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Published Dec 2, 2021 7:49 PM

I know what you’re going through because I’ve been there, too. It’s halftime in a close game. You’re three beers and a dozen jalapeno poppers deep. Pizza and wings just arrived, your buddy is grabbing another round from the fridge, and it’s time to rally. Your spirit is strong, but the button on your jeans has nothing left to give. Don’t let yourself fall victim to this calamity. Dress appropriately; dress like a winner. If you don’t have a reliable pair of gameday sweatpants, how can you expect to cheer on your team correctly? 

Of course, the best sweatpants are also good for burning off wings and bleu cheese. Anyone who exercises should have a pair or two of these timeless trousers in their closet. Your fashion-forward friends here at Task & Purpose sought out some of the best sweatpants money can buy so you can spend more time doing what you do best and less time scrolling on the internet. Take heed, and remember: heroes life forever, but legends never die.

Best Sweatpants for Men Reviews & Recommendations

The North Face might be better known for making high-quality outdoor adventure gear, but the brand also makes a fantastic pair of sweatpants. Half Dome sweatpants incorporate the brand’s famous attention to detail and everyday comfort.

Softness was clearly a priority for these pants and the terry-fleece fabric delivers. The standard fit offers enough room to move freely without being baggy. Elastic keeps the cuffs snug at the ankles, but the waist uses a more durable drawstring to create the perfect fit. Pockets are provided on the front and you’ll get one open pocket in the rear.

These sweatpants are advertised as joggers, but we think they’re better suited to kicking back with a refreshing drink, whether you’re sitting by a campfire or enjoying the comfort of your own couch.

Product Specs
  • Material: Terry-fleece
  • Waist: Drawstring
  • Cuff: Elastic
  • Pockets: Front pockets; one back pocket
PROS

Terry-fleece is like hot chocolate for your legs

Rear pocket makes these more practical

Quality is what you’d expect from The North Face

Utility brown is a unique color and we dig it

CONS

Not what we’d choose for athletic wear

Standard fit is still quite roomy

Color and size selections are limited

If Macklemore taught us anything, it’s that money has nothing to do with style. These are the least expensive sweatpants on our list and the biggest downside is not having pockets for all the money you saved when you bought them.

The fabric is an even mix of cotton and polyester. Thanks to the internal drawstring, you won’t have to worry about stretching out the elastic waistband. Elastic cuffs keep the pants off your shoes and come in handy if you choose to wear these to work out.

Depending on the color and size you want, these sweatpants can cost as little as $8.95 at the time of writing. That’s a smoking deal no matter how you slice it.

Product Specs
  • Material: 50 percent cotton, 50 percent polyester
  • Waist: Drawstring, elastic
  • Cuff: Elastic
  • Pockets: No pockets
PROS

Waist uses an elastic band and a drawstring

This fabric blend is designed to not stretch out

No tag means no itchy back

Seven colors; sizes go as high as 3XL

CONS

Pockets must be expensive because they didn’t make the cut

Sizing runs large, even for sweatpants

This style is classic or dated, depending on your perspective

Editor’s Choice

Champion is one of the legacy brands in athletic attire and they certainly know how to make a fine pair of sweatpants. These bad boys have the features most people are looking for and the price hits a sweet spot in the market.

Jersey-style fabric is incredibly comfortable and is made up of 60 to 100 percent cotton, depending on the color. Like other sweatpants, these use a combination of elastic bands and a drawstring to keep them in place on your waist. The cuffs are elastic as well, but not quite as tight-fitting as some other pants. The standard fit is less baggy than most sweatpants without being restrictive.

These are a solid foundation for any gentleman’s sweatpants collection.

Product Specs
  • Material: Cotton-polyester blend depending on color
  • Waist: Drawstring, elastic
  • Cuff: Elastic
  • Pockets: Front pockets
PROS

Loose enough (and cheap enough) for working out

Lightweight material keeps legs warm without getting hot

Some say these will automatically improve your grill master skills

Champion touts a water-efficient manufacturing process that’s environmentally friendly

CONS

Waistband is exposed on the inside and might feel scratchy

Color selection is heavy on the grays

New Balance sneakers not included

Best Athletic Sweatpants

It will come as no surprise to see Adidas landing our pick for the best athletic sweatpants. The three-stripe brand is hot in the U.S., and even more popular overseas. This year’s Tiro 21 sweatpant lives up to that reputation with performance and style––on and off the field.

Lots of sweatpants are comfortable and even usable in the gym, but outdoor sports call for something more fitted and a bit higher-tech. Adidas gave the Tiro 21 tapered legs that stay out of the way when you’re running and jumping. The cotton-polyester blend is light and breathable. The cuffs aren’t elastic, but they fit snug enough to stay above your shoes.

These sweatpants are a must-have for runners and anyone whose sport of choice involves a pair of cleats.

Product Specs
  • Material: 70 percent cotton, 30 percent polyester
  • Waist: Drawstring
  • Cuff: Elastic
  • Pockets: Front pockets
PROS

May result in you playing like Jamie Tartt

Athletic fit makes these functional and stylish

Pockets zip closed to keep your belongings secure

Inner lining is extra soft

CONS

May result in you acting like Jamie Tartt

Some reflective touches would be nice

Only available in black, gray, and navy blue

If a crackling fire and buttered rum (try one) were pants, they’d be these flannel pajama pants from Ralph Lauren. Being comfortable and classy never felt so good.

It all starts with the cotton flannel, which is incredibly soft. It’s also a quality weave, so these pants will far outlast less expensive sweatpants. Loose cuffs and a drawstring waist prioritize comfort over everything, so these pants do their best work on the couch. Where Ralph Lauren really shines is in the color selection. These pants are available in 30 patterns ranging from plaid to wild west themes.

These will cost you more than many sweatpants, but the price is very reasonable for what you get.

Product Specs
  • Material: Flannel
  • Waist: Drawstring
  • Cuff: Open
  • Pockets: Front pockets
PROS

High-quality cotton flannel is delightfully comfortable

Take your pick from 30 patterns and colors

No elastics to stretch out or break

Machine-washable and long-lasting

CONS

Some patterns sell out quickly in popular sizes

Definitely not intended for leaving the house

Is the material getting thinner, or is it just us?

Best Tough Sweatpants

Under Armour’s Rush sweatpants are built to take a beating and come back for more. They’re expensive, there’s no denying that, but this is what you want if you’re going to be playing sports in colder weather.

The marketing people over at Under Armour make a big deal about this fabric, which they claim can turn body heat into infrared energy that increases blood flow. We’re not ready to sign off on all of that, but the double-layered fleece is definitely comfortable and well-made. Front pockets are open, and a single rear pocket zips closed.

If you like what you see, Under Armour offers a range of Rush clothing to fill out your wardrobe.

Product Specs
  • Material: Polyester
  • Waist: Drawstring, elastic
  • Cuff: Elastic
  • Pockets: Front pockets, one back pocket
PROS

Much more durable than most sweatpants

Materials and construction are top-notch

Touches like the zippered back pocket make all the difference

Believe-it-or-not tech that may or may not be science fiction

CONS

$100 is about the ceiling for a pair of sweatpants

Only available in three color combinations

Might be too warm for some regions

Why you should trust us

There are two things I know for sure when it comes to high fashion. The first is that nobody can resist a man in a perfectly tailored tuxedo. The second is that dressing for comfort is always a solid choice. In preparation for writing this article, I spent countless hours lounging around in all kinds of sweatpants and sweat-shorts (one of my signature wardrobe elements). I compared and contrasted elastic waists with drawstring waists, and contemplated the merits of slim-fit pants in the athletic realm. This kind of critical thinking informed my analysis of the sweatpants you see here, so rest assured that you’re in good hands.

Types of sweatpants for men

If you thought sweatpants were all the same, I’ve got news for you. Getting into the sweatpant game is serious business and you need to know your stuff if you want to be taken seriously by connoisseurs of comfort. Allow us to break down the basics so you can talk the talk while you’re walking the walk.

Loungewear

We all know that sweatpants are one of the most comfortable things ever to grace the human body. With their forgiving shape and holiday-friendly elastic waist, sweatpants might as well be the official uniform of not getting anything done for the rest of the day.

Aside from being easy to wear, the soft fabric is like a comfort blanket for the legs. There’s something about changing out of work clothes and into sweatpants at the end of the day that just feels like a grandmother giving you a hug and handing you a mug of hot chocolate––with real marshmallows, not those wimpy little ones that come in the pouch.

Activewear

Sweatpants were designed for athletes from the very beginning, so it’s no surprise they’re still a go-to for all kinds of athletes. They do a great job of keeping your legs warm and don’t restrict your range of motion.

Back in the day, athletic clothing wasn’t a priority. People ran in what was basically a dress shoe with nails through the sole instead of the high-tech footwear we enjoy today. Sweatpants were a game-changer, and the fact that we’re still wearing them speaks volumes. Traditional sweatpants are great in the gym, but more specialized styles are better for outdoor sports that involve a lot of running.

It’s all I can afford to wear

One of the best things about sweatpants is the price. When the formula is this simple, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel and manufacturers are able to produce basic sweatpants for almost nothing. I’m willing to bet that most of the price covers overhead and shipping.

We found perfectly usable sweatpants for less than $10 to include on this list. That’s good news for people who blow through clothes quickly, but it’s also welcome news for anyone on a budget. Comfort shouldn’t be a class issue, so grab a pair of these and enjoy the good life without breaking the bank.

Key features of sweatpants for men 

Soft fabric

When it comes to comfort in general and sweatpants in particular, softness is key. This is near and dear to my heart because softness is basically my only criterion when buying clothes to wear at home. Sweatpants kill it in this regard, with all kinds of plush materials––both natural and synthetic––that defy the laws of physical comfort.

This is one factor that favors higher-end sweatpants. Run-of-the-mill pants with old-school fabric are fine, but designer brands often use flannel and high-end cotton that’s impossibly soft. If this texture is your priority, look for sweatpants from established brands that are aimed at leisure wear rather than athletic wear.

Pockets optional

If you fancy yourself a man about town, there’s no reason you have to leave your favorite sweatpants at home. Pull those babies on and go for a strut, my friend, because there are plenty of sweatpants with enough pockets to hold your basic EDC items.

On the other hand, there are times when you just don’t need pockets. It’s a touchy subject but it’s true. If you’re kicking back at the house or have had all your worldly possessions taken from you, sweatpants without pockets will allow you to relax without the constant reminder that you could be doing something more productive.

Perfect fit

Finding a decent fit is a tricky business. A lot of people have problems with clothes being too small. I personally have never found a pair of jeans that fit both my waist and my legs, so I end up having to cinch up my belt while I stuff my thighs in like sausages.

Sweatpants are magicians of the clothing world. The legs are always roomy enough, even for those of us who refer to the tenth month as Squatober. Waists that use elastic or a drawstring are versatile enough to fit an impressive range of sizes––for example, my own waist before and after destroying an entire package of bratwurst for lunch when no one else is home to judge me for it.

Benefits of sweatpants for men

They’re warm

Would you rather be warm and comfy or shivering and covered in goosebumps? That’s what I thought. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, folks. Sweatpants are a great way to stay warm and it doesn’t matter if you’re playing late-season soccer or binge-watching reality television.

All sweatpants are pretty warm, but there are differences in fabric to consider. Flannel is the softest and arguably the warmest, but it’s not particularly durable and the wind cuts right through it. Some kind of cotton-polyester blend is best for outdoor activities. The most purpose-built athletic sweatpants even have reflective panels and wind-blocking fabric in key areas.

They’re timeless fashion icons

Sweatpants get a lot of hate from HR-types, and I frankly don’t know why. The first pair of sweatpants was created by French fashion merchant Émile Camuset in the 1920s. His company was called Le Coq Sportif (the Athletic Rooster), and if that’s not iconic, I don’t know what is.

Sweatpants were quickly adopted by people looking after their bodies and became common attire at the Olympics as early as 1936. That’s the year Joe Louis defeated Max Schmeling, so if you’re against Louis’ preferred athletic wear, what are you really saying? In my humble opinion, sweatpants are just as fashionable and practical as they were a century ago. I’m willing to bet that’s more than we’ll be able to say for cropped jeans.

They make you stronger

No, no, hear me out because this is true! Early in his career, Arnold Schwarzenegger couldn’t set foot in an Austrian gym without being praised like some kind of golden idol. He was—and still is—regarded as a patron saint of gym rats. It’s easy to let that kind of reverence go to your head and make you complacent.

Schwarzenegger’s first significant defeat taught him that his calves were his body’s weak point. To create a little extra motivation, he worked out in sweatpants and a sweatshirt so nobody would see his world-class physique. Then, he cut his pants off just below the knee so everyone would see––and make fun of––his skinny calves, inspiring him to train harder. The trick worked. Schwarzenegger won his first Mr. Olympia title in 1970, and the rest is history.

Pricing considerations for sweatpants for men

Budget sweatpants

It’s possible to snag a pair of sweatpants for less than $15. You can get one of the options on this list for less than $10. At this kind of price, you’re looking at very basic materials and construction. Budget sweatpants get the job done but they don’t last very long. 

Expect colors to fade and stitching to come loose more quickly than on more expensive sweatpants. As long as you’re comfortable with that, there’s no reason you shouldn’t add a pair to your wardrobe. Budget sweatpants are great for yard work and other activities that are hard on your clothes.

Athletic sweatpants

Are you ready to hit the gym? Don’t jump into a workout with cold muscles because that’s a recipe for disaster. Before you start stretching, you can set yourself up for success with sweatpants that keep your legs warm from the beginning.

Athletic sweatpants tend to have more secure waistbands, elastic cuffs, and a slimmer fit around the legs. These features keep them in place and out of the way once you get moving. It doesn’t matter if you’re dragging a chalk-encrusted barbell across your shins or playing half-court basketball with your friends, this is what you need. Expect to pay more for athletic sweatpants than for other styles to get the kind of durability and fit you need.

Designer sweatpants

Yes, designer sweatpants are a thing. Big-name brands are in on the sweatpant action and they don’t mind charging for the privilege of wearing a pair. We found reasonably-priced sweatpants from Polo Ralph Lauren, but you can spend a lot more than that on designer brand sweatpants if you have the budget for them.

At this price range, fabric will be incredibly soft and comfortable. You should be able to choose from a wide selection of patterns and colors in your size. Designer sweatpants are typically intended to be loungewear, so many of them use flannel, a loose fit, and open cuffs. As much as you might want to show off your premium attire on the street, these are really meant for kicking back with a cup of hot chocolate. A bear-skin rug is optional.

How we chose our top picks

It doesn’t matter if you’re shopping for something to spice up the kitchen or a piece of hardcore adventure gear, it’s important to know what you’re getting. Spending money on quality products is a lot easier than falling for something that looks like a bargain but ends up falling short. We picked sweatpants for relaxing, layering, and working out, but they’re all comfortable in the right environment. We stuck to the brands we know and love because wasting money on clothes that stretch out, fade, and fall apart isn’t relaxing at all. As always, we don’t recommend anything we wouldn’t spend our own money on.

FAQs on sweatpants for men

You’ve got questions, Task & Purpose has answers.

Q. Are sweatpants winter attire?

A: You can wear sweatpants year-round! I’ve got some that are cut into shorts for the summer and they perform just as excellently as the full-length variety. Pro tip: Only wear sweatpants with an elastic cuff outside during the winter so they don’t drag in the snow and get wet.

Q. Are sweatpants workplace-appropriate?

A: Probably not, but that says more about your stodgy work environment than the textile wonder that is sweatpants. That’s not how we roll; in fact, I’m wearing a pair as I write this.

Q. Can I wear these bad boys to the gym?

A: Sweatpants are great for the gym, especially during the winter when you need to keep your muscles warm on the way to the gym. Baggy sweatpants offer a great range of motion, too. Cuffed pants are best because they don’t interfere with your footing.

Q. Why don’t we wear these all the time?

A: That question has been asked since the first elastic band was sewn into baggy loungewear. My theory is that the world just isn’t ready.

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Scott Murdock is a Marine Corps veteran and contributor to Task & Purpose. He’s selflessly committed himself to experiencing the best gear, gadgets, stories, and alcoholic beverages in the service of you, the reader.