Top Ten Things You Can Carry In Cargo Pants Pockets

Hello, you probably have awesome things and need a place to carry them. It’s possible you are a purse person or that you use a messenger bag, but ultimately, I think you know what the true solution is when it comes to carrying all the things: cargo pants.

I wear cargo pants at least 40 hours a week because I’m a lesbian and also because I am an AV manager at my school’s student union. The dress code is the very ambiguous “khakis,” and while my mother urged me to get these pocket-less monsters called “slacks,” I followed my little gay heart and opted for cargo pants.

The slacks are voting for Mitt Romney

I used to buy all of my cargo pants from Old Navy (all one style, all one size, three different colors) because they fit well and last forever, but unfortunately, Old Navy no longer sells cargo pants in women’s sizes (wtf). Their men’s cuts are basically identical, though, don’t worry. Also, as my friends have pointed out over and over again, there are probably other places that sell cargo pants.

I mostly use them to carry keys and Mac adaptors and my overly butch multi-tool (just kidding, there’s no such thing as overly butch), but since I don’t carry a purse, I need a place to put all my stuff in the event that I carry more than that. Luckily, my cargo pants can carry plenty — and it’s pretty much all cooler than anything that would fit in a “clutch” or what have you.

A Gameboy Advance (color, obvs)

Cargo Pants used DAMP! it’s super effective!

I’ve never played Pokémon, but I’m 84% of the way through Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup. So.



Only in your mouth

Yes, cargo pants are useful for sneaking candy into movie theaters, but it is a truth universally acknowledged by Tumblr that Nutella is at least twice as good as any candy, except possibly for peanut butter M&Ms. I would also like to take this opportunity to plug the idea that someone should invent fat-free Nutella.


A Harmonica

Do you know why you suck at harmonica? Because you don’t practice enough. You should carry one around with you all the time. Also, what happens if you run into a cute girl who says she loves harmonica but you don’t have one with you? What then?


A Naked Mole Rat

If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.

But only for very short periods of time, such as the time it takes to snap a picture because it would be cute. Please don’t sit on/ kill your rodent. Sidenote, Puppy In my Pocket is still a thing.


Paperback Books

courtesy of Intern Madi

If your pocket was under an Undetectable Extension Charm

Instead of taking out your phone when you get bored, you have the option to take out a book, which is just better for so many reasons. Also, on a scale of one to Rachel Maddow, you look like about a nine in intelligence when you’re waiting for the bus and reading Waiting for Godot.


A Digital Camera

courtesy of Brittani

obligatory kitten picture

Never miss a shot.


A Flask

this is where the whiskey comes from

Never miss a shot.


Sex Toys

I’m just saying.



I meant these to look like cargo pants, but they could also be an alien with a sweatband.

Play-Doh is the most versatile substance in the universe, followed immediately by carbon and the glue on the back of sticky notes.


Reward Stickers

I have found that there are very few people whose day cannot be somewhat improved by the sudden appearance of a “great job!” sticker. Non pants-related also though I guess? Whatever works for you.

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Intern Grace

Grace Ellis has been writing and making hack-job graphics for Autostraddle since 2011 and is a co-creator and co-writer of the comic book series Lumberjanes. She is mostly an intern in name only. (Mostly.) She lives in Columbus, Ohio because why anything. Also, she wants to write the Black Widow movie and feels like if she just keeps telling people, eventually she will be allowed to do it. She has a Twitter and a Tumblr, both of which are pretty above average.

Grace has written 89 articles for us.


  1. Omg so much win!!!!!!!!! I know i sound like a huge tumblr nerd when i say that but it’s gods own truth. I was laughing like a freak in starbucks for like everrrr

  2. “Never miss a shot.”

    I will be utilizing this phrase around my rugby team from now on. I think it will serve me well at parties and such. Thank you.

  3. I saw Cady Heron wearing cargo pants and flip flops, so I wore cargo pants and flip flops.

  4. I got cargo pants at Old Navy a couple weeks ago. They’re not as functional as the AE ones I have, but they are, technically, cargo pants.

  5. I think I just had a heart attack upon opening the Puppy in my Pocket website. A bad heart attack, that is. Not one of the ‘aw cute’-variety, but a ‘OMG SCARED TO DEATH WHAT’S THIS NOISE’-one.

    Also, yay cargopants.

  6. Unfortunately work dress code prevents me from wearing cargo pants in my day-to-day life. But I always keep a pair or two as my “concert pants” b/c having to hold/keep track of a bag at a concert is just bananas. Also I can sneak in my little digital camera.

  7. grace, you and i are usually so in sync, but i am going to have to SERIOUSLY disagree with you here. cargo pants are only okay if you are hiking in the woods, or if you are a spy, and in that case they have to be black.

    i am speaking as a former theatre lighting technician, so i know all about functional pants and carrying stuff. i found a way to do it without torpedoing my credibility as a human that knows how to dress herself. you can too.

    we are in a fight.

    • I will make this worse:

      When I find myself in conditions unsuitable for cargo pants, I opt for a bum bag.

      a stage manager

    • But see I don’t understand how you can carry all the things without cargo pants. It’s so much easier than trying to hold things in your hands, especially when you’re in the air trying to work on lights or line arrays or something. Help me understand. I don’t want to fight.

      • Unless your cargo pockets zip INFALLIBLY, you should not have things in them ANYWAY when you are dangling in the air! /safetynerd

        Regular pants have FIVE POCKETS plus ZILLIONS OF BELT LOOPS. What are you carrying that you can’t find a place for??

      • i will concede that it’s hard to smuggle stuff into movie theatres with regular pants.

        but i always had a flashlight and a multitool on my belt, a wrench in my back pocket (fastened to my belt with a phone cord) along with wire snippers or whatever else was needed. screws/nuts/bolts/etc in the other back pocket along with a sharpie and a carpenter’s pencil. and i still have two whole pockets to spare!

        • my main tenet is that cargo pants have their place, and sometimes you need them, but nobody should PLAN to wear them ALL THE TIME. they are a tool, not an appropriate fashion choice.

          • I mean, you can fashion just about anything to your pants if you try hard enough and have enough tie line, but I think it’s generally easier if you just shove it in a pocket. It’s safe 99.99% of the time.

            I know cargo pants have their place. It’s just that they’re easier to just throw on and forget about, especially since almost all of my shifts at work involve walking around with a lot of little adaptors and converters and small cords that I would almost definitely lose if they’re not secured to my person. Cargo pants probably not appropriate a whole lot outside of that, but I love them anyway. Also, my girlfriend has a very strong, positive reaction to them on my body, which you will have to take up with her. Also also, I think it’s hilarious to talk about cargo pants.

            I’m sorry this article gave you so many feelings. I love you forever.

          • it just wouldn’t be autostraddle if somebody weren’t having feelings all over the place. it is just my turn.

      • I think we’re supposed to be carrying a purse… or something… I don’t know!

        I hate purses, but I DO get really excited when I wear a blazer. That’s like… two extra pockets… three if it’s a snazzy one with the inside breast pocket that makes me feel like a secret agent.

        • All my jacket/blazer related purchase decisions have hinged on the existence of a secret agent breast pocket.

        • Men’s blazers make me giddy. My favourite one somehow has 6 pockets: two hip, one breast, two inside breast and then another inside one! My only gripe is there are far too many places for my keys to hide when I layer it with a pocketed cardigan. On the flip side, I magically find bus fare whenever I wear it.

        • That’s what i always wear to work… Blazer and a messenger bag! :-D …. Totally hate purses! They’re so uncomfortable!

    • But you can fit a 6″ gel frame in the cargo pocket. what is better for focus than that?

      also, one time, my coworkers said i looked like sarah connor in my cargo pants and tank top. how’s that for fashion motivation?

  8. This is relevant to my interests.

    Also, if you are in a fight with yodelmachine, Grace, I got your back. I have an extra slingshot and a bag of marshmallows THAT I KEEP IN MY CARGO PANTS POCKET. Take that, yodelmachine.

  9. Also, I just spent more time on the “In My Pocket” website than any 25 year old should…I was a fan of the ones in the ’90s, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I NEED these new ones. I am so glad I live in a world where I can buy flocked miniature stingray or musk ox figures.

  10. This post made me laugh so hard that some books fell off the shelves in the little library I keep in my pants pocket.

  11. As a wannabe poet, I keep my cargo pants full of notepads, pens, candy, a flask and any other miscellaneous items that may be relevant at the time lol gotta love the full functionality of cargo pants.

  12. It’s okay, Grace, you’ve just made me fall even deeper in internet love with you. NO BIG DEAL. I’ll just be here, holding flowers and singing showtunes under your internet window until Girlfriend Meg comes internet outside to sock me in the mouth.

    • I know, right? I have a totally age inappropriate crush on Grace and this article only serves to intensify it.

      I will be waiting under her internet window holding a six pack, and since I don’t know many showtunes by heart I’ll sing Bonnie Raitt songs instead. Or maybe just play my harmonica. With one hand obviously ’cause I’m still holding the six pack. Unless I can fit it in my cargo pants….

  13. I am consistently irritated with the miniscule pockets in women’s pants. Because I have nothing significant to carry around? Please. I would carry a flask at all times if my pants pockets weren’t the size of a quarter.

    • When you guys say ‘flask’ my teetotal brain thinks ‘thermos’. While I would like to be able to carry tea at all times, I’m not sure even cargo pockets are big enough. *is sad*

  14. When I was little I once stuffed half a roll of oreos in my cargo pocket.

    That’s a good way to make friends in elementary school.

  15. I just want to say that those Play-Do cargo pants you made are really nice. What an excellent use of your medium.

  16. you need to make stickers that – in little tiny font – say “your work has not gone unnoticed” and give them out. or you know, you could carry cards that say that. that have k-stew on them like the one you hand delivered to me that is hanging on my fridge.

  17. I was a cargo pants freak as a kid, I’m thinking I need some more, since my chain wallet/keys on my belt loop thing works until I have to carry, well, anything else.

  18. My sister got me cargo pants one Christmas. The next Christmas, flannel. Followed that with a Glee shirt. What I’m trying to say is, I think my sister is ok with gay. Next year if I see a very large box with air holes, I’m going to assume she got me an inordinate amount of kittens or a woman that is just my type. Both are acceptable. Thanks to Haviland, Puppy in My Pocket will always be a thing. Also, Kim Possible.

    Plus, never miss a shot/never miss a shot? You’re really good at being a person.

    • Was that the flannel shirt you tore the sleeves off of and wore to the Abbey? ‘Cause, I can definitely confirm the homosexy inducing powers of that garment. Your sister should be proud.

  19. For a brief second, I thought it was the Esurance girl in the Kim Possible photo, it made some sense since you could carry a car insurance card in a cargo pocket

  20. I prefer to wear a mini-skirt myself..But if you’re wearing cargo shorts..I’ll probably take it off for you…

  21. I tend to wear camo pants bought from the army surplus store (the big sister of cargo pants). Sure they look daggy as hell sometimes, but they’re comfy and have enormous pockets to carry things in.

  22. I like cargo pants. Lots of places to store the little tools of my trade as an archivist. I always hated putting stuff in back pockets and have you ever tried to sit on a staple remover? Enough said, cargopants rule.

  23. I’ve always steered the way of jeans and jean shorts with big pockets and a sizeable carabiner for assorted keys, shackles and other assorted junk on days when I’m tinkering with boats, but I’ll keep an eye out for decent cargo pants.

  24. i had a pair this summer that i referred to as my “lesbian geologist shorts.” the pocket-to-pant ratio was pretty damn high.

    also never miss a shot-never miss a shot? good job sticker for that one

  25. Holy shit, Exhibit B (harmonica) makes so much sense, no wonder I feel incomplete whenever I wear my cargo slash pedal pants. I’m missing the music!!

    In short, the inner girl scout in me wholeheartedly agrees with Intern Grace and this post.

  26. “Regular pants have FIVE POCKETS plus ZILLIONS OF BELT LOOPS. What are you carrying that you can’t find a place for??”

    Safety glasses
    A speed square
    The tape measure that refuses to stay clipped to some of my pockets
    Drywall screws, so they don’t stab me in the thigh
    Silly Putty, to keep my fidgety hands busy while I’m studying drawings
    Water bottle
    Gaff tape
    All the miscellaneous hardware I might need when working on scenery from atop a genie lift that’s 30ft in the air
    An impact driver (DeWalt, of course)
    The kitten that turned up in our shop one day

    Sorry to randomly jump in here. I’m feelin’ a little feisty. Blame the rum & Coke…which I also carry in my cargo pockets from time to time. :)

    –A scenic carpenter

  27. I used to wear cargos all the time. And I almost always had a book in one of the pockets. then I got a job that doesn’t allow cargos…

  28. I started wearing cargos at work because I cant wear any tools on belts, it’s better for me to keep them in pockets. If I wear anything on a belt, I had(have) this tendency to catch said tools on chairs, tables, furniture knobs, door locks…which would result in the tool being ripped off my belt or more common, me being ripped off my feet.
    with cargo pants, I can carry keys in my pocket and sit down without them stabbing ovaries, always a plus.

  29. Can I put in a vote for Tripp Pants as cargo? They were awesome and hot. I got tons of good reactions when I was wearing them and their pockets are cargo-ish. Plus chains, suspenders, zippers, skulls and mesh.

  30. you know what’s better than cargo pants? TRENCHCOATS. all the functionality (i carry my not-minuscule camera, my kindle, my phone, my ipod, my wallet, extra gloves, cigarettes AND emergency make-up things in my coat quite easily) and none of the ugly that is cargo pants. because let’s face it: they’re ugly. unless you’re lara croft. obviously if you live in a place that isn’t -2 degrees all the time then i concede that a trenchcoat my not be the best idea.

    also in a big black trenchcoat you can pretend you’re sherlock holmes swooping around london which is a main priority in my life.

  31. I don’t own cargo pants. But I own like fiveteenity hoodies. Extra pockets when I have to wear by med school uniform.

  32. Paramedic ID card ;) After firefighter, its probably the best hook-up occupation in the world. Also, you get to wear cargo pants and a hot uniform to work!

  33. I’m going to wear cargo pants now, just so I can carry nutella on me but I’ll make sure to buy them in a larger size.

  34. You know what doesn’t fit into the pockets of a pair of normal pants?
    -my wallet (a regular sized, men’s leather wallet that barely has anything in it)
    -my cell phone
    -my hand
    -a quarter
    Women’s pants pockets fit absolutely nothing. This is why cargo pants are amazing.

    • You CAN pull off cargo pants. Just find someone who’s wearing them and tug away. They generally come right off.

  35. I was agreeing with Grace until we hit the unexpected theatre safety section, so I am currently reviewing my stance, although I deal more often with actors than lighting instruments. Just purchased a pair at Grace approved Old Navy and my partner’s comment was “I like cargo pants because you like wearing them,” which is also causing a cargo pant stance review.

  36. Once upon a time, the one thing you were always guaranteed would find it’s way into my ex-girlfriends cargo pants..was me!

  37. I LOVE this! I don’t have cargo pants anymore, but I was re-considering…after all, nutella and a flask for the movies? Yes!

  38. Although I’ll concede their usefulness, cargo pants just aren’t my style – possibly because I’ll always associate them with my mom. Plus, if someone like Michelle Rodriguez is wearing them, they’re horrible. In that she should take them off, immediately.

  39. Love this post. I was considering ditching all my cargo pants but on second thought . . . if I can carry Play-Doh and Nutella around in my pants all day I can’t see it as a losing situation at all.

  40. I was just thinking the other day work would be much easier if I had cargo pants instead of slacks. It’s like AS reads my mind

  41. i like a lot of butch things, but i can’t do cargo pants, except for the pair i wear to work that i got for $3.

    they’re useful, yes, but so are jackets and purses. and i can usually put a decent amount of stuff in the pockets of my Levis.

    I will say that on the right girl, they are totally sexy. especially on the floor.

  42. Am i the only one who wears cargo pants to the clubs? :-$ I mean, i can keep my money, keys, cigarrettes there… What else do i need? No purses! I can dance with all my stuffs on me… They’re the best ever!!

  43. This is quite possibly the best thing I have ever read. And I’m reading it while wearing cargo shorts.

  44. I was going to be all “Cargo pants sad and lead to pocket hoarding” before remembering I wear scrub pants to work and the difference is nominal. (Although I never wear them to anything except work.)

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