Cargo Pants vs Chinos: Finding the Perfect Fit for Your Style

Cargo Pants vs Chinos: Finding the Perfect Fit for Your Style

Best White Shirt Matching Pants Combination Ideas in 2023 Reading Cargo Pants vs Chinos: Finding the Perfect Fit for Your Style 6 minutes Next What to Wear with Cargo Pants

There is a multitude of men's pants that could be overwhelming to choose from for any occasion. The fashion world is bringing back nostalgic vibes in the form of biker shorts, spaghetti strap slip dresses, baggy jeans, logo tops, and now, cargo pants.

This article will focus on the specific characteristics of two different styles of men’s pants - cargo pants and chinos.

Chinos are very versatile pants that have lots of functionality and a modern flair, while cargo pants have an off-duty look to them. The former is chosen for formal attires, while the latter is a great carry for outdoor excursions.

Continue reading to gain a holistic perspective of the different styles cargo pants and chinos offer, how to pick the right ones every time, and include them in your daily wardrobe.

Cargo Pants vs Chinos: Which is Better?


Cargo pants (also known as combat trousers) are plain khaki pants with two or more pockets that can sometimes be included with a canvas or drawstring belt. Even though cargo pants may be rooted in utilitarianism, these casual-looking pants are quite handy for outdoor work and are extremely comfortable. Fundamentally, if there is a pocket below your hip pocket, it is a cargo pant.

Then known as paratrooper pants, they were originally made for the military in the 1930s, with rugged cotton that had multiple large pockets which were used to hold field dressings and other equipment. The motive behind these pants was simple, more pocket-space for more stuff. Hence, the 'cargo' pant nickname.

The traditional cargo pant is a functional pair of khaki pants, distinguished from regular pants by their cargo pockets. Along with the cargo pockets, there are standard front pockets.

They are available in a classic variety of khaki, camo, beige or denim.

There are baggy and more stylish cargo pants that are cut slimmer through the leg hemmed at the ankle or tapered at the ankle. You'll typically find them in some shade of olive or khaki. For a modern look, try a strong saturated neutral colour. Also, choose cargos that are straight cut, or slim-cut as they'll provide ample space to move about.

Wear a lightweight shirt, a knit sweater and, loafers or Chelsea boots with cargo pants.

Why do Cargo pants have multiple pockets?

At the time when cargo pants were invented, military personnel carried maps in their pockets. Additionally, extra pockets were required to store small items such as field dressing kits, ammunition, and other items.

Cargo pants have multiple pockets as their intended audience is people who use them as outerwear for many activities, such as running errands, riding a bike, and similar other excursions. It is also lighter than jeans, which makes it a perfect choice for summer.


Chinos are a Chinese version of khakis, which were made in China. Hence the name 'Chinos.' It was for soldiers in the Philippines during the Spanish-American war. Chino was an alternate word for china and the pants were used as military uniforms.

The style of the pants diminished the need for extra fabric by making it a slimmer fit and getting rid of excess frills like large pockets found in cargo pants. Now more than a hundred years old, chinos are still a preferred style of bottom-wear whose features underwent little change as compared to the 19th century.

You can sport chino pants with their tailored and streamlined look along with their extra seams like other pants. Unlike cargo pants, they are never pleated and come in a wider variety of colours.

Chinos do have pockets but they are very small and inside, as opposed to the large ones found in cargo pants. They are more similar to dress pants than casual pants. But due to their material, they can also be included in casual outfits.

If you dislike the extra bulk on a pant, you should choose Chinos as they have a minimal aesthetic. The breathable fabric and tailored, slim-fit look pants are versatile and if paired properly, they can be used for various outfits.

Chinos are a great choice for the office, travelling, running errands, social gatherings, or easy dinners. They can also be treated as all-day wear, making them the perfect adventure pant.

When you are out and about, pair your chinos with a tucked-in button-up shirt and leather shoes. If possible, pick olive chinos as you can wear them in lighter or darker colours, and it goes with pretty every outfit. For a business event, try pairing your chinos with a classic button-down long-sleeve or linen shirt.

The fitting

Many styles of men’s pants do not fit well or they are baggy. The fabric of chinos doesn't hug the body, accentuating the figure of the individual wearing them. It also has a more tailored fit which is not too tight and its straight lines give the body a long and sleek look.

Chinos are also suitable for shorter guys because they lengthen the legs and make you look taller by creating a visual line up and down. In addition, chinos can play to the wearer's strengths if they're tall or slender.

Cargos pants vs Chinos: the main difference

Cargo pants are plain khaki pants consisting of two or more pockets which are visible along with their stitching. If there's a pocket below the hip pocket, it is a cargo pant. They are either flat or pleated. Cargo pants are a great option for outdoor, picnics, treks, road trips, or simply any casual occasion. It can also be used to store an afternoon snack. Cargo pants casual-looking and extremely comfortable.

Chinos are made of cotton chino cloth. They have flat fronts. They are lightweight. As for the stitching, it is hidden along with the pockets which gives chinos a more formal look.