The Most Durable Pants and How to Choose a Rugged Pair

What are the most durable pants on earth, and how do you choose a long-lasting pair?  I’ll do my best to answer both questions.  I’ve also included some top examples of durable pants by category for both men and women.

Many of you may have arrived here by googling “durable pants” or something like that. That tells me that you care about quality more than the majority of consumers do. 

So, if you’re inclined toward quality and durability over quantity, I’d encourage you to have a look around here at WellRigged.com or subscribe for regular updates about the world’s most durable products.  It might just be up you’re alley.

How to Choose Durable Pants

Let’s get to it then it.

Firstly, you need to be realistic about your expectations from a pair of pants.   Bear in mind what you plan on doing with you’re pants. What style of pants are you looking for?

For example, you could go to work rocking a super-durable pair of dress pants for years,  but they will never outlast a good set of carpenter pants in a workshop setting.  Both pairs of pants are legitly the longest-lasting pants in their own category yet designed for different usage.  Get what I’m saying?

That’s why we’ll have a good look at the most durable pants in several categories today.

General Tips For Choosing the Most Durable Pants

Fabric

Spotting high-quality material in a pair of pants is probably the hardest skill to learn.  Here’s a few tips though.

  • Read the Tag: Nowadays synthetic and natural fiber blends are very common.  There are occasional drawbacks though.  For example, when you throw cotton-polyester blends in the dryer the to kinds of fibers can dry at different rates and slightly alter the shape of your pants.
  • Grade of Fabric matters:  Sure it says 100% cotton, but what grade of cotton? What grade of wool? What grade of canvas is in your work pants?
  • It’s not just about looks, it’s about feel.  Next time you’re out at the shops see if you can find a pair of Levi 501 Jeans.  They’re legendary for durability.  Use them as a benchmark and compare the feel and stitching to other jeans.  This can’t be taught. It has to be experienced.
  •  The tighter the fabric weave, the more likely it will last.  The thickness of the threads isn’t a main concern. It’s the density of the weave that matters more.  Darn Tough socks is a good example of this.  Their merino wool socks have over 1441 stitches per square inch.  For more on them check out my article here.

Stitching

Of course, the fabric is only part of the equation when picking the most durable pants. It takes rock-solid stitching and seams to create a truly long-lasting pair of pants. 

  • Seams should be straight, even and tightly stitched.  They should lie flat on the fabric without any pleating. 
  • Loose threads are a no-no.
  • Inspect the inside and outside of seams. Even if the outside seam looks decent turn the pants inside out.
  • Inspect the backstitching Is there any lifting or”bubbles” in the back stitching?  This is a  major structural weakness in the seam.  Sewing machines use two threads to create these seams both the top and bottom threads need to have adequate tension.  If one or the other is not calibrated properly the seam will be compromised.
  • Examine the crotch stitching carefully.  Hastily made pants are not adequately reinforced on the inseam and crotch.  The crotch in a durable pair of pants is sewn using two separate stitch patterns differing in length one on top of the other.  Test the crotch seam by pulling on either side firmly.  If the stitching flexes or shows separation even a bit…walk away
  • Look for a gussetted crotch In works pants:  crouching, squatting and kneeling puts enormous strain on crotch seams especially on work pants
  • Look for sturdy button holes: no fraying or loose threads.

Most Durable Work Pants

I’ll spend some extra time on this category since most folks who are looking for truly durable pants are looking for tough work pants.

Work Pant Top Picks

  1. Carhartt Double Front Dungarees
  2. Filson Oil-finished Double Tin Pants
  3. Patagonia Iron Forge Hemp Double Knee Pants

Engineering truly rugged work pants is no easy task and few companies do it well.  Work pants must be over-engineered in 4 key areas: crotch, knees, butt and pockets.

Double and triple-stitched seams, heavily reinforced crotches and double-layered knees are bare minimum requirements for truly rugged work pants.

Pockets must be well built and be able to handle a handful of nails without perforation.  So if you find the pockets are made of light gauge material walk away.

Top Pick: Carhartt Double Front Work Dungaree

For the Dungarees to have survived over 81 years of production is more than enough social proof for their durability.

Made in the USA out of heavy-duty 12oz cotton canvas and reinforced pockets, the Carhartt Double Front Dungarees are also compatible with Carhartt’s knee pad inserts.

While the Carhartt Double Front Dungarees bring about the same level of durability as the others on this list they cost half the price. (Usually under $60).

To me, that’s a heck of a compelling offer.

For More Check Out: My Full Review of Carhartt Work Pants.

These work pants have been around for a long time. They have remained virtually unchanged since 1938. As a side note: when you see products with a deep history of long production runs, in all likelihood they are gold.

Carhartt didn’t become the most popular brand of work pants overnight. They earned it and their Double Front Dungarees are their toughest offering.

Option #2: Filson Oil-finished Double Tin Pants

Durable work pants
Filson Double Tin Oil-finished Work Pants

The Filson Double Tin oil-finished pants are easily one of the most durable work pants on the planet. 

Filson designed these work pants using a double layer of their legendary tin cloth, doubled the stitching, bar-tacked all stress points, and oil finished them for good measure.

So, what is “oil-finished tin cloth” anyway?

Filson’s tin cloth is a rugged, densely woven(15oz) cotton duck-canvas produced in Scotland. The canvas is treated with paraffin wax and oils under heat and pressure to saturate the fibers right down to their core. The result is a super-tough weather, water, and abrasion-resistant fabric.

The double tin cloth pants will take a heck-of a-flogging for years and years.

The oil-finish will also develop a rich patina over time. In the work-world, that “thousand-mile look” is a well-earned badge of honor -an unspoken street-cred if you will. So basically these pants will show everyone at work that you’re no slacker.

For a perfect fit, Filson also offers free custom hemming service. Just measure your inseam using their guide. You can also add leather or rugged twill hem bindings for ten bucks which I highly recommended.

There are several variants of these pants without the oil finishing(more breathable) or in single layer tin cloth depending on your needs.

While they aren’t cheap, they certainly are built like a tank.

Option #2:  Patagonia Iron Forge Hemp Double Knee Work Pants

Patagonia is another stellar clothing company that stands behind their product.  Their Iron Forge hemp pants have a similar build quality to Carhartt.

The double knee work pants are made from a rugged 12.9 oz Hemp canvas. Hemp canvas has 25% more abrasion resistance than traditional cotton canvas.

You’ll have a heck of job cut out for you to wear out the double-layered knees on these pants!

Durable Tactical Pants

Every outdoorsman needs a decent pair of tactical pants.  Tactical pants have to be flexible, cool, quick drying, rugged and light.  They’re a favourite for hikers, hunters, law enforcement, military and outdoor pursuits.

Although tactical pants look like cargo’s they’re, in fact, much tougher.  Usually they’re made out of some kind of rip-stop fabric to withstand abrasions and tearing.  Some even have teflon coatings for stealth.

Top Pick:  GORUCK Challenge Pants

GORUCK is a well respected and unique apparel company.  They build their pants tough because they actually use them hard themselves.  The company was founded by special forces guy with a passion for outdoor pursuits.  Its no wonder they make the most durable pants.

In addition to supplying the military, GORUCK runs over a thousand strength competitions every year.  The most famous of which is the GORUCK Challenge.  This is where these pants were born.

The Challenge pants are very light, dry very quickly and have super abrasion resistant. They feature zip-up pockets, gussetted crotch and are made in the USA.

They do cost more than other tactical pants, but they’re worth it!

For more details check them out at GORUCK’s Website.

GORUCK Challenge pants. Credit: GORUCK

Other Rugged Options:

The 5.11 Stryke  and 5.11 TacLite pro pants are extremely popular tactical pants and for good reason. The Fjällräven Men’s Vidda Pro Pant is another super-tough option and even has knee pad pockets.

 

Durable Jeans

Levis 501s. Credit: Levi’s

We all need a pair of jeans in our quest for the most durable pants. A good set of Jeans is a wardrobe’s base line.  So what goes into a rugged pair of jeans?

Well, denim is rated by weight per square yard.  This can range from under 12 oz all the way to 32 oz!  Obviously there’s a practical limit to how heavy your jeans should be and 32 oz is way overkill.

However, most stores sell light weight jeans(under 12oz) that really don’t stand up at all.  You need to be looking  for 14 oz (or higher) “selvage denim” or “raw denim” on the tag.  

Top Pick:  Levi’s 501

This may come as no surprise to some.  Levi’s 501s are truly iconic and have been worn for generations.  If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right?  These jeans have stood the test of time and are still loved.

501’s are to the jeans world what Doc Marten’s are to the shoe world.  Millions love them and swear by them.  That’s saying something. As I often say here on WellRigged, “Time has a way of sifting out the most durable products.”

Available in Men’s or Women’s, you can Price check the 501s here on Amazon.

Extreme Pick: Drako Drift Riding Jeans.

Drayko Drift Kevlar/Dyneema Jeans. Credit: Drayko

Designed to protect bikers from road rash these jeans are insanely tough.  They’re made with a Kevlar/Dyneema blend.  Kevlar is, of course, used in bullet proof vests.

Dyneema is also used in ballistics and has a tensile strength 15x greater than steel.  I recently reviewed FYF Barefoot socks which are made of Dyneema too.

You’ll be able to take on the apocalypse while looking pretty darn good at that!  You can Price check them on Amazon.

Durable Dress Pants

Outerboro Motile Pants. Credit: Outerboro

Dress pants face their own set of challenges.  A durable set of dress pants need to be well put together while preserving a clean refined look. Stitching needs to be understated but robust.

Perhaps the greatest of challenges to dress pants are stains.  It’s one of the main reasons dress pants are retired early.

Top Picks: Mens/Womens Outerboro Motile / Breeze Pants

Outerboro Motile pants are stain and water resistant. Credit: Outerboro

These pants are comfy, well built, super stain resistant and you’ll get away with them in a casual setting too.  Its a rare thing to find a pair of dress pants you can wear on you’re bike commute, to dinner and even the board room.

The Women’s Breeze are equally durable and perfect for the office or whatever you want to throw at them.

You can check out Outerboro’s website for more details on the Men’s Motile or Women’s Motile Breeze.

Other Great Options:

I strongly recommend the dress pants available through LL Bean, Eddie Bauer or Land’s End. Land’s End has an especially wide variety of well built dress pants. Each of these companies create top quality stuff and offer the top clothing warranties in the industry.

If you found this article on the most durable pants helpful, consider subscribing below for occasional updates and reviews of the toughest products on earth.

GET EMAIL UPDATES
I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Get the very best "Buy It For Life" recommendations and benefit from thousands of hours of unbiased research for free!
I hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.
Powered by Optin Forms