Flannel up this fall to hike, operate the tailgate grill, or tame the fall foliage. We’ve found the best classic wool, cotton, and technical flannel shirts for men.
Ask the GearJunkie staff what their favorite season is, and it would undeniably be flannel season — whether doing fall chores, warming up by the fire, or simply working from home. As hot days give way to cool mornings, we’re all looking forward to flanneling up.
Maybe it’s the brats, or the summer’s winding down, tucking its tail before ski season. There’s something special about fall. The fleeting orange glow of fall is a warmup to winter. And there’s no better way to usher in cooler temps than to pull out the flannels
Today’s flannel is a far cry from the Seattle grunge scene or Paul Bunyan’s tack shop. More technical, less scratchy, and all-around comfortable, there are endless options for purveyors of plaid.
To find the best flannels for fall 2022 — 2023, we combed through stores, scoured online, and spoke with brands to find the best options available. To test the flannels, we wore them at work, hammered through weekend chores, brought them camping, and occasionally shouldered them as we tossed the legs over the bike.
What makes the perfect flannel? We look at materials, cut, and construction, excusing color and patterns. Colorways are more personal and we’ll let the buyer pick what looks best in their wardrobe. For this review, we want to arm you—the buyer—with what truly differentiates a quality flannel from the rest. These are flannels that will last for seasons to come.
To find the best flannels for men, scroll through to see all of our recommended buys or jump to the category you’re looking for:
- Best Overall Flannel
- Best Budget Flannel
- Best Synthetic Flannel
- Best Lightweight Flannel
- Best Heavyweight Flannel
- Best Work Shirt
- Best Shirt Jacket Flannels
- Best of the Rest
Just what makes a flannel a flannel? Check out our comprehensive buyer’s guide at the end of our review to unravel just how to choose the best flannel this fall, our comparison chart to see how our choices stack up against one another, and our FAQs for any lingering questions.
The Best Men’s Flannel Shirts of 2022-2023
Best Overall Flannel Shirt: Pladra Leon Workhorse Flannel
To win the honor of best overall flannel, the shirt needs to hit all the marks — great fit, comfort, durability, and flexible enough to wear from fall to spring. We want something we’d reach for when getting coffee in the morning or throw on to warm up next to the campfire.
It should be durable enough for Saturday chores and look good while doing it. And if our significant other wants to steal it from our closet? It’s just another checkmark of approval.
Last year we awarded Pladra’s Elli Every Day our top honors and the lightweight brushed twill is still a fantastic choice to pull into your cool-weather rotation. But when we shouldered their Leon Workhorse ($99), we knew we had a winner.
Pladra lists the 196 g/m² brushed cotton as a heavyweight flannel. Compared to the flannels we typically see, in our opinion the Leon trends more midweight. Regardless, the luxuriously soft, organic Portuguese cotton is plush and plump in the hand, giving it that feeling of “oh yeah — this is what a flannel should feel like.”
We should note that Pladra offers two different weight fabrics offered under the Leon Workhorse line. An unbrushed version uses a 315 g/m² cotton, and is definitively more heavy-duty and a true work shirt.
For more everyday wear, we prefer the brushed 196 g/m² version highlighted here. It’s softer and more approachable for everyday wear. The cut of this flannel is a bit long, which was our only ding, but a quick tuck has it sitting pretty.
Hitting every mark of materials, cut, and trim, the Leon exudes fall flannel and is a shirt we love to wear in the yard, as a spectator at fall waffle cross races, and even to the office. And at $99, we feel you get what you pay for.
Unlike most companies on the list, Pladra is dedicated to flannel. Brushed twill is their North Star, not an add-on, thrown into the mix. Plus their shirts are backed with a lifetime warranty. Pladra does all the heavy lifting to make sure you are getting a top-quality flannel.
- Materials: 100% organic cotton
- Fabric weight: 196 g/m²
- Garment weight: 12.5 oz
- Fit: Fitted – semi athletic
- Best for: With its plush nap, the Leon Workhorse flannel is more oriented towards casual daily wear over workwear
- Ideal weight and brush
- Fantastic cut
- Thoughtfully constructed for durability
- Not many, cotton has its own inherent weaknesses
- We feel the shirt runs a little long, worn better tucked in than untucked
Best Budget Flannel: Legendary Whitetails Buck Camp Flannel
We didn’t have high expectations for a bargain flannel, but the details on the Buck Camp blew our minds. Fit, construction, and materials … it’s very tough to beat the $30 Buck Camp Flannel from Legendary Whitetails.
The 5 oz cotton flannel is double pleated in the back for extra mobility. All seams are sewn flat and fell stitched, even the pocket pattern aligns with the shirt pattern. These little details add up in price and are usually found in shirts twice the price.
The collar and cuffs are backed in corduroy, giving it a little rugged flare. Our ding on the otherwise fantastic shirt is that we found the collar can get a little limp–something we see on all lighter-weight cotton flannels. You can probably iron it to right that otherwise minor flaw.
From spring to fall, the Buck Camp Flannel gives you the best bang for the … um … buck. Get’m before they realized they’ve underpriced the shirt.
- Materials: 100% cotton
- Fabric weight: 144 g/m²
- Garment weight: 14 oz
- Fit: Relaxed
- Best for: Spring to fall everyday flannel for yard work and camping
- Fantastic construction at this price
- Double pleat on the back for extra flexibility
- The collar loses form easily
Best Synthetic Flannel: Outdoor Research Feedback Flannel
There are a lot of great reasons to love this flannel. Engineered to be a cold-weather favorite, OR’s Feedback Flannel ($95) is a great option for fall or winter.
For our tester, the polyester fabric is for hiking in. The quick-drying material wicks while working up a sweat. And thanks to its polyester material, it’ll dry much faster than cotton flannel.
We found that the Feedback’s 8 oz fabric manages big temperature swings with ease, like ducking out of the cold and into warm buildings. The flannel is easy to layer either under a jacket or over a shirt.
There are a few shortcuts taken to hit the price point, such as double stitched overlock seams, but what this construction style gives up in low profile it gains in strength.
The synthetic is loftier and feels more “flannelly” than many synthetic flannels, like KUIU’s HW Plaid Flannel Shirt. But the overall cut is wider in the shoulders. Choose this flannel for a more relaxed fit and a traditional flannel look. We liked KUIU’s material better for durability and overall presentation.
- Materials: 100% polyester
- Fabric weight: 220 g/m²
- Garment weight: 16 oz
- Fit: Roomy
- Best for: Casual, hiking, camping
- Synthetic material breathes and wicks well
- Relaxed fit
- Double stitched overlock seams in high wear locations and pocket patterns are offset. Works, but is a shortcut on quality at this price.
Best Lightweight Flannel: Roark Nordsman Light Flannel
Not everyone needs a fat, burly flannel. For those that only need a touch of brushed nap, a lightweight flannel can add just enough insulation, allowing you to keep that puffy stored for another month.
Roark put a lot of nice details into their Nordsman Light Flannel ($80). One of the few shirts that close with snaps, the front placket is backed with a nylon strip. An extra patch of flannel is sewn under the elbows. The neck’s yoke is backed with nylon lining. These additions stack on some durability to the lightweight shirt.
A pair of chest pockets button up. More for looks than function, the shirt presents a sharp look and the relaxed cut carries a worry-free, California vibe.
But its Cali-roots are most appropriate for SoCal evenings. Hold it up to the light, and you can see through the weave. The Nordsman Light feels about right on cool summer evenings where the temps don’t dip too low. We also found early signs of pilling in the material.
- Materials: 60% organic cotton, 40% recycled poly
- Fabric weight: 144 g/m²
- Garment weight: 10 oz
- Fit: Fitted – semi athletic
- Best for: Inspired by the road, Roark’s Nordsman Light is a great option to fold in the bag for journeys that spontaneously take a semi-formal spin, or simply provide some extra warmth in coach. We wore this flannel on an 11-hour flight and appreciated the subtle formality with extra warmth while bedding down.
- Smart styling
- Subtle colorways
- Lightweight material may have a short rotation in cooler regions
- The material is prone to early pilling
Best Heavy Weight Cotton Flannel: Cotopaxi Muro Flannel
Cotapaxi’s Muro Flannel ($85) is a heavyweight shirt that isn’t light on details.
Sewn from a thick, double-brushed 300 gsm cotton twill, all high-stress seams are flat felled and double stitched. Cuffs have a double button to close snug around the wrist and the sleeves roll up high when you want to apply the elbow grease.
True to Cotopaxi flair, this flannel is offered in a variety of bright colors, adding some fun to your fall flannel wardrobe; the Amber Plaid pattern pairs well with that pumpkin spice latte. The drop-in chest pockets have a small nylon webbing tab that adds a nice subtle detail. Pocket patterns line up with the shirt. All stitches are sewn and tucked out of sight.
Overall, we were really impressed with what you get for $85. It’s the best heavyweight shirt we found at this price point, and rivals’ shirts sold at nearly twice the price. In fact, this shirt almost made our top choice. The lack of gussets or any stretch cause it to bind behind the shoulders, which can hamper your mobility when doing tasks.
But for work, light chores, and crisp morning walks? The Cotapaxi Muro Flannel is near perfect.
- Materials: 100% cotton
- Fabric weight: 300 g/m²
- Garment weight: 17 oz
- Fit: Spot on and casual
- Best for: Casual wear on cooler days, light labor
- Great buy at $85
- Fantastic construction
- 100% cotton can (and likely will) shrink if dried. Cotopaxi recommends washing and drying sparingly, or laying flat to dry
- No stretch or gussets, and the shirt feels restrictive
Best Work Shirt Flannel: Patagonia Farrier’s Shirt
Part blacksmith, part vet, part artisan, shoeing horses is hard, dirty work. Capable of suiting up as your daily driver to any job site, Patagonia appropriately named their flannel work shirt the Farrier’s shirt.
With deep chest pockets, an oversized fit, and a hearty weft, Patagonia’s Farrier’s Shirt ($100) exudes refined craftsmanship. Brass hardware buttons the oversized shirt down the chest. Gusseted chest pockets open a little extra storage space. A pair of pencil sleeves sit center of the pockets.
Even every seam is double stitched and flat felled, giving the shirt a clean finish from inside to out. And per usual Pata-esthetic, the plaid pattern runs uninterrupted across the pockets.
Patagonia prizes functional durability and the Farrier plants the flag on weekend chores. There’s a slight nap, but it’s on the far end toward unbrushed. The suede finish is ideal for “hoisting bale” type work. Like most chore shirts, the fit is roomy.
There’s plenty of space to throw it over a mid-weight base, but we found it a lot of shirt to tuck it into pants and generally fit like an overshirt in our traditional shirt size. Patagonia acknowledges they build their work line larger. For most people, we suggest you consider sizing down.
The Farrier is lightly brushed and doesn’t have that traditional fluffy flannel feel. This makes it more durable. Tied with its slightly oversized fit, it makes an ideal cool-weather work shirt that you can throw over a baselayer for added warmth.
- Materials: 55% hemp, 45% recycled polyester
- Fabric weight: 255 g/m² (solids) – 235 g/m² (plaids)
- Garment weight: 22 oz
- Fit: Loose and oversized. Size down if you want a closer fit
- Best for: Cool-weather work shirt
- Exceptional attention to detail with best-of-class stitching
- Good mobility
- Not many. The oversized fit gives the Farrier a more casual vibe. If you prefer to tuck your shirts in, it can be too bulky
- The 55% hemp, 45% recycled polyester blend has a cotton-like feel to the touch that doesn’t come off stiff or rigid. After a few washes, the material softens up
Best Shirt Jac: Stio Hutkeeper Flannel
The past few years have marked a spike in flannel’s expansion beyond the shirt and almost into the jacket territory. Meet the shirt jacket, also known as the “shacket,” an overshirt that has enough room to layer over a hoodie (or flannel) and yet is slim enough to wear under an overcoat.
“Let the outside in” is more than a motto at Stio. Their 300+ g/m² Hutkeeper ($145) is lightly brushed and durable enough to haul a season’s worth of wood from the stack, and was easily the best shirt jac in our testing.
With deceptively shirt-like styling, the Hutkeeper is a fantastic heavy-weight flannel to throw on as you head out the door. The burly organic cotton shirt is closed with five large tortoise buttons. The sleeves can be rolled up to the elbows. Two chest pockets close like a traditional work shirt. But the pocket details help launch this shirt to hero status.
A third chest pocket sleeve drops in behind the left chest button pocket and is perfect to slide a phone while your hands are full. Two hand pockets are hidden along the side seam and are paired with two additional pockets inside each side of the shirt–each deep enough to swallow a pair of gloves. We wore this shirt jac on a flight to Europe and loved how the pockets kept us organized.
With pockets aplenty, the Hutkeeper wears like a shirt but functions like a jacket, durable enough for outdoor tasks. There are warmer options for cooler weather, and being a cotton overshirt, it’s limited to drier conditions. The tails are tailored too short to tuck – but you wouldn’t want to tuck it in anyways. The Hutkeeper wears best as a true shirt jac and is the flannel we reach for most when we want an extra boost for fall.
- Materials: 100% cotton
- Fabric weight: 313 g/m²
- Garment weight: 22 oz
- Fit: Loose and oversized
- Best for: Smart-looking enough for afternoons at the pub, hard-wearing enough to keep the hut warm
- Great pocket game
- Nice and warm
- Instructions read tumble dry low, but the shirt should be air dried
- Interior pockets are deep and billow when filled
- Cotton limits the shirt’s flexibility, but is oversized enough that it doesn’t matter
Best of the Rest
The Alaskan Guide weighs a few grams per square meter less than Patagonia’s and we’d give Patagonia’s Farrier a slight edge on the material weight. That said, the cotton on the Guide is brushed more, and hence has more loft. It feels more like a traditional flannel than the Farrier. And if we can put a label on Filson, it’s tradition. They’ve been making hardwearing clothing for over 100 years.
If I recall, the last time I was in Alaska, it rained. So it’s a little bit of a disconnect to use cotton on a shirt called the Alaskan Guide. Regardless, the 8-ounce flannel is very warm, and oozes classic Filson style.
The shirt is probably better worn around town or in the shop. And with that use case in mind, Patagonia’s Farrier, with the lower brush, is slightly better positioned for longevity. But these are split hairs on otherwise fantastic shirts.
Construction-wise, the panels are double-stitched. Filson took a few shortcuts, double stitching overlocked seams. It’s just not as finished as Patagonia’s shirt. And the buttons are plastic in contrast to Patagonia’s brass buttons. There’s just a next level of finishing with Patagonia that makes it feel higher quality.
Similar to Patagonia, the sizing is scaled for work. In general, we size down with both work-style shirts.
Lastly, there’s always a Filson tax to buy into the brand. At just short of $150, we question if you truly get what you pay for.
All this aside, the Alaska Guide is a fantastic, durable flannel that we love to pull out when the shoulder season dips into winter.
- Materials: 100% cotton
- Fabric weight: 226 g/m²
- Garment weight: 18 oz
- Fit: Oversized at the usual size. Casual and roomy if you size down.
- Best for: Casual, outdoors, work wear
- 100% cotton is lofted into a durable flannel
- A touch less quality than other shirts in this price range
More than a shirt, less than a shacket — this over shirt straddles the seasons with the ease of fall weekend.
ANIAN has made our list a few times over the years. We feel their best offerings come from their line of wool shirts, which have a clean, timeless appeal. Wool makes a lot of sense in an overshirt. It has an inherent warm-when-wet disposition. ANIAN weaves in nylon for extra durability.
Lighter weight than ANIAN’s Melton shirt, the Berlino ($138) is still a heavyweight flannel. The 500 g/m² fabric is trimmed with refined details, exuding heritage quality without feeling vintage. There’s just enough room to layer a base or lightweight flannel underneath. Which you are going to want to do.
While merino wool has become ubiquitous with modern wool, the Berlino uses recycled traditional wool. With it comes that traditional itchy feeling. They’ve sewn in a nylon band to protect the neck, but most will find the Berlino too rough to wear against the skin.
And while there’s some room to layer, the cut is a touch trim and smaller chest pockets are more style and less task-friendly. We found them too small to do much more than lose that receipt from the hardware store.
To reduce its environmental footprint, ANIAN takes pride in using high-quality post-consumer recycled fabrics that are created in dye and chemical-free processing.
Made in Canada, the Berlino is stout and heavy, and feels more felty than woven — like traditional peacoat wool used by the Navy. It sheds water and blocks wind, making it an ideal outer shirt and a bridge between flannel and shirt jac flannels.
- Materials: 80% recycled wool, 20% nylon
- Fabric weight: 500 g/m²
- Garment weight: 20 oz
- Fit: Slim
- Best for: This is a deconstructed work shirt that looks and wears great around town. While it’s up for the task, we find it too refined for hard labor
- Quality craftsmanship
- Environment-friendly process
- Well-priced for what you get
- Weather resistant
- Chest pockets are small
There are more technical and durable options on this list, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a flannel comfier than California Cowboy’s High Sierra ($148). And there’s no way you’re going to find another flannel with as many hidden (and handy) doo-dads!
For starters, the High Sierra has a rear pocket perfect for holding a cold can or bottle, a loop to clip gloves onto, a sunglasses loop, and a zippered water-resistant stash pocket for your phone. Plus, every High Sierra ships with a beer koozie, bottle opener, and a stack of conversation-starter cards … because why not?
The lined Portuguese flannel feels super plush and soft, though it provides less defense against sticks, burrs, or tree sap than some other options. But for cruising around town, sitting around a campfire, or enjoying an après day, the High Sierra might be the coziest and certainly the most fun flannel out there.
That luxuriantly thick flannel fabric comes with a downside, however, and it’s that the buttons feel fairly tight against the flannel. A pivot to snaps would be an excellent choice, in our opinion.
And if California Cowboy is new to you, check out the Cowboy’s truly conversational poolside robes.
- Materials: Outer: 100% cotton | Liner: 50% cotton | 50% modal
- Fabric weight: Unknown
- Garment weight: 22 oz
- Fit: Slim fit. Size up for a shacket fit
- Best for: Everyday wear and weekends
- Warm and lots of unique pocket details
- Buttons are tight. Would like to see it with snaps.
Easy on the wallet, Duluth’s Free Swinging Flannel ($54) is also one of the best-fitting flannels on the list. This mid-weight shirt has gussets under the arms and pleats behind the shoulders, giving it fantastic mobility. There’s zero binding or pulling when reaching, lifting, raking — and yes, swingin’ tools.
The 100% cotton shirt comes pre-washed and has a slight texture to it. It’s a work shirt, so we expect this kind of “rough around the edges” as a compromise for added durability. The cotton is brushed to give it a softer touch, but it’s never going to be velvety soft. And that’s unabashedly in Duluth’s DNA.
Duluth doesn’t skimp on construction either. A true work shirt, the overlocked seams are sewn down with double stitching. While not as refined as Patagonia’s craftsmanship, It’s plenty durable for a shirt at this price.
The Free Swingin’ Flannel typically runs $50, which in itself is a reasonable price for a hardy work shirt you can put some miles on. But it’s regularly on sale for less, making it an indisputable bargain.
- Materials: 100% cotton
- Fabric weight: 158 g/m²
- Garment weight: 14 oz
- Fit: Roomy
- Best for: Hard labor work shirt for warmer fall days
- More durable than more brushed flannels
- Fantastic mobility
- Great price
- Material is rough and thin, a diversion from most flannels
Orvis isn’t all about the fish. They make a great lifestyle line of clothes that can transition from water to more everyday wear.
The Flat Creek Tech flannel ($98) is lightweight, durable flannel that’s fantastic for getting an early jump on flannel season. The chest pockets button shut and are sewn to match the shirt’s panel pattern. A deep third chest pocket vertically zips behind the left chest pocket and can hold a tin of flies. A sunglasses chamois is sewn into the right hem. A lot of thought went into enticing you to bring this shirt into your flannel rotation.
We’ve been wearing a version of this flannel for several years now. The seams, the nap, the fit — the shirt has held up very well. But we found the original shirt ran a little longer than other flannels.
Last year, the Flat Creek had the fit modified, and it’s spot on. The updated MarinoWul+ material gives the shirt a slight stretch and soft feel, and it has better temperature-regulating qualities. It’s better on nearly every level over the original.
- Materials: Cotton, MarinoWul+, spandex
- Fabric weight: 154 g/m²
- Garment weight: 12 oz
- Fit: Roomy
- Best for: Casual, fishing
- Synthetic material breathes and wicks well
- Light nap is durable and double-stitched on all seams
- Gives off a slight ‘executive dad’ vibe which may not appeal to some
Old man Bauer created his original woolen flannel — quiet in the bush and warm when wet — for hunting in Washington state. The materials may have changed, but the flannel has been in Eddie Bauer’s lineup since the very beginning.
Eddie Bauer’s Expedition Flex ($90) is a lightweight synthetic flannel that’s double-brushed to feel smooth to the touch.
Wearing slightly tailored to the torso, long tails help keep it tucked in the pants. A single pleat runs below the nape of the neck so you have a reasonable range of motion. All high-stress seams are felled and double-stitched for supreme durability. The cuffs and neck yoke are backed with a nylon liner for extra durability.
The shirt lists between $90-100, but the brand runs its entire site at 40-50% off just about every other month. Given Eddie Bauer’s lifetime guarantee, matched with good presentation and a high level of construction, the Expedition Flex is an incredibly good value for customers looking for a lightweight flannel.
- Materials: 73% hollow-core polyester, 26% polyester, 1% spandex
- Fabric weight: 181 g/m²
- Garment weight: 13 oz
- Fit: Appropriate length that feels fitted without binding
- Best for: Casual daily wear
- Synthetic material breathes well and has stretch
- Great value
- The list price has crept up in years by about $10, but the shirt is always on sale
KUIU took us by surprise with their form-fitting mid-weight HW Plaid Flannel Shirt ($99). The cut has an athletic fit that’s enhanced with a touch of Lycra, yielding a bit of two-way stretch in the material.
The shirt feels tailored and comes wears one of the best-fitting flannels. Sleeves drop appropriately to the wrist. The tails are long enough to tuck. Clean lines are trimmed with polyester buttons.
Looking at the inside, the overlocking seams remain exposed. Many flannels are joined this way, but it’s a disconnect with the level of refinement found on the rest of KUIU’s flannel. Especially for a shirt that is a penny shy of $100.
- Materials: 98% polyester, 2% Lycra
- Fabric weight: 254 g/m²
- Garment weight: 13 oz
- Fit: Semi athletic
- Best for: The poly synthetic blend has a tight nap with low loft, compromising warmth, but wears durable and dries out quickly. It’s an easy shirt to bring into the woods and became our go-to flannel for camping trips this season.
- Great cut
- Durable material
- Limited colorways (offered in black and red plaid)
- Low nap makes this flannel less warm than others
- Shortcuts on seam stitching could compromise long-term durability.
Looking for a flannel with work shirt durability and an athletic fit? Give the Flylow Handlebar Tech ($95) a look. This mid-weight polyester flannel is brushed on the outside with a smooth, unbrushed interior that slides over layers with ease.
Its sporty fit snaps up snugly around the body with a handsome silhouette. A pair of chest pockets add some style and snap tight to keep your wallet or lip balm. Warm and breathable, the Handlebar is a good alternative to a mid-weight base layer for skiing or cool-weather cycling.
Sporting tapered lines, with no baggy draping, Flylow’s flannel pedigree doesn’t stray far off their trail. The Handlebar has become a staple in our fall wardrobe. Its durability doesn’t shy away from a chore. Doesn’t hurt that the shirt has a nice loop to hang it in our entryway.
That athletic fit? It comes at a small price and you feel it in the shoulders and behind the arms. Broad shoulders will appreciate sizing up. For more mobility, we found that Duluth’s Free Swinging Flannel is a better-fitting flannel.
- Materials: 100% polyester
- Fabric weight: 165 g/m²
- Garment weight: 15 oz
- Fit: Athletic
- Best for: A mid-weight base layer alternative or a durable slim-fitting synthetic flannel
- Manages sweat
- No mechanical stretch and no gussets can bind behind the arms, limiting mobility
- Buyers with broad shoulders will want to consider sizing up.
Faherty’s Legend Sweater ($178) is for the guy who swears he’d never wear flannel. A Turkish blend of three yarns, the material is woven to feel smooth against the skin and soft to the touch. The material is finished with a tailored fit that moves with your body in any activity.
Fitting more like a cardigan sweater, the mid-weight material is ideally worn alone for fall and spring and layers well under a jacket or thicker shacket in cooler winter. If you want something similar to wear by itself in winter, we’d recommend looking at California Cowboy’s High Sierra, which has a thick synthetic waffle liner for added warmth.
The Legend isn’t cheap. At $178, you’re dipping into some serious money for a woven shirt. And that’s ultimately why it sits below the fold of our top flannels this year. But it’s incredibly soft and plush, wearing more like your favorite sweater. We did find the Legend pills more than other flannels on the list. But the aged nap gives the Legend some charm.
Like 501’s to Levis, the Legend has become a staple at Faherty. With 11 color schemes to choose from, there’s something for everyone.
- Materials: 65% polyester, 30% Viscose, 5% Spandex
- Fabric weight: Unknown
- Garment weight: 17 oz
- Fit: Form fitting
- Best for: Lazy fall days that you’d otherwise grab a sweatshirt
- The most comfortable shirt on the list
- Lots of colorways and patterns to choose from
- Loosely woven material pills and can feel breezy
- Panels are sewn together with an overlock stitch
- Prone to snagging
|Flannel Shirt||Materials||Fabric Weight||Garment Weight||Fit||Price|
|Pladra Leon Workhorse Flannel||100% organic cotton||196 g/m²||12.5 oz||Fitted – semi athletic||$100|
|Legendary Whitetails Buck Camp Flannel||100% cotton||144 g/m²||14 oz||Relaxed||$30|
|Outdoor Research Feedback Flannel||100% polyester||220 g/m²||16 oz||Roomy||$90|
|Roark Nordsman Light Flannel||60% organic cotton, 40% recycled poly||144 g/m²||10 oz||Fitted – semi athletic||$80|
|Cotapaxi Muro Flannel||100% cotton||300 g/m²||17 oz||Spot on and casual||$85|
|Patagonia Farrier’s Shirt||55% hemp, 45% recycled polyester||255 g/m² (solids) – 235 g/m² (plaids)||22 oz||Loose and oversized. Size down if you want a closer fit||$100|
|Stio Hutkeeper||100% cotton||313 g/m²||22 oz||Loose and oversized||$145|
|Filson Alaskan Guide Shirt||100% cotton||226 g/m²||18 oz||Oversized at the usual size. Casual and roomy if you size down.||$148|
|ANIAN Berlino||80% recycled wool, 20% nylon||500 g/m²||20 oz||Slim||$138|
|California Cowboy High Sierra||Outer: 100% cotton | Liner: 50% cotton, 50% modal||Unknown||22 oz||Slim fit. Size up for a shacket fit||$148|
|Duluth Trading Co. Free Swinging Flannel||100% cotton||158 g/m²||14 oz||Roomy||$50|
|Orvis Flat Creek Tech Flannel||Cotton, MarinoWul+, spandex||154 g/m²||12 oz||Roomy||$98|
|Eddie Bauer Expedition Flex||73% hollow-core polyester, 26% polyester, 1% spandex||181 g/m²||13 oz||Appropriate length that feels fitted without binding||$90|
|KUIU HW Plaid Flannel shirt||98% polyester, 2% Lycra||254 g/m²||13 oz||Semi athletic||$100|
|Flylow Handlebar Tech||100% polyester||165 g/m²||15 oz||Athletic||$95|
|Faherty’s Legend Sweater||65% polyester, 30% Viscose, 5% Spandex||Unknown||17 oz||Form-fitting||$178|
Why You Should Trust Us
Steve Graepel, the author of this review, has been leading GearJunkie’s flannel buyer guide since its first release in 2015. Over the years, Steve has shouldered some 200 flannels, learning about materials and construction, and settling debates over snaps vs. buttons.
Steve and the team at GearJunkie test flannels daily around the office, during weekend chores, while camping and climbing, and even on runs and the occasional ride, taking note of what works and doesn’t work.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Flannel Shirt
Wool used to own the flannel scene, and it has a lot of merits. It retains warmth when exposed to moisture, resists odors, UV light, and can block the wind. We love ANIAN’s heavyweight Berlino overshirt, which delivers all of these qualities with its wool construction. But there are other materials worth considering.
Cotton can be buttery soft and an obvious choice to wear next to skin. Pladra uses high-end, Portuguese cotton brushed into a luxuriously soft fabric. But not all cotton flannels are brushed to this extent. Duluth’s Free Swinging Flannel is lightly brushed and feels rougher. This makes it better for hardwearing activities in the yard or the shop.
In addition to cotton, there are a growing number of synthetic and synthetic blends on the market. Some of our testers wear flannels while hitting the trails high in the Rockies.
If you break a sweat in flannel — say mountain biking, skiing, or running — we recommend considering a synthetic flannel. They are easy to care for, and can be thrown in the washer, and tumbled in the drier. Outdoor Research’s synthetic Feedback Flannel wicks moisture away from the body and is our top pick for synthetic.
Like any shirt, flannels are offered in a variety of fits, from athletic and tailored, to grampa-style. If you prefer a tidy look or wear your flannel while active, a slimmer athletic fit, like Pladra’s Leon or KUIU’s HW Plaid, can be a good choice. But it can be a tradeoff with mobility. Without Lycra woven into the fabric, gussets, or mechanical weave, a tight, form-fitting flannel can bind behind the shoulders.
On the other end of the spectrum, Patagonia’s Farrier is oversized and pleated, allowing supreme mobility to reach and work, but it feels a bit baggy.
When making a purchase, let your use case guide you to the right flannel fit. And if it’s a work shirt, consider sizing down for everyday wear. Filson and Patagonia’s work shirts are oversized. Note that this review covers the best flannel shirts for men. Looking for a women’s flannel? We have another flannel buyer guide specifically for women.
Short for grams per meter squared meter, g/m² is the weight of one square meter of fabric. The heavier the weight, the thicker the material will be, and hence, warmer. We generally follow the same ratings as we use in base layers.
- Lightweight flannels fall under 150-190 g/m²
- Midnight flannels sit between 200-250 g/m²
- Heavyweight flannels weigh over 250 g/m²
Roark’s Nordsman Light uses 144 g/m² fabric and sits at the far end of lightweight. As you might guess, it is best for mild climates. On the other end sits ANIAN’s Berlino, which uses a stout 500 g/m² wool blend and is supremely warm.
A heavier fabric doesn’t imply the material will be softer — which the Berlino is not. That soft, velvety feel comes from brushing the material, giving it that lofty plush nap. A fabric with more nap can also be warmer than a fabric without it. The raised fibers can trap warm air and works best as an insulator when worn under a jacket that can keep that warm air from flushing away.
Flannel closure is a contentious debate at GJ and a lot of the team has a soft spot for snaps. Often seen on western style shirts, they hold well and are quick and easy to get in and out of. Granted, we are an active crew of reviewers that wear our flannels on runs and rides. Two flannels on our list use snaps: the Flylow Handlebar, and the Roark Nordsman Light.
While we love the usability of snaps, they can be problematic. They disrupt the material by punching holes through the placket—that strip of material that runs dead center down the shirt. In rare cases, snaps can pull through, which we’ve experienced more than once on a snap-style shirt.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” — the button has been tried and true for some 5,000 years. Most buttons are constructed from hard plastics and are larger on heavier material. We prefer metal buttons for heavier materials, which are more durable and less prone to cracking. One more reason to consider Patagonia’s Farrier’s, it closes with brass buttons.
But the midline of flannels seems to fall in around $75, which creeps into ‘a lot of money’ territory. And there can be a lot of uninspiring shirts in this range that lean on their brand recognition, bright patterns, and colorways to open your wallet.
Here too, you get what you pay for and it’s a good place to start to look at materials and construction to ensure you are indeed getting good value. Premium materials and construction, like hand-sewn, double or triple stitching, and eco-conscious product development start to tack onto the bottom line.
Unless there’s a backstory to support the extra cost, shirts priced over $150 leave you wondering if you are paying for someone’s mortgage.
While quality materials matter, the construction of the shirt is what often defines a quality shirt. The best will have flat felled seams that roll the opposing material together and tack the seam down with a double stitch. The result hides all the cut edges, leaving a clean-looking, durable shirt inside and out.
These shirts will often be double or triple-stitched in high-stress zones, like the shoulders and sides. While more durable, this technique can make a shirt bulkier, and not every mill can pull off this level of construction. Flannels sewn flat felled tend to be more expensive.
ANIAN, Pladra, Patagonia, and yes, even Legendary Whitetails, use a flat fell seam and vary the stitch count for extra durability where you need it most.
Most shirts use a more common overlock or surge stitch, where the two opposing panels are butted together and stitched, leaving the seam’s edge exposed on the inside. Using an overlock stitch is a much easier way process and since most sew houses can do it, the cost is (usually) reflected in the affordable price.
The downside is an overlock stitch can rub against the body, snag, and fray, which eventually will pull on the surrounding stitching. It’s also a way brands can cut costs and clear a higher margin using their brand recognition and trendy colorways. Both KUIU and Faherty’s flannels are entirely constructed with overstitched seams. We feel these shirts both have merits in comfort, styling, and materials that help compensate for the seam construction.
A good compromise is to flat-lock the overstitching. It doesn’t hide the seams, but at least it’s tacked down out of the way. It’s also a little less bulky than felled seams and costs less to sew. OR, Stio, and even Filson flatlock their overstitched seams in the arms.
What Is Flannel?
Traditionally a brushed twill made from wool, the original flannel was woven to keep Welsh sheep herders warm while tending the flock on temperamental winter days. Nowadays the term flannel has expanded into cotton, synthetic, hemp, and blends with stretchy fibers. What unequivocally defines flannel is the brushed surface that lofts the yarns into a heat-trapping nap that gives it that super soft feel to the touch.
True flannels start from twill—a diagonal pattern like you find in jeans. Either the front or back can be brushed, giving it a soft insulating nap. To give a flannel that lofty fluffy feeling, a metal brush works the material’s surface, mechanically teasing the fibers until lofted into that fuzzy surface that traps air.
What Flannels Are Most Durable?
While lofted fibers act like an insulator, they can compromise durability. In short, the fibers are broken and become more prone to catching dust and grime which can continue to break down the fibers. Contrastingly, lightly brushed flannels tend to be more durable. They don’t collect as much grime or catch as easily on wood splinters or metal edges.
Flannel comes in all forms these days. It’s unfair to box a shirt in or out of the flannel club. It might help to think of the base material sitting on a brush scale. At the far end, is a smooth-faced, durable shirt. At the other is a soft and plush shirt.
Our top pick from Pladra is a buttery soft flannel made from 196 g/m² organic cotton. The shirt is brushed on both sides and exudes flannel. Lightly brushed flannels, like Patagonia’s Farrier’s or KUIU’s Plaid, serve as better work shirts over Pladra’s Leon or Faherty’s Legend.
What Is the Difference Between Flannel and Plaid?
As you now know, flannel is a lofted fabric. That fabric can come in a variety of solids and patterns, including cross-hatched patterns, originally dating back to the Scottish culture to distinguish families and clans.
How Do I Choose a Flannel?
Start with how and where you want to use it. If you intend to wear your flannel outside or as a jacket, consider a wool or insulated flannel. ANIAN’s wool Berlino is great at blocking wind and light rain. But it lacks pockets. We liked Stio’s pocket layout and the low nap is very durable, but the cotton flannel is best worn on cool, dry days. Patagonia’s insulated flannel is great for around town, but lacks durability for hardwearing tasks.
For daily wear, we loved Pladra’s soft Leon. For more active pursuits, we liked how OR’s Feedback flannel wicked moisture while maintaining that soft, plush feeling. But neither is as durable as Patagonia’s Farrier’s Flannel.
Work flannels, like Patagonia and Filson, are oversized. You will be happier if you try them on before you buy. If you can’t, it’s worth sizing down for a more tailored fit – especially when buying anything from Filson, which generally runs one size larger.
The best flannel will be the flannel that meets your needs. Take stock in how you want to use it, and then use our guide to find the best option for you.
What's the Warmest Flannel?
What's the Most Durable Flannel?
Hands down Patagonia’s Farrier’s Flannel. Low nap, synthetic blend, and superior construction make this one helluva workhorse.
What's the Most Comfortable Flannel?
A deviation from true brushed twill flannel, we liked the woven Legend Sweater from Faherty. While the seams are overstitched, the material is super comfortable against the skin.
How Long Do Flannels Last?
How long a shirt lasts is a combination of materials, construction, and use.
Quality materials sewn together with flat seams will last for years if taken care of. Patagonia, Filson, and Duluth shirts are all highly durable shirts, with Filson and Patagonia taking the edge on material. They both use a heavier-weight flannel that’s lightly brushed and will last forever.
Patagonia takes the edge on construction quality.
How Often Should I Wash My Flannel Shirt?
How often you wash it depends on how you wear it. If you wear it daily over a shirt, where you aren’t sweating, you can get by with a few wears before you wash it. If you work out in it, or do hard labor it in, you should wash your shirt.
Follow the instructions on the garment. While synthetics can be washed and dried on low, we recommend air-drying cotton shirts. They can shrink.
Wool shirts might need special care like dry-cleaning. Never dry a wool shirt in the drier. The fibers can shrink significantly.
Have a favorite flannel shirt? Let us know in the comments and we’ll check it out for future updates to this article.