- Everyone loves flannel in the winter because it's thick, soft, and warm.
- L.L.Bean's Flannel Sheets are the perfect weight and warmth - not too heavy nor stifling.
- We also tested options that are budget-friendly, the softest, and organic.
When I imagine a cold winter's night where a hot cup of tea or cocoa is almost definitely involved, I immediately think of flannel sheets. This classic cold-weather fabric is essential for anyone who wants to stay toasty warm and comfortable in bed.
Flannel is a slightly thick fabric woven from wool or cotton, and it has a soft and fuzzy feel. With the right set of flannel sheets, you should feel warm without overheating and never itchy and uncomfortable.
Now that temperatures are starting to drop and we're looking ahead to fall and winter, we tested several flannel sheets to help you bundle up. We compared overall feel, comfort, fit, and durability (read more about our methodology) and found the most versatile, comfortable, and pill-resistant sheets in the market.
Here are the best flannel sheets of 2021
- Best flannel sheets overall: L.L.Bean Ultrasoft Comfort Flannel Sheets
- Best flannel sheets on a budget: Pinzon Cotton Flannel Sheets
- Softest flannel sheets: Lands' End Organic Flannel Sheets
- Best organic flannel sheets: Coyuchi Cloud Brushed Organic Flannel Sheets
Our initial test of the best flannel sheets took place in late summer, which helped us assess breathability. We'll continue testing them through winter to further evaluate their warmth. We evaluated the contenders with the following tests:
Durability: We washed and dried each set of sheets according to its respective instructions at least three times. Unless otherwise indicated, we washed the sheets in a cold cycle with gentle detergent and dried them on a low tumble cycle. We also noted whether there was excessive lint in the lint trap and any pilling or color loss over time.
Fit: We put each fitted sheet on a 10-inch-thick mattress and noted slipping, sliding, post-wash shrinkage, and stretchiness of elastic.
Comfort: We slept on each set for at least one week continuously and noted its softness, texture, breathability, weight, and warmth. Since our initial test began in summer, we slept at night both with an AC (to mimic cold winter conditions) and without an AC to see whether sleeping on the flannel sheet year-round is possible.The best flannel sheets overall
L.L.Bean's Ultrasoft Comfort Flannel Sheets are soft, cozy, and not so heavy as to be stifling. Importantly, they retain their feel and color after many washes, so you can sleep with them for many winters to come.
Pros: Comfortable and velvety feel, not too heavy, doesn't pill or color-fade over time, comes in many colors and patterns
Cons: May not be warm enough for extreme cold, pillowcases are open-ended and can slip around
L.L.Bean excels at flannel goods of all kinds, from shirts to lined sleeping bags. Its sheets are another flannel product you need to buy if you aim to stay warm and cozy on cold nights.
While thicker than percale or sateen sheets, they're not overly thick — instead, they provide just enough weight and warmth to keep you comfortable without overheating.
The brand even claims you can use them year-round. I tested this set near the end of summer, and I believe it. I usually prefer lightweight and crisp percale sheets, but these flannel sheets were surprisingly comfy and breathable.
I'm looking forward to testing them when it's actually frigid outside.
Like most flannel sheets, L.L.Bean's shed a lot of lint in the dryer. The amount decreases significantly with each subsequent wash and dry. Notably, the sheets don't pill and instead stay velvety smooth. Color loss is common when washing any type of sheet, but so far my sage sheets have kept their lovely green hue.
The thick Pinzon Cotton Flannel Sheets are half the price of competitors but feel just as soft and comfortable. Because they come in twin XL sizes, they're also the best budget-friendly option for college students who want warm comfort in their dorms.
Pros: Affordable, comes in all bed sizes, heavyweight but breathable
Cons: Often has limited stock of various colors, smell bad out of the package, pillowcases may be tight on high-loft pillows
The Pinzon flannel sheets are a little heavier and thicker than our best pick, so if you really want the feeling of being enveloped in plush warmth, go for these sheets. What makes them even better is the accessible price.
I consistently felt like I got better and deeper sleep every time I slept in these sheets, which shows just how powerful they are.
The main difference between these budget sheets and our other picks is that Pinzon's tend to continue to shed lint even out of the dryer. This is especially true after your first few washes, but the good news is that the shedding declines over time.
Another drawback is that they don't smell great when you first open them. And if you have high-loft pillows, the pillowcases are a tight fit, and you may need to wrestle them on.
On the other hand, they get bonus points from us for being both affordable and available in twin XL. This makes it easy for college students to create a warm and inviting home away from home.Softest flannel sheets
The Lands' End Organic Flannel Sheets are incredibly soft and completely worth the higher price tag if you want to sleep in cloud-like comfort.
Pros: Made from organic cotton, incredibly soft, regularly goes on sale, deep-pocket sheet fits mattresses up to 18 inches deep
Cons: Only come in a few colors, produces the most lint
Lands' End's flannel sheets were my personal favorite because of how velvety-soft they were. Imagine your entire bed covered in your coziest loungewear material, and you have these sheets. I loved sleeping in them and was disappointed when I had to switch them out for a new set.
They only come in a handful of neutral colors, but if you don't care about having many color and pattern options, then you should consider them. The set is also an excellent choice for people with thick mattresses because the fitted sheet has a stretchy elastic to fit beds up to 18 inches deep.Best organic flannel sheets
Coyuchi's Cloud Brushed Organic Flannel Sheets are responsibly made, with the certifications to back it up. The thick, heavy sheets let you sleep in comfort without sacrificing your values.
Pros: GOTS and Made Safe certified, heavyweight but breathable
Cons: Pricier than other picks, requires plant-based detergent
Coyuchi is one of our favorite organic brands because it's transparent about its production processes and follows environmentally and socially responsible practices. When you snuggle up in its brushed cotton flannel sheets, you'll feel even better knowing that they meet strict environmental, ethical, and health standards set by GOTS and Made Safe.
If you know you like a thicker flannel and are looking to make an upgrade, Coyuchi's flannel is an excellent choice. It feels substantial and is more heavyweight than average. The heathered options, in particular, feel cozy and familiar from the first night of sleep.
It also holds up well in the wash. Keep in mind that you'll need to use a plant-based detergent due to the materials used to make the sheets.
The sheets come in solid and striped coastal-inspired colors, whisking you away to a winter beach getaway by the cliffs of the Pacific. In line with the brand's sustainability mission, they are packaged in a reusable organic cloth bag rather than plastic.What else we tested
What else we recommend and why
Eddie Bauer Flannel Sheets: Eddie Bauer carries the most fun prints and patterns and is a solid seasonal buy for yourself or as a gift. While comfortable, they were not as soft as our other final picks.What we're testing next
Garnet Hill Signature Flannel Sheets: Garnet Hill is another iconic brand that's been making flannel goods for a long time. Its cotton flannel sheets are made in a family-run German mill and come in many pretty colors.
West Elm Organic Flannel Sheets: Another organic option we're interested in testing comes from West Elm. It's also GOTS-certified. Pair it with the jacquard duvet cover, also in flannel, and you'll have a sophisticated (and warm) winter bed.FAQs
What is flannel?
Flannel is a woven fabric made from wool or cotton (more commonly cotton). It has a thicker weave than sheets like percale cotton, sateen cotton, silk, or linen. It's napped or brushed on one or both sides to raise all the fine fibers, so it feels soft and slightly fuzzy. Together, the thickness and texture of flannel make it an insulating and cozy fabric, which is why it's so often the bedding of choice in the winter.
What's the difference between flannel and cotton?
Flannel isn't different from cotton. In fact, it's often made from cotton. There is also wool flannel, which is the traditional material used to make flannel. Wool flannels are even warmer and can continue to keep you warm if it gets wet.
What's the difference between flannel and plaid?
The two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but flannel refers to the specific type of woven fabric, while plaid is a pattern of stripes running vertically and horizontally. Plaid patterns are often paired with flannel fabrics, which is why the two get confused. However, all plaids are not on flannels, and not all flannels have plaid patterns.
How do you care for flannel? How do you prevent pilling?
It's important not to wash flannel in hot water, which causes the color to fade and leads to pilling. It's best to wash your flannel sheets in cold or warm water with a gentle detergent to make your flannel last longer, feel softer, and prevent pilling.Check out more bedding guides