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9 Best Work Cargo and Carpenter Pants for Women in the Trades

Here's our rundown of the best women's cargo and carpenter pants. Durability and comfort don't have to be mutually exclusive.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links.

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Woman wearing Carpenter PantsThomas Barwick/Getty Images

Cargo vs. Carpenter

Although cargo and carpenter pants are similar, there are a few subtle differences.

First, cargo pants are usually loose-fitting and have one or more flap pockets running down the thighs. Carpenter pants, on the other hand, are identified easily by the hammer loop sewn into the upper side of the leg. Both generally have relaxed, straight-leg silhouettes.

For the best fit, regardless of which type you choose, look for cargo or carpenter pants with:

  • Inseam, waist and hip sizes calculated for women;
  • Roominess, comfort and stretch;
  • Plenty of pockets and loops to hold tools and essentials;
  • Easy-care, breathable fabrics.
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Best All-Around Carpenter Pants

A comfortable pant for women who build things, the Dickies Women’s Carpenter Duck Pants, with 98 percent brushed duck cotton and two-percent Spandex, actually look as good as they feel.

The classic mid-rise and a relaxed straight fit — not too slim yet not too baggy — provides full range of movement. Other standout features include perfect placement of the seven pockets and sturdy utility construction that will endure years of wear and tear.

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Best Plus-Size Carpenter Pants

A more generous adaptation of Dickie’s standard-sized carpenter duck pants, the Dickies Women’s Plus Double Front Denim Carpenter Pants are work-worthy carpenters for the curvier set.

Along with a contoured waistband, elastic interlining (to prevent annoying gaps in the back) and utility pockets galore, these worry-free pants are far and away more comfortable than jeans. So you can wear them all day, every day.

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Best Scrub Cargo Pants

Designed for long shifts and late nights, the Dickies Women’s GenFlex Cargo Scrub Pants let you worry about your patients and not your uniform.

These work-ready cargo pants have a low-rise, elastic waist with inner drawstring and optional wide belt loops, plus nine utility pockets to hold everything you need. Special details include an elastic bungee loop and an exterior triple pen holder. Sizes run from XS petite to 5X to fit every heroine working in the medical field.

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Best Culinary Cargo Pants

Whether you’re a master chef or a line cook, the Women’s Stretch Yoga Cargo Chef Pants (with six pockets) have an adjustable fit and drawstring closure to help take the hassle out of dressing for work. These pants coordinate with most standardized uniform requirements and are easy to clean, thanks to the cotton/polyester/spandex blend fabric. Just machine wash and tumble dry on low for a no-iron result.

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Best Cargo Shorts

A new addition to their women’s workwear line, the durable, brushed cotton Dickies Women’s One-Inch Relaxed Stretch Cargo Shorts are for when it’s just too warm for long pants. The inseam measures 11 inches, so for most women the bottom of the legs comes just above the knees.

Available in black and desert sand, these cargoes are the breath of fresh air you need when it’s hot and you don’t need to cover your legs for safety.

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Best Maternity Cargo Pants

Introduced by Dovetail Workwear with the tag line, “Work Like a Mother,” the Maven Maternity carpenter pants invite moms to carry their baby bumps in style.

The stretch denim pants, with their Beyond Bellyband design, have integrated elastic waist inserts, double-front thigh panels and a gusseted crotch for optimal support and comfort. There are also eight functional pockets and a HipSlot, a handy slit where you can hang a tape measure or clips. These carpenter jeans are hip enough to wear pre- and post-partum.

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Best Tactical Cargo Pant

The 5.11 Women’s Taclite Pro Tactical Seven-Pocket Cargo Pants are standard issue for many emergency medical technicians. These pants feature reinforced triple stitching at the usual stress points (the waistband, seat and knees), plus strap-and-slash pockets and a hip-mounted D-ring for hanging stuff.

Engineered from cotton-polyester ripstop fabric coated with Teflon to resist soil, liquid and stains, you can wear these pants for extremely demanding conditions or just for daily duty.

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Best Fleece Carpenter Pants

As indestructible and comfortable as they come, Dovetail Workwear’s Christa DIY Performance Modal is a work pant in sweatpants’ clothing. The pull-on pants with seven pockets (including two zipper-secured front pockets) are made of moisture-wicking, thermo-regulating fleece fabric to keep you cool and dry on the job.

DovetailWorkwear.com verified buyer Rebecca P. finds these pants comfy and tough. “LOVE these pants!” she wrote. “They are insanely comfortable, yet totally stand up to anything. Big fan of chopping wood in them.”

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Best Splurge Carpenter Pants

Roughly translated to mean “painting” in Portuguese, the Gamine Workwear Quadro Pant is a vintage take on the classic painter’s pant, complete with a hammer loop.

These upscale pants (they cost around $130) are made of washed, unbleached natural cotton for a look that hearkens back to the 1920s and ’30s. The high-rise, boot-cut pant sits just below a woman’s natural waistline. It’s roomy around the hips and bum for a slightly slouchy fit.

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Toni DeBella
Toni DeBella is a freelance travel, lifestyle and digital content writer based in a medieval hill town in central Italy. Her work has been featured in such publications as Fodor's, The Telegraph, Walks of Italy, Italy Magazine, Frommers.com, Touring Bird (via [email protected]) and more. Most recently she authored the 2020 edition of DK Eyewitness Sicily travel guide. When Toni is not roaming around Europe, you'll find her tending her alley-side container garden or honing her clay-court tennis game.