We Tested Five of the Most Popular Flannel-Lined Jeans
By Alex Lauer
Material: As is the case with normal jeans, the denim on this list comes in all shapes and sizes, ranging from stretch-blend Bonobos joints to some beastly 15-ounce bruisers from Carhartt. Pay attention to the heft of denim if you’re prioritizing certain properties — warmth chief among them.Lining: All twelve of the jeans we tested may have sported a flannel interior, but don’t be mistaken: not all lining is made the same. Discrepancies in blend (a true heavy-spun flannel, for instance, should be much warmer than its lightweight cotton-flannel half-brother), and even lining placement can all make a difference in the resulting warmth, mobility and feel of flannel-lined jeans. Sizing: As is a standard operating procedure with most lined pants, you’ll most likely need to order a size up in the waist, especially with old-school models from heritage brands like Wrangler and Carhartt. When in doubt, opt for the longer inseam, too: better a cuffed hem than exposed ankles.Below, a definitiv ranking of the best flannel-lined jeans, from Carhartt to L.L. Bean to Wrangler, to help you find the perfect pair.
What we expected from Carhartt: rugged, warm, work-ready pants. What we got: Exactly that, and for a paltry $40. The 100% cotton denim is the heaviest of the bunch at 15-ounces. And while Wrangler, J.Crew and L.L.Bean have your typical small YKK zippers, Carhartt has a larger, tougher version. But hipsters be warned — this is not Carhartt WIP. This is classic Carhartt, so the fit (widest leg of the bunch) and color (pure American blue jean) may scare someone accustomed to skinny selvedge denim. Other superlatives: Widest leg, strongest zipper (tie)
Best Bang for Your Buck: Carhartt Relaxed-Fit Straight-Leg Jean
Side-by-side, these jeans are indistinguishable from Carhartt in color. But the feel of the exterior denim is softer, and the legs aren’t as wide, making it the ideal runabout jean for dads and older dudes. It’s not going to win you any style points at your kid’s (or grandkid’s) hockey game, but the blue-and-yellow flannel will keep you warmer than that concession stand hot chocolate ever will. Other superlatives: Softest blue jean, most online 5-star reviews
The one cotton canvas option we tested. That color — paired with the lumberjack-esque red, black and yellow plaid interior — gives this top marks for pigment. You could even pass them off as khakis and wear them to work. But in the warmth department, these are found wanting. Even though they carry the “rugged” label, these were the least rugged of the bunch. They’re too thin in the legs even though the flannel was the softest, and there’s not enough reinforcement for me to trust them when hauling wood or sledding a hill. Other superlatives: Thinnest jean, softest flannel, softest exteriorSome people, myself included, relish the process of breaking in a rigid pair of stiff denim, but the process can be a hassle, and there’s something to be said for jeans that move with you fresh off the rack. Bonobos’ Tencel-blend lined jeans (with just a touch of elastane for that signature stretch) moved noticeably easier than their flannel-lined counterparts, a feat made all the more impressive when we considered its cotton-flannel lining. Like the Wranglers before them, they’re on the thinner side, and probably not fit to spend the entire day out on the lake, but will certainly make you the most agile pond-hockey player out there, at least for a little while. Other superlatives: Comfiest jeans, best dark wash
Best Color Scheme: Wrangler Rugged Wear Canvas Jean
Yes, I modeled all these jeans for my girlfriend for an objective opinion, and she preferred these. The reason? They look like your average stylish denim: dark wash, sit below the waist, fit comfortably at the hip but slim down for a slimmer, more flattering fit. But don’t expect these to last. The fast-fashion construction is equal to Wrangler. The other downfall: the brand only offers limited runs of their flannel-lined jeans every year, so right now they’re almost sold out. Fear not: the flannel will come again and we’ll update here when it does, or look for yourself on J.Crew Factory and J.Crew. Other superlatives: Stiffest denim, best out-of-the-box flannel feel, girlfriend-approved
Best Looks: J.Crew Classic Straight-Fit Flannel-Lined Jean
No, “ballroom” doesn’t stand for the dancing variety, it’s the…other kind. The dad-joke name aside, this is the pound-for-pound best flannel-lined jean on the market. It kept us the warmest during our test, but also felt the most durable. Upon closer inspection, it’s all in the details: the beefy zipper and deep pockets are on par with Carhartt, there is “Fire Hose cotton canvas” lining in key areas (waistband, cuffs and pockets) that no other jeans had, and the blue denim is darker than both Carhartt and L.L.Bean (admittedly, that’s not saying much). No, it will not win you any best-dressed awards. But if anyone feels the flannel lining, they’ll quickly whisper, I need some of those. Other superlatives: Warmest, best work pant, strongest zipper (tie)
Madewell’s Carpenter Jeans may not be the warmest pair we tried but damned if they aren’t the coolest, with workwear-inspired details and a prefaded Kenton Wash that’ll look right at home in your local slightly-too-expensive coffeeshop. If your keeping your Salomon sneakers clean falls higher on the propriety than shoveling snow, look no further.
A relative newcomer, at least compared to companies like Carhartt and L.L.Bean, Duer still makes a brilliant pair of fleece-lined jeans. But we’re not sure we can exactly call them fleece-lined because in both the slim fit and the relaxed fit, Duer has actually woven the fleece in with their denim fabric. If you’re looking to try something new — and for jeans that are much more flattering than the older brands on this list — this is your pair.
This straight-fit option from Eddie Bauer is nice because it’s available in four different washes ranging from black to classic blue. Plus, the denim is mixed with a splash of spandex from some extra stretch.
When we originally tested a pair from Wrangler, the main complaint was that the “rugged” qualifier belied the quality; they were just too thin. But that pair also isn’t available anymore. You shouldn’t have the same problems with these three blue-jean versions: the flannel-lined Cowboy Cut, a signature style of denim; a fleece-lined relaxed-fit jean, the most affordable option; and the Riggs Workwear pair, a Thinsulate-lined option comparable to Carhartt, in that it’s not flattering but still a customer favorite that will keep you warm when you’re stuck outside.
While we wouldn’t recommend Lee’s version for long days working outside, they do offer some welcome variety, like the flannel-lined, teak-colored option pictured above. They also offer a flannel version in black, as well as two fleece options in a classic American blue and darker “black quartz” denim.
There’s nothing too exciting to say about the straight-leg denim from Dickies, except that the back pockets are lined with nylon for some extra heft. Then there’s the heavyweight duck fabric option, which offers some more utility (it’s also a carpenter style with cargo pockets and hammer loop) and style thanks to the khaki color.We've put in the work researching, reviewing and rounding up all the shirts, jackets, shoes and accessories you'll need this season, whether it's for yourself or for gifting purposes. Sign up here for weekly style inspo direct to your inbox.