Reviews

Work Hard, Play Harder: An Honest Review of Carhartt Cargo Pants

If you’re tired of work pants that wear out after just a few weeks, it’s time to give Carhartt cargo pants a try.
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Man wearing Carhartt cargo pants with tools in pockets

Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila

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With their relaxed fit and multiple pockets, cargo-style pants are a must-have for DIYers and pros working in rugged environments. The clothing manufacturer Carhartt has a stellar reputation for making quality work pants for men; their cargo pants are no exception.

Let me tell you about my recent adventure testing out a pair of Carhartt cargo pants—considered by some to be the ultimate workwear for active DIYers. While my husband, a contractor and outdoorsman, put them to the test in the field, I took on the challenge of washing and drying them multiple times and carefully examining every seam and stitch for signs of wear and tear. We left no stone unturned in our quest to determine just how well these work pants hold up under the demands of an active lifestyle. Read on to see if Carhartt cargo pants are right for you.

Carhartt Cargo Pants: At a Glance

Man in Carhartt Cargo Pants stepping up on metal rails
Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila

Rating: 9.25/10

PROS

  • Spacious pockets for holding tools, smartphones, and other work essentials
  • Comfortable cut and fit that allows ease of movement for physical labor
  • Well designed and constructed with reinforced seams to withstand the most rigorous projects

CONS

  • Some users may find the fit to be too loose or too tight
  • May not be suitable for work environments that have uniform requirements
  • Ripstop material may be too heavy for hot summer workwear

Get the Carhartt cargo pants at:

What are Carhartt cargo pants?

These pants are made from durable ripstop fabric and feature reinforced stitching and double-layered knees. This design helps to protect the pants from wear and tear, making them long lasting and reliable.

One of the most notable features of Carhartt cargo pants is their abundance of pockets. In addition to traditional back and front pockets, these pants also have multiple pockets on the sides. These pockets are perfect for keeping tools, gear, and other essentials right at hand while you work.

Carhartt cargo pants come in various styles and colors, ranging from classic khaki (Desert) to Moss and Dark Coffee. They are also available in multiple waist and length combinations. This allows you to find a pair that suits your size needs and preferences.

Man in Carhartt Cargo Pants standing on yellow ladder
Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila

Are the Carhartt cargo pants suitable for DIY and construction projects?

During testing, my husband completed his typical workday tasks, which included climbing ladders, kneeling, reaching, and stretching. The Carhartt cargo pants held up well to all the abuse he dished out. The knees of the pants also feature an open pocket for inserting small kneepads. We didn’t have the correct type of pad to use this feature, but pocket kneepads are inexpensive and widely available.

Another great feature of Carhartt cargo pants is their ample storage space. With their multiple pockets, my husband could carry his most-used tools, which included a hammer, tape measure, pliers, and a pencil. Having essential tools within reach makes cargo pants a practical choice for construction work pants.

How comfortable are these cargo pants for men?

The waistband of the Carhartt cargo pants is designed to provide a comfortable fit that doesn’t dig into the skin or cause irritation, and it sits right at the natural waistline—at the navel. Comfort is paramount when working long hours or engaging in physically demanding tasks. The fabric of these pants is also breathable and soft—they don’t chafe or irritate.

My husband found the pants allowed for ample flexibility without binding, not just around the waist but also throughout the legs and crotch while climbing, bending, and working—everyday movements for DIYers and construction pros. He tested them almost daily for 3 weeks and said they were very comfortable. Ultimately, a wearer’s comfort will depend on body shape and the activity. The legs of these cargo pants are relaxed and roomy, but if you’re planning to practice martial arts and kick over your head, I can’t promise they won’t bind.

Pair of Carhartt Cargo Pants folded in front of laundry detergent and dryer sheets
Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila

How do the cargo pants hold up to frequent washings?

Over the 3-week test period, I washed the Carhartt cargo pants 12 times and dried them in the dryer all but once. The other time, I hung them on an outdoor clothesline to dry in the sun. I used Tide Laundry Detergent and washed the pants on the warm water/cool rinse cycle. I dried them on the medium setting, adding a fabric softener sheet to the cycle. Each time, they came out of the dryer soft and virtually wrinkle-free.

I didn’t notice any fading. However, the cargo pants seemed to be just a tad snugger right after each laundering, but they quickly loosened up after a few minutes of wear. The one time I hung them on the clothesline to dry, they were slightly stiffer, which was expected, but—according to my husband—they were still comfortable to wear, and the fabric softened up with movement.

Will the Carhartt cargo pants protect against sparks, cuts, and abrasions?

It’s important to note that Carhartt cargo pants are not explicitly designed for welding or other activities involving sparks or flame exposure. For those activities, specialized protective gear is usually necessary to ensure safety. However, these cargo pants are made from 100 percent cotton ripstop, so if a spark burns a hole, the fabric won’t melt and stick to the skin as it can with some synthetic materials.

In terms of safeguarding against cuts and abrasions, the pants’ reinforced stitching and double-layered knees offer some protection. The knees are usually the first spot to wear out on my husband’s pants because he kneels and bends frequently, straining the fabric in this area. After wearing them to work 12 times, the knees of the Carhartt pants were still intact—no rips and no snags.

Closeup of Carhartt cargo pants back pocket with logo
Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila

Should you buy a pair of Carhartt cargo pants?

As of this writing, these Carhartt cargo pants sell for around $33 on Amazon and slightly more at other retailers. That’s a decent price for durable work pants. Consider a few factors before buying, including the type of work or projects you’ll be doing. If you’re looking for durability and flexibility, these might be the work pants for you.

Additionally, these cargo pants are awesome for those who camp, hike, or fish because their extra pockets offer ample room to carry a wide variety of items, such as flashlights, smartphones, hand tools, or everyday carry (EDC) knives.

You can find more stylish pants, and if you work in an office setting, cargo pants may be considered too casual for daily workwear. But if you’re into DIY projects or spend a lot of time in the great outdoors, these Carhartt cargo pants go a long way toward being both functional and comfortable.

Where to Buy Carhartt Cargo Pants

Get the Carhartt cargo pants at:

Meet the Tester

Glenda Taylor is a product tester and writer specializing in the construction, remodeling, and real estate industries. She and her husband own a general contracting company, and Taylor is experienced in both residential and commercial building applications. She tests a wide range of power tools as well as other home improvement, household, and lawn-and-garden products.

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Glenda Taylor

Staff Writer

Glenda Taylor is a BobVila.com staff writer with a background in the residential remodeling, home building, and home improvement industries. She started writing for BobVila.com in 2016 and covers a range of topics, including construction methods, code compliance, tool use, and the latest news in the housing and real estate industries. 

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