Jeans are the backbone of a guy’s wardrobe, and for good reason. They’re rugged, come in several sizes, and age gracefully—kind of like you. But it can take a while to break in a stiff, new pair till they develop that freedom of movement and comfort that hard-worn denim provides. If you plan on going for a bike ride, maybe a hike, or just want to get down on the floor to play with your kid in jeans without things feeling tight, you’ll want a pair of men’s stretch jeans. They will fast-track your ass (and thighs) to comfort town.
Don’t worry, we’re not pushing yoga pants. Stretch jeans—sometimes called flex or adventure pants—are still mostly cotton, and the better ones look like a traditional pair of Levi’s from across the room. But read the tag: Woven in there with the denim is usually elastane, spandex, or Lycra (three names for essentially the same fiber), or polyester. These synthetic fibers give the pants flexibility.
Most jeans are two-way stretch, so they give left to right across the seat and thighs, but won’t really move north and south. This is typically enough freedom of movement for most guys who want to bike, jet up a flight of stairs, or practice squats in the living room (in jeans, for some reason). Four-way stretch is exactly as it sounds—the fibers are woven so the pants move in every direction for maximum movement. Kind of like wearing sweat pants, but made out of denim that looks sharp enough to go to dinner in.
Our favorite men’s stretch jeans are from DUER. They have a slimmer fit and darker colors so they look like a pair of modern jeans. With Lycra added in—a scant 2 percent, which is about average for these kinds of pants—and a bit of polyester, they allow for enough freedom to bike commute to work and in any weather. A lining inside is wind and waterproof so you’ll stay comfortable no matter the forecast.
Slip these DUERs on and they'll fit like you've worn them forever. The darker colors have a more modern look, as does the slimmer fit. Designed for bike commuting, with reflective details, they work just as well kicking it around the house or running errands.
The Best Budget Stretch Jeans
You might have strong feelings about Wrangler, but these already comfortable jeans are even better with just a touch of stretch and six colors. The U-shaped fit around the midsection is ideal for guys carrying a little extra weight, and the stretch means they'll stay with you with every bend and twist. These are not as flexible as others on the list, but they're perfect for casual outings—and you really can't beat the price.
The Best for Maximum Movement
These four-way stretch jeans let you do just about anything, from indoor rock climbing to proving to your child you can still rule the jungle gym. Still, these are 94 percent cotton so they retain the look of a traditional pair of jeans in all four available colors. But unlike a cotton shirt that can stay stretched out, these jeans have memory, meaning they return to their original length so they won’t turn baggy.
The Best for Getting Work Done
These are technically not jeans, although they are mostly cotton. But these tough-as-nails pants have more stretch across the thighs and backside than most. Guys that need a bit more room in the legs will welcome the non-tapered cut. With five colors, these Dickies clean up like a pair of chinos to hit the pub, but are rugged enough to wear while working on the car.
The Best Stretch Jeans for Traveling
Another four-way stretch pant, Kühl's Disruptr jeans build in details that will keep you comfortable on the road. A discrete gusseted crotch means you'll be hard-pressed to blow out the seams from overuse and the knees are designed to provide more movement going up and down airport stairs or in and out of Ubers. A pocket behind the right thigh is designed to keep your phone safe.
The Best Stretch Jeans for Hiking
If you’re hitting the trail, climbing a wall, or prone to taking touch football to the next level during a picnic, these are the pants for you. The streamlined look hides a lot of stretch (8 percent elastane) in a weave that’s durable, breathable, and weather resistant. Zippers on the back of the legs customize the fit over your boots and, in a pinch, they'll work on the golf course.
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