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The Best Work Pants of 2024

Work pants provide functional utility for carpentry, construction, ranch work, or DIY home projects. These are the best work pants we have found in 2024.

A man cuts wood while wearing work pants.Cutting up wood with a light e-chainsaw while wearing the Kühl Resistor Jeans; (photo/Emily Malone)
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Kneeling for hours in grubby conditions, fending off sparks and debris, stashing greasy tools — work pants have to deal with a lot. Whether you are a professional tradesman, or DIY fiend paying your dues on personal projects, narrowing in on the perfect pair of work pants for your needs is important for efficiency and safety on the job site.

Our team has collectively put hundreds of different work pants through the wringer on tasks around homesteads, construction jobs, and everyday yard work. When assessing work pants, we consider how well the pants do hard jobs while protecting the body. We also consider durability and how it relates to pricing, comfort, and overall construction.

Editors Chris Carter and Sean McCoy teamed up for the creation of this guide, putting a plethora of work pants to the test on work sites, arborist jobs, and home repairs to narrow in on the streamlined selection of six worthy pants you see today.

The pants below will suit many full-time tradesmen. They will easily suffice for the weekend DIYer or someone who needs something a bit tougher than jeans (especially those new soft, stretchy ones) but are probably not going as far as adding a tool belt to their ensemble.

In regards to selection, we didn’t dive into several great brands aimed specifically at the tradesperson like Jobman Workwear, Blackrock Workwear, Walls, and Snickers Workwear. Although they make excellent clothing, these don’t bridge into the recreational DIY apparel that this review targets.

Scroll through our selection below, or hop down to our buyer’s guide, comparison chart, or FAQ for help in narrowing in on your perfect pair.

Editor’s Note: We refreshed this guide on December 20, 2023, adding several new models, and writing the buyer’s guide. We also made sure our product list is up-to-date with current models, colorways, and designs.

The Best Work Pants of 2024


Best Overall Work Pants

1620 Workwear Double Knee Utility Pant 2.0

Specs

  • Fabric Cordura Stretch NYCO
  • Utility pockets Back yoke welt pockets, dual watch pockets, right phone pocket, right zip key pocket, military-spec shank button, dual hammer loops, left leg utility pocket
  • Water resistance DWR coating
  • Fit Regular
Product Badge The Best Work Pants of 2024

Pros

  • Stellar pocket layout
  • Tough NYCO fabric

Cons

  • Expensive
Best Budget Work Pants

Mountain Khakis Camber 107 Pant

Specs

  • Fabric 8.7 oz. 98% Cotton, 2% Spandex Canvas
  • Utility pockets Right coin pocket, right drop-in pocket with snap
  • Water resistance DWR coating
  • Fit Classic
The Best Work Pants of 2024

Pros

  • Soft next-to-skin feel
  • Reinforced knees and cuffs

Cons

  • Not the most durable
Best Work Pants for Tree Work

Arborwear Original Tree Climbers’ Pants

Specs

  • Fabric 100% cotton ringspun canvas
  • Utility pockets Utility pocket on right thigh
  • Water resistance N/A
  • Fit Classic
The Best Work Pants of 2024

Pros

  • Extremely durable
  • Tough knee reinforcements

Cons

  • Utility pocket on thigh is quite small and restricting
  • Not very stretchy
Most Stylish Work Pants

Kühl Free Rydr

Specs

  • Fabric Cotton/spandex Eurotwill
  • Utility pockets Side drop-in pocket
  • Water resistance N/A
  • Fit Regular
The Best Work Pants of 2024

Pros

  • Just enough elastic for stretch without sacrificing durability
  • Reinforced hem and pocket lips
  • Comfortable fabric

Cons

  • No reinforced knees
Best Work Pants for Hot Environments

Fjallraven Keb Trousers

Specs

  • Fabric Waxed G-1000 — 65% polyester (recycled), 35% cotton (organic)
  • Utility pockets 2 leg pockets with buttoned flaps, mesh pocket inside one of the leg pockets
  • Water resistance PFC-free water-resistant wax coating
  • Fit Regular
The Best Work Pants of 2024

Pros

  • Hip-to-knee and lower leg ventilation zippers
  • Reinforced knees with openings for pads (kneepads not included)
  • Extremely durable
  • Sustainable build

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Not the most flexible
  • Not the best next-to-skin comfort
  • Pricey
Best Work Pants for Mobility

Kühl Resistor Jean

Specs

  • Fabric 65% cotton, 26% nylon, 9% spandex
  • Utility pockets 3D drop-in right side pocket, drop-in left-side phone pocket
  • Water resistance DWR coating
  • Fit Regular
The Best Work Pants of 2024

Pros

  • Great stretch and mobility, but fabric rebounds and doesn't bag over time
  • Solid durability
  • Soft next-to-skin feel
  • Gusseted crotch for more freedom of movement
  • Cuff guards at bottom hem

Cons

  • No reinforcement on knees
  • Right drop-in pocket a bit loose and not super deep
  • Thick stitching on hand pockets makes it a bit hard to slide a knife clip into them

Work Pants Comparison Chart

Work PantsPriceFabricUtility PocketsWater ResistanceFit
1620 Workwear Double Knee Utility Pant 2.0$198Cordura stretch NYCOBack welt pockets, dual watch pockets, right phone pocket, right zip key pocket, shank button, dual hammer loops, left leg utility pocketDWR coatingRegular
Mountain Khakis Camber 107 Pant$99.9598% cotton, 2% spandex canvas Right coin pocket, right drop-in pocket with snapDWR coatingClassic
Arborwear Original Tree Climbers’ Pants$95100% cotton ringspun canvasUtility pocket on right thighN/AClassic
Kühl Free Rydr$99Cotton/spandex EurotwillSide drop-in pocketN/ARegular
Fjallraven Keb Trousers$240Waxed G-1000: 65% polyester, 35% cotton2 leg pockets with buttoned flaps, mesh pocket inside one of the leg pocketsPFC-free water-resistant wax coatingRegular
Kühl Resistor Jean$12965% cotton, 26% nylon, 9% spandex3D drop-in right side pocket, drop-in left-side phone pocketDWR coatingRegular
Rocking the Kühl Resistor Jeans while repotting plants and getting some yard work done; (photo/Emily Malone)

How We Tested Work Pants

From full-time homesteaders to construction workers, and passionate tinkerers ticking off personal projects over the weekend — the GearJunkie team knows how to get their hands dirty. To accommodate their lifestyles, they’ve put countless models of work pants through the wringer on just as many job sites and pooled their collective experience to form this comprehensive guide.

Editors Chris Carter and Sean McCoy joined forces in curating the streamlined selection of six pants you see today. They bucked logs in the backcountry, chipped away at construction projects, and generally abused a whole slew of work pants to narrow in on the best of the best. Rest assured — we would rely on any of the models above to tackle demanding jobs.

We know that the work pants podium is competitive and constantly evolving, which is why we’ve slotted this guide into an iterative update schedule. We are perpetually scouring the internet, attending gear shows, and bugging the pros to make sure we test and review the most current, deserving pants on the market.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Work Pants

Work pants come with all sorts of different designs and features, and some work better for other tasks than others; (photo/Emily Malone)

Like most things out there, work pants come in all shapes and sizes, and there are enough options to make your head spin. Since you’ll be doing more in these pants than just walking or hanging around, it’s important to consider the materials, features, and intended use of work pants before making your selection. We’ve highlighted a number of our top picks above, but are continually testing more models as they come out and updating our list of favorites.

The two key factors in picking the best pair of work pants for you are fit and function. Each brand has its own cut or silhouette. And while we try our best to describe how each of the above pairs of pants fit us, the only way to really know how they fit you is by trying them on.

When shopping at a store, that’s easy to solve by jumping into the fitting room. But when buying a brand for the first time online, be sure to check out its return policy in case they don’t fit how you like and you need to send them back.

Pro tip: Order a few different sizes in the first batch to avoid a bunch of shipping back and forth. Try them all on and just send back the pairs that don’t fit right.

Things to consider are features like articulated knees or a gusseted crotch. These are important depending on how much squatting, kneeling, or climbing you will be doing in the pants. A pair of pants that don’t fit well won’t get worn or will just cause endless frustration.

The second factor is function. Some key features to consider are pocket configuration, reinforced areas (pockets, knees, hemlines, etc.), hammer loops, and the ability to take knee pads. These vary in importance depending on what you will be doing in these pants. Below, we’ll take a look at what makes a good pair of work pants.

It’s also worth noting that this guide covers features and materials specific to sturdy work pants, which tend to fit pretty niche purposes. For information on other outdoor pants categories, check out our comprehensive guides on the Best Hiking Pants and the Best Travel Pants.

Fit Categories of Work Pants

1620 USA double knee 3.0 work pant
Work pants come in all shapes and sizes, and the fit you go with depends on personal preference and the jobs you are tackling; (photo/1620)

Work pants, as with other pants, fall into a few different categories that can give you an idea of how they will fit without actually trying them on. Most work pants fall into one of the following categories: relaxed, regular, classic, or slim.

  • Relaxed: These are some of the more comfortable-fitting pants, offering roomy fit in the seat, thigh, and ankle. These run on the baggy side, but eschew the stiffness that often accompanies tighter-fitting pants. This boils down to personal preference, but we tend to avoid relaxed fits while we are working, as we don’t want anything to get in our way while making precision cuts or lunging over a pile of lumber. For us, it’s important to find a healthy balance of a tapered form fit with enough stretch to easily move about.
  • Regular: These pants strike a healthy balance between relaxed and slim pants. They don’t offer as much room in the seat and thigh but aren’t necessarily form-fitting. These are easy to move in without being too tight. Regular pants often have a straight leg opening, and sit slightly below the waist.
  • Classic: The line between regular and classic can sometimes be blurred, but as a general rule classic pants also have a straight leg opening, but run more on the slim side than regular. They can have a flat or pleated front and usually sit at the waist. This is our author’s personal favorite — as long as they have enough flexibility built into the fabric.
  • Slim: These pants aren’t necessarily “skinny jeans” status, but do sit much closer and tighter to the leg. The leg openings will still allow you to wear heavy work boots underneath but are much more form-fitting than the other categories. If you can’t stand the baggy look, these are the pants for you.

The type of pants you go with purely depends on personal preference and the type of jobs you plan to be tackling in them.

Features of Work Pants

Work pants generally come with some unique features — like the 3D side pocket above — that contribute to their useability and specific purpose; (photo/Emily Malone)

The feature sets on work pants are diverse and job-specific and contribute to their useability. Consider the type of tasks you want to accomplish in your pants and select a feature set accordingly. While it may seem awesome to have a million pockets, loops, and zippers on your pants, these can get in the way if your job requires you to be quick and mobile. Additional features add fail points to the pants and contribute to the overall weight. They can also reduce the ventilating abilities of the pants — so choose with care.

Gusseted Crotch

We are seriously skeptical of work pants if they don’t have these. A gusseted crotch is a diamond-shaped piece of fabric sewn into the crotch area. A gusset eliminates four seams coming together where the legs join, which limits mobility and can be uncomfortable. A gusset also helps disperse stress around the crotch, boosting pants’ durability and making it easier to crouch down or high-step over obstacles.

Articulated Knees

Articulated knees help you bend over and kneel with ease; (photo/Emily Malone)

Similar to gusseted crotches, articulated knees provide a bit more flexion in the knee area allowing you to bend and kneel more easily. These come in incredibly handy if you find yourself climbing up and down a ladder or navigating scaffolding at your work site. Articulated knees are created by sewing “darts” — a seamstress term for a simple fold sewn into the pant’s material — into the knees, like in the photo above.

Reinforced Areas

Kneeling for hours on rocky ground, sitting on rough concrete, or rubbing against abrasive surfaces — work pants deal with loads of abuse. It’s not uncommon to see extra patches of thicker fabric sewn over high-use areas like the knees or rear in these stalwart trousers. These afford extra protection for your legs, while also prolonging the life of your pants. Just be aware that reinforcement patches add weight and extra stitching, and can limit the pant’s ventilation.

Extra Pockets and Loops

Extra pockets, loops, and zippered pouches boost the useability of work pants, but do add weight; (photo/Sean McCoy)

Work pants are often specced out with some seriously sweet accessories, like dedicated phone pockets, zip and cargo pockets, shank buttons, or hammer loops. These can all be used to store EDC items like knives, phones, and multitools, and also allow you to quickly stash tools or materials as they amass mid-job.

We particularly appreciate side drop-in pockets — if they are deep and tight enough — for throwing a handful of nails or screws in if we are going to be standing in one place for a while putting something together. These aren’t often the most secure pockets (unless they are zippered or buckled closed), so it’s best to not keep dangerous materials in them for too long.

Materials and Durability of Work Pants

While we weren’t technically “working,” ripping around on a dirt bike in the African bush and fixing them in the shop was a great way to test the durability and mobility of various work pants; (photo/Chip Carter)

Of all the pants in our closet, work pants are the most battle-ready. Reinforcement patches, thick stitching, and expensive materials generally decorate these models, and they are designed to withstand years of torture. These features make work pants great for more than just a job site. We find ourselves grabbing them for backcountry bushwhacks, motorcycle tours, and any activity that would threaten to shred our legs.

Work pants are usually constructed with several different materials, blending fabrics to deliver the highest quality of each material. Here are some of the primary materials used in work pants:

  • Cotton/Cotton Duck: Cotton is the most widely used natural fiber in the world today, and most work pants have a certain degree of cotton in them. Cotton is the foundation of other fabrics, such as denim and duck. As we all know, however, cotton has its downsides. Namely, it can shrink, is prone to wrinkling, and dries very slowly if it gets wet. Cotton duck is a tightly woven cotton fabric and is tougher than denim. It is likened to a canvas fabric and is incredibly resistant to softening over time — which is a downfall of denim. It is quite tear-resistant and has even been used to construct things like hammocks and sails.
  • Spandex: this material has great flexion, but returns to its normal shape and structure. Spandex isn’t used generously in work pants but is an important element in the blends that manufacturers use. You move around a lot in work pants, and there needs to be some give to accommodate all the needs of an active job site. Spandex isn’t particularly durable though. Spandex is frequently added to the waistband of pants to afford more stretch and comfort.
  • Cordura: This is a super tough material that is highly tear- and abrasion-resistant. Cordura is often used in reinforcement patches and high-stress areas to prolong the life of pants.
  • Polyester: Compared to cotton, polyester is incredibly strong and durable. It dries out much faster than cotton and doesn’t absorb stains quite as easily. Polyester doesn’t breathe as well as cotton, though, and is therefore often mixed with cotton to make a more performative poly/cotton blend.

Work Pants Mobility

Work pants have to be durable and tear-resistant while still allowing you to easily bend down, step over obstacles, and generally contort your body with ease; (photo/Emily Malone)

Mixing spandex, or other elastic materials, with cotton or polyester, manufacturers are able to craft pants that withstand the rigors of work, while moving with you as you bop around the job site. We find the mobility of work pants to be one of the most important elements we look for. If we feel constricted while bending down, crouching, or climbing a ladder, it limits our efficiency and is just downright uncomfortable.

While most of the pants we tested passed the mobility test, some were definitely better than others. The Kühl Resistor Jeans, pictured above, stood out with the best flexibility-to-durability ratio of the work pants we tried on. They shrugged off significant torture, without restricting our movement — no matter what position we found ourselves in.

1620 work pants
A valuable set of work pants can last you for years upon years of brutal days on the job; (photo/1620)

FAQ

What are the most durable work pants?

Durability is usually a tradeoff with comfort. The softer and more comfortable the pant, the more likely it’s going to be less durable. But it may not matter. If you’re not rubbing or scraping up against rough surfaces, you can get away with a less durable and more comfortable pant.

If you work in a high-abrasion environment, it will be worth getting a stiffer pant that won’t move as easily but will last longer. For a more durable pant, look for a higher denier count, heavier fabric, or brands that use tough fabrics like CORDURA.

Which work pants are best for hot weather?

Similar to the durability question above, the tradeoff is usually between thinner, more breathable pants that are comfortable in hot weather and thicker, more durable pants. Another factor that can help in hot weather is a looser cut or fit to allow for some air circulation within the pant.

Finally, the material used can play a role. But usually, the more breathable a pant fabric is, the less durable it is. Fjallraven’s Keb Trousers stand in contrast to this, boasting incredible ventilation despite featuring thick, resilient materials. Zippered vents allow you to wear these in hot environments without sacrificing durability.

How long should work pants last?

Most clothing is expected to last about 30-40 wash cycles, but our experience has shown that work pants last longer than that. The biggest factor is how the pants are used. If you’re going to a job site and bending and squatting all day or hauling cinder blocks every day for work, the pants are going to wear out much faster than occasional DIY projects at home.

1620 USA Made Work Pants for Men
Work pants are key for comfort and protection in the tough conditions you face on the job; (photo/1620)
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