Picture this: A paratrooper turned ninja in a dystopian, battle-ready future marked by constant rainfall. Wildly specific, right? Well, that’s what characterizes the best techwear pants. For those yet to be inculcated in all things techwear, the style is a streetwear sub-genre beloved by cyberpunk fans and those that like to pose beside Brutalist architecture. It’s a fashion trend most popular in Japan, Taiwan, and parts of Eastern Europe, and has steadily crept its way onto the runways in Paris and Milan.
Techwear reputedly broke ground in Germany, of all places, in 1994, when Errolson Hugh founded the label Acronym. Years before the Y2K scare, the designer envisioned wares for a world where the environment would have been moist and menacing, and the fits needed to circumvent all that. Thankfully, doomsday didn’t happen, but Hugh’s take on fashion did stick around. He offered up layers that were lightweight, durable, dark, and water-resistant. The silhouettes—think stealth—were articulated and ergonomic: loose in some areas to allow for movement, cinched in others to create a clean line. And every item—from anoraks to hooded jackets—featured a party of pockets, slots, slings, and clip harnesses. Basically, it’s futurism meets army fatigue meets hakama.
The best techwear pants, in particular, are more exacting. They usually fall under the cargo category, but tend to have tapered legs with a drop crotch. Many labels are offering this type of silhouette, sometimes even waving the techwear banner, but to really be classified as such, you need the tech element, most often arriving in water-resistant fabrics or taped seams or specialized buttons, snaps, clips, and the like. Form and function must go hand in hand; one must not be sacrificed for the other.
For the real deal, look to labels like Acronym (obvs), Stone Island Shadow Project, C.P. Company, and White Mountaineering. Outdoor clothing purveyors, including Nike ACG, Arc’teryx, Snow Peak, and The North Face also have pants that are up to snuff. And trendy fashion companies like Off-White, Balenciaga, and Heron Preston have some verifiable options, too. All can be found in the selection below. And now that you have a clear picture about techwear (15 of them, in fact), try out the pants of the future today.
Quick-Dry Ripstop Belted Cargo Pants
Mountaineers understand the durability—and cost-saving—options that TBMPOY provides. Its water-resistant pants, with a bevy of pockets and zippers, are ideal for rough terrain. These qualities, along with its sleek silhouette, will appeal to techwear fans, too.
Nylon Cargo Pants
The requirements that go into making true techwear pants make the style pretty costly. But Liquor N Poker, a provider of streetwear styles at affordable prices, is offering an option that hits the nail on the head and won’t break the bank.
Karakash Cargo Pants
Gorpcore effectively started with The North Face. The outerwear label continuously offers spiffy fits that work just as well for hiking trails as they do city streets. In fact, Errolson Hugh was so inspired by TNF’s Steep Tech fabric, the way it offered solutions to real-world problems, in 1991 that he decided to establish a brand that did the same thing. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Ripstop Climber Pant
When it comes to performance apparel, Vuori has got you covered. The brand’s boardshorts, hiking trousers, and more are built to withstand adverse environments. But it never forgets about style. These climber pants, for example, will help you to the summit in more ways than one.
Smith Summit Stretch-Nylon Cargo Trousers
It’s safe to say that Nike has it all. And if it doesn’t, it calls on the experts to fill the gaps. Case in point: When The Swoosh wanted to bring a cool factor to its ACG (All Conditions Gear) line in 2014, it enlisted none other than Errolson Hugh. He’s since moved on, but Nike ACG remains a fixture in the techwear firmament.
Lens-Detail Cargo Trousers
C.P. Company was founded by Massimo Osti in 1971, making a name for itself by infusing military-style construction into everyday wear. Its recognizable Goggle Jacket (think Marvin the Martian), for example, offers full coverage, protecting the wearer from the elements, but is cut for cool cats that like to prowl the streets. It’s no wonder why techwear fans fawn over the brand—and over these trousers, inspired by that signature jacket.
Takibi Aramid-Ripstop Cargo Trousers
From tents and gas lamps to grills and coolers, Snow Peak has all the stuff for a camping trip—or in this case, glamping. The Japanese label, with its Takibi line, also offers up some mighty nifty pants that will appeal to the most die-hard techwear enthusiast.
Patch Nylon Cargo Pants
Utility is the mark of great techwear, and it doesn’t get more utilitarian than Caterpillar, or CAT. Earlier this year, designer Heron Preston partnered with the machinery manufacturer on a collection that puts workwear into high gear. Take these cargo pants: The tapered fit, nylon fabric, and pronounced pockets fit the techwear bill.
Beta AR Pant
Tired of Errolson Hugh yet? Well, don’t be, cause there is more coming. That’s right, the techwear legend was an Arc’teryx advisor, specifically for the brand’s Veilance line. But even without Hugh’s hand, the outerwear label offers sleek, breathable, weather-proof fits that are a techwear dude’s dream.
Himalayan Cargo Pants
Though primarily known for his cozy sweats, L.A.-based designer John Elliot shows that he can create pants that techwear bros can sink their teeth into. From the roomy crotch to the tapered leg to the water-resistant fabric, his Himalayan cargo pant checks all the boxes.
Parachute Cargo Trousers
Off-White’s Virgil Abloh keeps his pulse on niche fashion trends springing forth in the market, ushering them onto the global stage with runway shows in Paris. Techwear, as it would appear, caught his eye. And these drop-crotch cargos with pockets galore are proof.
Belted Cargo Trousers
Though relatively unknown Stateside, White Mountaineering is a big hit in Asia. From tees and sandals to anoraks and, yes, ponchos, the Japanese label presents some pretty outstanding collections, all with a (duh) mountaineering bent. Indeed, its offerings are built for performance, but at these prices, it might be best to wear them at some buzzy event or while posing beside Brutalist architecture.
Multi-Pocket Cargo Pants
Streetwear infiltrating the Paris runways wasn’t entirely novel before Demna Gvasalia took over the helm of storied maison Balenciaga. Still, Season after season, the Georgian designer has riffed off niche styles, presenting them to tony audiences and steadily making his offbeat creations—like these seriously pocket-heavy pants—a new kind of status quo in luxury.
Khaki P31A-DS Cargo Pants
From Nike ACG and Arc’teryx (see above) to Stone Island (see below), behemoth brands have called on Errolson Hugh to help them gain entryway into the techwear craze. He is the OG, the harbinger of the style that cyberpunks and admirers know and love. Indeed, when it comes to techwear, it doesn’t get more authentic than his own label, Acronym.
Cropped Cargo Trousers
We’ve come to the end of the Errolson Hugh train. Yup, the man partnered with Stone Island (a label founded by C.P. Company’s Massimo Osti) on Shadow Project. And as with everything Hugh touches, the sub line offers up some of the hottest styles that masterfully combine form and function. It doesn’t get anymore techwear than that, folks.
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