What is thermal wear?
Thermal wear is a type of clothing that is worn underneath your top layers to keep your body warm, especially in frosty winter conditions. Thermal fabrics keep the body heat trapped close to the skin, and it can also wick away moisture, which helps us to feel warmer. For best results, thermal clothing should be worn in a size that fits snugly against the skin without being tight. Although it is possible to buy one-piece thermal clothing that covers the whole body, most people prefer to wear thermal tops and bottoms.
What is thermal clothing made out of?
Thermal clothing can be made out of natural or man-made materials. The important thing to remember is that thermal clothing has to trap air and wick away moisture. Therefore, cotton is not a food material for thermal wear, as it soaks up moisture rather than dispersing it. However, out of the natural fabrics silk, bamboo and wool are all suitable for thermal fabrics. A lot of skiers wear pure silk base layers to keep their body temperatures regulated whilst on the slopes. Silk, bamboo and wool all trap air between their fibres, and this trapped air is used as an insulator to generate warmth. Polyester is one of the man-made fabrics that also has excellent insulating properties and is often incorporated into thermal clothing.
Should I choose natural or man-made thermal clothing?
The most common thermal base layers available are made of either wool, synthetics (like polypropylene or polyester), or a mix of both. Which fabric makes the best base layer is an age-old debate. Wool and synthetics each have their advantages and disadvantages. Blends aim to the capture benefits of each one.
Why should I choose wool?
The days of scratchy or itchy wool clothing are long gone. Thermal clothing is nowadays made from super soft merino wool or similar, specifically treated to be used right next to the skin. Wool has much-noted antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that resist absorption of the acids in sweat that cause odour. Wool fibres are naturally stretchy, which makes them feel form fitting and look flattering on a wide variety of people. Wool naturally wicks sweat away from you and breathes well (after all, sheep use it to regulate their temperature, too). Although wool doesn’t dry as fast as synthetics, it is better insulating and feels warmer when damp or wet than synthetics. If a spark jumps out of your campfire, the wool layer will resist it better than the man-made fabric.
Why should I choose man-made fabric?
The biggest advantage of a synthetic fabric over wool is its quick drying time. What this means for outdoor athletes is that synthetic fabrics wick more efficiently than wool—they pull sweat away and dry it out faster. If you’ll be sweating a lot in a high-intensity activity, like running or skiing, synthetic fabric is the way to go. Man-made fabrics are also usually 30 to 50% less expensive than wool or wool blends. Man-made fabrics are also generally lighter than wool, which may be an advantage if you are hiking or backpacking.
What are the benefits of blends?
Thermal clothing made from wool and synthetic blends aim to get the benefits of both fabrics while offering a high-quality base layer at a competitive price. Of course, blended fabrics may contain some of the negative features of their parent fabrics such as odour retention, reduced insulation, and longer drying times.
Do you wear underwear under thermal underwear?
The simple answer is that it is up to what you feel most comfortable with! There is no right or wrong way to wear thermal clothing. Some people prefer to use the thermal layers next to the skin, and it is, of course, possible to buy thermal underwear. However, if you feel better wearing some underwear underneath, it will not be a problem. Some women, for instance, would not feel comfortable going without a bra, and if you want to wear some underpants that is perfectly OK too. It may lose a tiny bit of the thermal properties but may be preferred for hygienic reasons. Close fitting items would be better than roomy boxers if you have the choice.
What is the principle behind thermal wear?
Gases (which include air) possess poor thermal conduction properties compared to liquids and solids, and this makes them good insulation material if they can be trapped. In order to increase the effectiveness of a gas, it may be broken up into small cells which cannot effectively transfer heat by natural convection. This principle is mimicked in nature by trapping air between fibres of wool, or between feathers of a down duvet for instance.
What are the main benefits of thermal clothing?
- It regulates body temperature. Thermal clothing will not absorb moisture such as sweat, and any moisture generated by your skin will quickly be led away from the skin to other functional layers. It helps to stabilise your body temperature and saves your energy.
- It always feels warm. The ability not to absorb sweat brings another indispensable feature - thermal clothing will not make you cold. It will maintain its functions and lead the sweat away while keeping you warm and dry.
- It dries very quickly. Thermal clothing will dry much more quickly than, for instance, cotton pants and shirts, which can be a real bonus in many situations.
- It gives you freedom of movement. The thin layers of thermal clothing fit closely against the skin but do not impair your freedom of movement like a bulky jacket might do.
- It is lightweight. Thermal clothing is lightweight, which is a bonus when you are wearing it and also when you have to carry it around in your luggage.
What else do I need to know about thermal clothing?
Thermal clothing is ideal to wear as a base layer next to your skin. To combat extreme cold, experts recommend that you add another two layers of clothing to your thermal base layer: a mid-layer and an outer layer. That way, you maximise the benefits of trapping air between the various layers of clothing, and in changing conditions, you can shed either the mid layer or the outer layer to stop your body from overheating. The mid layer may be something like to fleece top or soft-shell jacket, which will increase the warmth, while the outer layer keeps the wind and/or rain or snow from your inner layers.
Can I purchase thermal wear at Anaconda?
Yes, you can. Anaconda stocks a wide variety of thermal tops and bottoms for men, women and kids. Choose from different brands, styles, colours and sizes in various price ranges to find your ideal thermal base layers to keep you warm, including tops with half zips and/or collars, pants with or without flies, and other variations.