15 Summer Pants That'll Breeze You Through the Dog Days
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WHEN the temperature is seething hotter than a celebrity guest on Hot Ones and the muggy air breathes thicker than a bowl of oatmeal, your sartorial instinct is probably telling you to take it all off and just put on some shorts. However, sometimes an occasion calls for you to look more put-together with pants instead, you know? As sweaty and steamy as that sounds, fear not, for the wardrobe solution is simple: summer pants.
Before you work yourself up to visualize your dad’s shabby, baggy khakis, shift gear a bit to pants styles like linen, seersucker, and nylon pants—i.e., pants made of lightweight, breathable materials, and cut in a modern, flattering fit to keep you looking cool and feeling crispy. Whenever there’s an in-person office day or any formal function coming up in your calendar, consider covering your sculpted calves and break out a pair of summer pants for a change.
Below, we’ve managed to test over 35 pairs of lightweight, breathable pants ourselves to find the 15 best summer pants for men. From linen pants and seersucker pants that are a true breezy wonder, to refreshing chinos made with breathable, moisture-wicking nylon, to performance jeans blessed with temperature-regulating tech, our first-hand-tested trousers won't let the heat cramp your style.
Best Spring Pants | Best Seersucker Suits | Best Linen Pants | Best Linen Shirts | Best Travel Pants
Rainier Lightweight Comfort Travel Tech Chino
One thing about nylon is that it’s going to perform. Really, the lightweight activewear fabric is breathable, moisture-wicking, quick-drying, and has a light natural stretch that is now enhanced with 6% of spandex in these pants. So when we saw these $40 nylon pants on Amazon, we had to get a pair to test it out. The result is utterly satisfying: even when the sun is blazing, our legs never feel searing or humid in these slacks. And since the fabric is also treated with UPF 50 protection against sunlight, we wear them outdoors by default.
Loomed Linen Fatigue Pant
I’ve dealt with meh linen pants before, which is why when I first put these Buck Mason trousers on, I was blown away by the instant coolness my legs felt—not only that, I could still feel the air touching my skin as if I were wearing shorts. Now that’s a good pair of linen slacks. And I love that its airy weave is washed to sport a softer, vintage feel that looks handsome and is versatile to style.
They do come with a looser-than-normal fit—which helps the air circulating inside the fabric—so I often have to tighten the drawcord when wearing them, but that’s no biggie.
The Performance Traveler Chino
Handpicked to be tested by our Fashion Director Ted Stafford and then fitted on Bullet Train action star Andrew Koji, Everlane’s chinos move you from the tarmac to the resort without losing a second of relaxation, courtesy of the spandex four-way stretch.
While cotton is less cooling compared to linen, having tested these pants’ fabric, we guarantee that they’re indeed sweat-wicking and quick-drying to keep you cool and dry. Although the fit leans slim, it hasn’t stifled or smothered Koji’s legs, or ours in our testing.
Lightweight Hiking Pants
Our gear editor took these hiking pants to the great outdoors to test them and came back singing more than a few praises. Firstly, they’re made of nylon, so they’ve got ventilation and quick-drying in spades. Then, there’s the 10% of spandex which allows the fabric to thoroughly move with our movements, even when we’re hiking or climbing. Off-the-trail-wise, we’ve worn them as everyday pants before even in the office, and no one has batted an eye.
Linen Blend Relaxed Pants
Want to keep cool even when the mercury starts to rise in a thermometer but stay on a budget? Uniqlo’s got our backs and wallets—including mine. After trying these affordable summer pants in the store, I had to take them on and add them to my warm-weather wardrobe. The linen fabric plus a relaxed fit lets the air in. In my experience I didn’t get too much stretch out of them, so I mostly wear them to lounge or travel light.
ABC Classic-Fit Pant
These Anti-Ball-Crushing travel pants are a wonderful and arguably better alternative to stuffy, rigid chinos. Even though they’re partially made with polyester which isn’t a breathable or stretchy fabric, the rest and the main material called Elastomultiester comes to save the day. In my experience of wearing these, the fabric does breathe and wick away sweat, and the four-way stretch has made them my go-to travel pants for commute or work.
My favorite part is also how light and soft the fabric feels, which is why I always make sure to pack a pair of ABCs for when I’m flying away for a few days.
Seersucker Golf Pant
Seersucker is another summer staple: the lightweight, thin fabric has an uneven, puckered texture that creates space between the fabric and the skin to bolster airflow and thus breathability; more importantly, it’s full of southern charm. Bonobos’ golf pant also uses polyester to ramp up performance like moisture-wicking and quick-drying.
Plus, our editors have worn these golf pants off the course and into the office, the subway, on the sidewalks, or just at a regular get-together and they’ve worked well every single time. The ventilation of seersucker and the anti-sweat tech of polyester in one truly let our legs get the best of both worlds.
A pair of cargo-chino hybrid pants shot an arrow straight to my heart, so I had to try L.L.Bean’s Tropicwear slacks on and even wore them to Central Park in the dog days to test last year. Made of almost entirely nylon, the beat-the-heat performance is no joke. Even when I was standing directly under the sun, the lightweight fabric lets my skin breathe and has never gotten hot (it also blocks out harmful UV light to boot). The moisture-wicking property took care of the sweat for me, and the nice amount of stretch let me walk and strut with no discomfort. The straight fit is also great for men with a slightly bigger, buffer build.
Read More: Best Cargo Pants for Men
Alpha Smart 360 Flex Slim Fit Chinos
Another summer pants option fitted on action star Andrew Koji is Dockers’ Alpha chinos. It’s easy to see why our Fashion Director took a liking to it and tested it out: the cotton-elastane fabric uses 360 Flex™ tech to move like joggers with four-way stretch, and the straight leg lets the air in and keeps the skin feeling fresh.
At under $80, we also couldn’t believe how versatile they are; whether it’s styled with camp shirts, polo shirts, or button-downs, they always look the part.
Signature Slim Taper Linen Trousers
What I love most about Ben Sherman’s linen pants is their tapered fit, which easily makes them look elevated no matter what you put on top of it—even if it's only a t-shirt or hoodie.
Better yet, the pant's ankle-cut shows just enough skin while always letting my legs breathe. I definitely wear these with no-show socks—the only way to do it, really.
Athletic Slim Jeans: COOLMAX® Denim Edition
Next, we have jeans. Don't let the name fool you, these bad boys are treated to be just as summer-friendly as linen or seersucker pants, courtesy of the moisture-wicking, temperature-regulating COOLMAX® tech. In fact, I sported them to travel recently—from the airplane to the London tube—and they managed to keep my legs feeling air-conditioned.
Additionally, these jeans have one more trick up their sleeves: an athletic fit that actually flutters a muscular build. I’ve got thick quads, but these jeans leave enough room at the seat and thigh area to let me wear them and move in them like I’m in a pair of sweatpants. I even accidentally wore these to climb a steep uphill road once, and they managed to keep my legs cool, dry, and free throughout.
Read More: 15 Best Athletic Fit Jeans
Dress pants can easily look lounge-y, beach-y, and wrinkly, but not these. Charles Tyrwhitt turns the vacation trouser style into an office wardrobe must-have by giving it a slim, tailored cut. But from our experience, these linen slacks remain just as lightweight and breathable—and our testing even shows that they do retain shape and ward off wrinkles, unlike other linen pants. Better yet, they don’t look like linen pants at all, so your colleagues or boss won’t judge you.
Lightweight Hemp Pant
Hemp is another underrated classic fabric made to beat the warm weather. It’s light in weight but heavy in breathability, and is naturally sweat-wicking as well as much more durable than cotton. But a great pair of fully hemp pants for summer is rare, until we came across Vince’s and tested it out. It’s fully hemp-y, but given a roomy fit, our testers were able to move in these trousers easily.
The drawstring-closure-meets-dress-pants profile also renders them hella versatile, and we were able to style them with anything from dress shirts to zip-up hoodies.
Tonal Seersucker Weekend Pant
A pair of seersucker formal sweats must be the weirdest but also most ingenious thing on your radar. But hey, that’s Todd Snyder, a menswear brand that knows how to put comfort and style into one. Its casual Weekend pant is primed for all your summer downtown by marrying the tailored cut of dress pants with the pull-on ease of sweatpants. There’s also a nice bit of spandex stretch to let you travel in them.
Instead of looking flow-y and all carefree, these fully Linen pants cinch it up with a slim fit to let you look elevated while feeling fresh and crisp, making them best for smart casual occasions like at a bar or a dinner party. They also come in plenty of striped or checked patterns that should easily spruce up your fits.
In my experience of wearing these, however, since they’ve got no stretch, I wouldn’t recommend traveling too heavy or far in them.
What Is the Best Type of Pants to Wear in Summer?
Summer pants should be lightweight, breathable, and ideally moisture-wicking for when you're breaking a sweat—in warm, heated weather, it's the performance that matters the most, not the design. What defines performance in summer pants is the material and fabric.
Linen: Perhaps the most famous summer pants style is the linen pants. As a material, linen is lightweight and loosen woven, rendering the fabric incredibly breathable because the long fibers allow air to circulate. Otherwise, it's also highly durable and absorbs moisture—and therefore, sweat—while drying quickly, all in all keeping you cool and dry on dog days.
Seersucker: Seersucker is a type of cloth weaved to be lightweight, thin, and breathable. The fabric has a puckered or crinkled texture that creates space between the fabric and the skin, thus allowing for more ventilation. While the material's sweat-wicking property is up to debate, we do know for sure from testing is that the uneven texture decreases the fabric's contact with the skin, thus lessening any "clammy" feeling, even though you might be perspiring.
Nylon: The activewear material is a beast at beating the heat. It's breathable and durable enough to be used in workout clothes and often has a tad of natural stretch. As a synthetic fabric, it's hydrophobic, meaning it can wick away sweat and dry fast in a heartbeat. Nylon can be found in hiking pants, chinos, or any sort of travel pants.
Hemp: Another hot-climate favorite is hemp whose breathability is way above cotton's league. The lightweight hemp fabric naturally wicks away sweat by absorbing moisture from the skin and passing it to the outside air—i.e., hemp is hard to get wet and won't hold moisture for long, so you'll never feel clammy.
Cotton: Cotton is naturally breathable, though less so than hemp or linen or seersucker. While its moisture-wicking feat varies and often depends on whom you ask, it does absorb and retain sweat to keep you from feeling too damp. We also love how cotton can be easily made with elastane or spandex to produce four-way stretch fabric.
Polyester: Unfortunately, this plastic synthetic fiber often found in swim trunks isn't breathable at all. But a poly-blend made with a substantial amount of breathable materials (see Bonobos seersucker golf pants and Lululemon's ABC pants, for instance) can easily change it up to make the fabric breezy. Moreover, polyester is a monster at wicking moisture and drying fast, so no sweat with this one.
How We Selected
To find the best summer pants, our editors and writers have personally tried on a variety of lightweight, breathable slacks and put them to the test on different occasions, such as wearing Buck Mason's linen pants to vacation and weekend outings, Everlane's travel chinos to the office, or Lululemon's ABC pants to travel and commute. We've also considered men's summer pants that were tested and picked by our Fashion Director Ted Stafford for print, well fitted on athletic dudes.
From there, our testing editors evaluated these summer pants by their price, performance (breathability, stretch, weight, and any anti-sweat and anti-odor qualities) , and versatility to narrow down our selection to these 15 best summer pants for men. Specifically, we're looking for styles that are not trendy or trend-chasing (so no baggy fits or holes here and there); instead, our picks of the best summer pants all fit great even on buff guys, provide a ton of value at reasonable price points, and come in designs that will look great years from now.
Why Trust Us
A product review story that doesn’t actually test anything hands-on or in person isn’t worth your precious time. Thankfully, we at Men’s Health don’t produce any of that nonsense. In fact, you can rest assured that our product recommendations derive from first-hand experience.
For instance, at Men’s Health, we have a fashion closet dedicated to calling in, trying out, and selecting the best as well as the newest products in menswear. We put them on stylish, fit guys to hear what their opinions are and see how the items look on them before making our final decision. And as style editors, we constantly go into the fashion closet to feel a product’s fabric or materials—even put it on ourselves for a spin—to test it.
Lastly, you can trust our opinions on shopping recommendations, whether it’s the products, styling tips, or trends. Not only do we have Fashion Director Ted Stafford and Deputy Editor, Commerce Christian Gollyan who actually know that polyester isn't actually breathable, but we also have a panel of style experts—including stylists, fashion influencers, and designers—that we regularly seek shopping guides from. Therefore, our product recommendations and buying tips are all driven by professional, expert opinions.
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