- The first is the guy you meet in any hostel. He’s got nappy, possibly dreadlocked hair that somehow looks good, and he’s wearing flowy, baggy pants that have, like, elephants on them or something. His pants say he’s all about chill vibes and strumming reggae and Sublime on his guitar.
- The second style of travel pants falls into the “Super Dad” category. This guy wears a safari hat, a Hawaiian shirt, and cargo pants with roughly 86 pockets – one for each of his Swiss army knives, cords of rope, compasses, flashlights, prescription sunglasses, et al. This dude looks like he’s been nominated for the Dad Awards every year for the past decade. If you watch any family vacation movie from the 80’s, this is the guy that shows up with his picture-perfect family at exactly the moment when the more relatable/flawed family is experiencing some kind of horrible melt-down and desperately needs a guy with 86 cargo pockets full of useful travel items. That guy’s travel pants mean Serious Business.
Unfortunately, I am not all about reggae and chill, or tactical Dad-ness. And last I checked, REI doesn’t have an “Effeminate millennial with high functioning anxiety who cares about safety features and doesn’t want to be covered in neon” category, so what am I to do?!
Try out a LOT of pants, apparently.
Table of Contents
How I Evaluated My Travel Pants
I field-tested my travel pants by hiking, biking, white-water rafting, horseback riding, and canyoning. Also, waterfall rappelling, snowboarding, rock climbing, and at one point, crawling up a mountain on my hands on knees in Ecuador. There’s nothing like a year-long honeymoon to allow for plenty of scientific pant-related experiments.
Wow, that list makes me sound SO much more rugged and athletic than I actually am.
The big question I needed to answer was, could I find pants that both functioned the way that I needed them to for long-term travel, AND looked good enough that my new wife would still find me attractive after spending a year sleeping in sweaty hostel dorms?
Well, I’m happy to report that YES: I’ve found the perfect men’s travel pants that are up to the many, many trials I’ve put them through. And also, my wife still thinks I’m a catch, even though I wear the same 3 pants nearly every day. She does too, though, so we’re even.
Each of these 3 best travel pants have been put through the ringer and came out passing with flying colors. Not literal colors, though, because really colorful pants are difficult to match a backpack full of clothes with. But like, flying colors in the gray/olive/black/navy range.
If you’re seeking the best travel pants for men, you’ve come to the right place. I’m about to open the door to a whole new world of cargo-pocket-less travel pants that don’t require an Ohm tattoo or a repertoire of acoustic Oasis songs. Just like, normal looking travel pants that do really useful things for regular dudes who also travel.
The Best Men’s Travel Jeans
Here, I’m gonna summarize this really quick: Aviator USA makes the best travel jeans in the world, and actually possibly the best jeans in general.
I only recently became acquainted with Aviator travel jeans, and my one great regret in life is that it took 30 years for this to happen. These jeans are incredible. I have actually worn them every day since I first got them. Which isn’t as gross as it sounds, because I have 2 pairs. It’s just that one of them was supposed to be for wife, but they were a little too small for her, so now they’re mine. Yes, I stole my wife’s travel jeans. Look, don’t judge me. These pants are seriously amazing.
I rarely take these jeans off when I travel. And I rarely take them off when I’m not traveling, too. Honestly, I’ve barely taken my Aviator travel jeans off since I first got them. They look great, feel amazing, and will change the way you look at jeans forever. I actually once wore them for so long that when I put on my non-travel jeans again, I was like, ew, what’s wrong with these jeans?
Why are Aviator travel jeans so incredible? Let me break it down.
✔ There are SEVEN pockets (and they aren’t cargo pockets). Each front pocket has a small pocket inside, as does one of the back pockets. I say “small,” but I was able to zip my iPhone into both of them.
✔ Theft Deterrent. I hate wearing a money belt. I just hate money belts. They fit awkwardly, they’re not easy to reach, and when you DO finally manage to get your money out the cashier always looks at you like “Thanks for the sweaty ball money, guy.” Luckily, Aviator has TWO hidden, zipped safe pockets that are spacious and easy to reach. I was able to keep cash, a credit card, and my passport in my front pocket by using the hidden compartment. And they’re truly hidden: you can’t even see the zipper when you’re sitting down or bending over.
✔ They’re SO COMFORTABLE. I am legitimately tempted to sleep in my Aviators. I haven’t yet…I swear… They have the perfect amount of stretch and strength, and the fabric is super soft. That makes them perfect for long travel days, plane rides, train rides, overnight busses, etc.3
✔ They look great. In an attempt to make jeans “tactical,” most travel jeans have reinforced stitching, extra durable fabric, random pieces of neon, and a bunch of other stuff that makes them look…well, ridiculous. My Aviators look and fit better than my other jeans, and blows all of my other pairs of travel jeans out of the water. They’re fitted but not too tight, don’t give me dad-butt, and give me plenty of breathing room, if you know what I mean. And they just look like … really nice, slim-fit jeans.
✔ They’re nice and long. Aviator travel jeans were designed with tall dudes in mind, which is perfect for my 6’2” lanky AF frame. But they’re also made to be easily tailored. The jeans only come in 1 length (32) because they’re still a small company. So if you need a couple of inches off the bottom, just head over to anywhere they tailor jeans (like, Men’s Wearhouse – yes, they’ll tailor your jeans, and for hella cheap, too) and take your hem up to the right length. It won’t take long and it won’t cost much, either.
✔ They’re packable. Most jeans are bulky and get smelly when they’re reworn and packed for a year straight (I speak from experience here). But when I roll up my Aviator travel jeans, they don’t take up much space, they aren’t insanely heavy, and their breathability keeps them smelling fresh after dozens of wears.
The Aviator travel jeans are available Dark Indigo, Medium Indigo, Black, Khaki, and Silver Gray. I have both a black pair and a medium Indigo pair (that’s the pair that was actually supposed to be my wife’s, but then I stole them because they were too small for her and they make my legs look amazing.) Don’t judge me for my jean obsession. Just get a pair! These pants will change your travel game.
The Best Hiking Pants for Men
Wanna know what the worst day of my life was? It wasn’t when we totally failed the difficult hike to Machu Picchu (read all about that here). It was the day before we left for our Inca Trail trek, when I found out my prAna Stretch Zion Pants had gotten lost in the laundry at our hostel in Cusco.
It felt like someone had sucker-punched me. I was supposed to HIKE in regular PANTS!? LIKE PEOPLE!? For the record, I hiked in leggings and rain pants, and it was terrible. In hindsight, this was clearly an omen that we should NOT have attempted to hike the Inca Trail.
As soon as we returned from our year-long honeymoon I got a new pair, because I simply can’t travel without them. Here’s why I’m so obsessed with my prAna Stretch Zion pants:
✔ They’re made with prAna’s amazing Zion fabric. This fabric is seriously travel-proof. It’s extremely durable, water resistant, and quick drying, and what’s more, it doesn’t feel like you’re wearing cardboard boxes on your legs, like most tactical travel pants.
✔ Stretch is in the name, so you know these things are comfortable. If I was physically capable of doing a split, I could do splits in these things. As it is, they’re comfortable enough for hiking, biking, rock climbing, and bouncing uncomfortably on a chicken truck while riding across the border of Ecuador on a 2-day long bus journey.
✔ The fit actually looks fantastic. Why is it so hard to find slim fit hiking pants?! My legs don’t need 18 extra inches of room. They just need enough fabric to cover my hard-earned muscle and let me move around comfortably. I don’t get why so many hiking pants are cut to these massive, baggy 90s fits. But the prAna Stretch Zions hiking pants look awesome and feel amazing.
✔ They have a convenient ventilation system. I’m not going to get into the science of ball sweat, so I’ll just say this: They have air holes near your business that are small and let your stuff breathe, and it’s very, very nice.
✔ They low-key convert into shorter pants. You know what’s never fashionable? Zippers across your knees. Nothing says “I spend most of my weekends watching Little League Baseball games and going to Costco” like zip off pants. Yet, travel pants still come standard with this weird ultra 90s feature. Not the prAna Zions! They roll and snap up if you want to make them shorter, and you’d never guess they were convertible by looking at them. Sure, you won’t be wearing actual shorts, but you’ll have plenty of breathing room on a hot day.
✔ Pocket space! I know I’ve been talking shit about cargo pants. That’s because cargo pockets are usually the size of potato sacks. The prAna Stretch Zions have one unintrusive cargo pocket that sits flush with your leg, so it’s handy when you need it, and not in the way screaming I’M A CARGO POCKET LOOK AT ME when you don’t.
The prAna Stretch Zion pant comes in a bunch of colors. I’m low key boring, so mine are Charcoal Gray. They also come in a zillion sizes – kudos for being size inclusive, prAna! You can pick yours up on Amazon or directly from prAna.
The Best Men’s Lounge Pants for Travel
Some people collect cards. Some collect stamps. I collect pajamas and loungewear.
This isn’t entirely by choice, mind you. I get pajamas every Christmas (from my mom, because I’m 30 and a grown-ass man) but I also find myself constantly looking to upgrade what I lie around in when I stay in a hostel or hammock camp. I’m sick of waking up to cheap cotton pants that ripped at the crotch because I dared to move my legs in my sleep, or fleece pants that made me so uncomfortably hot I spent all night thrashing around and sticking 1 leg out, then 2, then throwing the blanket off altogether.
But. You guys. I FINALLY found the perfect pair of travel lounge pants: The Icebreaker Merino Men’s Shifter Pants. I’m so incredibly into them.
The instant I pulled these amazing pants on for the first time and felt them hug my legs like 2 fluffy sheep, I had the following conversation in my head:
“I’m going to wear these to work tomorrow.”
“No Jeremy. You’re a teacher. You have to wear real pants.”
“You’ll be fired.”
Yes, they’re that amazing. But… they aren’t cheap. Before you do a spit take at the price tag, hear me out: These will be your new favorite pants, and honestly? The price is not bad for something made out of 98% Merino Wool, aka miracle fabric from travel heaven.
We’ve been obsessed with Merino Wool for hiking for a long time thanks to its magical ability to keep you both cool & warm as needed, its natural resistance to smells, and its flame retardant properties (it’s always nice to know your clothes will help you out if you catch on fire).
Merino Wool is a miracle fabric, and if you’re still feeling skeptical, let me give you the gift of woolly scientific knowledge:
✔ Merino Wool is naturally breathable and incredibly good at moisture management. Fun science fact: Merino can absorb and retain up to 30% of its own weight in moisture and still feel dry to the touch. Which is like … insane. In the roughly 1 zillion field tests we conducted during our year-long honeymoon, our Merino Wool clothes dried faster than any of our other clothing. Including our bathing suits.
✔ Merino Wool will keep you cool when it’s hot. Yep, that’s right: wool keeps you cool. Why do you think sheep are covered in it?! Here’s some science: when Merino Wool gets warm, the moisture naturally stored in the fiber (see previous point) or wicked off of your skin begins to evaporate, creating a cooling effect. Basically, if you wear these pants while it’s hot, they’ll help keep you as cool as if you were wearing thin, easily-ripped cotton PJ pants. Like having 2 fluffy fans strapped onto your legs.
✔ Merino Wool will keep you warm when it’s cold. Wait, what? They do both? YES. SHEEP ARE SCIENTIFIC MIRACLES. Merino Wool insulates your natural body heat when it’s cold. Meaning if you wear these pants, you’ll be at a perfect temperature at all times. NATURE. IS. LIT.
✔ Merino wool is naturally antibacterial. That means that even after wearing these pants every night for 2 weeks straight, they won’t get smelly. Yes, even if you go commando. Look, don’t ask me how I know this. If you’re anything like me, laundry is the last thing you want to spend your precious vacation time doing, so this is key. But if you do wash them, don’t worry: they’ll dry incredibly quickly.
✔ This is getting to be a really long list, so I’m going to just summarize the rest of the benefits of Merino Wool: Naturally sun-resistant, which is why we wear our Merino Wool shirts over our swimsuits when we go snorkelling; naturally static resistant – no obnoxious static cling or shocks; not itchy at all; naturally hypoallergenic. Miracle fiber, y’all.
Doesn’t it just make you want to go stick your face into a sheep? Luckily, these travel pants are the next best thing.
Speaking of which, other than their magical fabric properties, here’s a few more reasons why I’m straight up obsessed with these pants:
✔ They’re stretchy but not baggy. Nothing bums me out like strolling through a hostel in my cozy lounge pants, only to suddenly step in some random wet patch on the floor. Nothing harshes your mellow like wet pant cuffs.
✔ Safety pocket? In PJs!? These are still travel pants, and travel clothing is all about keeping you comfortable AND safe. The Shifters come with a zippered back pocket for any valuable things you want to keep on you while you sleep (locker key, gold doubloons, tooth you just lost, whatever). The pocket is even even big enough for a phone. Zip yours in and it’ll be kept safe (and warm).
✔ Who knew lounge pants could look so good? My lounge pants generally fall somewhere between shapeless cotton plaid pillowcases and bulky, giant sweatpants that you could store a small army inside. But Shifters fit like a slim Harem pant, to give you that comfortable, trendy athletic look. I mean, I’m not the kind of extremely attractive and cool dude who can pull off a Harem pant at the grocery store or the gym or whatever, but if you are, well … I’m jealous. And also you’re going to love these pants.
These travel pants come in 2 colors – heather gray and jet black – and run from Small to XX-Large.
If you’ve struggled finding the best travel pants for men, vent to me in the comments! What are your frustrations? What are your concerns? What questions can I answer for you about these 3 best travel pants for men?
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Disclosure: This post was partially sponsored by Aviator USA, and I received a complimentary pair of jeans to review. However, all comments, raves, obsessions, and suggestions to steal your wife’s pants are completely my own. I actually legit love the jeans, and my opinion was not influenced by our partnership. The other 2 pants I purchased on my own.
Also, I’ve included affiliate links for each of the 3 travel pants, and if you purchase through my links I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for using our links!
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