The 10 Best Travel Pants, From Comfortable Chinos to Tailored Drawstrings

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You’re undoubtedly heading somewhere this summer. Perhaps a far-flung locale. Maybe a great American road trip. Or a sun-soaked solo beach vacation. Wherever you’re going, you’ll need to wear pants—or surely some kind of covering for your bottom half (the TSA isn’t exactly amenable to the pants-less). And when you consider travel pants for both the journey and the destination, know you’ll likely be sitting for long periods of time punctuated with walking (or, um, scurrying) between gates, entering and alighting from planes, stretching at various intervals to keep that blood flowing, and potentially going right from the airport to a meeting. Your pants need to look good and, more importantly, feel good, doing all of that. You shouldn’t wrinkle under the stresses of summer travel—and your travel pants shouldn’t either.

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The best travel pants are not sweatpants. The mass casualization of the world has made sweatpants pervasive amongst the crowds in airport terminals, but there are equally comfortable alternatives that don’t devolve into schlubbiness. Have I personally traveled in sweatpants? Yes. Was I cozy? Sure. But I didn’t feel great. I carried the tiniest bit of shame on-board along with my well-worn Rimowa. We can do better! We can find the best travel pants and save the sweats for lounging at home.

Depending on the nature of your trip, you’ll require particular things from your travel pants, meaning something a little different, whether you’re jumping across the pond for a board meeting in London or exploring Portland’s micro-brewery scene. In our search for the best travel pants, we included options at every point on the spectrum, from rugged to refined. Many are versatile and can be worn in various scenarios, and a few are intended for a more specific travel lane. But all, rest assured, are incredibly comfortable.

How To Choose the Best Travel Pants:

We boiled down the criteria for the best travel pants to three main characteristics that apply across that rugged-to-refined gamut: waistband, material, and silhouette.

Waistbands: Waistbands on travel pants should be elasticized, stretchy, or feature a drawstring. The amount of elastic can vary, but some amount of give is non-negotiable. A fixed, unforgiving waistband is akin to a middle seat in the farthest back row of economy by the bathrooms. With enough foresight and planning—and elastane!—this situation can be avoided.

Materials: Materials should be resilient enough to withstand moving, sitting, stretching, and bumping against armrests and luggage. A pair should also be packable and somewhat wrinkle-resistant. The weight will depend on the time of year, but soft, breathable fabrics are ideal given the wide array of temperatures you could encounter. Even the synthetic fabrics we chose have some ventilation. You don’t want mugginess surrounding your legs.

Fit: Silhouettes can be largely based on your own personal style, but too slim or tailored travel pants aren’t the best idea. This is not the time to break out your finest bespoke suit (change at the hotel). Wider, roomily tapered or straight-leg fits will serve you well. Luckily, the tides of fashion have shifted in favor of spacious pants, so options abound whether you veer toward polished or gorpcore.

Best Overall Pants for Travel

Rhone Commuter Pants

Rhone’s forte is fitness gear, but it turns out many of the same qualities that make clothes great for the gym also make them excellent for travel. These Commuter Pants have all the sleek trappings of an office chino, made with—and this is key—its Flex-Knit four-way stretch fabric for mobility. When you think about it, traveling really is just a series of similar movements to your workouts: the overhead bin press, the passport retrieval squat, the duffel deadlift . . .

Materials: Flex-Knit fabric.
Waistband Type: Stretch with button closure. 
Silhouette: Straight-leg.
Pros: Versatile look, four-way stretch for mobility.
Cons: Potentially limiting straight slim leg.

Buy Now on Rhone: $138

Best Trail Pants for Travel

Livsn Ecotrek Trail Pants

If your summer travel plans involve hiking, biking, climbing, or even just walking through a wooded area, don’t sleep on these trail pants from Ecotrek. Definitely on the rugged end of the travel pant spectrum, they’re lightweight, water-resistant, abrasion-resistant, and comfortable in hot or cold climes. In other words: pretty damn tough. In a pinch, with an oxford shirt, you could wear these to dinner indoors, too.

Materials: Blue ocean, nylon, and spandex twill.
Waistband Type: Body-contoured stretch with button closure. 
Silhouette: Straight leg.
Pros: Breathable, abrasion- and water-resistant.
Cons: Specific casual look.

Buy Now on Backcountry: $129

Buy Now on Livsn: $129

Best Chino Pants for Travel

Bluffworks Performance Khaki Chinos

Standard-issue khaki chinos aren’t often the best choice for long hauls. They can wrinkle and stain easily. Stiff waistbands make for uncomfortable flights. Very little stretch. Bluffworks addressed all of those issues in creating its Performance Khaki Chinos. This pair is wrinkle- resistant, quick-drying, soft, and stretchy. It also has a whole slew of hidden pockets for all the little stuff you somehow accumulate from Terminal 1 to Terminal 4.

Materials: Moisture-wicking polyester.
Waistband Type: Stretch button closure.
Silhouette: Straight leg.
Pros: Stretchy, moisture-wicking, wrinkle-resistant, handy pockets.
Cons: Some fit issues.

Buy Now on Bluffworks:

Price: $125

Buy Now

Best Soft-Tailored Pants for Travel

Stòffa Straight Leg Cotton Twill Drawstring Trousers

Squaring smart-looking trousers with qualities that make pants great for traveling isn’t the easiest endeavor—but it is possible. Though not strictly positioned for traveling, Stòffa’s commitment to relaxed tailoring and soft fabrics (plus easy drawstring waists) make these twill trousers ideal for being on the move. Hopefully they’ll make you more relaxed on the journey, too.

Materials: Cotton twill.
Waistband Type: Drawstring.
Silhouette: Straight leg.
Pros: Tailored look, easy silhouette, brushed for softness.
Cons: Specific style, limited colors.

Buy Now on Mr Porter:

Price: $450

Buy Now

Best Zip-Off Pants for Travel

Nike ACG Zip-Off Trail Pants

Versatility is prized for travel gear. We want things to do more than one thing. Adaptability. Nike ACG’s trail pants zip off into shorts on the trail or as you get closer to the warm temps at the equator. They’re made from tough, water-repellent fabric and a webbing belt, but would also serve as a foundation for the trekkiest fits even if there aren’t mountains or inclement weather nearby.

Materials: Nylon.
Waistband Type: Elastic with webbing belt.
Silhouette: Straight leg.
Pros: Versatile zip-off legs, water-repellent fabric.
Cons: Apparent logos, not the softest fabric.

Buy Now on Nike:

Price: $125

Buy Now

Best Fashion Flex Pants for Travel

Jil Sander Elasticated Waist Trousers

Feel free to pull off a big fashion fit on the plane. Zero judgment here. But the swerviest, loudest pieces may not function particularly well on the road. Perhaps a quieter flex courtesy of minimalist hero Jil Sander is the move. These relaxed black trousers have an elastic waist and will keep looking sharp for the journey and the arrival.

Materials: Recycled polyester.
Waistband Type: Elasticated.
Silhouette: Loose tapered leg.
Pros: Polished look, elastic waist.
Cons: Not the lightest fabric, limited color options.

Buy Now on Matches Fashion: $666

Best Linen-Blend Pants for Travel

Frescobol Carioca Mendes Trousers

We’ve sung linen’s praises for its summertime ventilation and versatility, which also makes it an excellent choice for travel pants. Frescobol Carioca has beachiness in its roots, so its Mendes linen blend trousers have a laid-back vibe that could easily take you from aisle seat to sunset cocktails on the water. These pants aren’t just about the flow, though. The durable fabric blend makes them perfect as a three-season travel uniform.

Materials: Linen, cotton, and elastane.
Waistband Type: Elasticated drawstring.
Silhouette: Relaxed tapered leg.
Pros: Versatile fabric blend and silhouette.
Cons: No extra pockets.

Buy Now on Frescobol Carioca: $235

Buy Now on Mr Porter: $235

Best Cargo Pants for Travel

Fourlaps Rover Cargo

Like a few others here, Fourlaps has athletic roots. Its Rover Cargos feature four-way stretch for mobility and adjustable bungees at the ankles to change up the look. Before you flash back to your saggy middle-school cargos, these are not those. The technical slant and streamlined pockets at the knee mean you might actually use the extra space.

Materials: Nylon and spandex.
Waistband Type: Elastic.
Silhouette: Tapered leg with adjustable ankles.
Pros: Plenty of pockets, lots of stretch.
Cons: Might be slim fit for some guys.

Buy Now on Express: $98

Buy Now on Fourlaps: $98

Best Wide-Leg Pants for Travel

Nili Lotan Wade Pants

When we say “wide,” we don’t mean baggy. These Nili Lotan Wade pants are elegantly cut to look purposely, stylishly wide. It just so happens this is the perfect cut for travel and the drawstring waist makes for an almost pajama-like vibe.

Materials: Cotton and nylon.
Waistband Type: Drawstring.
Silhouette: Wide straight leg.
Pros: Roomy silhouette, pleasant feeling fabric.
Cons: Lack of pockets.

Buy Now on Saks Fifth Avenue: $495

Best Pleated Pants for Travel

Todd Snyder Modern Chino Trouser

Todd Snyder gets it. He gets that guys want something comfortable and wearable, but also considered. And beautifully made. His approach is clear in these drawstring chinos made from a soft twill of Italian origin with a single pleat. Wear these when you’re hopping from one office to another or have a long-haul flight.

Materials: Cotton and elastane.
Waistband Type: Elastic waist with button closure and concealable drawstring.
Silhouette: Relaxed tapered leg.
Pros: Concealable drawstring, quality fabric.
Cons: Not everyone wants a cuff.

Buy Now on Todd Snyder: $278

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