While we love technical polyester layers for weekend adventures and high-output missions, sometimes the day calls for a simple cotton t-shirt. Here are our favorites for everyday use.
Buck Mason Slub Classic ($32)
It's a good idea to have more than a single plain white tee in your wardrobe, but if we had to pick just one, it'd be Buck Mason’s version. It’s made from slub cotton—a textured knit that’s slightly loose and feels plush. Buck Mason pre-washes the Slub Classic, which adds to the shirt’s longevity by preventing shrinking, but also gives it a vintage finish, so it's like you’re inheriting your father’s best t-shirt. This tee could be my daily driver—it’s that comfortable—I just have to watch out for those stains.
Outerknown Sojourn ($48)
The organic Pima cotton in this tee is so smooth that it’s almost creamy to the touch, which gives it pajama-like comfort. I like the pigment-dyed, washed-out look (I prefer shirts that look worn, not crisp.) But be wary of the white—the shirt is so thin, it's almost see-through.
Taylor Stitch Heavy Bag ($45)
This is not a lightweight, summer-minded shirt. The Heavy Bag is built from upcycled cotton and recycled polyester that’s shredded and re-sewn into a dense fabric, so it’s made to take abuse. But that doesn’t mean it’s scratchy burlap; it's gentle on the skin. The shirt is thick, but it's got a tailored fit you might not expect from such a dense piece. If you’re on the mild West Coast, or in the Rockies, here's your new favorite everyday tee. Bonus: because it uses recycled fabric, Taylor Stitch requires no water to make this t-shirt.
Free Fly Channel Pocket ($45)
Free Fly uses bamboo in its t-shirts for moisture control and temperature regulation, but I find the bamboo-cotton blend too heavy to be a technical workhorse in the heat. That mixture also has a silky texture, so I often reach for the Channel Pocket when I need a casual layer for running around town. It has a loose fit without being baggy, and the thin stripes add a slightly retro-surf aesthetic.
Arc’teryx Emblem SS ($35)
Arc’teryx makes some of my favorite technical shirts and jackets, but the Emblem SS is what you wear between your adventures. It’s a feather-weight tee, made from 4.7-ounce organic cotton and pre-washed for a lived-in softness. Like other Arc’teryx tops, it has a very athletic fit, so size up if you don’t like a tight shirt.
Carhartt Workwear Pocket ($20)
There’s nothing particularly fancy about this t-shirt, which is exactly how Carhartt designed it. It’s 100 percent cotton, but built a little heavier than your average t-shirt (6.7 ounces) so it can hold up to everyday abuse as you rake the lawn, fix the toilet, or sit at the kitchen table writing an article (if that’s what you’re into). The Workwear Pocket runs a bit large, so size down for a more snug fit. Carhartt makes a sleeveless version too, if you’re proud of your guns.