Probably just about every guy in the United States has at least one flannel shirt in his closet. Associated with manly pursuits such as outdoor labor, farming, and woodcraft, flannel fabric has been around for about 500 years. It is used to make everything from warm, cozy sheets to plaid lumberjack shirts. But now it’s even better…
Traditionally, flannel was made of wool. But the majority of flannel shirts we’ve become familiar with in recent decades are made of soft, napped cotton, usually in a plaid pattern. Cotton flannel shirts are soft, fairly rugged, warm, lightweight, and easily washed.
But they also have their drawbacks. Cotton flannel shrinks easily (hence the flannel shirt you have that, after the first couple of washings, shrank too much in the arms to be wearable anymore). The cotton in flannel also doesn’t breath well, so if you sweat or get rained on, the shirt gets soggy and cold. And though cotton flannel is initially pretty durable, it tends to wear out faster than wool when subjected to hard use and frequent laundering. If you wear or bring a cotton flannel shirt on a trip, you also know that they wrinkle about as easily as gum wrapper foil.
Which means that, though a cotton flannel shirt is a go-to shirt for many occasions and a staple of the manly wardrobe, there is room for improvement.
And they have been improved. Using the latest generation of versatile polyester fabrics, many of the drawbacks of cotton flannel shirts have been eliminated. A flannel shirt made of updated polyester is even more useful than one made of cotton. The fabric breathes and wicks away sweat, so you can wear it as a top layer when you’re being active (hiking, skiing, etc.) or wear it as a mid-layer in colder conditions. It dries quickly. It resists wrinkling so you can toss it in your suitcase. Polyester flannel tends to last longer than cotton flannel. And it’s still comfortable and looks good (in plaid, of course).
Here are three outstanding polyester flannel shirts for men that, if you try them, might persuade you to wear flannel for much of the year, from October through May. Each of these brands has gotten their polyester flannel right. Heck, if Paul Bunyan had had one of these, he might have cut down twice as many trees…
Horny Toad Watchdog Polyester Flannel Shirt
Here is the Watchdog Shirt, by Horny Toad. This is a shirt that looks good enough to wear out on the town in the evening, will multi-task as an outdoor work shirt, and can be worn in spring and fall as a light jacket over a T-shirt.
The Watchdog flannel shirt is comfortable and light, constructed with hollow-core polyester fibers. It comes in a couple of different plaid color designs.
You can also find it at Backcountry. And right now, both of these top-rated outdoor gear retailers have seriously discounted this shirt, so it’s an excellent time to get it. (You may as well get 2, since it may become one of your favorite shirts.)
Horny Toad designs clothes that will take you anywhere, look good while you wear them, and will protect you from the elements, whether you’re at the seashore or high in the mountains. Most of their clothing is made from sustainable fibers, including recycled polyester. Along with being on the right side environmentally, they also give back to the community in various ways. In other words, Horny Toad clothing has good karma associated with it. Along with being functional.
See more Horny Toad men’s apparel at the bottom of this post.
Woolrich Pathblazer Men’s Shirt
The Woolrich Pathblazer Shirt is another versatile and durable polyester flannel shirt for men.
The Pathblazer design features a dense polyester fiber flannel weave that provides 40+ UPF sun protection (for you guys who don’t particularly like to wear sunscreen), wicks moisture well, and dries quickly. This one’s got a button-down collar for a more finished appearance, two button-through pockets, a curved shirttail hem, and adjustable cuffs.
In comes in five different plaid color combinations. Like virtually everything Woolrich makes, it is high quality. Plus you get their 100% satisfaction guarantee. As one satisfied customer wrote in an online review of the Pathblazer Shirt: “This is an excellent shirt. Extremely comfortable, nice to look at, very good for outdoor sports. Vast improvement on the old flannel shirts!”
Even better, you can get the Woolrich Pathblazer men’s shirt from Sierra Trading Post for a good closeout price now — over 50% off!
Mountain Hardwear Trekkin Shirt
Our final recommended polyester flannel shirt is the Mountain Hardwear Trekkin long-sleeve shirt. If you are familiar with Mountain Hardwear, then you are aware of their reputation for innovation and the Trekkin men’s shirt is no exception.
The Trekkin shirt is an updated 100% polyester flannel shirt with the comfortable feel of cotton and the durable, moisture-wicking properties of advanced polyester. It’s got two buttoned chest pockets and a zippered “secret” storage pocket behind the left chest pocket. It comes in three different color combinations of plaid. It will protect you at high elevations with a UPF of 50+.
One customer bought this Mountain Hardwear shirt to wear in Afghanistan, where he was working. As he stated in his online review of the shirt: “It keeps me warm and does its job.” There are many other complimentary customer reviews for this shirt as well. I could not find a single negative review for the Trekkin shirt. It is also recommended by the testers at Outside magazine.
Another online customer review stated: “Warm enough to use as a base layer when I’m stomping through the snow drifts gathering firewood. And stylish enough to wear to the local tap for a beverage.”
I think you’ll find the Trekkin shirt will be a new, go-to standard for you when it comes to a versatile shirt for many uses. Fortunately you can now also find it for a good price at three of the most reliable retailers online.
You can get the Mountain Hardwear Trekkin men’s shirt from Zappos (which is legendary for their customer service and offers free shipping on apparel orders).
You can also find the Trekkin Flannel long-sleeve shirt at Campmor.
And a third option for shopping for the Mountain Hardwear Trekkin long-sleeve shirt is Moosejaw (which often offers a discount or coupon code).
All of the above retailers can answer any questions you have about the Trekkin men’s shirt (and you also benefit from Mountain Hardwear’s limited lifetime warranty on all their products) — and, indeed, any of the retailers for any of the shirts reviewed in this post.
Of course, a classic outfit for men is to wear your updated flannel shirt with a high-quality pair of jeans.
And when you want to wear your flannel shirt with a T-shirt — either for outdoor activities, work, or just for style — there are two brands of T-shirts I recommend you try. One is Under Armour (click here to shop for Under Armour’s high-tech T-shirts for active wear). And the other brand is Icebreaker — the maker of probably the best base-layer clothing and underwear in the world, featuring sophisticated merino wool construction.