When the temperatures start to drop, we reach for flannels. And actually, when the temps are simply less than scorching, you will often find us in flannels.
Flannels have long been a staple for pretty much everyone who spends time outdoors, but it can be pretty overwhelming to sort through the multitude of offerings from pretty much every outdoor company.
So here is a collection that Jonathan Ellsworth and I put together of some of our favorite men’s and women’s flannels from this season, some on the lighter side, and some on the heavier side, for when things really get cold.
Patagonia Women’s Fjord Flannel Shirt
Colors: Bay Laurel: Toasted White & Oxblood Red (2015)
Reviewer: 5’6”, 125 lbs.
Days Worn: 200+
I’ve always been a fan of Patagonia, for their products’ quality as well as their commitment to the environment. As someone who is passionate about conservation, I find Patagonia’s transparency and efforts to reduce their environmental impact admirable, and those are things that I always factor in when considering a new piece of gear or apparel. When deciding on a new flannel last season, their Women’s Fjord Flannel made with organic cotton seemed like an obvious choice.
The Fjord flannel immediately became my favorite shirt, and over the last year and a half, I’ve worn it at least several times a week (cool summers at 9,000’ meant I was able to wear it all summer, too). I loved it so much, that I decided to invest in a second one this winter. It’s easy to see why it is one of Patagonia’s most popular women’s pieces.
The Fjord is a thicker, warm shirt — but it is definitely a “shirt” and not a jacket or “shacket,” and it doesn’t feel too heavy or bulky. After a year and a half of constant wear and many washes, my older Fjord flannel is unsurprisingly less soft than my newer one — that is super soft — but it is still really comfy. The older one is broken in and well-used, but has held its shape and has proven to be plenty durable.
I am typically a small or size 4 in most brands, and the Fjord flannel in a size 4 fits me perfectly at 5’6” and 125 lbs.
The 2015 flannel has a slightly different fit than the current one; the 2015 version claimed to have a feminine cut, whereas Patagonia describes the 2016-17 shirt as having “classic flannel-shirt styling.” The difference isn’t huge, but the newer version falls straighter down the torso, is a bit longer, and has a touch looser and longer sleeves. I quite like both of the cuts, but really like the added length in the updated flannel; the shirt reaches about halfway down my butt. Patagonia did a nice job with making the newer flannel less fitted, while still having a feminine, flattering look.
With the current fit, I could probably get away with sizing down to a 2, but it would be much tighter, and I like having the option to layer. The width allows me to wear it alone or with layers underneath comfortably. I’ve even been able to wear a baselayer and a R1 under the flannel without feeling restricted.
The Fjord flannel has accompanied me almost everywhere I’ve gone over the past year and a half — from Washington to Nepal, and from multi-day bike trips, to day hikes, and to the office. Patagonia’s Fjord flannel is a comfortable, durable, and flattering flannel that comes in some beautiful colors from an environmentally responsible company; I can confidently predict that it will be a favorite of mine for years to come.
Patagonia Men’s Long-Sleeved Fjord Flannel Shirt
Color Sugar Pine
Reviewer: 5’10”, 175-180 lbs.
Days Worn: 50+
I fully agree with Julia’s last statement, and I predict that the Fjord Flannel is going to be a favorite of mine for quite a while, too. (And I will admit that while writing this, I am finding it very difficult to resist the temptation to order a second one.)
While I really like all of the flannels that I’m going to talk about in this roundup, if I had to pick one, it would be the Fjord Flannel because of its versatility — it can be worn across a broad temperature range; it’s nice enough to wear out; and I’ve skied in it, slept in it, and worn it enough days in a row to the point of challenging social mores about wearing the same thing day after day after day.
As for the fit, Patagonia calls it “relaxed,” and that’s quite accurate. At 5’10”, ~175 lbs., I almost always will wear a size Medium if the cut is “Regular” or “Relaxed,” and I’ll usually go with a size Large if the cut is Slim / Trim / Fitted. On my frame, the Medium Fjord is not tight, and a size Large would be quite loose on me. So really tall, lean folks might find the fit to be too boxy, and I would suggest that if you are on the fence between sizes, go down before you size up.
Stio Women’s Dovetail Flannel Shirt
Color: Angel Falls Plaid
Reviewer: 5’6”, 125 lbs
Days Worn: ~25
Stio is an apparel company based out of Jackson, WY, that I’ve been hearing more and more about over the last few years. While Blister reviewers have liked Stio gear that we’ve reviewed in the past (and that we are currently reviewing), I’ve recently heard even more about improvements in Stio’s quality.
I’ve spent the last month and a half wearing Stio’s Dovetail Flannel almost constantly. The Dovetail flannel is on the lighter side as far as flannels go, and is super simple. While the Patagonia Fjord flannel still holds its position as my favorite flannel, the Dovetail comes in as a close second.
At 5’6”, 125 lbs, I am almost always a Small in flannels, and the Dovetail is no different. The shirt has more of a slim fit, which Stio describes as “regular.” I would say that it is not too baggy or boxy, and that it has a slightly more fitted, feminine shape. The Dovetail’s length is pretty standard, and the sleeves fit just right, comfortably bunching at my wrists. After several washes, the flannel has held its shape well, and seems to be adequately durable.
There is a chance I could have also gotten away with wearing a Medium, though I’m not sure how the slimmer cut would have looked if it was really too big of a size. The Dovetail seems to run true to size, though if you’re on the fence, it could be worth sizing up. I don’t have a large chest, but the shirt was a little tighter in that area and the buttons pulled apart slightly.
The Dovetail flannel is all about simplicity; there are not even chest pockets, rather, a hidden pocket tucked away on the inside of the shirt’s left chest panel. It’s small, but large enough to fit credit cards and an ID. The shirt is so minimal, that I actually think it could benefit from another button or two in the front so that the two front panels don’t pull apart quite so much. Everything else, however, is nicely designed and well thought-out.
The Stio Dovetail flannel has quickly become a staple in my minimal wardrobe here in Nepal. It’s a versatile shirt that I love wearing to the office (my office is definitely on the casual side), out to dinner, on day excursions around the city and surrounding hills, and on shorter, cool morning rides.
Toad & Co. Mojac Overshirt
Color: Dark Chestnut
Reviewer: 5’10”, 175-180 lbs.
Days Worn: 40+
The Mojac Overshirt moves us into the arena of shirt/jackets, or “shackets,” and most of us at Blister own at least one or two of these shirt/jackets and wear them often.
The Mojac Overshirt is made of 100% organic cotton, and we dig the Mojac’s snap buttons.
But maybe the most important thing is to talk about the feel: the Mojac Overshirt is fairly weighty, and it has the heft and the soft feel of an old, thick, favorite blanket. It is definitely heavier than the Patagonia Fjord Flannel shirt, and functions as a heavy shirt or as a lighter jacket, you pick. It is also a perfect work shirt, especially if your work involves running around from indoors to cold garages to outside.
Another notable thing is that the Mojac comes out of the box with a bit of a muted or worn look, as if your grandfather handed down to you one of his favorite flannels. You’ll see what I mean when you see the shirt in person, but it’s a look we like.
As for sizing, I opted for a Medium, since I didn’t intend to wear heavy layers or thick hoodies beneath the Mojac — I usually just wear a thin t-shirt or baselayer beneath it. If I did intend to wear heavy layers beneath it, I would need to bump up to a size Large.
The Mojac Overshirt has a very straight, “Regular” or boxy cut. The size Medium doesn’t leave me with much extra room through the shoulders and chest, then I have plenty of room across the waist / torso. So for those who have very broad shoulders and small waists, fit might be an issue. But the Medium works well for me. This is a fantastic, super functional piece.
Patagonia Insulated Fjord Flannel Jacket
Reviewer: 5’10”, 175-180 lbs.
Days Worn: ~30
Moving into more straight-up jacket territory, the insulated Fjord Flannel Jacket is still super comfortable, and comfortable enough to wear inside in temps around 65° F or lower. But it also is the only lined piece in our collection — it’s lined with “contrast polyester plain weave and insulated with 60-g Thermogreen® 100% polyester (90% recycled) for increased warmth,” and that liner gives it the most jacket-like feel of the bunch.
We have also moved into “really nice” territory here, so this jacket is best if you need a fairly warm jacket that looks great and you don’t need it to hold up to a ton of abuse — I’d chop wood or work in the garage in the Toad & Co. Mojac Overshirt; I wouldn’t in the Insulated Fjord Flannel — I treat it better than that, and it’s soft-hand feel is really nice but not designed to treat roughly.
As for sizing, I went with a size Large to allow more room to layer. And that L works well if you think you’ll be wearing thick sweaters or hoodies beneath it. But at my height / weight, I could easily get away with a Medium if I wanted more of a “shirt” fit or slimmer fit. And since this jacket is nice enough and is comfortable enough to leave on whether indoors or out, going with a Medium and using it as more of a really warm shirt is pretty tempting.
Finally, the Insulated Fjord Flannel Jacket uses buttons rather than snap closures, and it is the only piece in our roundup that has hand pockets, which will matter to some.
Smartwool Men’s Anchor Line Shirt Jacket
Color: Medium Gray Heather
Reviewer: 5’10”, 175-180 lbs.
Days Worn: ~25
The Anchor Line functions similarly in terms of warmth to the Insulated Fjord Flannel, and is also on the “nice piece” end of the spectrum than the “treat-it-rough workshirt” end. Its 80% Merino / 20% Nylon fabric creates a thicker, more dense / less-soft hand feel than the other pieces in our collection that some might find to be a bit itchy. I don’t; I mostly just notice that its fabric is a bit stiffer than the other pieces.
I also really like the Anchor Line’s snap closures — functional and fast.
As for sizing, this Medium runs a bit longer (in torso and arm length) than the other Mediums in our group, while also being a bit less boxy than the other pieces. So this is a good option for you longer, leaner types.
Final note: this sharp-looking shirt-jacket is Dry-Clean only.