The Search for Two-Year-Plus Pants
September 17, 2012 7:05 AM   Subscribe

I finally found a pair of black, cordura cycling jeans that seem like they'll last for years. On the other hand, I've started to discover that my Levis don't last. Where else can I find indestructable pants?

Most cycling jeans (the cordura kind) seem to be black, and, lesser, indigo. Where are, say, light khaki or blue durable pants? Maybe cotton actually will fit the bill, but the stiching/fabric or something of that sort must be much more durable than Levi's - I'd love to have a two-to-three-year jeans/pants cycle rather than one-year.

Jeans vs pants - good with either. I bike to work every day, but don't have any dress code other than 'looking fly'. My mental price limit is $100, but I can go higher if it's worth it and especially if I can try them out in a store. I'm a bit on the outskirts of size (30x32ish)

posted by tmcw to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Commercial work pants. Heavy fabrics, but they will last years. I used to wear out jeans in a matter of months, but I get several years out of work pants.

Carhartt makes jean-like pants in stones, greens and black, as well as their signature orange/brown. Their pants are widely available and bomb-proof.

Duluth makes similar mens' pants that are also really, really durable. Their firehose line is really tough, but also quite heavy.

5.11 is a bit different. They started out as a police supply house, but got on the "tactical" bandwagon a half-dozen years ago. If you ignore the camo/tactical fetishism, their TDU and "Tactical Pants" are actually modest, normal-looking pants that fit well and have good durability.
posted by bonehead at 7:51 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tilley makes nice clothing, and they have a lifetime guarantee on many items.
posted by theredpen at 7:56 AM on September 17, 2012

Three options I know of, at three different price points and three different fashion looks:

1. Super Ugly, Very Expensive-- My personal best example for these are Blaklader pants, but they can be hard to find in North America (they are like the Swedish version of Carharts), they are expensive, but really, really tough. The linked example are probably the most hideous looking of their line, and is in a cotton/poly blend, but the company does make other styles, including all cotton, and other colors. Designed to be worn by construction workers, most of these pants have insert pockets for protective knee pads, which I actually recommend. Here is another review, although the Cool Tools blog has actually withdrawn their recommendation-- not for quality, but for cost and difficulty to order. Also, if you order these, I've learned from personal experience that the sizes run a little small.

2. Ugly, Medium Price-- Skillers. Another Scandinavian workwear company. Again, the Cool Tools Blog entry for them is a good all-round description.

3. Looks OK, Expensive-- Duluth Fire Hose Pants. They are all cotton, but made from the thick rugged canvas that fire hoses used to be made with. Duluth Trading is actually a pretty good source for long wearing clothes, although as they get larger and more popular, I think their durability may be less than it used to be. Maybe that's just me. Obligatory Cool Tools entry. Can you tell I like that blog?

Two more I don't have personal experience with:

I don't have any direct experience with them, but lots motorcycle riders swear by Kevlar Jeans.

Also, one of the companies that used to sell Skillers now recommends a new brand called Mascot. I don't know if they had problems getting the Skillers from Europe or if they honestly believe Mascot is better.

All of these pants are pretty ugly, and even though they are tougher than normal, they won't last forever. But if you are like me, then you may find that they last three to five times longer than a normal set of jeans. Good luck!

On preview: Seconding both the Carhart and 5.11 pants. They are good, too.
posted by seasparrow at 7:57 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

uh, if you want bike-cycling specific stuff, that's really pretty and good-looking (caveat, might be expensive)

Outlier Clothing
Swrve US

I recommend the Keirin cut pants and really the 4OGs as well. I have experience with Swrve's hardshells and they're nigh-indestructible. Their pants are also well-recommended.
posted by kurosawa's pal at 8:17 AM on September 17, 2012

Rapha makes both cycling jeans and cycling khakis, although they're really pretty expensive. Designed to last longer considering saddle wear, though, so could be worth it.
posted by lettezilla at 8:18 AM on September 17, 2012

An alternative to 5.11 that is also high quality is Woolrich Elite.
posted by Jacob G at 9:29 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I wear 5.11 pants to work. I am an IT guy who still sometimes crawls around or moves heavy stuff so I bought four pair of their Covert Tactical Khakis with extra, secret pockets for holding spare clips [no I am not kidding] when the product was cancelled. Disposable and look better than Dockers, surprisingly.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:53 AM on September 17, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks! I wish work pants didn't have cargo pockets and such - I'm really just trying to find a slim/simple look.
posted by tmcw at 5:47 PM on September 17, 2012

You might try the 5.11 Jean Cut tactical pants*, maybe.

*Full Disclosure - this is one of my employer's sites.
posted by Jacob G at 6:49 PM on September 17, 2012

All of Carhartt, Duluth and 5.11 offer jean-cuts with no cargo pockets. Duluth and 5.11 do chinos/slacks too.
posted by bonehead at 8:40 PM on September 17, 2012

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