12 Best Men’s T-Shirts

12 Best Men’s T-Shirts

The ultimate guide to men’s t-shirts.

We ask ourselves the fundamental question: what makes a good t-shirt? Some say it’s the thickness of the cotton, while others want a good bargain – but at the end of the day, most of us just want to look good in a shirt that we know is going to last us a while. 

Today we’re venturing far beyond just the white t-shirt and will be serving you reviews of Patagonia, Carhartt, Huckberry, Unbleached Apparel, and more…plus a sneak peak at the heaviest t-shirt in the WORLD.



Everything you need to know about cotton t-shirts

Read the full article on cotton here!

What is Short-Staple and Long-Staple Cotton?

There are many, many different qualities of cotton fiber and cotton fabric. Typically, longer cotton fibers (“staple” is the term used to measure cotton lengths) mean that the cotton fabric will be softer, smoother, and tougher. Shorter cotton fibers will make cotton fabric that’s rougher, less durable, and a bit “crunchy”. When it comes down to it though, both short staple cotton and long staple cotton have their pros and cons. Michael, for example, likes the rough feel and added texture from short staple cotton.


Source: Wove Towels 

What is Ringspun Cotton?

So what is ringspun cotton? Remember just before when I said longer staple cotton produces softer, stronger fabric? Ringspun cotton is cotton with the short staple and medium staple fibers removed.

Basically, ringspun cotton has gone through a process that softens and straightens the fibers and removes the short prickly fibers that standard cotton (unprocessed) would have. Imagine a head of hair with a lot of split ends vs. one with none…silky smooth. (Challenge: Keep imagining a head of hair btw, and see if you can do it through this entire article).

Source: Custom Apparel Source


What is Combed Ringspun Cotton?

Combed ringspun cotton is exactly what it sounds like, ringspun cotton on steroids. This process is the same, but removes even more short and medium staple fibers so you’re left with an even smoother fabric. 

Source: Grailed.com 


What is a Loopwheel T-Shirt?

This is where we get into it. The gloves are off. Time to wrestle. This is a tough one because there are loopwheeled t-shirts by definition and loopwheel t-shirts by mythical lore. Stick around and we’ll explain everything.

One thing we can all agree on: loopwheel t-shirts have no side seams. That’s it. That’s literally all we can agree on. Now, onto the lore... 


The Mythical Loopwheel T-Shirt

A loopwheel shirt in the mythical lore sense is made in one of about 5 factories in the world. Making them is an incredibly slow process, during which the fabric is made on vintage tubular knitting machines where virtually no tension is applied to the fabric at any point. Each machine can only make one size of garment. So if you have a small, medium, and large t-shirt you want made…you need three machines that move at a glacial speed.  

Source: Redcast Heritage Co.

Is there a benefit to this slow moving fossil? Yes. The shirts hold their shape better and are more durable. To what point are they more durable/do they hold their shape? It really doesn’t seem like there is a lot of data on this topic, but the main reason for those two characteristics is that there is virtually no tension during the knitting process. So basically, while loopwheel t-shirts are of significantly better quality, we may never know exactly how much stronger a loopwheel t-shirt is compared to your other t-shirts. 

That being said, the mythical loopwheel category of t-shirts are insane, and the manufacturer will undoubtedly make it clear if their shirts are of the mythical variety). The cotton is always of the highest quality, the fit is very carefully considered, and every possible upgrade that can be made, is made. 


The Truth About Loopwheel T-Shirts

Here is where it gets tricky. Some companies use the term “loopwheel” to refer to any tubular knit t-shirt, while other companies have modernized version of classic, old-school loopwheel machines, which is often still defined as loopwheel.

The truth is that the definition of “loopwheel” can be adapted a little bit by the manufacturer themselves… like if a machine has the same “bearded needle” as a loopwheel machine and the process is very similar, or if the process is really slow, like traditional loopwheel manufacturing. And, since loopwheel machines can only knit one size, some manufacturers will cut their loopwheel fabric and stitch it back together to make bigger t-shirts. This, of course, means that some t-shirts defined as "loopwheel" DO indeed have side seams. 

So, the best way to find out if your shirt is really loopwheeled? Ask the store and see what they say!

What is a Binded Collar?

We hate saggy t-shirt collars here at the Iron Snail. There is nothing worse than having a wiggly, disgusting, vile, saggy collar. It instantly makes you go from the 10 that you are, to a 5. How can you prevent this?

There are two solutions:

1. Look for a beefy ribbed collar. Collars that are the same material as the rest of the shirt are great and will sometimes last a while, but they’ll last even longer when they have those deep, luscious ribs. These collars are made to snap back to their shape and not stretch.


2. Look for a well sewn collar - the base of the collar should feel extra thick, like there is a little something-something under there (there is, it's the body of the shirt). You also want to see horizontal stitching around that little something-something. Usually you’ll see two stitches around the bottom of the collar and one below the ribbed line.

 We're showing a self binded collar below -- these collars are tough but won't hold their shape as well as a beefy ribbed collar. They are better than very flimsy ribbed collars however.



The Best Men’s T-Shirts

You can buy these t-shirts (and others we think you’ll love) here.


#9 - Bronson Ringspun Cotton T-Shirt (BEST VALUE)

To be honest, we were shocked when we first felt the Bronson t-shirt(s). For the price, there really are very few other t-shirts out there that could rival them. We’re not even sure how Bronson does it. A heavier weight (9 oz), ringspun, well fitting t-shirt with a ribbed collar?! Come on! This is one of our top choices. Great job, Bronson. Made in China. $25.

  • Price: 5/5
  • Softness: 4/5
  • Thickness: 4/5
  • Collar: 5/5

#8 - Sunspel Men’s Classic Cotton T-Shirt

Our lovely little host, Michael, threw a fit over how thin this shirt was, but that’s a him-problem (no offense, Michael). This shirt uses a very long staple cotton and feels silky. If you’re looking for a shirt that is a bit see-through, you found it. If you’re looking for a shirt that’s fabulous for hot weather, you found it again! Although, the silkiness and thinness of this shirt demands you take care of it. It’s more of a “formal” t-shirt if you will. This is also the best t-shirt to layer under a button-down dress shirt. Made in England. $90.

  • Price 5/5
  • Softness: 5/5
  • Thickness: 1/5
  • Collar: 5/5



#7 - Patagonia Men’s ‘73 Skyline Organic T-Shirt

Hmm, this one is a bit tough to rate. Soft, lighter weight, certified organic, 4.5 oz cotton jersey t-shirt with a Patagonia logo and graphic. The sleeves are on the longer side. Slightly less robust construction than some other higher end t-shirts, but still great quality. Plus, it’s Fair Trade Certified™. We think that what you’re really paying for here is being nice to the environment, which we love. If you love that, too, then there is no better choice.  This shirt feels worn in – it doesn’t have a “crispness” like most of the other shirts here. $45.

  • Price: 3/5 (if we factor in environmental consciousness, this is a 5/5)
  • Softness: 4/5
  • Thickness: 2.5/5
  • Collar: 3/5



#6 - adidas Unisex Pharrell Williams Basics Human Race Tee

Beep boop, boop beep. Before this shirt is washed it looks like what we think a shirt would look like if it was designed by aliens. It even says “Humanmade”, like the aliens thought they were being tricky. It’s a very heavy shirt, we think around 8-10 oz. It feels like a sweatshirt, but is very smooth – if we were to speculate (which we often do), this could be because it’s made of combed ringspun cotton. This speculation is also based on the shrinkage we saw when we washed it: it shrinks a pretty decent amount, making the shirt go from oversized to well-fitting. $50.

  • Price: 5/5
  • Softness: 4/5
  • Thickness: 5/5
  • Collar: 3/5 


#5 - Carhartt K87 Loose-Fit Short Sleeve Pocket T-Shirt

This feels like it’s for big beefy men, or people who want to be big beefy men, or Brooklyn baristas who ride single speed bikes. Heavyweight, loose-fit, 6.7 oz t-shirt with sleeves that are on the longer side. The oversized sleeves work nicely with the fit of the shirt. This one feels rougher than your average t-shirt, so we speculate that it’s made of standard cotton. Still, pretty durable – made to move and work in. Made in Guatemala. $20.

  • Price: 5/5
  • Softness: 2/5
  • Thickness: 4/5
  • Collar: 2.5/5 


#4 - Velva Sheen Short Sleeve Pocket Tee

SIZE UP! Michael put this t-shirt on and couldn’t look at himself in the mirror for a week. He saw parts of his body he never knew he had. He could have possibly seen God and God told him to go run a lap and eat more vegetables.

This shirt is great, in theory (the only thing holding it back is sizing). The cotton has a ton of character, the collar is of good quality, the fabric isn’t too heavy or too light, and the packaging is very retro. Velva Sheen originally was a US brand that went out of business and now is a Japanese brand. Runs small (in case you hadn’t heard). Made in the USA. $100 for a pack of two

  • Price: 3.5/5
  • Softness: 3/5
  • Thickness: 4/5
  • Collar: 4/5



#3 - Buck Mason White Slub Vintage Pocket Tee

This t-shirt feels different than the rest. It’s not like other girls. The cotton feels very, very loosely woven and incredibly soft. Vintage fit short sleeve crewneck 4.2 oz cotton tee with a straight hem. 145 GSM cotton jersey with a light slub texture. The t-shirt feels almost three dimensional, which is due to the slub yarns (yarns with varying thicknesses).

The collar is made of the same material as the shirt itself (self collar), which is better than just a ribbed collar, but still not the best. Either way, the vintage fit and the slubby yarns make this shirt have a lot of character, especially for the price point. Made in the USA. Fits on the longer side. $42.

  • Price: 4/5
  • Softness: 5/5
  • Thickness: 3/5
  • Collar: 3/5


#2 - Bronson Loop Wheel T-Shirt (BEST VALUE) 

Thick loopwheel shirt made of 10.5oz ringspun cotton in a standard athletic fit. This t-shirt is banging. The only little controversial thing going on is it has that weird loopwheel definition. It's loopwheel…but is it LOOPWHEEL? Thick, crisp, and literally a quarter of the price of 99% of all loopwheel shirts. No matter the definition of loopwheel they use, this is an amazing shirt. High quality constructed stitched-over collar, meaning it will keep its shape better. $27 on sale. 

  • Price: 6/5
  • Softness: 3.5/5
  • Thickness: 5/5
  • Collar: 5/5 


#1 - Standard & Strange Wakayama Special Loopwheel Tee

Standard and Strange knocked this shirt out of the park. It’s by far Michael’s favorite loopwheel t-shirt he’s ever worn, and he’s worn a lot. Magically soft, three dimensional, perfect fit, banging color. Not to mention the price for a loopwheel shirt is great. Loopwheel cotton in beautiful, rich colors and with a ribbed foldover collar. Fits true to size, not too long, not too short – just right. Made in one of the last remaining functional loopwheel mills in Japan. $95.

  • Price: 5/5
  • Softness: 5/5
  • Thickness: 4/5
  • Collar: 5/5


Unranked Honorable Mentions

We haven’t included these bonus t-shirts in the ranking (because these are our friends), but we think they’re great, too.


Huckberry Forty Five Slub Cotton Pocket Tee

Buck Mason? Is that you? This t-shirt is very similar to our good ol’ friend Buck. The knit is a bit tighter, the shirt feels a bit more “firm” but other than that it’s virtually the same as the Buck Mason Shirt (except it’s a little cheaper).

Lighter weight, vintage wash 7oz (NOTE: they say this is 7oz, but that’s very surprising to us. We’d guess it’s around 4.5oz because it really does feel more like that) slub cotton tee with a pocket. Cozy, lightweight, great for everyday. Non-ribbed foldover collar. Made in Peru. $35.

  • Price: 4.5/5
  • Softness: 5/5
  • Thickness: 3/5
  • Collar: 3/5


Unbleached Apparel Dye-Free Tee

Unbleached 6.1 oz ringspun cotton with a boxy, classic fit. Our good friend Chance over at Unbleached Apparel just HATES bleach and dyes. Hates ‘em. It’s not good for the environment, white t-shirts stain easier, etc. This t-shirt is a great deal if you’re looking for an upgraded version of a “pack” t-shirt (aka. those t-shirts you can get in a box of 5 at Target). The collar is not a foldover collar, meaning over time it will wrinkle a bit, but it’s a great quality for the price. Made in Haiti. $28 for a pack of two.

  • Price: 5/5
  • Softness: 4.4/5
  • Thickness: 3/5
  • Collar: 2/5


The Heaviest T-Shirt in the World??

Wonder Looper Crewneck T-Shirt

Are you looking for an incredibly heavy t-shirt? You’ve found it. Stop looking. This shirt feels like a sweatshirt. It’s in a league of its own. The fabric is like armor. It surpasses the classification of “t-shirt” and becomes a wardrobe piece in its own right.

Made by Bahzad and Risa (from Naked & Famous), we can’t think of anyone else to trust more than them.  Double heavyweight, athletic fit cotton jersey t-shirt that genuinely feels like a sweatshirt, possibly the heaviest in the world at 12.1 oz per square yard (409gsm). Made in Japan using a circular knit technique, giving the surface a cool, uneven texture. Very high quality collar construction. $124.

  • Price: 5/5
  • Softness: 4/5
  • Thickness: 5/5
  • Collar: 5/5


The Takeaway

Great t-shirts exist, you just have to know what to look for: cotton type, collar style, fit, thickness, softness, and price. 


The Iron Snail is a men’s fashion vlog starring a young man named Michael and featuring a snail no bigger than a quarter. The two are set on taking over the world of fashion by creating a clothing line to end all clothing lines. Until then, we’re here to tell you EVERYTHING you need to know about the best clothing out there, from the highest quality raw denim jeans to the warmest jacket to the sturdiest boots…the Iron Snail has got you covered.

Taylor Hale is your friendly neighborhood tea enthusiast, amateur knitter, skincare nerd, clothing thrifter, regular flosser, accidental teapot collector, vintage ikea lamp hunter, overzealous plant owner, beeswax candle-lover, gal pal, and obviously, very serious academic. She writes for the Iron Snail, as you can see.

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