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The Best Women’s Flannel Shirts of 2024

Flannel shirts are the unofficial cold-weather uniform of the outdoors. Ladies, suit up with these women's-specific designs that run the gamut from performance to fashion.

Testing women's flannels; (photo/Eric Phillips)
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Nothing says fall like a women’s flannel. Crisp nights by the campfire, brisk mornings chopping wood, and chilly days in town all pair perfectly with the warm and stylish shoulder-season staple.

Today’s flannels evolved from 17th-century farming roots, eventually reaching outdoorswomen in the last two decades. Now, a myriad of designs include shirts made from various fabric blends, technical features, and even heavy-duty jackets. Best of all, there is a women’s flannel shirt option to fit every budget and style.

If you’d like to learn more about the details behind women’s flannel shirts, scroll to our buyer’s guide, frequently asked questions, and comparison chart below. Otherwise, scroll through to see all of our recommended buys and get equipped for the colder days ahead for 2024.

Editor’s Note: We updated our Women’s Flannel Shirts buyer’s guide on November 21, 2023, to include a flood of new, freshly tested flannels, dozens of educational sections, and field imagery.

The Best Women’s Flannel Shirts of 2024


Best Overall Women’s Flannel

Pladra Women’s Every Day Flannel Shirt

Specs

  • Material 100% cotton, double-brushed
  • Density 196g/m2 (midweight)
  • Best for Everyday use
Product Badge The Best Women’s Flannel Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • Beautiful artwork printed on the interior cuff and collar
  • Super comfortable
  • Not too heavy, not too light
  • Lengthier shirt that is slightly tapered and flattering
  • Not the most expensive price tag
  • Broad and inclusive size options from XS to 3XL

Cons

  • Cotton can shrink so be aware
  • While its not tight, the weave is not the loosest or stretchiest
Best Budget Women's Flannel

Carhartt Rugged Flex Hamilton Flannel

Specs

  • Material 97% cotton, 3% spandex
  • Density Lightweight
  • Best for Splitting wood, hanging by the campfire
The Best Women’s Flannel Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • Spandex adds stretch
  • Can’t beat that friendly price

Cons

  • Fit is a bit on the short side
Runner-Up Best Women's Flannel

Roark Alpine Long Sleeve Flannel

Specs

  • Material 60% organic cotton, 40% repreve (performance fiber made from recycled plastic bottles)
  • Density Light
  • Best for Around town, camp life, travel, cruiser bike rides
The Best Women’s Flannel Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • Sustainable materials
  • Moderate price

Cons

  • Not the heaviest flannel if you're looking to bundle up in arctic conditions
Best Wool Women's Flannel

Fjällräven Canada Shirt

Specs

  • Material 70% recycled wool, 30% polyamide
  • Density Heavyweight
  • Best for Cold days, chilly campfire nights
The Best Women’s Flannel Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • Wide size run from XS to XXL
  • Wool helps squelch body odor
  • PFC Free
  • Lifetime repairs

Cons

  • Pricier choice
  • The flannel runs long
Best Lightweight Women’s Flannel

L.L.Bean Women’s Scotch Plaid Flannel Shirt, Relaxed

Specs

  • Material 100% cotton
  • Density Lightweight
  • Best for Around town, camp life, layering
The Best Women’s Flannel Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • So soft and cozy
  • Price
  • Regular, petite, plus, and tall sizing

Cons

  • Only one small chest pocket with no button closure
Best Heavyweight Women's Flannel

Flylow May Flannel

Specs

  • Material 100% polyester flannel lined with 100% polyester fleece
  • Density Heavyweight
  • Best For Super cold days, outside, a jacket alternative
The Best Women’s Flannel Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • Super thick and cozy
  • Snap buttons are so efficient and durable
  • Spacious fit
  • Excellent against skin or over another shirt
  • Hand pockets!

Cons

  • Too bulky to fit under a jacket
  • Not the most comfortable to wear at the desk while typing with arms bent
Most Sustainable Flannel

Outerknown Blanket Shirt

Specs

  • Material Cotton
  • Density Heavyweight
  • Best for Camping, everyday use, picnics
The Best Women’s Flannel Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • Versatile yet thick layer
  • One of the few completely cotton options on our list (providing priority softness)
  • More than 20 vibrant color and pattern choices

Cons

  • Density is not very compressible for packing away
  • Bigger investment
  • Only two size options: XS/S and M/L
Best of the Rest

Outdoor Research Feedback Flannel

Specs

  • Material Polyester
  • Density Lightweight
  • Best for General wear (in the office, lounging by a fireplace), fall hiking, layering
The Best Women’s Flannel Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • 2 hidden extra hand pockets near the hem (plus 2 chest pockets with button closure)
  • 100% Bluesign-approved polyester
  • UPF 50+ for sun protection

Cons

  • Less tailored, wider cut isn’t everyone’s first choice

KAVU Billie Jean

Specs

  • Material 100% cotton and 100% cotton corduroy,
  • Density Lightweight
  • Best For Everyday use, working at the desk, yard work, camping, moderate temps
The Best Women’s Flannel Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • Comfortable lightweight flannel for any activity
  • High-movement ready
  • 25% recycled buttons
  • Elbow patches for style, comfort and durability
  • Great price

Cons

  • Lightweight means it might not be top choice for the coldest winter days
  • Not as durable as other builds

Patagonia Fjord Flannel

Specs

  • Material Organic cotton
  • Density Midweight
  • Best for All-day, everyday wear
The Best Women’s Flannel Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • 2 chest patch pockets
  • Pockets have button-flap closures

Cons

  • Cotton is not as technical as synthetic fibers

Stio Women’s Hutkeeper Flannel Shirt

Specs

  • Material 100% Organic Cotton
  • Density Heavyweight
  • Best for Everyday wear, farmyard chores, camping
The Best Women’s Flannel Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • Durable
  • Flattering silhouette

Cons

  • Lighter colors show dirt quickly

Cotopaxi Mero Flannel Shirt

Specs

  • Material 100% Organic Cotton
  • Density Heavyweight
  • Best for Cold Days, chilly campfire nights, everyday jacket for shoulder seasons
The Best Women’s Flannel Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • Lifetime warranty and repairs
  • Thick fabric with reinforced seams
  • Cotopaxi offers factory information so you can learn about where it was made

Cons

  • Can shrink, be sure to wash cold and line dry!
  • The two chest pockets have no buttons or snaps

Pladra Women’s Peregrine Every Day Flannel

Specs

  • Material 100% cotton
  • Density Midweight, 176g/m2
  • Best For Everyday use
The Best Women’s Flannel Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • Beautifully-crafted
  • Lighter side of the midweight category
  • Not see-through
  • Moderate price point

Cons

  • Not the most flexible weave
  • Isn't the roomiest flannel for labor

California Cowboy Women’s High Sierra

Specs

  • Material Portuguese flannel, cotton-polyester lining
  • Density Heavyweight
  • Best for Campfire hangouts, ski trips, light winter hiking, commuting, and everyday wear
The Best Women’s Flannel Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • Interior hidden glove loop
  • Bottle opener is included

Cons

  • Too warm for warmer autumn days
  • An investment

REI Co-op Wallace Lake Flannel Shirt

Specs

  • Material Cotton
  • Density Midweight
  • Best for Stacking wood, active pursuits
The Best Women’s Flannel Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • Broad size run from XS to 2XL
  • Many color options
  • Lower price point

Cons

  • Roomy fit might not be a green light for some
  • Cotton does not dry as fast as synthetic fibers

Duluth Trading Folklore Flannel Tunic

Specs

  • Material 69% cotton, 31% polyester
  • Density Midweight
  • Best for Chopping firewood, farmhouse chores, everyday wear
The Best Women’s Flannel Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • Size spectrum from XS to plus sizes up to 3XL
  • 4 pockets, including 2 chest pockets and 2 hand pockets
  • Integrated microfiber cleaning cloth under hem is a great tool for cleaning glasses or phone screens

Cons

  • Moderate weight might be too warm for some conditions

Legendary Whitetails Cottage Escape

Specs

  • Material Cotton
  • Density Midweight
  • Best for Casual campfire outings, backyard barbecuing
The Best Women’s Flannel Shirts of 2024

Pros

  • Nearly 20 pattern options
  • Economic choice

Cons

  • Not as durable as higher quality or denser flannels
A flannel is a soft long-sleeve shirt that is often made of medium-weight cotton but can be made of other textiles; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Women’s Flannel Shirts Comparison Chart

Scroll right to view all of the columns: Price, Material, Density, Best For.

Flannel ShirtPriceMaterialDensityBest For
Pladra Women’s Every Day Flannel Shirt
$134 100% cotton, double-brushedMidweightEveryday use
Patagonia Fjord Flannel$99Organic cottonMidweightAll-day, everyday wear
Stio Women’s Hutkeeper Flannel Shirt
$145100% Organic CottonHeavyweightEveryday use
Cotopaxi Mero Flannel Shirt
$85100% Organic CottonHeavyweightCold Days, chilly campfire nights, everyday jacket for shoulder seasons
Pladra Women’s Peregrine Every Day Flannel
$109100% cottonMidweightEveryday use
Carhartt Rugged Flex Hamilton Flannel$29-5997% cotton, 3% spandexLightweightSplitting wood, hanging by the campfire
Fjällräven Canada Shirt$16570% recycled wool, 30% polyamideHeavyweightCold days, chilly campfire nights
L.L.Bean Women’s Scotch Plaid Flannel Shirt$60100% cottonLightweightAround town, camp life, layering
Flylow May Flannel
$150 100% polyester flannel lined with 100% polyester fleeceHeavyweightSuper cold days
California Cowboy Women’s High Sierra$168Portuguese flannel, cotton-polyester liningHeavyweightCampfire hangouts, ski trips, light winter hiking, commuting, and everyday use
Roark Alpine Long Sleeve Flannel$8960% organic cotton, 40% RepreveLightAround town, camp life, travel, cruiser bike rides
Outerknown Blanket Shirt$148CottonHeavyweightCamping, everyday use, picnics
Outdoor Research Feedback Flannel$95PolyesterPolyesterGeneral wear, fall hiking, layering
KAVU Billie Jean
$65 100% cotton and 100% cotton corduroy,LightweightEveryday use
REI Co-op Wallace Lake Flannel Shirt$75CottonCottonStacking wood, active pursuits
Duluth Trading Folklore Flannel Tunic$7069% cotton, 31% polyesterMidweightChopping firewood, farmhouse chores, everyday wear
Legendary Whitetails Cottage Escape$22-35CottonMidweightCasual campfire outings, backyard barbecuing
Flannels often have a napped finish on one or both sides, which is when the fibers are raised via rollers with steel napper wires or with teasels, and can also result from a loose weave; (photo/Eric Phillips)

How We Tested Women’s Flannel Shirts

Our GearJunkie team has been actively testing flannels in the Rockies and across the U.S. for several years — but has decades of experience with wearing this essential layer. Our crew of ladies has pulled out flannels for everyday yard work, errands, and travel as well as campouts, playing with the kids, gardening, hiking, fishing, riding cruisers, and more.

Constance Mahoney, a GearJunkie tester and writer, is a Colorado transplant from Montana. She grew up on her family ranch which dates back to the 1800s. She understands the value of quality work clothes that can keep up with the task at hand. Mahoney is also a wife, mom, hunter, angler, and trail runner. Flannels are not just a statement piece, but also a true staple in her wardrobe.

Senior Editor Morgan Tilton was born and raised in high altitude Rockies of Colorado, where she plays outside year-round. Across all four seasons, flannels are a true testament of versatility, universal comfort, and outdoor mountain style. While she manages the test crew, she also pulls on flannels for yard work, shoveling, dinners out, road trips, and running errands.

While testing women’s flannel shirts, we pay attention to overall fit, quality, breathability, insulation, range of motion, and value. We take note of the other key details including softness, buttons (placement, size, durability, quality), seams, hems, center back length, collar, and pockets. We care about sustainable design, and the industry is still catching up.

Beyond our field testing and examinations, we stay afloat on the newest, most innovative, popular, top-rated, and legacy designs available for women today. We make sure to choose a range of flannel shirts that serve various users, applications, and budgets. If you’re looking for a flannel for any of the important guys in your life be sure to check out our guide to the best flannels for men.

Other words for fabric napping are teaseling, raising, gigging, and genapping; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Women’s Flannel Shirt

These iconic women’s flannel shirts are defined by three key characteristics: softness to the touch, warmth, and moisture-wicking ability.

Flannel shirts were first developed by Welsh textile workers in Wales in the 17th century. The designs refurbished leftover sheep’s wool, a textile that retains warmth when exposed to moisture.

Wool also resists odors and UV light and can block the wind. For farmers in a cool, overcast climate, the material was perfect and quickly became a staple.

The design evolved to include worsted yarns as an option, which includes a variety of mixed fibers such as cotton.

Next, flannels spread from Europe to the United States during World War I, when a flannel layer was included in the uniform of soldiers. Today, flannels remain a utility choice for outdoor recreation, work days, and everyday outside life.

While flannels may not perform as well during cardio pursuits as a lightweight fleece jacket, they can comfortably be used while doing labor around the house and yard or on a camping trip. Flannels are a solid option to help keep you toasty on slow or down days.

Beyond utility, most folks agree that flannels deliver great style for around-town wear: They’ve become a staple in the fabric of the outdoors.

Tartan is a patterned cloth with identical iterations of cross-crossed horizontal and vertical bands, in multiple colors, and is a popular option for flannels; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Materials

In addition to wool, many fibers and hybrid blends are used to create women’s flannels today including cotton, polyester, or other synthetic materials.

  • Cotton: Soft, comfortable next to skin, notorious for not drying fast when it becomes wet
  • Wool: Warm/insulating, breathable, resists odors, not as soft as cotton, retains warmth when wet
  • Synthetics: Increase durability and elasticity in a shirt, dry quickly when wet, not as warm as wool

If you plan to do high-output activities that’ll make you sweat while wearing your flannel, we recommend a synthetic blend. Although, wool is likely the best choice if insulation is the number one priority.

Wool doesn’t dry as quickly as a synthetic fiber when wet, from sweat or rain, but retains warmth regardless of dampness. If you won’t be sweating outdoors, cotton is a comfortable, excellent choice.

A “check” pattern is a type of plaid with crisscrossed horizontal and vertical lines that form squares; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Fit

One of the greatest evolutions of the flannel has been women’s-specific designs. The best flannels for women offer a proper complimentary cut around the shoulders, chest, and waist compared to men’s shirts, which are often boxy, wide, and loose. The length of the torso and arms is also dialed for ladies.

All women’s flannels are generally at least a tad roomy, super comfortable, and offer a range of movement. But some cuts and fabrics hit those three marks more than others.

Be sure to utilize each brand’s size chart as they are specific for each brand. The chest, waist, and sleeve length are especially important to find which size will fit you best. The fit, or cut, of each flannel also slightly varies between silhouettes, even from the same brand.  

Some styles offer a relaxed, moderately baggy fit, like REI’s Wallace Lake flannel, Carhartt Rugged Flex Hamilton Flannel, or the California Cowboy Women’s High Sierra. Another unique take on the feminine flannel is a tunic, like the Duluth Trading Folklore Flannel Tunic and Fjällräven Canada Shirt, both offering an extended length. You can always size up if you prefer an even roomier top.

Plaid designs differ from tartan in that the crisscrossed horizontal and vertical lines are not identical, so they vary in color, width, brightness, and frequency; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Warmth

How much warmth a flannel offers depends on the main fabric, density or weight of the flannel’s main fabric, and lining. To plan ahead, think about the environment where you will most wear your flannel and the level of output you’ll be exerting or if you’ll be sedentary.  

Textile

Wool is the warmest textile and will keep you cozy even if the shirt gets wet. A wool-based flannel, like the Fjällräven Canada Shirt, is a good option if you need a shirt that keeps you warm during a drizzle.

Synthetic flannel blends can also offer warmth. Cotton can likewise provide a bit of warmth and is known for softness. The tradeoff with cotton is that the material does not dry fast or well once wet and does not retain warmth if it gets damp. Alternatively, synthetic materials dry very fast.

Interior Lining

A flannel can also be lined with a secondary fabric. A thick and cozy choice, the Flylow May Flannel has an interior liner of a thick, soft fleece, which bumps up the flannel’s overall product weight and thickness.

Wearing a flannel with a pair of jeans is a classic look that’s comfortable and utilitarian; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Warmth Factor: Fabric Weight and Density

When we talk about the weight of a flannel, there are two types: How much the entire shirt weighs and also the weight of the fabric itself, before the textile was made into a shirt.

When the density or fabric weight of the primary material is higher, the warmth factor and protection against the elements, like a cool breeze, is increased, too.

If you are being active, like taking a long walk or hike, reach for a lightweight, and thus more breathable, flannel. A midweight flannel like the Patagonia Fjord Flannel is a great option for chillier, lower-output days. If it’s chillier out, we recommend a denser and warmer flannel like the wool-based Fjällräven Canada Shirt.  A heavyweight shirt, like the Flylow May Flannel or Outerknown Blanket Shirt, is best for downright cold days. 

Layering Systems

Another way to maximize warmth is with how you layer your flannel. For instance, a cotton flannel like the REI Co-op Wallace Lake Flannel will stay dry and retain heat if you layer a waterproof jacket on top. You could also wear a synthetic or cotton t-shirt beneath your flannel for extra insulation.  

Flannel shirts for women can come in long flowing tunic designs, too; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Fabric Weights or Density

The heavier the flannel weight, the thicker the material will be and the more insulation it will offer. In technical terms, g/m² (grams per meter squared) is the weight of a square meter of fabric.

  • 150-190 g/m²: Lightweight flannel, great for fall and spring, wearing indoors, mild climates
  • 200-250 g/m²: Midweight flannel, moderate winter climates, outdoor activity
  • 250 g/m² and above: Heavyweight flannel, extreme winter conditions

For the most part, the actual fabric weight is not typically easy to find during research. Here, we categorized our flannels into three general areas — lightweight, midweight, and heavyweight — to help give you an idea of what to expect for each shirt’s density.

In our guide, the majority of our top picks for women’s flannels are midweight options including the Legendary Whitetails Cottage Escape and the Stio Women’s Hutkeeper Flannel Shirt. The California Cowboy Women’s High Sierra Flannel Shirt is our premier heavyweight choice. Our pick for the less dense, lightweight flannel shirt, (which still provides warmth) is the Outdoor Research Feedback Flannel.

The fabric used in each flannel also plays a hand in overall warmth such as wool, which offers great insulation.

Another benefit of a flannel is that its fairly low maintenance and easy to take care of, because you don’t need to iron or dry clean flannels; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Jacket versus Shirt

Another consideration before buying a women’s flannel is how you plan to wear it. If you are looking for a heavyweight jacket-type flannel, know that a high-quality flannel will not be as lofty as a winter jacket. But a heavyweight flannel should have some heft to it when you take it off the hanger, like the Women’s High Sierra Flannel Shirt, Flylow May Flannel, or the Stio Women’s Hutkeeper Flannel Shirt. 

If you are looking for an everyday shirt that is typically worn next to the skin and can be more easily worn beneath other layers, check out options like the L.L.Bean Women’s Scotch Plaid Flannel Shirt. The material will be thinner but certainly not flimsy or as thin as a t-shirt. It’s typically still dense enough to provide some warmth and protection on chilly fall days. 

Closure and Front Placket

From the hem to the collar, the most common closure on the front placket is a line of buttons. The second choice is snaps, which we’re also a fan of using.

Most of our top picks are outfitted with buttons, simply because they’re most common. The Fjällräven Canada Shirt has snaps, which are a great form of insurance for a technical flannel, because buttons are more likely to become unthreaded, break, or tear off during intense activity like mountain biking or lifting hay bales.

Snaps are easier and quicker to undo compared to buttons. Some people prefer snaps for the aesthetic.

Not all buttons are created equal. Cheaper or less durable buttons can be prone to cracking and quickly break down in the washing machine, based on our experience. Unfortunately, many brands do not openly share their button selection. But the best flannels for women include an extra button — be sure to keep that on hand!

Flannels do not wrinkle, which we’re happy about; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Pockets 

Pockets are either deemed a necessity or not. While looking for your choice flannel, make sure you think about what type of pockets you prefer.

Most flannels have at least one chest pocket like the L.L. Bean Women’s Scotch Plaid Flannel Shirt. Others have double chest pockets like the Roark Alpine Long Sleeve Flannel. Some chest pockets are a flap pocket design with a button or snap closure to safely store things. Other chest pockets are a patch pocket style with easy access and no secure closure.

The Outdoor Research Feedback Flannel has two hand pockets to go along with its two chest pockets. Running to the ribbon, the Stio Women’s Hutkeeper Flannel Shirt has two chest pockets, two hand pockets, and two extra large internal pockets.

But nothing compares to the number of pockets in the Women’s California Cowboy High Sierra Flannel Shirt. Two chest pockets. A zippered and water-resistant back pocket large enough for a phone. Reinforced bottle pocket. A slender seltzer can pocket. Stealthy pocket for a pen. A bonus bottle opener, which has its own pocket. Also hidden are a secure sunglass loop and an interior hidden glove loop. What more could a pocket lover ask for?

Flannel technically refers to the fabric, rather than the pattern, and is thicker and more loosely woven than other fabrics; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Collar and Cuffs 

Women’s flannels are designed knowing the cuffs will be rolled up at some point. The inside of the Legendary Whitetails Cottage Escape cuffs has a different color and pattern than the outside, which is visible when your sleeves are curled back. The cuffs of the Fjällräven Canada Shirt are made with a proprietary durable textile that’s water-resistant and windproof. 

The KAVU Billie Jean is detailed with corduroy inside the cuff. The Pladra Women’s Every Day Flannel Shirt and Pladra Peregrine Every Day Flannel Shirt are next level with artistry. The cuffs are a canvas printed with highly detailed scenes like mountains and wild forest creatures.

Cuffs are typically thicker than the arms and body of the shirt. In order to easily peel back, there is a slit in the side of the arm and typically two buttons or snaps that allow the wrist to securely close. When the cuffs are rolled down and buttoned or snapped shut, the fabric protects your wrists when working, carrying wood, and bushwacking all while keeping the weather out.

Another key garnish to a flannel shirt is the collar, which often matches the cuff with the accented patterns and colors. Collars can be popped up to help protect your neck from sunshine, bugs, and wind or help to keep you warm. In a unique touch, the undersides of the Pladra Women’s Every Day Flannel Shirt and Pladra Peregrine Every Day Flannel Shirt feature a playful print that matches the interior cuffs.

Most of the collars on these outdoorsy flannels do not have buttons on the collar points to snatch the fabric down, which helps the collar be more accessible — it can easily flip up. There is typically a highly-placed button or snap on the band, above the front placket, which helps secure the collar placement through tension.

Flannels can have an interior liner such as a thick, soft fleece that makes the shirt denser, warmer, and more wind-resistant; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Shirttail Hem

The classic shirttail hem is a simple curved hemline in the front and back of the bottom hem, making a higher cut at the hip. It is the staple hemline for women’s flannels.

A curved hem allows for more movement and a casual look when left untucked. The extra length of the shirttail hem also allows you to tuck away the fabric of the shirt, which will stay in place as you reach and work, without pulling out the sides.

Flannel shirts can have a range of color or pattern schemes but the most popular are plaid and tartan patterns, which are very similar; (photo/Eric Phillips)

How To Layer 

Layering women’s flannels is a great way to help bump up the warmth and extend the use of your flannel, regardless of the fabric weight, through any weather conditions or season. 

You could add a baselayer beneath your flannel, which will wick away any sweat and help keep you dry. Need help finding a baselayer? Check out this GearJunkie article. A range of densities for base layers exist, and you could go with a long-sleeve or short-sleeve. You could also wear a T-shirt. Your favorite women’s flannel goes on top.

For an outer layer, you could pull on a softshell, rain jacket, vest, or down jacket over your flannel. The lighter the flannel is, the easier it’ll be to layer beneath a jacket. We’ve found that some synthetic jackets have slimmer sleeves, too, which don’t feel comfortable pulling on over a flannel sleeve. The densest fabrics and flannels on our list can be downright uncomfortable inside a jacket, because the fabric becomes too stiff and crowded around the elbow pit, and are not the best choice for layering beneath slim-fitting outerwear.

Keep in mind your layering routine when you purchase your flannel, because you might consider sizing up if you plan to use the shirt as an outer layer. 

While flannels are most associated with the fall shoulder season, they are a great winter shirt and can also be used as a layer year-round; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Construction

A high-quality, long-lasting flannel shirt is defined by the materials and overall construction.

For example, some shirts are double- or triple-stitched in high-use areas such as the shoulders. The use of flat-fell seams increases durability, removes the raw edge, and looks svelte without adding bulk.

Alternatively, shirts can have a basic serger, or overlock, stitch, where the two opposing panels are stitched together with an exposed edge on the inside. An overlock stitch is easier to produce and is reflected in a lower price. However, an overlock stitch doesn’t feel as smooth as a flat-fell seam plus it can snag or fray.

While a well-constructed shirt will cost more upfront, the invested time and materials for the construction will help increase the lifespan.

Most flannel shirts have two chest pockets and some have a button or snap for security; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Durability and Lifetime Repairs

How the flannel is constructed will directly impact its durability. The best women’s flannels will have double or triple stitching in high-use areas, and the fabric will be thick and double-napped. Napping, or brushing, is a finishing process in which a metal brush is pulled along the fabric to raise the longer fibers while keeping the short fibers intact, making the material soft and thicker, ultimately making it more insulating.

A quick test to see the quality of material and napping is to raise the shirt to a light source to check if it is see-through. If the fabric is thick and you cannot see through it, you have a more durable product that will last much longer than if the textile is transparent. 

The more durable a flannel is, the more of an investment it will be. But brands like Fjällräven Canada Shirt and Cotopaxi Mero Flannel Shirt have lifetime repairs, ensuring your investment lasts. Brands that offer lifetime repairs not only help extend the use of your apparel but also keep worn items out of the landfill. To find more brands with free repairs, check out this article from GearJunkie.

You could wear your flannel closed up or wear a shirt beneath and leave your flannel unbuttoned or unsnapped; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Sustainability

Many brands are moving forward with more sustainable practices for the creation of their products, and women’s flannels are not left behind. 

You might notice a handful of brands that are using 100% organic cotton. Organic cotton is grown using methods that have a lower impact on the environment compared to conventionally-grown cotton. The process is certified by a third­-party that verifies the farmers only use techniques and materials allowed in organic production. Flannels like Fjord Flannel and the Cotopaxi Mero Flannel Shirt are made with 100% organic cotton.

The Outerknown Blanket Shirt uses 100% organic cotton and the buttons are made from tagua palm nuts that are gathered from the forest floor, providing an alternative to plastic buttons. 

The Fjällräven Canada Shirt uses recycled wool and is also noted to be PFC-free. The recycled wool is color-sorted, shredded, and then blended with other colors. That yarn is then mixed with polyester or polyamide for extra strength. Perfluorocarbons (PFC), or the “forever chemicals” that do not break down, are a major concern for many brands. Finding alternative fabrics and treatments is hard, but as technology advances, so do options.

You may have seen a lot of products with a Bluesign-approved label. That means the fabric meets the strictest environmental and worker safety standards. The Outdoor Research Feedback Flannel uses Bluesign-approved polyester.

Patagonia is known for being a leader in the industry of sustainability. The women’s Patagonia Fjord Flannel is 100% organic cotton and Fair Trade Certified sewn, meaning the farmers and other laborers that helped to grow the materials used in the product are being compensated fairly, and the farms where they work prioritize employee rights while also meeting environmental standards. To learn more about Patagonia’s sustainability efforts and how you can get involved, check out this GearJunkie article highlighting the brand’s campaign to “Save Our Home Planet,” here.

When a flannel is brushed on both sides it’s called double-napped and is considered the highest quality; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Price

The tags on women’s flannel shirts range from less than $50 to more than $200.

On the lower end, you can more easily grab an economic flannel like the Legendary Whitetails Cottage Escape ($22-35) or Carhartt Rugged Flex Hamilton ($29-59). Lower-cost flannels are still made well but not as durable and the fabric blend is not as complex, so they won’t be a workhorse. They won’t be as dense nor made with as heavy of fabric as pricier options, and aren’t a strict cold-weather flannel, but these designs usually function nicely well for everyday use.

In the middle of the road and also at less than $100 is the KAVU Billie Jean ($65), L.L. Bean Women’s Scotch Plaid Flannel Shirt ($60), Roark Alpine Long Sleeve Flannel ($89), Duluth Trading Folklore Flannel Tunic ($70), REI Co-op Wallace Lake Flannel ($75), or Cotopaxi Mero Flannel Shirt ($85). Higher priced flannels typically reflect a higher quality, more refined, tailored fit, technical design points — such as articulated shoulders or unique pockets — and sustainable materials. Other flannels that hover near $100 include the Outdoor Research Feedback Flannel ($95) or the Patagonia Fjord Flannel ($99).

At the highest price point, you’ll find the Pladra Women’s Peregrine Every Day Flannel ($109), Pladra Women’s Every Day Flannel ($134), Flylow May Flannel ($150), Stio Women’s Hutkeeper Flannel Shirt ($139), California Cowboy Women’s High Sierra Flannel Shirt ($168), Fjällräven Canada Shirt ($170), and Outerknown Blanket Shirt ($148). Typically, high-end flannels are the most durable. They are made of well-constructed wool or fabric blends that are flexible, breathable, and warm. Flannels with a larger price tag might also be denser, lined, or heavier-weight materials for colder conditions or sedentary activity.

A finer, higher-quality flannel will be less prone to pilling, which is when threads begin to clump on the surface; (photo/Eric Phillips)

FAQ

What is flannel?

A flannel is a warm shirt constructed with loose-fitting fabric that’s noticeably soft to the touch. Flannels are made with a range of fabrics including wool — the most traditional material used to make a flannel — as well as cotton, synthetic fibers, or various blends.

After being loosely woven together, the yarns are brushed using a fine metal brush on the interior, exterior, or both to create a buttery smooth texture. The brushing technique is called napping, which raises the fibers.

Typical flannels are long-sleeve. They come in various densities or fabric weights including light, medium, and heavy. Flannels are utilitarian, excellent layering pieces, and cozy!

What flannels are most durable?

In our experience, the most durable women’s flannels are often synthetic and wool blends followed by cotton flannels.

Some flannels are reinforced for additional tenacity like with elbow panels on the KAVU Billie Jean. However, the lifespan of a flannel is also influenced by how the shirt is used — are you mountain biking through dense forest, hauling firewood, or walking the dog?

Following the shirt’s care instructions will also help keep your flannel in good condition.

Signs of wear and tear on a flannel include pilling, broken buttons, dull color, tears from use, loss of softness, and loose threads; (photo/Eric Phillips)
What is the difference between flannel, plaid, and tartan?

Plaid is a pattern. The popular arrangement is a crisscross of horizontal and vertical lines of various colors, which often range in width and boldness. Plaid patterns vary in color combos and fabric types. Tartan is a plaid design originally from Scotland: The vertical and horizontal lines are placed in an identical pattern whereas regular plaid can have a variation of color, size, and frequency within the criss-crossed pattern.

Many flannel shirts are designed with a plaid or Scotch tartan option. Flannels are also available in solid color options or other unique patterns.

How do I choose a flannel?

Start with how and where you want to use your flannel shirt.

If you intend to wear your flannel outside or as a jacket, consider a wool, insulated, or heavyweight flannel. In our guide, that would be a flannel like the California Cowboy Women’s High Sierra Flannel Shirt, Stio Women’s Hutkeeper Flannel Shirt, or the Fjällräven Canada Shirt.

Otherwise, for everyday use, camping out, or light chores we enjoyed a range of women’s flannels like the Legendary Whitetails Cottage EscapeDuluth Trading Folklore Flannel TunicREI Co-op Wallace Lake flannel, and the Outdoor Research Feedback Flannel.

Ultimately, the best women’s flannel will be the design that meets your needs. Take stock of how you want to use it, and then use our guide to find the best women’s flannel for you.

The densest flannels are not comfortable to wear beneath other jackets but make a great layer against skin or atop another shirt; (photo/Eric Phillips)
What’s the warmest flannel?

The warmest flannel in our guide is the Flylow May Flannel, which is lined with a super soft, thick fleece.

Another one of the warmest flannels in our selection is the California Cowboy Women’s High Sierra Flannel Shirt, which is lined with a cotton-polyester thermal layer and a dense, softly brushed exterior. The brand says it’s made for on and off the ski lift — on a calm, sunny spring day, we’d definitely wear this shirt on the lift as our outer layer.

We love wearing these warm flannels as a daily driver on super frigid winter days.

What’s the most comfortable flannel?

The most comfortable flannel is the one that fits us best. Nothing is more uncomfortable than feeling like you’re going to bust open the shoulder, upper back, or buttons across the chest on a women’s flannel shirt while shoving a bag into the overhead bin on a flight or riding your bike to work.

Take a close look at the sizing charts for each brand because they’re all unique and measure yourself for your most up-to-date size. Be sure to consider if you’ll need extra room for high-stakes movement like picking up the kiddos or swinging an axe to cut firewood.

Pladra prints extremely detailed and beautiful artwork on the interior of the cuffs and collars on their women’s flannels; (photo/Eric Phillips)
How long do flannels last?

Our high-end flannels typically last 4-6 years with the most consistent use in the fall, winter, and spring months. Many of those flannels have experienced broken buttons, unthreaded buttons, small holes, pilling, or a decrease in elasticity over that time.

The lifespan of a flannel is also influenced by how the shirt is used: Is it a statement piece or used during physical labor? Are you hauling firewood or walking the dog?) Following the shirt’s care instructions can go a long way to making the product last.

How often should I wash my flannel shirt?

We’re big proponents of washing our clothes less to be mindful consumer while saving water, electricity, laundry detergent, and money. Washing clothes less also lengthens the lifespan of the material.

That said, when we go away for a 3-day campout and only bring one flannel, we usually need to wash it when we come home. When there’s a noticeable stench, from B.O., campfire, or dirt smudges, or when we’ve used bug spray, those are all signs of needing to get a good wash in.

Be sure to follow the instructions on the garment.

Flannels are both fashionable and functional; (photo/Eric Phillips)

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