Content of the material
Better pricing is part of our philosophy
If you’re going to wear long johns frequently like we suggest, they can’t be prohibitively expensive. We’ve built our business around lower prices than our competitors so that customers can come back when they need more. Other retailers have to charge more when they spend a fortune on branding, have sexy offices in big cities, and have investors who need to get paid back. We would rather not have outside investment, be in a boring Midwest office park, and rely on the word of mouth of our customers so that we can save you 50% and still make the most comfortable long johns you’ve ever worn.
Long johns and base layer bottoms are generally only used when a shirt or top isn’t enough to get the job done. As such, warmth may be one of the factors that you want to highlight, as opposed to emphasizing breathability or moisture regulation. Both fabric weight and material are going to impact the warmth of your thermal underwear.
While it’s fairly intuitive to gauge fabric weight with warmth, here’s a brief ranking of the different materials in order of most to least insulative.
- 100% Merino
- Wool and Synthetic Blends
- Silk & Synthetics
Outside of the fabric weight, the materials themselves are going to have the biggest performance impact on your thermal underwear. The materials are much the same as any you would find in outdoor wear, with the exception of cotton and silk, though it should be noted that cotton base layers aren’t suitable for any kind of high output outdoor activity but is included on this list for being a comfortable and affordable alternative in terms of being an effective insulator.
There’s no understating Merino wool’s impact in the outdoor industry, it’s by and large the favorite for most next-to-skin layers from socks to beanies. Merino wool long johns are great for all the same reasons that Merino wool makes a great base layer otherwise–it’s comfortable, breathable, odor resistant, and most importantly: warm and moisture wicking.
There’s a reason that there are so many die-hard merino fanatics out there, and a reason why merino tends to be on the upper end of the price spectrum in all applications.Pros
- Top of the pack breathability and moisture wicking ability
- Warmer than most other materials per weight
- Antibacterial and odor-resistant
- Much less durable than synthetics
- More expensive than any other material on the market
Polyester and Other Synthetics
Synthetics cover a wide range of materials from lycra to polyester, and are an affordable alternative to wool for any kind of outdoor application. Synthetics have the edge in terms of both their quick-drying quality and comparative durability when measured against natural fibers.
As mentioned above, while synthetics tend to be more affordable and durable than merino, they don’t insulate as well and lack the odor-resistant qualities beloved in merino.
- Quick-dry capability superior to merino
- Comparable performance at a lower cost
- More durable than natural textiles
- No antibacterial or odor-preventative properties
- Less warm than merino or blends
Synthetics cover a wide range of materials from lycra to polyester, and are often blended with wool to create a hybrid with the warmth and odor resistant benefits that natural fibers offer, with some of the increased resilience and quick-drying aspects present in synthetics.
Bringing a “best of both worlds” attitude to the table, blends tend to be among the most expensive and performance oriented options out there.Pros
- Superior performance for technical applications
- Nearly as durable as pure synthetic options
- Retains some of the antibacterial benefits we love in merino
- Often more expensive than even 100% Merino wool
- Approaches but does not fully capitalize on the true benefits of both wool and synthetics
Silk is a little anachronistic compared to some of the flashy and fine tuned options that you see on this list, but it still has the advantage of being just about the most comfortable next-to-skin layer you can find. It’s also reasonably warm and odor-resistant. But that’s where most of the appeal stops- outside of use as a sleep layer there are much more practical and affordable options in synthetics.Pros
- Just about as comfortable as it gets next to skin
- Reasonable performance compared to more contemporary materials
- Fairly warm per weight of the material
- Mediocre performance wise compared to merino and synthetic analogues
- The least durable material used in thermal underwear
Cotton is not an acceptable material to use for any kind of strenuous outdoor activity, when wet it loses its insulative properties and actually makes you colder as the material chills. However, for those in search of a cheap and warm pair of long johns to wear around the cabin or at most shoveling a few inches of snow off of the driveway, it can provide a means of staying warm without investing much more than you’d pay for a cotton t-shirt.Pros
- Affordable and warm when it’s dry
- Not acceptable in any strenuous circumstances
- Makes you colder when it’s wet
Why You Should Wear Underwear With Long Johns
While your Long Johns may serve the same function as your underwear, they aren’t as breathable, don’t stretch in the same way, and don’t offer the same support. Many people opt to wear underwear with Long Johns simply because Long Johns don’t hug your body the same way that a pair of underwear may.
Furthermore, Long Johns are typically made out of synthetic materials and can cause skin irritation. A pair of underwear may help prevent any skin irritation or chafing in this case.
Then you have to address the purpose of your Log Johns, which, presumably, is that you’re wearing them with the intent of staying warm! Adding that additional layer of underwear below your Long Johns will provide added insulation.
Finally, there are hygiene considerations. Most people prefer to wash their Long Johns less frequently, and underwear can help prevent the accumulation of sweat and unwanted odors.
Like you wash your underwear every day, you would have to wash your Long Johns daily if they’re worn without underwear. This also applies to durability.
The breakdown of the materials in your Long Johns will be slowed down if worn with underwear, and you won’t have to replace them as frequently.
So, whether you’re just looking to warm up this winter or if you’re just looking to get in on this burgeoning fashion trend, Long Johns will be a great addition to any wardrobe.
They can replace your summer underwear during the winter months, or they can be worn in conjunction with them for extra warmth and support. And if you know how to put an outfit together, Long Johns will be a real hit with the fashionistas out there!
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A Final Word On Shopping For the Best Long Johns
The right base layer will play a huge part in keeping you warm and comfortable in the cold, but it has to match your activity level. Merino wool and synthetics both perform well. Decide what fits your budget and be sure to pick the right weight and style for your cold weather activities.
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