Oh yes, flannels and plaids, the greatest shirts ever created. There is just something about them that makes me smile, their comfort, their heft, their twill and tartan. I love ‘em, which is probably why my closet looks as if I have some kind of Plainnely sponsorship. Nope, I am just your average mountain dude with perhaps an above average amount of plaid in my life. It’s not my fault. I was raised with a checkered shirt appreciation (the featured image for this article is of my father and I post wood chopping…yes, we coordinated our wardrobes). Here are my favorite shirts.
Woolrich Expedition Chamois Shirt
This shirt weights nine ounces and is built with Woolrich’s heaviest, burliest chamois. The more you wear, wash, and use this flannel the better looking and more comfortable it gets. Modern trim that drapes loosely, Woolrich offers that classic outdoorsmen look and style. The great thing about the Expedition is its versatility. I’ve worn mine all day in the woods that surround my family’s cabin in Wisconsin, bucking up trees, cutting and stacking firewood, as well as out on dates. Side note: I feel snazzy during both activities but have had better luck with the trees. When the leaves start turning come October, this is the first shirt I reach for and is in constant rotation, along with a hugs-worth of other Woolrich plaids and flannels, until summer returns.
$35+ • BUY
Pladra Leon Buck Blue Flannel
The super cool thing about the shirts made by this San Francisco-based flannel producer is that each features a nature or animal scene on the inside of the collar, pockets, and cuffs. I have always received wow-factor style points and compliments when I roll the sleeves. The first time I buttoned my Leon up, I fell deeply in love. It’s incredibly comfy without feeling flimsy. Heavyweight cotton, the classic two chest pocket design, classier than hell and functional elbow patches, the Leon is that soft but rugged shirt that will spruce up a t-shirt and jeans style and send it into rustic elegance. I wear mine everywhere, from running errands to running a shovel. The Pladra Leon is the type of shirt that’ll be around for the next 40-years.
$65+ • BUY
Western Rise Spruce Snap Shirt
A breathable, quick drying, UPF 30+, DWR-treated shirt that is functional on the river, on the slopes, and sharp enough for the dinner table? Um, yes! Western Rise nails the mutlipurpose category with this cowboy-inspired pearl snap. Rather than changing in and out of your office and trail wear, why not combine them? The Spruce Snap Shirt is a Swiss army knife plaid—it’s good for just about everything. I recently wore it as my travel shirt for an international ski trip. Twenty plus hours of travel and I was able to drop bags at a hotel and head to dinner without looking like a ragamuffin.
$89 • BUY
A Few final Thoughts
A lot of the shirts in my closet are in constant biweekly circulation or have been designated to “adventure only” status. I have a ripped, patched, grubby red flannel that comes out for rafting trips only, an Analog (RIP to a brand no more) hoodie I wear spring skiing, some years-old Eddie Bauer, Land’s End, and L.L. Bean flannels I wear while using the chainsaw or the apple cider press at the cabin, and then to the fish fry. I’ve worn my Patagonia plaids on Colorado River floats and to classy dinners in Chicago. To me, flannels and plaids have and always will be cool, whether I’m strolling Main Street or Michigan Ave, on a raft, on my skis, or on a date. Plaids and flannels are shirts that sum up my entire existence: work hard, look tough, and be soft to the touch…yeah, that’s a thing.