The most comfortable mens' pants...?
February 21, 2021 12:17 PM   Subscribe

Nearly a year of not wearing office/dress pants as I work remotely has left me with the realization that the few casual pants I do own are unsuitable for sitting for long periods of time, and I'm tired of exclusively wearing sweats. I've seen a few previous Ask Qs that focus on jeans or work pants, but I'd broaden the question to: What are the most comfortable, currently available pants, i.e., non-sweatpants, you can recommend for a man of average height/weight? Thanks.
posted by the sobsister to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
It’s hard to say without knowing how you like your pants to fit. I doubt anyone else’s answers here will work for me, because I like my pants to fit loosely. Likewise, my recommendation won’t mean much to someone who likes slim fitting pants.

The trend these days is to include some Spandex to make them stretchy. In theory this is good, but in practice I’ve found it’s just a way for manufacturers to make their pants even slimmer. Stretch is ok, but I already own cycling shorts. I don’t need khakis that I can wear to ride my bike. But again, I’m probably not representative.

My favorites are Carhartt’s Rugged Work Khakis (heavy but super soft), LL Bean’s Country Corduroy trousers, and Levi’s 569 jeans.
posted by kevinbelt at 1:05 PM on February 21

Banana Republic Traveler pants look nice enough for most business casual workplaces and are thicker and more durable than your standard khakis, but are nearly as comfortable as sweats. (The linked review is of slim, but there are various sizes and styles.)
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:10 PM on February 21 [3 favorites]

Duluth Trading Company is well known for its work gear, but they have some excellent, comfortable khakis that are reasonably priced.
posted by Master Gunner at 2:12 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]

Along this same theme, Columbia has a variety of khaki or khaki-like pants for men. Their own website is kind of lousy, I have an actual retail store near me that I go to instead to see the selection. I think they classify them as a "travel" item, if you want to try to navigate to them in their website.

English Laundry khakis/chinos seem to be fairly comfortable. They're been on the tables at Costco at times.
posted by gimonca at 2:29 PM on February 21

I've fallen in love with my Duluth Trading Company pants. They sell themselves on their rugged pants, but have good khakis and jeans, too.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 2:31 PM on February 21

I’m curious, can you expand on what makes certain kinds of pants “unsuitable for sitting for long periods of time”?
posted by Jobst at 2:36 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]

My husband and his friends all swear by Lulu Lemon’s ABC (anti-ball-crushing) pants. They look like business casual slacks but are made of a soft stretchy material and cut for comfort in physical activities and sitting.
posted by amaire at 2:52 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks to all for these great suggestions.

To Jobst's question, my pants are jeans or one pair of cords or khakis, and they have a variety of shortcomings: either too stiff to sit in and/or so snug that I can't, say, cross my legs without inflicting crotch-centric damage on myself (literally), or more comfortable bc they have spandex built in, but, as a result, they also get so stretched/loose after a few wears that they practically fall down without a belt until the next wash tightens them up. So, I'd like to move away from "slim fit" pants or pants with too much give. I get the benefits of adding some spandex, but I'd also be happy to get good, comfortable pants like my old, well-worn Levi's of yore.

I guess I'm looking for pants made of softer, comfortable material but with good structure and weight. The key word is "comfortable," I guess. LL Bean had some nice cords that looked very comfortable, but they'll only be back in stock in late April (!). So, I'll be looking at some of the other recommendations above.
posted by the sobsister at 6:58 PM on February 21

Scrub pants are somewhere between khakis and sweats. They're comfortable, wash extremely well and are almost indestructible. They're not great in the cold, though. They can also be tremendously inexpensive, especially if you don't buy the branded ones from big workwear companies. Some are stretch, the more traditional ones aren't.
posted by scruss at 7:05 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]

“LL Bean had some nice cords that looked very comfortable, but they'll only be back in stock in late April (!)”

Those are the ones I recommended, just in a different fit! I bought the Classic fit instead and they’re comfortable.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:33 PM on February 21

I used to wear Levi's 501s but would have to buy a new pair every year for work as they faded and wore. For the past 10 years I have been wearing SWRVE jeans and trousers. I have 6 pairs in rotation and have never worn them out. Three years ago I bought spares in case the company went out of business, but I haven't opened them yet. They are comfortable, slightly water repellant and super durable.
posted by FungusCassetteBicker at 10:17 PM on February 21

Some work pants (and even some jeans) have a few percent of spandex (stretchy stuff) woven into the fabric, so it has a slight give. Those are probably going to be the comfiest pants you wear if you get the right size. They usually have the word "flex" in the name.

I personally wear cargo pants and/or tactical pants: Dickies, Carhartt for cargo/work, and LA Police Gear, 5.11, Blackhawk, Propper, et al for tactical pants.
posted by kschang at 12:01 AM on February 22

I worked in "business casual" offices for years wearing chinos/khakis from LL Bean, Lands End, etc. I did not have a comfort problem, but I did have to pay attention to the cut. Slim, single pleat, double pleat, etc. My biggest issue was length. Sometimes the shrank enough to be too short, sometimes they stayed too long and I walked on the hems.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:40 AM on February 22

Prana Brion and Prana Zion Chino

I hike in them. I golf in them. I boulder in them. I wear them to the office. I lounge in them. They are the ultimate pant.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:36 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]

I'm going to second the banana republic traveller pants suggested above. I have the slim fit and these are the most comfortable pants I own - they have a bit of stretch (1% elastane) and are very soft. I wear them most days and really need to buy a second pair. I bought them for essentially the same reason you are asking: working from home for about a year now and sick of wearing sweatpants. They regularly come on sale so you should be able to pick them up for 40% or 50% off.
posted by piyushnz at 7:45 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]

I've had very good luck with cords from Patagonia, although it doesn't look like they have them right now. They're super-stretchy and comfortable, but don't look like they have that much stretch. I'm guessing that they're gone because they're switching over to spring/summer items now.

For jeans, I've recently discovered Duer and been extremely happy with them. Again stretchy without looking stretchy, and they have a gusset that really helps if you like to sit in positions other than the standard (I often sit tailor-style on my chair, and they're great). I have one pair of the "performance" demin that's stretchy and quick-dry, and one pair of the "fireside" that has a warm fuzzy lining (best winter jeans ever -- better than flannel lined). I also have a pair of their "live free field pants" but don't like those as much.
posted by duien at 2:28 PM on February 22

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone. I have a lot of leads to follow and, hopefully, some comfortable pants down the road.
posted by the sobsister at 7:56 AM on February 23

What spikelee... said! Hiking pants! I haven't worn "real' clothes in a year because I'm teaching and working from home. So I stopped wearing jeans and chinos and whatever I would wear to school. My Pranas are my favorite, but I have some from Columbia, REI, and Marmot and they all make me happy. I've heard the ones from LL Bean and Land's End are good, too, and maybe cheaper.

You can get them in all sorts of flavors: I have some that are 5-pocket and pass for looser jeans from a distance, and some that scream that they are hiking pants. But they are all soft, of varying degrees of stretch, green or grey or blue, some I can put long underwear under if it's a cold day, and they do just about everything. Half have belt loops if you want that look.

I especially love my new style because I can sit in front of the computer all day and then go to the store and look like I'm wearing what are really house pants; a kind of version of yoga pants but for who I am.
posted by Snowishberlin at 10:50 AM on February 23

I understand exactly where you're coming from and I'm here to recommend Pendleton pants. I bought a bunch of different kinds at one of their outlets and I've been so happy with each of them. The ones I am wearing now are a very soft and fuzzy cotton that also feels sturdy and well constructed. I am so used to pant material being either too stiff or too flimsy and feeling like it will tear eventually with use and proper relaxation (which it naturally does). My Pendleton pants have held up really well to extended use and remain comfy and solid. I can't recommend them enough, definitely the best pants I've ever had.
posted by kaspen at 3:02 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]

I feel I am immensely qualified to answer this question based on the ridiculous amount of research I did on this topic 2 months ago. I should have started here obviously.

With all that said, I landed on 3 pairs of pants. I tried on everything and did a bunch of internet returns which is not something I enjoy.

1) Vuori Ripstop Climbers. $100
2) REI Beyonder $60
3) Target GoodFellow Tech Chinos $30

I love all three of these. All have a tiny bit of stretch, are roomy enough to be comfortable in, and can also be done up with sneakers or chukahs.

I am super impressed with the Target pants. So comfortable and fit me perfectly. The Beyonders are the most casual and least stylish but are great for running from a bear that may suddenly appears in your office.
posted by jasondigitized at 9:05 PM on February 23 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: For folks who've recommended pants containing synthetics beyond 1-2% spandex/other stretchy material, do you find that a 60/40 cotton/synthetic blend still breathes well? I generally haven't liked synthetics for that reason, particularly in warmer weather.
posted by the sobsister at 7:07 PM on February 24

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