Derrek Sigler 02.17.21
When winter weather blows in, most people head indoors and begin their annual hibernation for the remainder of the season. However, if you were raised hunting and fishing, you’re probably aware this time of year provides many fruitful hunting and fishing opportunities – if you can brace the cold. So, with late season hunts right around the corner and hard water reports starting to file in, we dug through the best cold weather long johns to find the right gear for your winter adventures.
We set out to find highly-rated and field proven thermal underwear sets for both men and women that will come in handy whether you’re swinging for the fences one last time during late season firearm, sitting on ice in an ice fishing shanty, or just doing your best to stay warm when the temps drop below your comfort zone. If there is one thing Mother Nature has taught us, it’s that winter has a way of being completely unpredictable, especially in areas that are thought to be warm year round. Layer up and stay warm, my friends.
Cover Image: Shutterstock/Presslab
Table of Contents
1. Carhartt Force Midweight Thermal Base Layer Pant
A solid midweight base layer to add to your wardrobe with a very approachable price tag. And because it’s built by Carhartt, you know you’re getting a product that’s durable and will last season after season. I use a midweight base layer regularly when hunting, whether on its own or sometimes when it’s really cold I’ll actually wear the midweight underneath my heavyweight stuff. Trust me, you’ll be glad you have multiple layers to throw on rather than not having enough!
Pros/Waffle knit traps heat – Fast dry wicks away sweat and fights odor – Rugged flex technology for ease of movement
Cons/Imported – Made of Polyester
Bottom Line/A great layering long john for cold weather
2. Carhartt Men’s Force Heavyweight Thermal Base Layer Pant
For when the mercury sinks into single digits, these heavier long johns from Carhartt are excellent for the layering strategy I suggested above. The heavyweight fabric traps heat and features rugged flex that moves with you and fast dry technology to wick away sweat.
Pros/Poly-wool blend regulates temperature – Fast dry wicks away sweat and fights odor – Strategic seam placement for maximum comfort and reduced chafing
Cons/Slightly thin for a heavyweight base layer
Bottom Line/Best for mildly activity in really cold weather
3. LAPASA Merino Wool Thermal Long John Set
Merino wool is an amazing fabric. In fact, if we’re talking ‘base layers’ I suggest you start with a layer of Merino wool right up against your skin.
Merino wool specializes in keeping your body temperature at a stable temperature, and does so in a really fascinating way. When it’s cold outside, the natural crimps and bends in the fibers trap air, insulating you. When it’s warm outside, it transports sweat quickly away from the skin, helping to keep you cool and dry.
I recently started using a similar approach to my layering system, and I will never go back to not using Merino wool ever again!
Pros/Provides effective insulation and warmth when temperature drops – Made to be breathable, so you don’t need to worry about overheating in it.
Cons/Requires additional layers
Bottom Line/A great base layer
4. MEETWEE Women’s Winter Base Layer
For the ladies out in the woods, this base layer set includes heavyweight thermal tops and bottoms. Made of 92% polyester and 8% spandex, these long johns are designed using double-seamless technology with top quality thermal properties, while the inner extra thermal fabrics provide added heat retention.
Pros/Comfortable – Super warm – Ultra Soft
Cons/Lightweight – Requires Additional layering – Runs slightly small according to reviews
Bottom Line/For mild cold weather, this is a great option
5. J JINPEI Heated Thermal Underwear for Men and Women
If you’re like me, you’ve probably been looking forward to winter and ice fishing for several months now. Being from Michigan, ice fishing is something I actually look forward to all year. I love getting out on the ice, surrounded by winter’s beauty, and reeling in some tasty perch for dinner. Of course, like most pursuits, you’ll have to earn your quarry out there, and that often means long hours sitting on a frozen lake – Brr!
But don’t worry, we got you covered!
If you’re expecting seriously harsh conditions, or for whatever reason can’t ever seem to stay warm out there, perhaps you should consider this heated base layer set. The shirt and pants are rechargeable and can run for 3.5 – 6 hours off a 4-5 hour charge. They heat up fast at the touch of a button and offer three different temperature settings.
These are a real game changer in the ice shanty!
Pros/Comfortable – Machine wash capable – Keeps you warm for hours
Cons/Feels slightly stiff/ bulky
Bottom Line/Heated gear lets you reduce overall layers.
Fitting your long underwear
When picking the best size for your long underwear, you need to keep in mind a couple of things. Your thermal set should be fitted, which means tight enough that there are no gaps between the fabric and your skin. This can allow cold air to creep in. However, thermal underwear shouldn’t necessarily be skin tight. You want your skin to be able to breathe, and allow water vapor to leave your body without being forced to settle again your skin, as this will make you cold fast. Keep in mind that your next layer of clothing should not be as snug, this gives those vapors somewhere to go.
Picking the best fabric
There are a couple of schools of thought here as to what makes for the best fabric materials for thermal underwear. Normally, synthetic materials make the best base layer. One of the most common synthetic fabrics is polyester, followed by nylon, polypropylene and rayon. Usually you will find a blend of these fabrics in addition to spandex, which doesn’t have much for thermal properties, but adds a lot of comfort to the fabrics it is blended with.
More and more, you’re seeing Merino wool being used. Merino wool is a natural fiber that comes from Merino sheep. It’s thinner and softer than regular wool, making it easy to wear next to the skin. Being a natural fiber, it has excellent warmth and breaths well, allowing you to wear it in all sorts of activities. It is what we use ourselves, and we highly recommend it.
What is the best way to stay warm?
Start with a thermal underwear layer, then another layer, usually of fleece. Follow this with a warm coat that blocks the wind, and you’ll be off to a good start. DOn’t forget a hat, gloves and especially your feet!
Can I wear too much in cold weather?
Yes! You need to find the appropriate amount of clothing for your activity level. The absolute worst thing that can happen when it’s cold is that you sweat! Sweating and not being able to get rid of that moisture will lead to the loss of body temperature much faster.
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