We see you, winter. Your snow-capped mountains and powdery slopes. Your toddy-adjacent ice skating rinks and s’mores sessions around the firepit.
Yep, you’ve definitely got a way about you. But it turns out… you’re also just too damned cold.
Unless, of course, you’ve got yourself a proper pair of cold-slaying men’s thermal underwear. A thoughtfully constructed pair of long underwear can mean the difference between actually enjoying your alfresco endeavors and retiring early to the nearest indoor heat source with your frostbitten tail between your legs.
And to that end, we’ve taken the liberty of rounding up the best thermal underwear for men. Partly so you don’t have to, but mostly because your winter dermis deserves better than naked flannel and base-layer-less denim.
Let’s get toasty…
The Best Thermal Underwear For Men
Household names don’t typically become so by accident. Patagonia has earned its stripes and the respect of millions by not only being stewards of the environment but by putting quality on a pedestal.
The Capilene Air Bottoms (great to pair with the Capilene Air Crew) are no exception when it comes to the best thermal underwear for men. A nearly equal-parts blend of merino wool and recycled polyester do their part to keep odor and moisture at bay, making this dream team ideal for outdoor adventurers and anyone who regularly hits the slopes.
But perhaps the coolest part of the Capilene line is its 3-D knit structure, which dares you to find at least one stitched seam in any of its garments.
Protip: you won’t.
Three words: 100% merino wool.
Or is that three numbers, one symbol, and two words? Doesn’t matter. What matters is that this duo’s merino fibers want nothing more than for you to conquer that snowy mountain, fish that frozen lake, or roast that unroasted marshmallow as comfortably as possible.
The gear’s fabric regulates your temperature, while the construction of its seams helps prevent friction. This means that even if you’re shredding the gnar (sorry for saying “shredding the gnar” back there), your body temperature will be regulated, and you can focus on being your après-ski best at the lodge instead of dealing with chafe.
Thankfully, you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy toasty nether regions this winter. While Uniqlo’s Heattech line of thermal underwear may not stand up to the most extreme winter conditions, its thoughtful construction and materials will work hard to keep you and your wallet comfortable.
The blend of materials used in Uniqlo’s crew neck and tights run the gamut, which helps explain the low price point. That said, you don’t necessarily need technical gear to enjoy rooftop cocktails in late October or put on a clinic at your family’s Thanksgiving flag football game in the backyard.
Just bundle up, have fun, and don’t overthink it.
Speaking of quality men’s thermal underwear with a quality price tag… Amazon. You knew it was coming, and here it is. One of the online behemoth’s top-selling and best-reviewed lines of long underwear is TSLA.
To be clear, no wheels are being reinvented here. You’re working with an above-average microfleece-lined top and bottom that are simply designed to keep you nice and cozy during Netflix binging sessions or the occasional farmer’s market spaghetti squash run.
Point is, the adequately warm, adequately moisture-wicking fabric is… adequate. Hey, sometimes that’s all you need.
Did you seriously think we were going to talk about men’s thermal underwear without talking about the men’s thermal underwear?
So here it is, the classic, form-hugging, upsettingly traditional, respectably toasty, candy-red onesie. This one from workwear workhorse Carhartt features its Rugged Flex stretch technology and thumbhole sleeves to keep your hands warm.
You’re working with a blend of cotton and polyester, which, like its Uniqlo and Amazon brethren, doesn’t err toward the technical side. But if you’re just looking to stay warm around the house and neighborhood in the most Norman Rockwell way possible, these are for you.
This merino wool set from Ridge serves as a solid middle ground between casual and technical gear. The company’s “high quality, high value” philosophy puts these layers at a reasonable price point for the amount of thought that went into them.
Rest assured that they’ll wick sweat and help control odor while you’re bombing down the mountain, but Ridge’s (m)Force Technology also puts an emphasis on durability. In other words, they’ll be doing their job, but you’ll barely feel them. And give the brand some bonus cool points for its Evergreen Camo option.
If comfort is high among your list of cold-weather priorities, Le Bent would like a word. Its Crew and Bottom utilize a signature blend of merino wool and rayon from bamboo. Yes, bamboo. What that means for your legs and torso is a silky smooth feeling that can easily transition from the slopes to the couch without skipping a beat.
The 200 collection is Le Bent’s lightest, so don’t be surprised if you forget it’s there in the first place. Breathability? Check. Body temperature regulation? Check. Uncanny ability to magically whisk away body odor? Also, check.
We’ve seen some stellar men’s thermal underwear options so far, but don’t sleep on Minus33. Their Expedition Weight bottoms will fit your form but also leave a little wiggle room, making them a solid option for wearing underneath waders, snow pants, or the comforter of your California king.
Its seams are designed to fight chafing, and the — you guessed it — 100% merino wool fabric helps fight odor and is as soft as the day is long. This is a versatile pair of long johns that can comfortably accompany you camping, hiking, fishing, sipping bourbon by the fire pit… you name it.
Under Armour’s ColdGear combo likes to keep busy. Whether you’re a professional athlete or a backyard warrior, the four-way stretch material won’t limit your range of motion. There’s also a focus on odor reduction and sweat-wicking — construction qualities that any active guy can appreciate.
You’re working with an 87% polyester and a 13% elastane blend here. This, among other things, helps keep the cost approachable. But if this base layer is doing its athletics-focused job, you won’t miss the features of some of the more technical pieces out there.
Freeport, Maine’s own L.L. Bean knows a thing or two when it comes to outfitting you for winter’s best and worst. So you’re in good hands with this silk duo, which maintains a respectable level of strength without sacrificing comfort or sweat-wicking properties.
Plus…it’s silk. That alone should earn it infiniti bonus points on the winter coziness scale.
Are you sensing a theme yet? Here comes 100% merino wool again, and for a good reason. Houdini’s featherweight base layer can of course hold its own in the winter chill, but its properties can also provide a kiss of cool when it’s warm out. Doesn’t matter the occasion, this layer comes ready to play.
What’s the Difference Between Men’s Thermal Underwear and Base Layers?
What do you think about when you hear someone mention “thermal underwear” or “long johns?”
Go ahead, we’ll wait…
If you said apple picking, Netflix binging sessions by the fire or lazy winter mornings, you might just be on to something.
And what about “base layers?” Perhaps backcountry skiing or Alpine adventures come to mind. Settings where tactical, technical gear would not only come in handy, but be critical to your comfort and general wellbeing. Though there are no wrong answers, your general instincts are probably spot-on.
The best thermal underwear for men — and thermal underwear in general — is going to trap heat in to keep you as warm as possible. This is ideal for life’s more… sedentary winter pursuits. Base layers, on the other hand, work with your body to do things like wick away sweat, maintain an ideal internal body temperature and keep body odor at bay. In other words, technical stuff.
Determining what’s right for you depends on your lifestyle, budget and overall personal preferences.
Men’s Thermal Underwear Buying Considerations
Before making any decisions on which thermals are best for you, there are several features, fabrics, and functions to consider.
Perhaps the single most important factor to consider when choosing quality thermal underwear is what’s under the hood. Fabric choices can make or break your experience, so make sure to consider each option’s properties.
Where silk thermal underwear really excels is in its ability to quickly dry. It’s also super lightweight and durable, making it a popular (and dare we say underrated) choice.
What cotton lacks in moisture-wicking and water absorption properties, it more than makes up for in breathability and affordability. Overall, this material is best left to the great indoors when it comes to men’s thermal underwear.
Merino, merino, merino. It’s one of the finest materials for producing comfortable and functional thermal underwear for men. It breathes well, turns odor and sweat into a distant memory and — most importantly in the winter months — maintains its heat. Wool is an all-around solid choice for long johns, especially if you plan on being active in them.
Synthetic materials — one of the most common being polyester — help keep the price point reasonable and excel in a few areas such as wicking and durability. They’re a good fit for mild to medium exertion. Note, though, that not all synthetic thermals are the best at reducing odor. In other words, stock up if you’ll be roughing it for more than a few days.
Thermal underwear, by design, should be relatively form-fitting but not too tight. By hugging your skin, they help trap your body’s natural heat and keep it moving across your body. If you plan on being active, look for a durable material that’ll move with your body, like nylon, silk or merino wool.
What you plan on doing in your thermal underwear should guide almost every aspect of which fabric and fit you choose. If you plan on bombing down the slopes or hiking in extreme conditions, carefully explore aspects like drying time, moisture-wicking capabilities, breathability, odor control… we could go on. Point is, technical endeavors require technical gear.
If you plan on doing nothing more than lounging fireside with a few fingers of bourbon — a noble pursuit in and of itself — function will play less of a role. Just opt for something cozy and warm and call it a day.
Though often subjective, comfort should be one of your main driving factors when deciding whether or not to pull the trigger on a pair of thermal underwear. As ever, which option you choose should depend on what you plan on doing in them.
What you spend on your long johns is entirely up to you, but make sure the financial investment you make is in lockstep with the investment of time you plan on spending in them. Pick up a cheap, comfortable pair if your main priority is cracking a book by the fire or catching up on a show. But if you plan on demanding a lot from your base layer, be prepared to pay for quality performance and materials.
Choose a length that’s comfortable and long enough so as not to distract. If you’re thinking about the material riding up your calves, you’re probably not focusing enough on those moguls in front of you or the fact that you’re burning your marshmallow and the s’mores gods will never forgive you. Basically, just choose a length that works for you and go for it.
With so many men’s thermal underwear options on the market today, it can feel like a daunting task picking the perfect pair. To help parse your options, think first about what you’ll be doing in them.
If you just want to stay warm around the house, almost any pair will do. If you’re looking for a more technical pair for an active outdoor lifestyle, the best thermal underwear for you will depend on many factors, from durability to breathability to odor control. Do your homework, but don’t overthink it — you’ve got a winter to conquer.