Remember when jeans were stiff and uncomfortable? Maybe if you spent a couple years breaking them in, your favorite pair would develop a lived-in sort of comfort, but they certainly weren’t built for performance. Oh how things have changed. Designers have reimagined the classic staple as a stylish piece of gear to handle whatever you encounter throughout the day.
Take Outerknown’s new S.E.A. JEANS, which look like standard denim but have two percent spandex woven into the organic cotton to give these pants an uncanny amount of stretch. That affords a full range of movement, whether you’re biking to work, bouldering, or simply running to catch a flight. And Outerknown isn’t alone. Designers are building jeans that are tougher and stretchier than ever before, so they can handle life on the trail, rocks, or bike. We’ve picked five of our favorite new pairs of performance jeans that can do anything.
Mountain Hardwear Denim Jean ($125)
Mountain Hardwear mixes Cordura with its denim to give these jeans a workwear durability, but it also adds 3 percent Lycra for extra stretch. The result is a bombproof pair of jeans that can handle a 5.10 sport route or a trip to the market with equal panache. We also dig the reflective stripes on the cuffs for extra visibility during your bike commute.
Sponsor Content: OuterknownOuterknown S.E.A. JEANS (From $128)
Cofounded by professional surfer Kelly Slater, Outerknown’s S.E.A. JEANS are guaranteed for life—if they wear out or bust, Outerknown will repair or replace them for free. S.E.A. JEANS come in three fits (slim, straight, and tapered), three fabrics, three washes (dyed, faded, and rinsed), and three lengths—so there’s a perfect pair for everyone. Bonus: S.E.A. JEANS are some of the most environmentally friendly jeans on the market. Manufactured in Vietnam at Saitex, the world’s cleanest denim factory, Saitex recycles 98 percent of the water used in development, and the other 2 percent is turned into sludge that goes into building bricks. In fact, S.E.A. stands for Social and Environmental Accountability, representing Outerknown’s commitment to people and the planet.
5.11 Tactical Defender Flex ($70)
The Defender, created from a blend of 76 percent cotton and 24 percent polyester with Lycra, offers an incredible amount of mechanical stretch that allows the fabric to bounce back and keeps it from wearing out with use. We also like the suite of pockets, some of which are made to handle ammo clips but all of which work really well to keep your nontactical everyday-carry goods organized.
Patagonia Performance Twill Jeans ($100)
Patagonia makes a few different models of performance jeans, but we like the Twill, which are constructed from a lightweight blend of organic cotton and polyester that’s stretchy but also works to wick moisture away from the inside and repels moisture from the outside. And of course, the pants are sewn using Fair Trade Certified practices.
Raleigh Denim Alexander Stretch ($200)
North Carolina-based Raleigh Denim has helped usher in a new wave of independent jean makers, and the Alexander is one of the most performance-minded jeans in its roster. The jeans are built from 78 percent cotton and 22 percent elasterell for stretch, and they’re given a relaxed fit for added mobility. Even better, they’re sharp enough to wear on date night.