Best thermal shirts

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As the temperature drops, the secret to keeping warm is to start with a good thermal base layer next to your skin. Worn under sweaters, fleeces and jackets, thermal shirts will retain your body heat whether you’re on a mountain ridge or walking the dog. Usually made from either synthetic fabric or wool, they need to be a snug fit to trap as much heat as possible close to your body but also cover your wrists and torso, two areas where you lose heat. If you plan on using them for active outdoor pursuits, it’s also important that they wick away sweat to keep you dry and warm as moisture next to your skin can make you cold. 

So whatever you want to do outdoors from hiking, fishing and hunting to watching a football game, gardening or working, if it’s cold, you’ll be so much more comfortable and warm with a good thermal shirt on.

Best overall

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DEVOPS 2 Pack Men's Thermal Long Sleeve Compression Shirts

Fleece-lined for warmth with a flexible fit

DEVOPS have made a fleece-lined material that’s 90% polyester and 10% Spandex for their shirts. It means they’re stretchy and flexible for a comfortable fit with an ultra-soft lining that has good thermal properties. Designed to allow good movement, the material converts moisture to heat so it’s great for any outdoor exertion and can be machine washed.

Best for comfort

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Indera Men's Traditional Long Johns Thermal Underwear Top

The comfort of cotton with added insulation

A traditional waffle knit from the 104-year old American company, Indera Mill, this top offers cotton-rich comfort for medium levels of activity in cold weather. Made from a 65% cotton, 35% polyester blend, the ribbed cuffs offer additional insulation for the wrists. It’s machine washable and available in a large selection of big and tall sizes right up to 6X and 4X-Tall.

Best value

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Carhartt Men's Force Midweight Classic Thermal Base Layer Long Sleeve Shirt

Everyday base layer that works as hard as you do

This Carhartt base layer is all about easy-to-wear warmth. Made from 100% polyester, it has a FastDry treatment to wick away sweat and fight odor when you’re active outdoors. The Rugged Flex technology is there for ease of movement. Comfort is increased by flatlock seams, tabless labels and thumb loops to keep your sleeves down when you put on another layer. 

Best for fast drying

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Hanes Sport Women's Cool DRI Performance Long Sleeve Tee

Fresh protection, female fit and fast drying too

The Cool DRI technology in this 100% polyester top helps it dry faster after washing, which is useful when it's colder. The feminine fit will help it retain your body heat, aided by the double-needle cover-seamed neck and double-needle sleeve and bottom hems. Advanced odor protection technology helps it stay fresh as well as comfortable with a tag-free neck.

Bottom line

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When it comes to the cold of fall and winter, while your outer clothing is, of course, important, wearing a good thermal layer next to your body should be the basis of staying warm. The best thermal shirts are essential wear for any outdoor activities when the temperature drops and you want to stay cozy. We recommend the DEVOPS 2 Pack Men's Thermal Long Sleeve Compression Shirts as a good choice for most people. Easy to get on and flexible when you’re wearing them, the soft fleece lining really adds to the comfort and helps wick away moisture.

We also like Carhartt Men's Force Midweight Classic Thermal Base Layer Long Sleeve Shirt. It’s a very useful item of thermal clothing from a well-respected brand. Particularly suited to active outdoor activities, it’s constructed to dry quickly, wick away sweat and be flexible when you move.

Advnture team

Launched in July 2020, Advnture is the ideal destination for anyone who loves the great outdoors. Whether you're into epic hikes through the wilderness, camping trips with the family, climbing with your friends, or looking for a trail running personal best, our team of experts will point you in the right direction, with top buying advice and in-depth guides to help you get the most of your time in the backcountry.