For some (like the Gear Geek himself), flannel shirts stood as the uniform of the Grunge Generation long before it was co-opted by the mainstream, a style that seems to have receded just as quickly as it rose—at least until lumbersexuals hit the hipster streets of Brooklyn … which naturally inspired the next backlash. But something gets lost in all trend spikes and dives: flannel shirts are the ideal autumn apparel. In honor of that simple truth, we present a round-up of some of the best flannels out there, from simple long-sleeved layers to shirts kitted out with a few tech features that’ll pay off while exploring the world’s open roads.
Louis Beche, CC-BY
1. Fjallraven Skog, $110; 2. Duluth Crosscut, $55; 3. Mountain Hardwear Stretchstone; $85; 4. Club Ride Shaka, $90; 5. Prana Bridget Top, $89; 6. Black Diamond Long-Sleeve Stretch Technician, $89; 7. Columbia Simply Put II, $45
Nathan Borchelt is a gear-obsessed travel writer and adventurer whose collection of shoes, backpacks, jackets, bags, and other “essential” detritus has long-outgrown his one-bedroom apartment (and his wife’s patience).
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The slim-fitting men's flannel rolls all the classic elements—bold checkered patterns, cozy cotton fabric, a button-down collar—with nice travel-specific features like twin button-down chest pockets. It also employs Fjallraven's durable, quick-drying, weather-resistant G-1000 fabric at the collar, sleeve cuffs, and pocket flaps.
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Take your traditional flannel, lighten it a bit, and add a bit of performance, and you get the the woman's Crosscut. It uses 40% poly to wick away sweat to keep you cool and dry, along with cotton to keep things cozy and comfortable. Other features include "bust-proof" buttons to prevent unsightly gapping, and a modern bi-swinging back and underarm gussets to offer freedom of movement despite its close fit. Bonus: a microfiber cloth hides under the front hem to help clean your sunglasses, smart phone, or camera lens.
Duluth Trading Co.
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Mountain Hardwear Stretchstone
The Stretchstone uses a polyester blend to afford the slim-fitting shirt some performance-oriented stretch, but it's still plenty plush. The men's and woman's models both include two chest pockets, and femme version boasts "boyfriend styling," which perhaps refers to the curved (but not over-curved) hemline. Women can also choose a hooded version for the same price, or for a pull-over design that ditches the traditional shirt collar for $80.
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Club Ride Shaka
Club Ride specializes in making premium products for cycling-obsessed folks who don't want to always be encased in a racing jersey, and the Shaka is no exception. The singletrack-ready flannel is made of polyester woven fabric, with a soft touch, snap front and cuffs, and two pockets, one at the chest, one at the rear, both zippered. But you also get stealth underarm venting mesh panels, a media port, and reflective accents to keep you visible and flowing when the city turns on the lights.
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Prana Bridget Top
When the mercury takes a nosedive, women should reach for the Bridget Top, which has a warm thermal lining inside and a stylish, form-fitting exterior, with stylish ring snaps at the chest pocket, cuffs, and placket. The Fair Trade-certified flannel also comes with a travel-savvy hidden waist pocket accessibly via a hard-to-see zipper at the right side for secret essentials.
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Black Diamond Long-Sleeve Stretch Technician
Casual and unassuming at first glance, the Technician is ready for high-performance activity thanks to its lightweight cotton/poly blend that affords stretch, with gusseted underarm panels for added movement. This warm, road-ready shirt also boasts Bluesign fabric, with a slim overall fit and two buttoned chest pockets.
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Columbia Simply Put II
With the Simply Put II, Columbia keeps things classic; it's a vibrant, yarn-dye cotton flannel with a shaped fit, chest pockets with a slightly modern take on the traditional flap design, and a stash pocket for grab-and-go items. And at $45, this woman's fleece is the least expensive in this round-up.