7 Union Suits for The Modern Man

You may know the union suit better as “the onesie with the flap in the back,” but this cozy undergarment has been around for decades. Made famous by cartoons featuring guys in union suits with faulty back flaps, the first union suit was invented in the mid-1800s. Originally made for women to wear as a more practical alternative to the gaudy Victorian Garb of the time, the garment soon became a men’s underwear favorite. Men began donning union suits under their everyday clothes in the winter for extra insulation against the cold. They were easy to get on and off, and made using the restroom while ice fishing real easy [we imagine]. The lack of separation between top and bottom parts keeps the body heat in and the cold external air out, which has long been a plus for men in cold weather regions.

With the exception of a few new fabrics and a touch of modern-day technology, today’s union suit differs very little from those of yore. Essentially, union suits are a one-piece garment made from flannel or other warm fabrics; they generally feature a detachable flap in the back still, too. While the main function of the union suit is still to provide an extra layer of warmth, these would make some pretty rockin’ pajamas too–especially in the cold winter months.

Check out our list of the 7 union suits perfect for the modern man.

7. Duofold Mid-weight Union Suit, $62

This heavy duty union suit from Duofold is made from two-layer fabric–merino wool on the outside for warmth and insulation and cotton on the inside to stay soft and comfortable against your skin. It’s great for hardcore days in the cold, from construction work to all-day skiing. It only comes in classic red, so prepare to be mistaken for an elf should you creep out wearing nothing but your union suit.

6. Hanes Thermal Union Suit, $30-$32

This basic union suit from Hanes comes in two colors–classic red and camo, perfect for those days when you’re hiding in the bushes wearing nothing but a union suit. Made from a cotton and polyester blend, this union suit provides a moderate amount of insulation, perfect for a variety of winter activities.

5. Jockey Stretch Waffle Men’s Union Suit, $58
This union suit from Jockey brings in another winter favorite–comfy waffle knit fabric that provides excellent insulation and will remind you of playing in the snow as a child. It’s ideal for sporting under your clothes for short jaunts in the cold, and it makes a great set of pajamas. Another bonus here is the extra wide rear flap opening, designed to make bathroom breaks easier and faster.


4. NRS WaveLite Union Suit with Polartec, $109.95

With a shiny, stretch, and sleek exterior, this union suit is like a wetsuit for the cold. It’s ultra-form fitting for a non-bulky fit and made from 4-way stretch fabric that allows for a full range of movement. Polartec fleece lining provides impeccable insulation and moisture wicking for long lasting comfort and hygiene. It’s the ultimate for winter sports, when you plan on getting down and dirty in the snow.

NRS Wave Light UnionSuit

3. J. Crew Jersey Union Suit, $59.50

“You may laugh, but you’ll love it.” Their words, not ours, but we agree. This stylish union suit is super comfy, made from soft cotton jersey that feels like your favorite sweatshirt, and features contrast trim around the arms, legs and neck. By far the most stylish union suit we’ve seen.

2. Carhartt Midweight Cotton Union Suit, $42

From the first and last name in construction attire, this Carhartt union suit is made from soft cotton fabric and features a simple vertical hatch in the back. The heavy duty design ensures this union suit will last winter after winter.

Carhartt Union Suit Red

1. L.L. Bean Two-Layer Union Suit, $59

Packing two layers of fabric for warmth and comfort, this heavy duty union suit is built to withstand the elements. On the outside, Wool Plus keeps warmth in and cold out, while the inside cotton layer keeps you dry and feels soft against your skin. Available in both red and grey, this L.L. Bean union suit is sure to keep you warm when the winter weather is at its worst.

LL Bean union suits Red

For more information about these brands: Carhartt, Duofold, Hanes, J.Crew, Jockey, L.L. Bean, NRS

Photo Credit: Sears, Jockey, Hanes


0 thoughts on “7 Union Suits for The Modern Man

  1. Ronald D Brower says:

    Has been any years since I have seen these union suits.. thank you for bringing them back.. Will place order beginning next month…

  2. Dan Young says:

    Unionsuits rock. Here in the Rockies guys wear them all winter long. if you are taller than you are wide the leg and arm lengths will be too short (dont know why they havent figured out that a lot of 6 foot and over men have a 32″ waist) order a size bigger. Some (jockey) come in “tall”.
    Boulder, CO

  3. Michael Lanphier says:

    An interesting listing of union suits. There are several more brands (and some different styles available. One important brand that was missed (the best seller in Canada) is Stanfield’s – whose name is synonymous with union suits though they have a full line of underwear.
    The fabrics can range from the two-layer wool blend with a cotton interliner, waffle (usually poly-cotton) and single thickness cotton/poly. Invariably the sleeves are long and the size is determined for the “average” S, M, L and sometimes XL. Some “tall” versions are available for those over 6 feet (but not over 6’4″).
    They are a 3-season garment – sometimes worn all year long!

    • Winterskins47 says:

      I have a trunk full of Stanfields long underwear, both long pants and shirts and a dozen or so cotton union suits. I wear them pretty consistently from mid-October through mid-March or later. I live in Central Illinois

  4. Saxon says:

    I agree with Mr Lanphier, Stanfields is definitely a worthy Union Suit. The warmer version I have owned for 2 years braves the harshest sub-zero windchills of the Dakotas where I live. 80/20 wool and nylon gets raves in the arctic lands. A lighter version has some wool on the outer layer and some cotton and poly inner layer. I do not have that version but may look into it someday. I have the XL wool nylon version which has started getting a bit tight from my harsh washing and drying. Am 5′ 10″ on a regular build if that helps you size a bit. Good luck to all.

  5. Billy801 says:

    I am surprised there are so many out today.  I have been wearing them for years and I can remember when the about the only ones around were the Duofold.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    So looking at the NRS Union Suit with polar tech as a gifts for my husband & son I noticed a huge design flaw. Glad that I didn’t waste my money.
    Both my guys are outside from sun up to well past sunset. One is a letter carrier- yeah, the mail will go through- the other is a lumber jack. And yes, New England weather is pretty harsh.
    So my problem with the NRS is the zipper in the front. It’s why ladies don’t wear union suits. You have to take the upper body layers of clothes off to use the bathroom.
    That’s why union suits have buttons in the front! Not zippers!!!

    Don’t know about carharrt but ll bean, fruit of the loom have stood the test of time around here so that’s what we’ll get again.
    And yes, they have a back flap.

  7. Bob Delvin says:

    I have also long been a fan of functional unionsuits for cold weather wear. In recent years I have generally purchased them online from the Caniadian, Stanfields company. I prefer the 100% cotton version. They have a single button seat flap. The cotton fabric is very soft, the shoulders have appelets, and both the wrist and ankle cuffs are woven with a small amount of elastic to prevent them from riding up. The garments launder well with almost no shrinkage: a well fashioned suit and very comfortable to wear. I own a dozen or so of these. I definitely recommend them to any man so interested. – Bob (Central Illinois)

  8. Raymond Linner says:

    It would be good if someone offered a year-round version that acts primarily as underwear (Not thermal, per se) that also had short sleeve and short leg versions. The butt crack observations would be a thing of the past; think of the time and embarrassment (great word) saved! That could even be the center of an add campaign? Thanks! RL

    • bdelvin47 says:

      Hi Ray,

      I agree with you. I used to have several short sleeve and leg union suits that I bought from J. C. Penny. I wish I still had them. These did have the button back flap however – which I actually prefer. I have been a fan of long underwear and particularly unionsuits since my teen years and I wear then pretty regularly from mid-October to April (I live in IL) – even to work and under dress clothes.. I prefer the flap because I don’t like having to get completely undressed every time I need to take a crap. I generally buy my long johns from Stanfields in Nova Scotia. (See my post above.) I’ve occasionally seen summer unionsuits advertised in the Chock catalog also. I hope you find what you are looking for, and if you, do let other readers of this site know. OK?

      Remember: “Unionsuits-real-underwear-for-real-men!

  9. Bob Delvin says:

    Temperatures are beginning to drop in the Midwest. Snowflakes in Chicago over the past weekend. I wore a lightweight cotton Stanfields unionsuit both days and long cotton bottoms & t-shirt to work today. I’ve also purchased a variety of second hand, long underwear from Way-out-west in MT.com. Second hand yes but thoroughly clean. A good alternative source for underwear that’s getting harder to find each year. Give’em a try. Ye-Haw!!

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