Karl Lagerfeld once said that sweatpants are a sign of defeat. “You lost control of your life,” the late German fashion designer put it, “so you bought some sweatpants.”
Yet, thanks to Childish Gambino and a 2020 locked in a pandemic work-from-home time warp, we all know that Lagerfeld was wrong; you can still be ‘winning’ in sweatpants. They are now everywhere, not just confined to athleisure limbo. Even Lagerfeld’s brand Karl has sweatpants in its current line. Although this trend of the ware’s creeping social acceptance predates 2020, the pandemic has only accelerated the common craze for comfort—especially when it comes to sweatpants capable of extending their use well outside the bounds of homebound relaxation. So, whether you are trying to upgrade your Zoom attire, searching for the right “roll-out-of-bed” dog-walking slacks, or just looking to make your outdoors adventures a tad more cozy with a more rugged and resilient option, we have got you covered—these sweatpants will never signal surrender.
Aether Apparel Marshall Knit: OK, these sport a classic sweatpant look (tapered leg, drawstring waist, deep pockets), but look a little closer. The details are what set these pants apart from those fumbly joggers from middle school: leather tips on the drawcord, a reinforced inside knee panel, and the luxe Italian textured jersey material that elevates anyone’s sweatpants game.
Snow Peak WG Stretch Knit Pants: Can sweatpants be sophisticated? The WG Knit pants make a good argument with chic style that can slouch. Made with a 3D knitting technology called WHOLEGARMENT (hence the WG), these pants pair with any top for nearly any occasion (not that you are going to a gallery opening anytime soon). Since the knit is made from 52 percent wool and 48 percent polyester, they’re also adventure-friendly for mild-weather excursions.
Patagonia R1 Fleece Pants: Patagonia makes R1 fleece pants. If you know R1, that’s all you need to know. For those unfamiliar, R1 means soft fleece on the inside, slick on the outside, ideal for layering on cooler weather missions and snuggle-ready indoors. Patagonia also has a robust line of comfy trousers, like its Mahnya fleece pants and legendary Nano air pants, ready to pair.
Elevenate Fusion Pants: Yes, we understand that these pants don’t even make it to the ankles, but Elevenate’s Fusions are meant to go underneath ski/snowboard pants and sit right on top of your boots. Since they fit more like a pair of sweatpants around the waist and in the leg than a pair of snug thermals, they count. And for those who don’t ski or ride, the Fusion pants are perfect for layering underneath any of your favorite tapered, warmer weather pants that you just can’t stop wearing.
Mountain Hardwear Polartec High Loft Pant: A touch of nostalgia, a touch of tech and a whole lot of fuzzy fleece, Mountain Hardwear’s new Polartec High Loft pants are a slightly reimagined version of the older classic. The reinforced knees and pockets give the High Loft pants an air of acceptable “in public” attire. However, wearers be warned, these pants can lead to insensible relaxation.
Arc’teryx Proton Pants: We were pretty excited to find out that Arc’teryx is offering a plethora of sporty bottoms that also straddle the “comfy” category. From its Mentum Joggers (bonafide sweatpants) to the Cormac Pant (a technical running pant) the list goes on. The Proton Pant is not only a mid-layer for your legs (which you can fit perfectly under a shell), but depending on how you layer, it’s also a season-less staple for running, hiking, or just lounging.
The North Face TKA Glacier Pants: Made with recycled fleece, these performers overdeliver when the doctor orders chill-laxin’. Lightweight and simple, these fleece pants are a cross between PJs and classic sweats. Although you will want to wear them 24-7, we urge you to wash them at least once a month (for the hygiene, obviously!).