WHEN the colder months roll around and the weather really drops, sometimes outer layers aren’t quite enough to keep the freeze at bay. This is where a pair of the best thermals for men come in. Go for a set of thermals and you’ve got a base layer that locks in heat, keeping you warmer no matter the temperature outside.
Combine them with thermal socks, chunky knitwear, trousers and a heavy insulated coat and you’ll be practically ready to tackle the arctic. But which thermals are best and what should you look out for? From fabric choice through to the way they fit, as well as suggestions for the best thermals on the market, here’s all you need to know.
Best thermals for men at a glance
- Best value option: Mountain Warehouse
- Best merino wool option: Lapasa
- Best premium option: Arc'teryx
- Best budget option: Uniqlo
- Best matching set: Danish Endurance
- Talus Men's Thermal Baselayer Top, £14.99 at Amazon – buy here
Mountain Warehouse has long produced an array of adventure-ready gear, from heavy duty parkas through to hiking boots. In short, if you need clothing that’s going to be functional and protect you from the elements, this is the place to start.
It’s the same story with the brand’s thermals. Made from high-performance polyester, its lightweight, breathable designs are the real deal, keeping you warm throughout the day and well into the night. Combine them with knitwear, technical trousers and padded outerwear, and you’ll be ready for anything.
- Lapasa Merino Wool base layer top, from £39.99 at Amazon – buy here
For something a little more luxurious, you might want to consider merino wool. The natural performance fabric is well known for its softness and breathability, but it’s also great at regulating your body temperature, keeping you warm when it’s cold, and cooling you down when it’s too toasty.
For its thermals, Lapasa has made use of the fabric, with a 100% merino wool weave from Australia, noted for its incredible softness and warmth.
With a close fit and versatile grey colour, Lapasa's thermals have even been designed to protect the body from UV rays, while they’re also available in two thicknesses; perfect for both extreme icy conditions and more regular cold weather.
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- Rho heavyweight bottoms, £100 from Arc'teryx – buy here
With their bold colours and high performing fabrics, Arc’teryx’s thermals are among the best out there. This pair even comes with a handy zip pocket on the thigh, which is perfect for storing money or keys when on the move.
- Heattech long sleeve thermal top, £14.90 at Uniqlo – buy here
For high quality thermal clothing on a budget, Uniqlo is tough to beat. The Japanese retailer has long peddled highly functional, stylish clothing on a budget, and its base layers are no different.
Look out for the brand’s signature Heattech fabric, which is renowned for locking in heat while also keeping you dry throughout the day.
- Thermal underwear set, £67.96 at Amazon – buy here
Coming as a complete set, this Danish Endurance two piece is likely all you’ll need. With a trim fit, a soft, stretchy fabric and flat seams for added comfort, the simple design of this set ensures it works as a pair of pyjamas or underneath more robust, weatherproof outerwear.
- Bora Bamboo Long Johns, £50 at Bora – buy here
Finisterre isn’t afraid to push the boat out when it comes to fabrications, which is why it’s turned to a super soft bamboo fabric for its long johns.
A naturally-derived fabric that’s both lightweight, warm and moisture wicking, it might just be the ideal choice for a pair of thermal bottoms.
- Heatgen Medium Thermal Long Sleeve Top, £20 at M&S – buy here
M&S has long been a go to for those after style, quality and affordability. This is the case whether you go for the brand’s versatile outerwear or its well-made base layers.
For the latter, its Heatgen technology works to retain heat no matter how cold the weather gets, while the classic detailing and textured weave offers plenty of style and comfort.
The North Face
- Men's easy long-sleeve top, £45 at The North Face – buy here
If you’re planning a hike or outing in the freezing cold, you definitely need a base layer. And what better brand to entrust than The North Face?
Outerwear experts, the brand has applied all of its design nous to its thermals, which are typically made from a polyester blend that regulates body temperature and keeps you warm well into the night.
- Keep the heat tight 27, £118 at Lululemon – buy here
If you’re in the market for base layers for exercising in, Lululemon is well worth a shout. The brand’s thermals are specifically designed to go running or exercising in, so expect sweat-wicking fabrics that are both soft and stretchy for ease of movement.
- Two-pack thermal long johns, £18 at John Lewis – buy here
John Lewis’ underwear is among the best you’ll find on the high street. For its thermals the brand typically uses lightweight, recycled polyester fabrics, which are designed to be soft against the skin for day long comfort.
What to look for in the best thermals for men
Fabric is arguably the most important thing to consider when it comes to buying thermals. Typically, you’ll often find thermals made from some form of polyester or acrylic blend. These fibres will have often been specially woven to retain heat on the body, and keep warm air as close to you as possible.
They are also typically soft and feature moisture-wicking properties which keep you dry as well as warm. Poly-blend fibres also tend to be cheaper than natural ones.
You can for example buy merino wool thermals, which are great and boast all the performance properties of poly-blends but also cost a fair bit more. If you want natural fabrics though, merino or bamboo is the way to go.
Fit is also crucial when it comes to thermals. Given they are essentially an under layer, you’ll want them to fit fairly close to your body, so they don’t impact the clothes you wear over them. A chunky thermal top layer that’s too baggy won’t fit very well underneath a long sleeve tee, for example.
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You also want them to fit fairly close so that they do their job properly. Thermals are most effective when they act as a second layer, keeping the heat in and close to your body. You don’t want them to be too tight however, as this will be uncomfortable and may limit your movement.
It’s important then for thermals to fit close to the body, but with a little room to move so that they become like a second skin, offering both comfort and warmth throughout the day.
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