When the weather gets cool or cold, you’ll want to be able to reach into your closet for one of the best men’s thermal shirts.
Thermal shirts are designed, either by knit, material or both, to trap heat and create insulation that helps keep you warm. That makes them the ultimate cold-weather base layer or some of the best standalone shirts for casual time outdoors.
In terms of materials, wool is one of the best. It’s odor-resistant and a great insulator, continuing to insulate even when wet. But cotton and polyester are more commonly used because they’re less expensive and they do work great for shirts that don’t need to trap as much heat. Polyester or other synthetic materials can also often wick as well as wool, if not insulate as well, so blends using multiple materials are common.
The most common knit for a great thermal shirt is the waffle knit because it traps heat and wicks moisture by design. While there are many thermal shirts that don’t use waffle knits, we think some of the best men’s thermal shirts do.
So, now that we know a little bit about what to look for in the best men’s thermal shirts, check out our favorites below. We’ve got waffle knit thermal shirts in crew and henley style, non-waffle thermals and a more compression shirt-styled thermal if that’s more up your alley.
1. Smartwool Merino 150 Base Layer Long Sleeve
One thing about Smartwool, the brand knows how to make a thermal that will keep you warm even in the coldest weather. The tee is made of breathable, lightweight merino wool that doesn’t irritate your skin and wicks away sweat. It has a flatlock seam that smooths against your skin to minimize chafing. This shirt is a serious game-changer, and it’s perfect to wear as a base layer all year round.
2. Tracksmith Fells Waffle Layer
We’ve checked out Tracksmith’s clothing before (and spoken to its founder), so we can comfortably assert that Tracksmith makes some of the best cold-weather gear on the planet.
The Tracksmith Fells Waffle Layer is premium in every way. It uses a waffle knit to trap air against the skin and increase insulation. But Tracksmith also opted to use 100% Merino wool for its material. The end result is the best of both worlds, plenty of soft wool comfort, plenty of insulation, plenty of wicking and plenty of warmth for those colder days outside.
Unfortunately for buyers, the shirt is very popular and so we warn you that Tracksmith may not have your preferred size or color in stock.
3. Nike Pro Warm Long Sleeve Shirt
This men’s thermal shirt will come in handy for anyone with an active lifestyle. It’s made from a blend of polyester and spandex fabrics that are moisture-wicking to keep you dry and comfortable during a workout. The long sleeve tee will keep you warm when it’s cold out, thanks to its warming fabrication.
4. Carhartt Men’s Force Heavyweight Thermal Base Layer Shirt
Nobody understands the kind of clothing you need for cold, outdoor work like workwear staple Carhartt.
The Carhartt Men’s Force Heavyweight Thermal Base Layer Shirt is ready for freezing cold weather. The poly-wool blend works well to wick away sweat and give you plenty of insulation. The shirt is roomy and comfortable too, with flexible fabric and flat-lock seams that don’t rub your skin.
When layering, be sure to use the thumb holes to keep the sleeves in place because it’s annoying when shirt sleeves get caught in the next layer’s sleeves.
5. Wolverine Walden Thermal Henley Shirt
Wolverine is another solid maker of warm clothes for work and life, and the Wolverine Walden Thermal Henley Shirt delivers on that.
Made from a medium weight cotton-polyester blend fabric with a waffle knit, this shirt is warm, comfortable and winter-ready. It’d make a great base layer for most chilly activities and runs long so it can stay tucked in.
6. RedHead Thermal Henley
If you’re looking for a thermal shirt to keep you warm when lounging around the house, then the RedHead Thermal Henley will not disappoint you. The shirt is big on comfort as it’s made of a cotton-polyester blend fabric with a waffle texture. It has a relaxed fit with a sturdy rib-knit collar and cuffs of the sleeve. You will love wearing this shirt with a pair of sweatpants.
7. Everlane The Waffle Long-Sleeve Crew Tee
One of the best men’s thermal shirts for spring or early fall weather is the Everlane Waffle Long-Sleeve Crew Tee. This minimalistic shirt is warm and soft to wear alone, but it can also lock in body heat when you layer it. The shirt is built to last and will avoid letting out heat thanks to its durable flatlock stitching and cuffs on the sleeves.
8. Uniqlo Men’s HEATTECH Crew Neck Long-Sleeve Shirt
Uniqlo offers a line of clothing made of what it calls HEATTECH, a combination of rayon, acrylic fiber, polyester and spandex. The material claims it can wick sweat, dry quickly, minimize odor, retain heat, absorb moisture to generate heat and more.
We’ve worn the HEATTECH Crew Neck Long-Sleeve Shirt, and we’ve found it’s generally a warm, stretchy, fitting and comfortable shirt. It’s not the warmest shirt alone, but with another layer and a jacket in the right weather, it’s perfect. It’s definitely one of the best men’s thermals for its price if serious warmth isn’t your top priority.
9. Merino Wool T-shirt
This thermal t-shirt stands out for its use of 100% biodegradable Merino wool, a friendly material that’s soft, strong, and great at wicking moisture. This shirt features temperature regulation that will help keep you cool during a hot day and warm on a cold day. It’s also odor resistant and will not irritate or itch your skin.
10. L.L. Bean x Todd Snyder Thermal Crew
If you’re looking for a versatile thermal that is thick enough to wear alone but lightweight to wear as a base layer, then grab this shirt from L.L. Bean. The shirt comes in three fall-fantastic colors including, orange, blue, and olive camo. For a trendsetting outfit, pair the long sleeve with some jeans and boots.
11. Thermajohn Ultra Soft Thermal Shirt
For a more compression-style base layer thermal shirt, the Thermajohn Ultra Soft Thermal Shirt is the best men’s thermal.
It may be a bit form-fitting to be worn out alone, but it’s definitely a perfect base layer for any situation. Put it under a sweater or sweatshirt for cool nights and with a jacket for cold nights. Thanks to the moisture-wicking polyester fleece lining and spandex, it’s so soft and stretchy you just might want to sleep in it.
12. The North Face All-Season Waffle Thermal Top
The North Face is a brand adored by many for its outdoor gear, so we had to mention them on the list. This thermal top is made of a soft, midweight fabric that provides you with plenty of warmth during colder days. This shirt is a great piece to wear when engaging in winter activities.
13. Bonobos Thermal Knit Cotton Crewneck Shirt
Bonobos makes durable, classic basics and the Thermal Knit Cotton Crewneck shirt is life-ready. Better as a standalone shirt than a base layer (though it’s still great at that), this heavyweight cotton crewneck is soft and comfortable, with a relaxed fit and attention to detail. It’s a great piece to have in your wardrobe this time of year.
14. Bonobos Thermal Knit Cotton Crewneck Shirt
This RVCA waffle-knit shirt is one of the best thermals to wear when layering up to protect yourself against the cold. The shirt has a regular fit that doesn’t bunch up when worn underneath a flannel or sweater, ensuring a comfortable experience all day. After one wear of this shirt, we can assure you that you won’t invest in any other thermals.
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