Winter has come round again and everyone who works or plays outdoors is looking for a practical and economical way to stay warm. If you lead an active lifestyle then thermal, or insulated underwear, and thermally insulated clothing is for you. Lets talk briefly about fabrics and materials so you can make an educated purchase.
Cotton is a great fabric that gets used in almost everything ranging from bed sheets to socks. Tightly woven, fine cotton (or “high thread count fabric”) is quite good at trapping body heat close to the skin, and thanks to its soft texture it makes great insulated underwear for men, women and children. It is fairly cheap, and durable – it washes easily and doesn’t require special treatment. You can find high grade short or long sleeve thermal shirts for men or women at low prices that are warm, comfortable and affordable. So – should you pack cotton thermals next time you go camping? Maybe not – for all its good attributes, cotton does have a significant drawback, this being its tendency to absorb water and then lose its thermally insulating properties. Cotton fibres will soak up water, sweat, or any other liquid for that matter, and unless you can dry it out again, it will very effectively conduct heat away from your skin. So if you are stuck out in the cold and then get wet, you could be in serious trouble. So, although cotton makes great insulated underwear for men who work indoors or just want to keep a bit warmer during the workday, it is not good for situations where you are likely to get wet. Long sleeve thermal shirts for men are a great alternative to regular business attire, but just remember – cotton is only good if you can remain reasonably dry.
Wool is a fibre that people have been using for thousands of years, and we aren’t about to stop, with good reason. The physical structure of the individual fibres and the naturally occurring oil in wool give it not just excellent thermal properties, but imbue it with water shedding and antibacterial properties too. Fine wool is not as cheap as cotton, but makes very warm clothing including insulated underwear for men. Woolen underwear? You heard right! Fine wool actually feels quite like cotton, very smooth, and actually “breathes” better than normal undies do. Long sleeve thermal shirts for men that made of merino wool are absolutely great if you are into adventure sports, since wool manages to maintain its insulating ability even if you happen to run into bad weather. Unlike cotton, wool doesn’t act like a sponge and hold water. Even if you fall into a creek or get totally drenched in rain, woollen thermal underwear can still keep you warm. Take it off, wring it out, and put it back on, and although it feels quite clammy and horrible, you will still be able to get warm again. Sure you might be miserable – but you will be alive to tell the tale. Woolen insulated underwear for men, women or kids is the premium choice for camping, canoeing, and trekking. Wool is equally good in thermal gloves and scarves.
Synthetic insulated underwear for men and women has certain advantages and disadvantages. Synthetic fibers try to imitate all the good qualities of natural fibers, and do away with the negatives. There are too many proprietary brands and trade names out there to talk about each one individually, but they all have common features: Firstly, synthetic materials are very lightweight and robust. Secondly, they perform well when wet or damp. These two attributes combined with a relatively lower price than woollens make them an attractive option, but be aware that synthetic underwear and long sleeve thermal shirts for men do not breath very well – the result can be a perpetually clammy feeling, and unfortunately, they start to smell a bit after a while! However, the elastic properties of this material make it great in sports underclothing. Modern running underwear for women (those tight leggings and shorts) are very stretchy and comfortable. Just be aware that synthetic insulated underwear for men (or women) who work with or around heat sources can represent a hazard since Polyester and all of its variants that are used in clothing fibres shrink and burn quickly.
Quite often you will find that thermal underwear is made of a blend of different fiber types. Commonly wool and polyester are combined to produce cheaper and more vibrant looking garments. Should you buy these blended fabrics? To a certain degree a wool/ synthetic blend makes insulated underwear for men who wok outdoors more practical, but have a look at the blend ratios before you buy – I personally avoid anything that is more than 25% polyester, since it feels quite plastic like after a few wears. The same goes for long sleeve thermal shirts for men, anything that is more than 20 or 30% polyester is more a cost saving measure from the manufacturer than a performance modification for you.