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Can You Swim in Cargo Shorts?

Yes, cargo shorts can be worn while swimming in many situations. However, some places, such as the pool or the beach, are not suitable for cargo shorts. I always wear swim trunks in those situations, or I'll be the talk of the pool. Here's when cargo shorts and other equally comfortable and attractive alternatives are ideal for swimming.

A man standing beside a river wearing a hat and a cargo shorts.

Yes, you can swim in cargo shorts in many situations. But there are some areas where cargo shorts aren’t ideal, such as the pool or beach. For those situations, I always have swim trunks on, or else I’ll be the talk of the pool.

However, when I’m at the lake with my boat, I often swim in my cargo shorts because they’re handy for clipping the key and other things to my shorts. Here’s a breakdown of when it’s appropriate to swim in cargo shorts and similar alternatives just as cozy and stylish.

What Defines Cargo Shorts?

Khaki dark grey cargo short for men.

Brands design cargo shorts to be durable, comfortable, and functional. The first thing you’ll notice about cargo shorts is their loose fit and large pockets. These are the hallmark features of cargo shorts that make them a comfortable option for many activities.

Cargos have six standard pockets—two on the hips, two on the thighs, and two on the back. The large pockets are deep and can hold many things like your phone, wallet, and snacks—just remember to empty them before getting in the water!

What Cargo Shorts Are Best For Water?

I know they’ll dry fast if I have light material cargos, and I can get them wet with no hesitation. But if my cargos are made of thicker fabric, I’ll think twice about getting them soaked. I know they’ll take forever to dry, and the material will be significantly heavier when wet.

It’s best to avoid cargo shorts when you’re going to be in deep water or doing any kind of swimming that involves a lot of movement. The fabric can bunch up and cause you to be uncomfortable or even get pulled down by the weight of the soaked cargo shorts.

However, cargo shorts are a brilliant choice for lounging on the beach or hanging out by the pool—just change before you head to the water.

I have one friend who hates changing at the pool or beach. So, he wears his cargos over his swim trunks and strips down right on the beach or poolside.

Related: Can You Go Golfling With Cargo Shorts? Are Golf Courses Okay With It?

What’s the Best Material For Cargo Shorts When You Want To Swim?

Man wearing cargo shorts in a right angle view.

When you want to swim in cargo shorts, the best material for this activity is lightweight, comfortable, and quick-drying. Choose a fabric that won’t quickly soak up water, or you’ll find yourself walking around with heavy cargo shorts.

There are many materials to choose from, but I always go for lightweight cotton that dries quickly. These cargos feel comfortable and still have some stretch when wet—perfect for swimming.

Other materials like nylon and polyester are also suitable choices, as long as they have the same lightweight properties and quick-drying abilities.

Also, brands make cargos for different purposes, so the material can vary depending on the use. For example, there’s a specific cargo style for hikers. They usually make these cargos of a sturdier material like nylon because they need to withstand more wear and tear.

Cargo shorts for professionals, such as EMTs, are also made of heavier material because they have to hold all the gear that these professionals carry.

In general, though, I find that lighter cargos are the most comfortable to swim in. They have just enough stretch to be forgiving and are easier to move around.

Are There Other Fashion Rules for Cargos?

A cheerful man wearing green shirt and a cargo short in a train tracks.

Of course! Fashion rules are everywhere, even with cargo wear.

Wear Cargo Shorts Just Above Knee Length:

I always wear my cargo shorts above the knee to avoid revealing too much skin when sitting down or bending over.

Don’t Wear Long Socks with Cargo Shorts:

It’s a fashion faux pas to wear long socks with cargo shorts. The socks should be ankle length or shorter to avoid bulkiness. I personally prefer to skip socks and wear flip-flops instead.

Choose the Right Accessories:

Sometimes, you can use cargo shorts as a fashion statement by choosing the right accessories. A fedora, for example, can give you a dapper look. Wearing a patterned shirt with your cargos can add some pizzazz to your outfit.

Just remember that less is more for accessorizing cargo shorts. You don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard.

Cargo Swim Shorts

A man about to jump in the river with a cargo shorts on.

I recently found the best of both worlds—cargo swim shorts. These shorts have all the benefits of cargo shorts, but they’re made for swimming and drying faster than regular cargos.

I’ve found pairs with pockets, a key loop, and a drawstring waist. And they come in every color and pattern imaginable. I have one pair made of microfiber. While it’s not going to hold up hiking, it’s perfect for the beach or pool.

The only downside to cargo swim shorts is that they’re not as versatile as regular cargos. You can’t wear them to work or out to dinner. But for a day by the water, nothing beats the comfort and functionality of cargo swim shorts.

So, now I don’t have to choose between my two favorite styles—cargo shorts and swim trunks.

Whether I’m swimming in the pool, lounging by the lake, or hanging out on the beach, I have the perfect pair of shorts. And I don’t have to worry about my cargo shorts getting wet or my swim trunks bunching up.

Let’s go out on the lake—I’ve got my cargo shorts ready! So, if you’re looking for the perfect pair of shorts to swim in, go with cargo swim shorts. They have all the utility you need, letting you swim in style.