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. Tracksmith Fells Waffle Layer
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.
2. 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 a 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.
3. 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.
4. Everlane ThermoStat Base Layer
One of the best men’s thermal shirts for spring or early fall weather, the Everlane ThermoStat Base Layer stands as well on its own as a base layer. The ThermoStat fabric combines bamboo rayon, wool and elastane, each of which contributes to the shirt’s wearability. The natural rayon is soft, the wool is warm and breathable and the elastane keeps the shirt’s form and adds to the flattering slim fit.
5. 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.
6. Marine Layer Box Waffle Crew Shirt
The Marine Layer Box Waffle Crew Shirt stands out for its use of TENCEL fibers, a sustainably produced material from wood that’s soft, strong and great at wicking moisture. The shirt combines it with cotton in waffle-knit for a lightweight, warm, comfortable layer perfect for a casual day outdoors.
7. Flint and Tinder Raglan Waffle Henley
Flint and Tinder makes durable, rugged basics and the Raglan Waffle Henley shirt is life ready. Better as a standalone shirt than a base layer (though it’s still great at that), this heavyweight cotton henley is soft and comfortable, with a relaxed fit and attention to detail. It’s a true testament to its Los Angeleno makers and seemingly perfect for the annual range of weather there.
8. 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.