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Winter Thermals: The Inside Story

Author: text_none_author Published In: Winter Created Date: 2013-11-15 Hits: 3488 Comment: 0

Being the layer closest to your skin, and seeing as how important choosing the right fabric is, here is an easy way to make the right choice when it comes to choosing your winter thermals.

Thermals are the innermost layer in the Winter Layering System, a method of wearing layers of clothing in a way that effectively protects you from bad weather. On our travels, we have tested the Winter Layering System. Our verdict - the system is truly the secret to keeping warm.

To further drive home the point, we are going to explore each layer here. First off, thermals are worn underneath your regular clothing and are also known as “long johns”. This garment is all about keeping you warm and dry, by wicking away moisture and trapping body heat next to your skin so that you retain heat longer. Ski jumpers, mountaineers and sports enthusiasts, all rely on this crucial layer to allow ease of movement even in severe temperatures.

Another reason to wear thermals in winter is to conserve energy. Your body burns a lot of calories to keep you warm. In extreme temperatures it closes off blood flow to the extremities of your body to protect vital organs like your heart and lungs, so your arms and legs may not work as well when you need them to accomplish agile tasks. Wearing thermals keeps these areas warm and allows you to go about your day in comfort and with ease - as you make your way up a beautiful snow-capped mountain!

Features of a Thermal

The following features make your piece of thermal innerwear a winner:


Gone are the days where the warmth of a fabric depended on its thickness. Thermals that feel as light as a feather while keeping you wonderfully toasty exist! You do know what this means, don’t you? Come winter, wearing thermal innerwear will no longer force you to dress up in unflatteringly large silhouettes or threaten lumpy t-shirts. Smile for camera with confidence!

Highest quality yarn

A good quality yarn will last longer, be of a fine texture, and is uncompromising in its warmth. Merino wool is soft, as is a cotton-wool or a cotton-polyester blend, making them the best thermal options.

Wicking Property

When you are out and about, the moisture released from your body gets absorbed by the clothes you wear. This is not a good thing, especially in a winter destination. This is where you need your clothes to have a wicking property. This is a fabric’s ability to ‘wick’ or draw off moisture away from your skin thereby keeping you dry. You will appreciate this most in humid climates, on treks or any outdoor activity. Why? A fabric of poor wicking ability will have you shivering in the cold if your skin is left moist for a prolonged period of time.

Anti-bacterial Treatment

Natural fabrics offer advantages in breathability, temperature regulation, durability, and amazingly, antimicrobial properties. Anti-bacterial properties of a garment will ensure it lasts longer and remains more hygienic. If you choose to go for a synthetic fabric, ensure that it is anti-bacterial treated.

With all these great features, your thermals could also double as pajamas! Trust me you will need them when temperatures are as low as -10°C outside! Hence, it is important that only the most comfortable fabric is procured.

Here's my Recommendation for Fabrics:

Outdoors – wool, quick dry polyester

Indoors – Cotton-polyester blends, Cotton-wool blends

Your choice will also depend on the kind of winter climate you will be in. Temperatures going lower than 5°C necessitate that you go for wool thermals. In humid destinations or during outdoor activities, quick dry polyester is ideal due to its wicking properties. You will get a better understanding of this through a quick study of the fabrics.

Thermal Fabrics:


Fine wool or wool blends are the best insulators for sub zero temperatures. The finer the wool, the softer it gets providing absolute comfort, warmth and longevity. It preserves your body heat thereby acting as a thermal insulator. Its natural fibres are built such that it lets moisture wick away from your skin thereby keeping you warm and dry. Opt for wool thermals that have yarn as fine as 18 micron or lower for a soft and comfortable experience, such that it does not irritate your skin.


This fabric is ideal for outdoors, active sports in sub zero temperatures. It is light in weight and is preferred as a next-to-the skin layer due to its quick dry properties. 


Cotton thermals are a good option for indoors, especially if you are in a temperature controlled environment like in office or college. They are usually blends with wool or polyester and make for a good option in temperatures above 5°C. Avoid wearing cotton thermals outdoors as they may catch moisture and leave you cold and damp, which encourages heat loss from your body's core. Not a good thing! Still, wearing cotton or cotton flannel is great for sitting around a crackling fire in your living room drinking hot chocolate or sipping mulled wine as it the softest option.

Styles for Every Outfit

Opt for a separate top and a lower body piece, covering from the waist to the ankles. The lengths of the sleeves vary. You may choose between full sleeves, half sleeves, sleeveless and spaghetti straps to suit your need. Even the sari gets special consideration, with the mid-waist length blouse thermal top.

Both thermal pieces are meant to be snug; not too loose so as to hang from your body and not too tight that it blocks your circulation. Snug enough to hug your skin.

You will find all of the styles for thermals and long johns at Prrem’s. Other fabrics that also work well for thermal wear include synthetics like acrylics, nylon, spandex and natural fabrics like silk and even bamboo!

Do share your comments about the kind of thermals you prefer and your suggestions on the winter layering system that you might have explored during your travels. 

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