Best Welding Shirts: Comfort and FR Protection
Designed to self-extinguish hot sparks, the best welding shirts protect and provide peace of mind from stray sparks that may sneak past welding helmets, jackets, and leathers.
The best shirts for welding can keep you warm in cold weather, or even release trapped heat, so you’re more comfortable in summer when things get extra hot.
Because you don’t want a trapped spark to smolder or burst into flame under your jacket, a good flame-resistant (FR) welding shirt is an essential part of your PPE (personal protective equipment).
Here are 8 of the best welding shirts you can buy to stay safe and comfortable.
Jump to the 8 Best Welding Shirts by category:
- Best Value – Black Stallion
- Mens Most Durable – Wrangler Riggs
- Best Lightweight – Carhartt
- Best Western Style – Wrangler
- Womens Most Durable – Carhartt
- Womens Most Comfortable – Wrangler
- Most Affordable Base Layer – Rasco
- Most Comfortable Base Layer – Bulwark
Jump to: Choosing a Welding Shirt
Best Welding Shirts for Men
1. Best Welding Shirt for the Money
This affordable Black Stallion FR long sleeve welding shirt provides protection and comfort without the bulk of a leather jacket. Use as supplemental protection under a jacket, or alone for very light grinding and welding work.
The heavy but breathable 8-ounce 100% cotton denim is second only to 100% wool as a naturally flame resistant fabric.
Black Stallion further treats this flame-resistant shirt to meet the ASTM F1506 testing standard. One requirement is that fabric must maintain flame resistant properties even after 25 washes.
Even among a field of roomy welding shirts, this one stands out for its very generous fit. You’ll likely need a size smaller than usual. Here’s the sizing chart.
- Chest pocket flaps and a pencil slot
- Sizes: S-4XL (if you don’t see your size, search “revco denim shirt”).
- FR tags on the left sleeve and pocket.
- Not NFPA 70E or NFPA 2112 classified
- Happy buyers with 92% giving 4 or 5 stars.
- Compare to Lincoln Welding Shirt.
2. Most Durable Welding Shirt for Men
- Classic long sleeve work shirt with a comfortable and relaxed fit
- Designed to self-extinguish to help prevent or reduce the severity of burn injuries
- This fire resistant 100% cotton work shirt is built to last and keep you safe on the job
Made with hard-wearing 7.5-ounce 100% cotton fabric sewn with flame resistant Nomex thread, this Wrangler Riggs men’s work shirt is long-lasting.
It is also comfortable, with a roomier fit than Wrangler’s cowboy cut work shirts. These feel large out of the package, but the 100% cotton shirt will shrink to size.
With a button-down collar and high-visibility compliance labels, it’s hard to find a more professional-looking welding shirt. You get two functional chest pockets with button flaps and one pencil or scribe pocket.
Thanks to good looks and a decent selection of colors, you can wear this shirt nearly anywhere.
- Sizes: MED – 3XT
- Colors: grey, dark green, khaki, denim
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Meets strict CAT2 and 2112 classifications
- HRC2 and meets ASTM 1506, NFPA-70E and OSHA Final Rule 1910.269
3. Best Lightweight Welding Shirt
Carhartt offers this lighter weight version of its classic FR welder shirt that still meets the performance requirements of NFPA 70E, NFPA 2112/CAT 2 as shown by visible patches and tags.
Made from 6-ounce, 88% cotton / 12% nylon flame resistant twill material with triple stitched main seams, it’s lighter than most FR shirts. However, because it’s still a durable work shirt, it can be warm during hot weather.
Fit is true-to-size if you’re used to Carhartt men’s sizing. Otherwise, you’ll find these roomy. With sizes from small to 4XL tall, this is one of the best welding shirts for big and tall guys. Tall sizes run 2 inches longer in the body and sleeves.
- Machine washable/dry cleanable
- Fabric can look rumpled and is difficult to iron
- Button-down collar and front with flame-resistant melamine buttons
- Extended sleeve plackets with two-button adjustable cuffs
- Two chest pockets with flaps (one with pencil or scribe slot) and button closures
- Solid colors only: dark red, gray, dark navy, khaki, medium blue
4. Best Western Welding Shirt
Long popular in the trades for its professional good looks and durability, this Wrangler men’s welding shirt is also comfortable. The fit is true-to-size, running smaller than traditional work shirts, but roomier than Wrangler’s classic Western cut.
Choose from a selection of plaid and solid colors, along with denim. FR fabric type varies by color. One is a heavy but breathable 7.5-ounce 100% cotton twill, the other a lighter, comfortable 6.5-ounce 88% cotton/12% nylon sateen.
- Two spade pockets, one with pencil holder
- Three snap cuffs don’t allow size adjustment
- Machine washable
- Arc Thermal Protective Value ATPV 9.5 calories/cm2
- NFPA-70E, ASTM F1506, NFPA 2112, HRC 2 compliant
Best Welding Shirts for Women
5. Most Durable Welding Shirt for Women
Thanks to 7-ounce FR cotton-blend twill fabric, this Carhartt ladies welding shirt is durable and comfortable to wear, while providing extra protection from electric arcs or flash fires.
Carhartt offers this classic button-down collar welding shirt for women who want a fitted shirt that doesn’t restrict range of motion. Overall, it runs short, sometimes causing the tails to come untucked. Some find the body too roomy and prefer the closer-fitting Wrangler shirt shown below.
Flame-resistant melamine buttons secure the two chest pocket flaps, adjustable cuffs, and front placket. Triple-stitching on the main seams ensures longevity while reducing puckering so those areas lie flat.
- Sizes: XS to XXL
- In 2 colors: dark navy, khaki
- Machine washable / dry cleanable
- NFPA 70e, NFPA 2112, CAT 2, ATPV 8.6
- Compliance tags on pocket (2) and shirt tail
- Best for cool to moderate temperatures
- Not recommended as a primary welding protection garment
6. Most Comfortable Women’s Welding Shirt
- Sateen finish is softer than most FR fabrics
- Classic western look finished with pearl snap buttons
- Colors: burgundy, navy, khaki, pink, purple, turquoise
This authentic Wrangler Western-style shirt is made from a 88% Cotton/12% Nylon FR fabric having a sateen finish. This gives it a softer, silkier feel that is more comfortable than most FR welding shirts, yet with strong on-the-job durability.
And you don’t have to give up safety to get a good-looking and easy-to-wear shirt. These flame resistant shirts for women meet strict CAT2 and 2112 classifications.
Like most Western shirts, this one features a closer fit to the body than traditional work shirts. Some buyers needed to size up to maintain a comfortable range of motion.
- Hi-vis FR label on left chest pocket flap
- Hi-vis HRC2 NFPA 2112 patch on right cuff
- ATPV 8.6 cal/cm2
- Cuff snaps don’t allow adjustment for wrist size
- More expensive
- Sizes: SM – 3XL
- Machine wash
Best Welding Shirt Base Layers
7. Most Affordable Base Layer Welding Shirt
A good base layer provides an extra layer of protection under welding leathers or a jacket while helping keep you comfortable in cold or hot conditions. Along with flame resistance, the best welding shirt base layer is breathable, lightweight, and comfortable against your skin.
This essential Rasco FR henley work shirt does it all at half the price of some big brands—without sacrificing fabric quality.
Rasco pre-shrinks its durable 7.1 oz 100% cotton knit fabric, so that’s not a worry as long as you follow the wash instructions. These fit true to size, but are long in the body so they stay tucked in.
This classic design features a 3-button front with FR buttons and one chest pocket. Choose from eleven colors, including two camo patterns.
- Compare to: Carhartt FR Henley
- Sizes: SM – 5XL
- Visible FR compliance tag on a pocket.
- UL® classified to NFPA 2112
- Meets the performance requirements of NFPA 70E
- UL® certified to ASTM F1506
- HRC 2 rating
8. Most Comfortable Base Layer Welding Shirt
- Breathable mesh body panels and sleeve vents
- Lightweight 5.5-ounce 90% cotton/10% poly moisture-wicking fabric
- Extra comfort and protection under welding jacket/leathers
This Bulwark long sleeve pull-over welding undergarment moves with you and won’t inhibit your range of motion.
It’s designed for a close fit, keeping sparks making it past your primary protection layer off your skin. Because of this, it runs small but can fit just about anyone with sizes small to 5XL.
It’s made of a moisture-wicking material to dissipate perspiration and vented panels to release heat. Both fabric qualities help you stay comfortable when welding in warm summer weather.
- Tagless collar
- FR compliance label centered on neck
- Highly rated – 90% give 4 or 5 stars
- Home wash
Choosing a Welding Shirt
Why do welders wear special welding shirts?
Protection. Welding shirts provide supplemental protection to a welder from serious burns if sparks or spatter make it past a jacket, leathers, or other safety gear worn as primary protection.
Comfort. Just having an extra layer of protection is comforting on its own. But features such as cooling panels and moisture wicking found in the Bulwark base layer can reduce discomfort in hot weather, keeping you focused on your work.
“4.3 Protective Clothing. Clothing shall be selected to minimize the potential for ignition, burning, trapping hot sparks, or electric shock.”American Welding Society (AWS) ANSI Z49
Are FR shirts good for welding?
Most manufacturers do not recommend wearing their FR shirts as an outer garment while welding. The Black Stallion shirt is rated as an outer garment for very light welding and grinding work.
Remember, FR shirts are flame-resistant, not burn-proof. Spatter can burn through exposed fabric but should self-extinguish preventing serious injury.
What are welding shirts made of?
Because of a natural resistance to burning, they make the best shirts for welding from heavy twill or denim in 100% cotton.
100% wool is the most naturally flame-resistant fabric, but it is expensive and uncomfortably warm.
Avoid 100% synthetics such as nylon, polyester, and rayon. These materials are prone to burning, melting, and creating fumes. Burning residue sticks to skin, increasing the severity of burns.
The best welding shirts are made of 100% cotton, or a high-percentage (88-90%) of cotton blended with polyester, that’s chemically treated with fire retardant. Fabric weights of 6 to 8 ounces per square yard are common, as heavy materials are more resistant to burning.
“Work clothing must also stop ultraviolet light from passing through it. This is accomplished if the material chosen is a dark color, thick, and tightly woven.”L. Jeffus “Welding Principles and Applications” (8th Edition, p. 24)
Read the review: “Welding Principles and Applications” is the welding reference book to have if you’re going to buy just one.
Video: How FR fabrics are tested (3:20)
Workplace Safety Standards
Established standards make it easier to know that workers and their workplace are reasonably safe.
NFPA 70E: A standard written by the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) to help protect electrical workers from the hazards of arc flash. Arc flash is a dangerous release of energy from an electrical fault. When safety clothing carries the NFPA 70E label, the manufacturer certifies they have tested the fabric to meet the standard to protect the wearer against the thermal hazards of an electric arc. Independent testing is not required under this code.
ASTM 1506: This standard sets out specific testing requirements used for NFPA 70E compliance. Tests include resistance to thread melting and flame resistance, covering melting, dripping, and self-extinguishing ability. Arc testing results in a APTV score showing how much heat a certain fabric will block from an electric arc. Safety garments must meet requirements even after 25 wash and dry cycles.
ATPV: A rating score derived from testing under ASTM 1506 to show how well a garment insulates the wearer from heat and prevents burns. You’ll see this rating displayed as ATPV or Cal/cm2. Higher ratings provide more protection.
HRC: Workplace hazard risk categories (HRC) range from little or no risk (CAT0) to extreme risk (CAT4). The APTV score determines a garment’s suitability for an HRC rating. HRC2 garments may have an APTV score of 8.0 to 24.9. HRC is useful to narrow your choices, but use the ATPV rating to find the best protection from garments within a category.
NFPA 2112: A comprehensive standard that provides clothing criteria designed to reduce worker injuries from flash fires. Hydrocarbon flash fires are sudden, intense, and of short duration. As does 70E, NFPA 2112 tests for thread melting resistance and flame resistance. It does not test electric arc resistance. This standard also includes testing for heat resistance and transfer, plus instrument manikin and label durability tests. Independent third party agencies such as Underwriters Laboratory independently certify compliance.
“Choose clothing that allows freedom of movement and covers all areas of exposed skin. Wear long sleeved shirts (no t-shirts), and button the cuffs, pockets, and collar.”AWS Safety and Health Fact Sheet No. 33
Design Features of Welding Shirts
Here’s a checklist summarizing key details to look for in a welding shirt.
- Tall collar without gaps protects against stray sparks
- Roomy fit allows work motion, but not baggy – folds and wrinkles catch sparks
- Nomex thread
- Long sleeves
- Adjustable cuff fasteners
- Treated FR fabric
- Natural materials like cotton, denim and twill
- Heavy-weight material
- Heavy-duty buttons or snaps
- Flaps on front pockets
- Longer shirt tails to stay tucked
- Wearing untucked? Check that bottom hem won’t catch sparks.
Besides the special requirements for welding shirts, you may find other popular work shirt features helpful.
- Breathability helps keep you cool in a hot work environment
- Double-stitching prevents seams from puckering and fraying
- Moisture-wicking helps keep you drier
- Fabric treatments fight mildew, static or stains
Don’t forget to wear sturdy pants for welding.
How to care for your welding shirts
Always follow the manufacturer’s washing instructions, but most are machine washable and dry cleanable.
- Use liquid detergent for best results.
- Expect FR treatment to last for 30-50 washes. Machine washing in small wash loads will minimize wear reducing loss of FR treatment.
- After washing check for holes, fraying, and residual stains and odors from flammable soils that could compromise FR properties
- Expect lifetime garment shrinkage of 3-5% when care label instructions are followed
- Avoid products that could compromise FR clothing qualities:
- Liquid chlorine bleach
- Fat-based natural soaps
- Fabric softener
- Detergent with fabric softener
- Bug spray with DEET
Why do welders starch their shirts?
It’s traditional for some welders to apply a layer of heavy starch to their welding shirts. The hard finish reduces wrinkles and repels sparks.
It’s not recommended by any manufacturer because starching can interfere with treated FR fabric. Starches and sizing contain glues and/or polyester resins that may reduce the self-extinguishing qualities of a material.
The Bottom Line
We all know welding has its risks.
Knowing those risks is your first step to staying safe. The second step is managing the risk with protective gear.
Because we expose ourselves to flying bits of molten metal, it only makes sense to wear an FR welding shirt next to your skin. The Black Stallion welding shirt is great shirt that’s heavy duty and fits any budget.