If nothing else, 2020 has proven that one must be prepared for anything. Which is why it’s a fitting time for the cargo pant to make its return to your wardrobe—designed for utility, it’s a style that is built to endure whatever life throws at you. And while the baggy, excessively-pocketed iterations of yore have given cargo pants a bad rap, the latest examples from the likes of Brunello Cucinelli and Stone Island prove that cargos can be both rugged and refined.
As you might expect, cargo pants—also known as combat pants—are rooted in the military. Initially used by British forces in 1938, the large pockets were designed to hold field dressings, maps and other battlefield essentials. (The U.S. Paratroopers would adopt them to allow for K rations and ammunition.) In 2020, those plentiful pockets are ideally suited to the modern man’s needs: phone, wallet, headphones, hand sanitizer and, as travel opens up, a pretty convenient place to keep your passport.
Moreover, with options ranging from tailored to technical, cargo pants offer all-important smart-casual versatility. They’re a natural fit with T-shirts and sneakers but can also add a laidback attitude to a blazer and brogues. Adding a pair to your wardrobe affords ample opportunities to experiment across seasons. Here are some of our favorite cargo pants to suit any style.