Don’t Sweat It: The Best Lightweight Pants to Beat the Heat

Short-phobic? We got you.

Updated August 2, 2023 10:57 am
a collage of lightweight pants on a gradient red background
Not ready for shorts? Try the best men's lightweight pants, instead.
InsideHook/Getty Images

Nota bene: If you buy through the links in this article, we may earn a small share of the profits.

While the ever-shrinking inseam of shorts is a welcome novelty, and we are ecstatic about the return of the beloved penny loafer (underrated suggestion: try pairing the two), the tank top-boxer short uniform that humid days demand doesn’t exactly fly at the office, or on that first date.

This daily dilemma of what to wear during the disgusting month of August is further aggravated by the fact that, while for some the answer is as simple as shorts, not everyone is as thigh-forward as we are. Many don’t want to feel the breeze on their calves and instead prefer the full coverage only pants can provide. And in the event there’s some serious soiree to attend, shorts can feel a little too casual. Enter lightweight pants.

a collage of Todd Snyder Gurkha trousers on a white background
Come hundred-degree heat, we’re reaching for Todd Snyder’s lightweight cotton trousers and nothing else.
Todd Snyder

What to Look For in Lightweight Pants

You’d be a masochist to pull out your most rigid, heavy-duty, constricting jeans in 90-degree weather — the double-knees can wait until fall — but a nice pair of linen or 100% cotton pants (or even lightweight denim) will provide the comfortable, familiar feel of full-coverage pants, without the added worry of overheating or, much worse, ill-placed sweat stains. A looser, oversized silhouette allows for more wiggle and breathing room, as well, so we’ll suggest opting for a relaxed fit when pulling the trigger on some summertime pants.

Through blood, sweat and tears — most just sweat, really — we’ve tested out a variety of bottoms over the past year, and come away with some serious contenders for the best lightweight pants to survive the end of summer in. Below, you’ll find 12 vetted pairs, as stylish as they are appropriate for the warm weather, meaning you won’t have to sacrifice your love of a full leg just to beat the heat.

The Best Lightweight Pants In 2023:

We know what you’re thinking — a pair of dress trousers? In this heat? But don’t be fooled by their buttoned-up appearance; Todd’s Gurkha pants are woven from fine-milled Italian cotton that’s light and breathable, and the self-belted waist plays nicely with a tucked-in tee or oversized oxford.

On the other end of the lightweight pants spectrum, we have the rugged Dirt Pants from boulder-based Topo Designs. Designed to serve you in the great outdoors, rather than that all-hands meeting, they’re sustainably sourced from organic cotton and built with all the features — waist drawcord, adjustable hems and a reinforced seams — to take you that extra mile.

If you can’t be bothered with real pants this summer, but are also operating under some serious dress codes, Alex Mill’s Pull-On Pants are the only way to keep it cool while looking the part. Dressed up in a very office-y olive and impossibly light, you can pair them with a tucked-in dress shirt for an all-gas, no-sweat get-up.

It’s hard to christen one single label as the cutting edge of lightweight pant fashion in 2023, but it’s downright impossible to miss these darted-knee, military-inspired parachute pants from the British powerhouses Universal Works. They’re roomy and rugged and have more than enough space to keep your goodies stashed and your thighs sweat-free.

Alex Crane’s Cham Pants: good for beating the heat, great for looking like an off-duty railroad worker.

Everlane’s jogger-esque Easy Pants may look a bit loungey at first glance, but their organic cotton twill make for an unparalleled feel on toasty summer days.

Uniqlo offers a summery, relaxed fit pant outfitted with their latest “ultra light” tech (a stretchy, lightweight, and quick-drying fabric, jointly developed with Toray Industries) and a seersucker finish. To top it off, the style is currently 60% off. You could say that we’re fans.

Like most of their basics, Corridor’s Drawstring Trousers are the platonic ideal of what lightweight pants should be. Cut with serious consideration and woven with a breezy cotton-linen blend fabric, they’re the pants we’re living in when the weather hangs in the nineties.

Sometimes you just gotta stick with the classics, like these reinforced chinos from Relwen. They (among other things, like looking good) prove dressy option doesn’t have to mean stuffy.

A take on Madewell’s best-selling Slim Chino Pants, these lightweight cotton pants have a comfy stretch-fit waist, and breathable COOLMAX material for the day ahead.

Sure, chinos aren’t hard to come by, but what about a pair of relaxed chinos, like these from Bonobos? As if that weren’t enough, the Off Duty Pant blends the dressed-up chino sensibility with a jogger feel. They’re the ideal lightweight pant for wanting to look put together without wanting to put in the effort. Just let them do the work for you.

Who said denim couldn’t be lightweight? Abercrombie crafted these loose jeans with warm weather in mind, so you can rest assured they’re capable of enduring summer’s swelter. The jeans are made from lightweight denim that’s simultaneously durable and breathable.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.