Women's Budget

Best Work Pants Maevn
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If you work hard for your money, you needn’t blow a bunch of it on pants. The Maevn Women’s Utility Cargo Pants are tough, comfy, and amply pocketed for storage, all at an affordable price. There’s a drawstring waist for a custom fit and the cotton/polyester/spandex blend lets you move around with ease. The pants have multiple pockets, including one for a cellphone pocket, to tote essentials, and feature a utility loop on the right outer thigh that will accommodate a hammer or a scanner. These affordable work pants are available in a relaxed fit with a boot cut leg, which fits easily over a mid-calf boot without binding, and if you want to stand out on the site, they come in a host of colors, including Apple Green and Passion Pink.

Best Men's Budget

Best Work Pants Benchmark
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If your budget is tight but your work pants must be comfortable, consider these Benchmark Men’s Carpenter Cargo Work Pants, which boast a variety of high-end features at a bargain price. The pants feature cargo thigh pockets plus extra pockets in the knee area that are designed to accommodate knee pads (not included)—no need to strap on an extra pair of pads for those days you’ll be on your knees a lot. There’s also a hammer loop on the left side and oversized, 2.25-inch wide belt loops so you can wear a tool belt in the loops. The Benchmark pants, made from a cotton/polyester blend for comfort and durability, feature an athletic fit with a classic waist and roomier legs.

Best Men's Cargo

Best Work Pants Amazon
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To carry an assortment of tools without sacrificing comfort, the Amazon Essentials Men’s Stretch Cargo Pants may be your best bet. Made from cotton with a hint of spandex, these durable pants are designed to fit across the seat and rear area yet still stretch and move when you move. They’re designed with a relaxed fit to sit just below the waist and straight legs that tuck easily into boots. These military-inspired pants come with two large cargo pockets, two side slant pockets, and button-flap pockets in the rear.

Best Women's Cargo

Best Work Pants Raroauf
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Reminiscent of combat-style pants, these rugged Raroauf work pants may be just the ticket for staying comfortable all day on the jobsite. Available in a classic, just-below-the-waist fit with a roomy straight leg, the pants won’t bind or pinch, even when you’re climbing or squatting. Made from a cotton/polyester blend, they feature two side slant pockets at the waist, two button-down pockets in the rear, two button-down cargo pockets on the outer thighs, and two smaller pockets located below the knees so you won’t run out of room to carry along supplies and other small items.

Best Men's Double Knee

Best Work Pants Dickies
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If the knees on your pants are always the first spot to wear out, check out a pair of Dickies Men’s Double Knee Work Pants. They feature thicker fabric in the knee area for extra durability when squatting or climbing. Made from a cotton/polyester twill blend, these pants are smooth and wrinkle-resistant, designed for classic comfort in the neat, trim style often favored by delivery drivers and project managers. Though not quite as pocket-laden as cargo pants, these Dickies feature two side-slant pockets at the waist and two back pockets, plus one multi-use pocket on the right thigh.

Best Women's Double Knee

Best Work Pants DickiesWomen
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The Dickies Women’s Double Front Carpenters Pants are designed to withstand a lot of kneeling and stretching without ripping or binding. These classic-fit pants fall just below the waist and feature two back pockets, two side cargo pockets, two front slant pockets at the waist, and pockets in the knee area for inserting knee pads (not included) if desired. There’s also a handy hammer loop on the right side. These Dickies are made from brushed cotton/spandex duck fabric for strength and just enough stretch to let you move comfortably all day long. Straight legs will tuck easily into boots if desired.

Best Men's Canvas

Best Work Pants CanvasMen
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Made from heavy-duty, 100-percent cotton-spun canvas, Carhartt Men’s Canvas Work Pants are rugged and ready for some hard work. They feature two side-slant pockets in the front, two standard rear pockets, and two thigh pockets along with a hammer loop on the left side. The Carhartt work pants have a loose fit and a waistband that sits just a tad higher than your natural waist, a design preferred by some carpenters who like to wear a tool belt lower on the outside of their pants. Like most canvas pants, these will be rather stiff at first but will soften up with a few washings and could soon become your most comfortable pants.

Best Women's Canvas

Best Work Pants CanvasWomen
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For the look and fit of your favorite jeans with the durability of canvas fabric, check out the Carhartt Women’s Rugged Flex Canvas Pants. Designed to be both tough and comfortable, the pants are made from cotton/spandex canvas and come in a classic fit with a waistband that falls at or slightly below, the natural waist level. They feature a standard jean pocket configuration; two pockets in the back and two in the front at waist level, plus a small watch pocket inside the front right pocket. These canvas work pants bear the Carhartt “FR” label, meaning they also offer a measure of flame resistance as determined by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The pants resist burning in the case of a quick-flashing arc of sparks or fire, which can be a risk for electricians and welders.

The Advantages of Owning Work Pants

Work pants are designed to offer the wearer extra comfort for tough tasks that require bending and climbing, and they often come with extra pockets for stowing tools of the trade.

  • Well-designed work pants stretch and move with you.
  • Designed to be durable, work pants are often made from heavy-duty fabric.
  • Work pants come in a variety of styles to fit a range of body shapes.

FAQs About Your New Work Pants

If you’re still not sure about what kind of work pants will be right for you, consider the answers to these common questions—they’ll help you get a leg up.

Q. How should your work pants fit?

Work pants should not bind nor pinch when you perform everyday tasks. They should be comfortable but not so baggy that you run the risk of getting them caught in tools or machinery.

Q. What are the most common materials used for work pants?

Most work pants for DIYers and pros are made from canvas, cotton denim, and cotton blend fabrics. Many have a bit of spandex woven in for stretch, so the pants can move with you while resisting rips.

Q. What are some smart extra design features for work pants?

If your job requires having small supplies on hand, like screws or nails, work pants with large cargo pockets will come in handy. Likewise, if you swing a hammer, pants with a hammer loop will allow you to hang the hammer on the side of your pants when you’re not using it and free up your hands for other tasks.

Q. How many pockets do work pants usually have?

It varies. Standard work pants may have just two front and two rear pockets, while cargo-style and carpenter-style pants offer additional large pockets on the sides for carrying tools and other essentials.

Q. How long do work pants last?

You can expect to get three to six months of use out of a good pair of work pants if you’re in a job where you’re actively bending, climbing, or squatting all day long.