There’s A National Debate Happening About Cargo Shorts

At some point in recent history, men wearing cargo shorts has entered the national conversation.

Men love cargo shorts, and their wives seem to loathe them with an equal fervor. Given that cargo shorts have been popular since the ’90s, one’s love or hatred for them is likely not new—but two recents Wall Street Journal articles about the the ongoing debate have, in effect, fanned its flames.

The prevailing theory seems to be that men prefer substance over style. Can I hold all of my stuff comfortably? Glasses, phone, etc? Great. Meanwhile, the wives of cargo short wearers there feel embarrassed because they think his lack of GQ-ness reflects on them.

The initial WSJ story reports that cargo shorts came about in the 1940s for military personnel. Pilots needed a place on their uniform to hold their gear while in cramped cockpits, and British climbers found the pockets to be more effective for storage than hanging utility belts about their waists.

Indeed, their unparalleled functionality seems to be what keeps fans coming back. As one WSJ reader wrote:

Wallet, cellphone, keys (including today’s monstrous car keys): Where do they go if you don’t have a lot of pockets? I don’t like or dislike them, but they’re a necessity in the summer. No, I won’t carry a purse. And no, I don’t want to be fashionable.


On the flip side, another WSJ reader, a woman, sounded in with a very different opinion:

Thank you for writing the cargo shorts article. I couldn’t forward it to my husband fast enough. He’s 72. I’m 66. When [our] sons started wearing them so did my husband and he won’t let go. Such a silly thing but it drives me nuts.

Many outlets have covered The National Cargo Pants Debate, including Vice, SFGate, the Washington Free Beacon, NPR, the Washington Post, and Cosmo.

But here’s the thing: Say what you will, it seems cargo shorts still have many fans. A TODAY poll of nearly 18,000 people shows that 95 percent of them voted “Keep them” vs. “Toss them,” when presented with the choice.

Still, men are starting to feel the anti-cargo short pressure, according to Fox News:

FWIW: Cats tend to love ’em.

cargo shorts photo
Photo by Patrick Feller

Infographic via

Photo by davidwg