9 Reasons Why You Should Wear Performance Denim

Who says jeans can't be cut for athletes?

Up your denim game. (Nick Kelley)

You can get a pair of $30 jeans. But if you’re willing to pay a bit more, you’ll get pants that fit better and have features that make them better suited to playing outside. To get you started, here are nine of my favorite top-end performance jeans for fall.


Dish and Duer Performance Stretch Regular ($130)

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(Nick Kelley)

Made from a blend of cotton, Lycra, and moisture-wicking Coolmax fibers, the Performance Stretch handles sweat and moves with you if you’re biking to work or bouldering at lunch.

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Timberland Squam Lake Straight ($80)

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(Nick Kelley)

These jeans, made from organic cotton, come broken in so they’re comfy on the first wear. They’re also made to last, thanks to quadruple-stitched seams.

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DL1961 Russell Slim Straight ($180)

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(Nick Kelley)

We dig the deep blue Ford color, plus the touch of elastane for built-in stretch. The slim fit is appropriate for work or dinner, and the lightweight build breathes on warm fall days.

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Levi’s Made and Crafted Tack Slim ($220)

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(Nick Kelley)

These jeans are made for people with a lean build who are looking to eschew any loose fabric. The denim doesn’t have mechanical stretch, but just like the original denim Levi’s invented in 1873, the more you wear it in, the more it conforms to your body.

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Patagonia Flannel-Lined Straight Fit ($120)

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(Nick Kelley)

When the weather turns nasty, we reach for these Flannel-Lined Straight jeans, which match Patagonia’s classic slim jean and have enough insulation to carry us through the coldest days.

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Volcom Solver ($95)

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(Nick Kelley)

Volcom partnered with 125-year-old East Coast denim maker Cone on these jeans. In addition to built-in stretch, the jeans have a touch of aramid, the same bombproof material used to reinforce ski and bike helmets. Bonus: Odor-killing antimicrobial fibers keep the stink down. 

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Toad&Co 34 Drover Lean ($90)

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(Nick Kelley)

There’s nothing flashy about these straight-cut pants, which is why we like them as our everyday wear. A touch of spandex makes them great for riding a bike.

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Buck Mason The Boss ($175)

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(Nick Kelley)

Inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s love for stonewashed pants, The Boss jeans, available in both slim and standard fits, are our favorite throwback look, right down to the four-button fly. The 13.5-ounce heavyweight cotton is hand sanded for a vintage feel.

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Imogene and Willie Barton Slim ($275)

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(Nick Kelley)

Yeah, they’re expensive. But these pants, from boutique maker Imogene and Willie of Nashville, Tennessee, are beautifully cut, get more comfortable with every wash, and will last for at least the next decade thanks to 13-ounce Cone Mills selvage denim. 

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