Are Cargo Pants Considered Jeans: Which One is Right for You?

cargo pants vs jeans

Everyone knows what jeans are as they have been around forever, or at least since 1871 when they were invented. They have stayed popular and relevant because of how versatile they can be. But, a newer type of pant is growing in popularity now: cargo pants.

So, are cargo pants considered jeans? Though they are both types of pants, cargo pants are not considered jeans. Cargo pants are typically made of strong, synthetic cotton. Jeans on the other hand, are made of denim. That being said, cargo pants can also be made of denim, making them a pair of cargo jeans.

How to decide which type of pant is right for you can be hard, but keep reading to help you try to figure it out.

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What Are Cargo Pants?

Interestingly enough, cargo pants were originally meant for military use as they are made with a durable, resilient material and many cargo pockets for storage. This is not the first fashion trend inspired by military equipment either as camouflage-print clothes were popularized by military uniforms as well.

Cargo pants are made of a tough fabric, typically a quick-drying synthetic material or a synthetic-cotton blend. They are usually purposely ruggedly stitched to fit the aesthetic and have oversized belt loops.

The main feature of cargo pants is the extensive amount of pockets they have all over, there are usually six or more all over the pants. Pockets tend to be deep and are typically secured with a snap, button, magnet or Velcro, making sure nothing falls out.

Since cargo pants are quite thick in order to be durable, they may be hot, especially if you’re outdoors a lot. This sparked the creation of cargo shorts as well for summer wear.

Cargo pants were traditionally green or camouflage due to their prior military use. They are now available in most colors and patterns, but military green is still popular.

What Are Jeans?

Jeans are a type of pants that are usually made from denim or dungaree cloth. Jeans are traditionally dyed blue with indigo dye, but can come in other colors.

Levi Strauss & Co., the popular jeans company, are actually the ones who created and patented jeans in 1873.

As jeans are tough, they were originally made for miners to protect their legs, but have since been turned into a lasting fashion trend.

Jeans come in many different styles like distressed jeans with holes or tears purposefully placed. There are also many fits of jeans for men including skinny, slim, regular, relaxed or loose.

Which One is Right for You?

So, with so many options of pants solely between the different styles of cargo and jeans, how can you choose which is the right pair for you? There are pros and cons to both types of pants. Which type you wear is situational as well—somewhere that you can wear jeans to may not be an appropriate place to wear cargo pants and vice versa. Let’s dive into the pros and cons of both!

Pros of Wearing Jeans

Since jeans were meant for miners originally, modern jeans are still quite durable and strong due to the denim they are made of.

This makes jeans popular for manual labor work like construction workers, plumbers or gardeners. Their durability means you can use and wash jeans multiple times for years despite wearing them down with manual labor.

Not only are jeans worn for manual labor, they are also worn casually. Many workplaces that require business casual attire normally state that jeans are not allowed, so most people wear them outside of work.

Jeans are likely popular since they come in many different styles, fits and colors. This allows most people to find a type of jean that suits them. People tend to also own multiple pairs of jeans since they vary so much. One outfit may look better with a skinny jean while jeans for manual labor may be better if they are loose fitting.

Though a lot of men have trouble with styling themselves, it’s almost impossible to struggle with jeans. Jeans can go with almost any outfit. Get a darker pair to go with light shirts and sweaters and a lighter wash of jeans for your darker tops. Jeans are also good for both summer and winter wear, just layer up or down depending on the season.

Cons of Wearing Jeans

A lot of people’s biggest gripe with wearing jeans is that they are stiff. There is truth to that as new denim is typically tough. That is why when you first wear new jeans or jeans that just came out of the wash, they are stiff.

You’ll notice, however, that your jeans will stretch and fit better throughout the day. Jeans will loosen and become less stiff the more you wear them.

Another problem that people have with jeans is that they don’t have as much storage/pocket space as cargo pants. They typically have two pockets on the front and two pockets on the back. The pockets are usually only big enough for one item like a phone or wallet.

The last con is the fit of your jeans. Even if you know what size you typically are, this does not mean jeans in that size will fit you for sure. Jeans tend to vary in size depending on the store and different cuts like a slim cut versus loose may fit differently. This makes it hard to buy jeans online, but don’t be shy, go to the store and try on your perfect pair!

Pros of Wearing Cargo Pants

The number one benefit for wearing cargo pants that everyone can agree on is: pockets. Cargo pants will typically have six or more pockets, usually quite deep as well. Pockets can typically be closed with Velcro, a button or a magnet. Having deeper pockets that are able to close ensures that anything you put inside is safe.

There are typically two types of cargo pants: ones made for leisure and stronger, more durable ones made for work. You can usually tell the difference as cargo pants made for work tend to be more expensive since they are usually better quality and last up to five times longer.

Cargo pants are the perfect pant for workers who perform a lot of manual labor or need to store things while on the job like a mechanic or electrician for example. They’re durability makes sure that your pants won’t tear while on the job.

Cargo pants are also comfortable. Since they’re not usually form fitting, they tend to be more comfortable than jeans. There are also cargo pants that turn into shorts if you’re feeling hot. Both cargo shorts and pants are widely available as they are in style. This will make it easy to find the perfect color and fit for you.

Lastly, cargo pants are easy to wash. This may not seem like a big deal, but have you ever tried to iron pleats into your pants? It’s not easy! The good thing about cargo pants is that they are hard to stain, easy to wash and don’t need ironing as they will stay wrinkle-free.

Cons of Wearing Cargo Pants

Despite looking similar to khakis which tend to be business casual, cargo pants are not suitable for most work environments that enforce a dress code. You’ll just have to stick to wearing your cargo pants on outings.

Cargo pants and shorts are said to be unfashionable. This is obviously subjective, but as long as you like the look, go for it! Cargo pants are so versatile, coming in different colors, patterns and styles, so it’s hard to write them all off.

Further, some men might shy away from cargo pants outside of a manual labor work setting because they don’t know how to style them. It’s easier than you think though! A simple white or black t-shirt with any color cargo pants looks great and effortless. If it’s cold, a jean jacket or cable-knit sweater on top are also good options.

So, Jeans or Cargo Pants?

In the end, both jeans and cargo pants have their positives and negatives. Do you want to go for a more fashionable choice? Or the more practical one?

At the end of the day, it really depends on what you’re doing in your pants. If you’re doing manual labor at work or in your spare time like gardening, both types of pants would be good for you.

If you don’t want to carry a bag, but still need a lot of storage, then cargo pant is the clear answer here. That being said, if you are going out on a date or meeting friends, jeans might make you seem more put together.

Going on a hike? Cargo pants win again. Ultimately, we could go back and forth between the two all day, but both pants serve a unique function and who says you can’t have both?



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