Review 16: Ultra-Heavy Flannels

by | November 10, 2021 | Reviews

Samurai Heavy Flannel

Flannels! Every guy has one, or two or twenty. But what sets these shirts apart from all the others? The colorful patterns, the soft brushed cotton, or the warmth they provide while still being a staple in almost everyone’s wardrobe? 

Today we’re talking about three of the heaviest weight flannels money can buy; Iron Heart, Samurai, and UES. All three brands are heavy hitters and unique in their very own way. They only have one thing in common; they’re made in Japan.

Living in Wisconsin, flannels have always been part of my wardrobe. The winters are long and brutal. Typically we get a couple of feet of snow or more a year, but sometimes we get that much in a single day with temperatures dipping below zero for months on end. Flannels have always provided me with the warmth and rugged durability needed to withstand the harsh environment.


Iron Heart UHF

If you’re into raw denim, chances are you have heard of Iron Heart. Their reputation precedes them. Iron Heart produces some of the finest made denim, and heritage menswear money can buy. These garments are not just a fashion statement but a testament to the fundamentals of which Iron Heart was created; for bikers!

Just like their jeans, Iron Heart flannels are made to take a beating! Iron Heart UHF flannels are made of Aspero cotton, woven into a 12oz fabric in unique patterns and colors. From classic to crazy, Iron Heart produces two styles of flannels: Western and Work.

  • Iron Heart Heavy Flannel
  • Iron Heart Heavy Flannel
  • Iron Heart Heavy Flannel
  • Iron Heart Heavy Flannel
  • Review 16: Ultra-Heavy Flannels 1
  • Iron Heart Heavy Flannel

Iron Heart UHF flannels are single brushed on the outside and double brushed on the inside to provide a flannel that’s not only warm but comfortable and more than capable of withstanding the harsh winds of winter.

While Iron Heart UHF flannels maybe some of the most durable money can buy, they are also quite pricey. At $350 or more, they may just be the most expensive flannels you’ll ever consider adding to your wardrobe. Don’t fret, though; occasionally, these shirts go on sale and are frequently available second-hand in excellent condition.

Iron Heart UHF Initial impression:

Holy Shit! This is one of the heaviest shirts I’ve ever owned. The colors and patterns are insane and highly vibrant. The fit is fantastic. The sleeves are a tad long, but I’m OK with this being 6’4″. I prefer to wear my Iron Heart UHF flannels as is or with a midweight denim jacket. I like the fit of the work shirt to the western, mainly for the easier access front pockets and the added room in the shoulders and elbows. 

Who should buy Iron Heart Flannels? 

Anyone looking for a flannel that can take an absolute beating and still walk away with a shirt on their back. 

Who shouldn’t buy Iron Heart Flannels? 

Anyone who lives in an area where it rarely drops below 60°F. I cannot recommend wearing these flannels in the summer months. They are too damn warm! 

  • Iron Heart Heavy Flannel
  • Iron Heart Heavy Flannel
  • Iron Heart Heavy Flannel
  • Iron Heart Heavy Flannel
  • Iron Heart Heavy Flannel
  • Iron Heart Heavy Flannel

Samurai Jeans 

From the Heart of Japan, a warrior emerged! Samurai Jeans have been producing some of the best raw selvedge denim in the world since 1998. Their jeans boast some of the most unique characteristics in the denim industry. These same characteristics are very much present in their flannels. 

If you love the texture of Samurai Jeans, you’re sure to love these flannels. Samurai produces one style of flannel. A work shirt that’s built from the ground up:

  1.  Asymmetrical pockets with a cotton lining. 
  2. Chain stitched side seams with run-off. 
  3. Double-needle stitched construction. 
  4. Reinforced double fabric forearms. 

The fabric Samurai uses to produce their flannel is 12oz, which in some cases can feel lighter or heavier than their competition. I have Samurai flannels that are brushed on the inside and unbrushed on the outside. Another Samurai flannel I own is not brushed, while flannels on their website are brushed inside and out. When ordering these flannels, it’s best to pay attention to the details provided. A fully brushed flannel will feel warmer and lock in the heat much better than an unbrushed flannel. 

Unfortunately, there really doesn’t seem to be any particular rhyme or reason to Samurai flannel pricing. Samurai flannels are available from several retailers, including Okayama Denim, Blue Owl Workshop, or the Samurai Jeans website. Samurai flannels are available anywhere from $235-$330 brand new depending on where you buy them. 

  • Samurai Heavy Flannel
  • Samurai Heavy Flannel
  • Samurai Heavy Flannel
  • Samurai Heavy Flannel
  • Samurai Heavy Flannel
  • Samurai Heavy Flannel
  • Samurai Heavy Flannel

Samurai Jeans Initial Impression:

Texture? I wasn’t expecting a flannel with texture, but I have grown to enjoy it quite a bit. The favorite of my two Samurai flannels is Indigo dyed unbrushed inside and out. I’ve come to enjoy the feel of the unbrushed fabric on my skin, though it did take some getting used to at first. 

The asymmetrical pockets add just the right amount of flare and compliments the shirt nicely. The patterns and colors are a little more modest but still different in their own way. I rarely use the chin strap collar. Sometimes I wish there was a button under the collar so I could hide it when it’s not in use. 

Who should buy Samurai Flannels? 

Anyone looking for a flannel that can be warm enough in the colder months can also breathe well in the spring and some of the summer months.

Who shouldn’t buy Samurai Flannels? 

I have a hard time not recommending these flannels to anyone because of how diverse they are. Samurai makes flannels that fit just about any denimhead’s price range and style. 

  • Samurai Heavy Flannel
  • Samurai Heavy Flannel
  • Samurai Heavy Flannel
  • Samurai Heavy Flannel

UES Heavy Flannel 

UES is a small Japanese company formed in 1994. UES comes from the English word waste. UES is of the mindset that far too much clothing is worn for a short period before being discarded. Their goal is to make apparel that will last a lifetime. 

UES weaves its fabric on antique shuttle looms in Okayama. UES claims a massive 14.5oz flannel made of 100% cotton. UES flannels are brushed inside and unbrushed on the exterior to provide a soft and warm shirt yet rugged and resilient. 

The seams have been rolled and double-chain stitched to provide a shirt that will withstand your rugged lifestyle. UES makes only one flannel style, a modern slim fit consisting of 2 front rounded chest pockets with buttons. The buttons are made of ivory palm nut and are dyed to match the colors of each specific shirt. 

UES Heavy Flannels cost $152.67 direct from their website. UES Flannels are available from several other websites worldwide for slightly higher prices ranging from $210-$300+ depending on who’s selling them. My advice is to buy them directly from the manufacturer and save that extra $60+ for something else. $152 is a steal for what you’re getting in terms of the construction of these shirts. 

  • UES Heavy Flannel
  • UES Heavy Flannel
  • UES Heavy Flannel
  • UES Heavy Flannel
  • Review 16: Ultra-Heavy Flannels 2

UES Heavy Flannel Initial Impression:

In my opinion, there’s no way in hell this is a 14.5oz flannel. With the possibility of moving to Arizona next summer, I was very hesitant to order one of these shirts as it would be undoubtedly too heavy to wear in 80°F+ heat all year long. If I had to guess what the weight of this shirt actually is, compared to the Iron Heart and Samurai 12oz Flannels, I’d say it’s 10-11oz. 

The patterns and colors are much more vibrant in person. Overall, I do enjoy the texture, and I really don’t have much to complain about the shirt altogether. However, I still feel it’s a steal for only $152.67, and I was lucky enough to get mine for only $120 plus shipping. The fit is excellent, although it’s a tad short in length.

Unfortunately, I could not get a reply from several emails sent to UES about how they measure the weight of their flannel material. Therefore, I then reached out to stores that sold UES, Samurai, and Iron Heart flannels to ask their opinion on their weight compared to other known 12oz flannels. 

The overall conclusion of these retailers is that UES 14.5oz flannels are nowhere close to their claim. These flannels feel like a slightly lighter fabric than both Samurai and Iron Heart 12oz flannels. I also reached out to several people who I knew owned at least two of the three flannels. 

The majority believe the same as I do. One friend who has UES 14.5oz flannels from previous years does believe his shirts are heavier than his Iron Heart 12oz shirts. However, his shirts are of earlier generations.

My conclusion is that UES may have produced 14.5oz flannels in the past, but their current flannels do not even come close to it. This conclusion is based on other 14 oz shirts in my collection, which outweigh my Iron Heart and Samurai flannels. There is no comparison between my 14oz shirts and the supposedly 14.5oz UES flannel material. 

Who should buy UES Heavy Flannels?

Anyone on a budget looking for a flannel made from high-end materials with excellent construction. 

Who shouldn’t buy UES Heavy Flannels?

Anyone looking for the heaviest and warmest flannel available. I would recommend some of the other options listed above. 


Final Thoughts 

Compared to the drab flannel shirts you find in most department stores, all three of these shirts are heavy-hitters. However, each brand is unique in its own way. All three are very well constructed and made to be used and abused. 

My favorite by far is the Samurai Flannels. I enjoy the unique asymmetrical chest pockets. I believe they add a bit more heritage style to this class of shirts. Also, I enjoy the sturdiness of the unbrushed, unsanforized one-wash fabric. It feels more substantial without the added weight. 

I enjoy the Iron Heart flannels as well. They are unmatched in softness and warmth, but it’s because of this that I can’t wear them all year long. Iron Heart flannels are much more attainable than Samurai, though. You can find them at several retailers around the world. Although the price of the Iron Heart Flannels is hard to swallow, I do feel they are worth every penny! 

Unfortunately, I probably will never buy another UES Flannel. Although I do like their shirts, it’s hard to imagine the reason behind advertising a 14.5oz flannel to a group of customers who value extreme attention to detail. Furthermore, it leads me to question other advertised qualities of their shirts. 

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About the Author

Chris Clark

Chris Clark

My name is Chris. I'm a denimhead, bourbon connoisseur, motorcyclist, and a purveyor of clothing that's made to last and stands the test of time. I work as a machinist and a welder. I strive to push the limits of workwear to find what works best, lasts the longest, and survives the brutal environment of shop life.