A Brief History of Cargo Pants in the Military

A Brief History of Cargo Pants in the Military

Jun 02, 2022

The original inspiration for cargo pants came from a British idea in the 1930s. British soldiers’ battle dress was fitted with one large pocket on each pant leg for ammunition and additional provisions. During World War II, the pants grew in popularity, as US paratroopers could sweep down on their enemies with pockets full of artillery and ammunition. This is a brief history of cargo pants in the military.


Cargo pants were such a massive success in WWII that the military saw their usefulness and made them an official military item. It later caught on in the civilian sector, where it would only have a moment of glory. So it primarily remained a standard issue in the military dress from that moment on.

The OG-107s

In 1952, the olive-green 107s entered the picture—they now included dual front pant pockets for extra cargo. This was revolutionary at the time and made for a great addition to the military OCP uniform. They decided that with all the added loads held in the uniforms, it would be best to tuck in the bottom legs of these pants to secure everything in place. This was a new, hands-free way of carrying cargo and remaining relatively streamlined.

Enter the ’90s

In the ’90s, cargo pants extended from the military to everyday life. There was a massive resurgence of the cargo pants in the 1990s when everything was larger than life. These pants were as loud and extreme as possible, and manufacturers made multiple variations of the same pants. They mostly came in a bellbottom, cargo hybrid. These carried through the entire decade of the ’90s as a staple of fashion at the time.

From this brief history of cargo pants in the military, you can tell that these pants have seen it all. It’s surprising how much the military influences what we wear and how we model ourselves. But these pants were practically too good to be true, just as solid and American as they come.