The Happy Camper: My Favourite Flannel Shirts

Kevin Callan talks about the "Canadian Dinner Jacket," with four of his faves.

Flannel is not a pattern. Plaid is a pattern, commonly worn on a Highlander’s kilt. Flannel is a type of material. It was originally made from sheep’s wool that was tightly woven into a dense, moisture-wicking fabric. Now some brands blend other materials in with the wool, and usually create a plaid-pattern shirt. It’s what us Northerners call our “dinner jacket.” And with the cold weather coming, it’s time to review some of the best ones for the season.

Fjallraven Canada Shirt ($185)

This shirt is on the thick side, meaning it’s more like a lightweight jacket than a shirt. But it’s definitely a classic flannel for cold weather. The outer material is a mix of half acrylic and half polyester/wool blend. It breathes well and is exceptional at wicking moisture. I do find it fits a little smaller than expected. If you’re a medium, then I’d order the large.

Outdoor Research Feedback Flannel ($100)

This is one of my favourite flannels when it comes to style and comfort. It’s made of 100 per cent yarn-dyed woven polyester, creating a wicking, quick-drying and breathable shirt. Its soft texture makes for a cozy fit to the skin—it’s not itchy. And I think it has the nicest pattern choices available.

Smartwool Anchor Line ($180)

This flannel comes with a lot of wool—80 per cent merino (20 per cent nylon). It’s another classic shirt-jacket and makes for an exceptional warm and soft mid-layer. The back is vented at the hem for added mobility and the merino wool-blend lining the cuffs and around the collar are added bonuses.

Icebreaker Departure ($190)

This flannel shirt is made entirely with merino wool, making it breathable and soft to the touch. It also makes you less stinky. Merino wool has naturalantimicrobial properties due to the lanolin in its fibers, which kills bacteria. Combine that with merino wool’s ability to manage moisture, and you have flannel shirt that greatly reduces odour-causing bacteria.

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