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Best Thermal Shirts for Women

With the winter months looming ahead, having a warm base layer is crucial, especially if you spend any amount of time outdoors. Here are the best thermal shirts to keep you cozy until spring.

A cozy thermal is the perfect addition to any wardrobe. A garment that is both stylish and comfortable, it is also functional and easy to wear. A great thermal shirt can be worn around the house for coziness on cold fall and winter days. 

It can also go under your ski and snow clothing to provide a great base layer when playing outdoors. You can also put it under your work sweaters and shirts if your office is chilly, so you can stay efficient and comfy all day. Best of all, thermals are great with any woman's style.

How much should I expect to spend on a thermal shirt for women?

The price range for your thermal shirt will range based upon the quality and construction of the shirt. The lower-range thermals will come in at about $10, whereas the best come in at about $69. 

It is all dependent upon the materials, stitching, and brand of the thermal. Some thermals offer different features, like wicking moisture away or special fabrics that make them differently priced. Our choices are all great in their own ways. 

What features should I consider in a budget thermal shirt for women?

  • Insulation: Insulation helps trap in the heat and keeps it close to you. In cold temperatures, your body heat goes away from you, leaving you feeling chilly. A great quality thermal will keep that heat where it belongs-near your core. 
  • Weight:The weight of your thermal is important. You do not want a garment that is reminiscent of a bulky sweater. A good thermal is lightweight and feels easy to wear. It is constructed of special fabric that is light and can be used as a base layer under thicker sweaters or jackets. 
  •  Loft: The word loft refers to how thick the insulating airspace created by the clothing is. If you own a puffy jacket or moon boots, you know that these items trap loads of air, keeping you warm. Look for a thermal that has a high loft if you seek to stay extra-warm. 
  • Moisture-wicking: As you wear your thermal and are active outdoors, it is natural you will sweat in the usual spots - like your underarms, your chest, or your back. Those of you who are athletes, skiers, or outdoor workers will definitely know what it's like to sweat profusely while it's cold outside. When your base layer gets damp, however, you feel cold immediately. So you need a garment that will wick the moisture away from your skin and stay dry, keeping you safe and healthy. 
A thermal is a practical, wonderful addition to any woman's wardrobe during the colder seasons of the year.

What are the more advanced features that I should consider in a high-end thermal shirt for women?

Fabric: The type of fabric your thermal is constructed of will make a big difference. A wool thermal is great for those of you who will be active while wearing your thermal, as wool is traditionally very warm at all temperatures. If you do not wear wool, look for synthetic fabrics like acrylics. Acrylics also have great moisture wicking properties, and will also feel lighter than wool. 

  • Style: While function should beget form when it comes to wearing a thermal, style is important to consider in terms of comfort as well. You can choose between long sleeve or three-quarter length, turtle neck or crew neck, and some thermals come with zips or thumbholes that can make or break your comfort while wearing them. Many shirts also come in different colors to vary your options.
  • Stretch. Everybody needs a little breathing room. You may be wearing a thermal in a cabin during a cozy family weekend, and we all know that calls for eating and drinking way too much. Other times if you're skiing or working outdoors, you'll need a garment that is flexible enough to move as much as you do. Look for a thermal that offers you a stretchier material  -these will likely be synthetic or wool-blends rather than pure wool. 
  • Bacteria Resistance. As you sweat, bacteria will be produced. Many of us will probably wash our thermals at the end of the day. Those of us on ski or work trips may not have access to a washing machine, but still need to wear the thermal for the next day of chilly activity. Choose a thermal that resists bacteria so you have a sanitary experience.

1) Smartwool Merino 150

Key features
  • Comprised of 87% Merino wool and 13% Nylon
  • Knitted in Vietnam
  • Offers a slim fit 
  • No shoulder seams thanks to raglan sleeve design
  • Lightweight, uses nylon core to keep fabric close to body

Smartwool is a company with amazing beginnings. It all started on a ski slope in the rugged Colorado mountains. Their belief is that toes don't have to be chilly. One pair of this company’s legendary socks challenged the norm and changed the way outdoors enthusiasts felt about keeping their feet warm in cold temperatures. 

The Smartwool fabric featured in this product delights and serves clients well. Merino sheep wool is highly prized for its thermal properties, and Smartwool makes sure that they source from the best. As far as cost is concerned, this item is one of the more expensive shirts when it comes to clothing like this.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other women's thermal shirts?

Here is a thermal that is loaded with great features and gets the job done with no questions asked. You can wash this using the warm gentle cycle wash with similar colors. Then just tumble dry on low, and you have a clean thermal. This is great because all too often, wool items that many of us have owned, like coats or hats, have had that famous “dry clean only” label. It offers superior moisture wicking and odor resistance. It works great as a base layer under snow clothes, or as a nice top for a brisk walk around a chilly place. 

What's not so good about it?

At this price, buyers expect the product to last a while. Most who purchased this thermal agreed it was a great buy, but not all. One person indicated that the garment got holes in it very quickly. That same client also indicated the socks made by Smartwool did the same thing and advised others against buying. Another buyer said that the thermal was rather itchy and should have another layer placed underneath it. 

  • Moisture wicking 
  • Bacteria resistance
  • Can be washed in your washing machine
  • Lightweight
  • Holes come rather quickly in the shirt
  • Can be itchy if not worn with base layer
  • Only available in two colors

2) Terramar Thermasilk

Key features
  • Ultra-lightweight construction
  • Natural breathability for less odor and sweat
  • Stretch material for comfort
  • ClimaSense Technology

Terramar Sports started in 1971 with the goal of providing outdoor enthusiasts a durable and comfortable way to stay warm while doing what they love. This shirt is priced at the mid-range for a shirt of this quality and construction.

It's a great purchase since it makes a nice, ideal base layer and is lightweight for easy wear under clothing. The pleasant feel of the jersey silk as well as the warmth it keeps while you wear it are two more reasons to buy. The Qwik-Dri wicking feature and the anti-microbial function of this shirt mean you will have a sanitary and safe experience wearing it again and again. 

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other women's thermal shirts?

One cool thing about this shirt is that it is pointelle knit, so it has a feminine look. One wearer mentioned using them as sleep clothes for backpacking in the country, so there are many uses for this. 

Another user reported layering them under her clothing for chilly outdoor runs. One woman even stated that she used it during a December trip to New York City-a place that indeed gets very cold during their harsh winters! She indicated it was thin enough to wear under other clothing and great for walking around and seeing the city. It is priced in the middle range for clothing like this- not super cheap, not crazy expensive.

What's not so good about it?

The thinness of the shirt is nice in terms of easily packing it into a backpack or suitcase, as well as feeling less weighted down while wearing it. But the caveat is it is not very durable. 

It was reported that a simple claw from a cat caught the shirt and left a run in it similar to the ones in pantyhose. The product description indicates it is 100% silk, but it is reported that the shirt was actually made of spandex and cotton. This may be off-putting to some who prefer non-synthetic fabrics only. 

  • Comes in sizes XS to XL  
  • Lightweight & easy to layer
  • Breathable & Moisture wicking
  • Not for extreme temps
  • Must hand wash
  • See-through material

3) Minus33 Merino Wool

Key features
  • Lightweight in its construction 
  • Flatlock seams
  • No annoying tag in the collar 
  • Stretchy Cuffs 

Minus33 itself was started in 2002 as a brand catering to snowmobilers, they quickly expanded into other outdoor sports. 

It is fortunate that they did, as they now offer great quality clothing for men and women alike. This particular shirt is no exception, and is at the top of the spectrum when it comes to quality, as reflected in the price. 

You will pay more for this particular shirt, but the price paid will be well worth it once the chill sets in. It is made of 100% Merino wool.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other women's thermal shirts?

The shirt comes in as one of the mid-priced options you have when seeking a shirt like this. The fact that it comes in extended sizes is a wonderful and inclusive thought on the part of the manufacturer. 

Best of all, this garment has a 30-day guarantee, so you can buy without any worry. This particular shirt is machine washable, and can go in the dryer, too. The shirt controls odor and wicks away moisture like a pro. One wearer discussed purchasing the shirt for a trip to Iceland and enjoyed how well it stayed concealed under her clothes, the lightweight nature of the garment, and how comfortable it was.

What's not so good about it?

At the price one pays for a shirt like this, the utmost in fit and quality is expected. However, there are reports that those who are tall and attempt to wear this shirt are met with too short sleeves. 

Some buyers stated that the shirt runs rather small and felt like a compression shirt as worn by athletes. One client even reported that the material felt itchy to the touch, even after washing with Woolite. 

  • Easy and simple to care for
  • Comes in a variety of sizes
  • Does everything you expect-and looks lovely while doing so
  • Pilling after only a few wears
  • Shirt and sleeves run short on tall people
  • Can feel itchy to some

4) ColdPruf Basic Dual Layer

Key features
  • Comes in two colors-black and white 
  • Best for medium activity
  • Uses Merino wool 
  • Offers FigurFit and Silvadur intelligent Freshness technology 

ColdPruf has been in the business of protecting people from the elements since the year 1914, so count on them to get a nice product at a nice price! This particular garment sits at the low end of the price spectrum in comparison to some other products. 

If you work inside a cold office, this is a great base layer to put under sweaters and collared shirts to stay warm while maintaining a professional look. ColdPruf just wants a world where everyone can stay warm no matter the temperature. This top is a great place to start and get yourself toasty. 

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other women's thermal shirts?

For starters, this one is different on the price scale than the other thermals, coming in at a lower number. This is good news for those that just need a way to stay warm but are low on cash. 

Even though it is called “basic” by its manufacturer, it has two layers of protection instead of some of the other products we’ve examined today that feature only one thin layer. The garment is made with 60% combed, ringspun cotton and 40% polyester for the most comfortable and durable shirt you will ever own. Others mentioned putting it on underneath a sweater and going about their day toasty warm!

What's not so good about it?

Compared to some other products, this one offers a fit that just depends on the person. It runs rather large which is nice in some respects- you can move freely, indulge in a little extra hot cocoa after skiing, and just have some extra breathing room. 

However, not all people enjoy clothing that is too big. This one certainly runs large. The product description indicates it can be worn on its own, but buyers state otherwise. Some even argue that the material, although great at keeping them warm, can be see-through.

  • No tag means no need to fuss around with a scratchy feeling
  • Runs large
  • Comes in two basic colors
  • See-through fabric
  • Wool is only a part of the fabric construction
  • Fabric pills after only a few washings

5) Duofold Mid Weight Wicking

Key features
  • Made of 60% cotton and 40% 
  • You can machine wash this 
  • Good for cold-weather activities that are low impact
  • Seams are of flat-lock construction 

Champion is a sportswear brand that we all know and love. They do it all at competitive prices too. Coming in at a lower price compared to some other products examined today, this lovely Duofold thermal doesn’t compromise on quality. 

This thermal has two layers that ensure you keep the moisture wicked away and the warmth near your body. Just pull this thermal on over your head, put on your favorite sweater, and get ready to stay warm all day.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other women's thermal shirts?

It is rare to find such a nice shirt at such a competitive price range. The moisture wicking, warmth, and layering involved in this shirt keep you toasty. It is important to note that this thermal does not feature Merino wool as so many of our other choices did. But do not let that deter you. 

Perhaps the greatest indication of this garment’s quality was the woman who discussed taking this to Antarctica with her-how’s that for a testimonial!  The shirt fits true to size and is comfortable and fun to wear.

What's not so good about it?

One person reported that she ordered the shirts in two colors-black and white. She reported that the shirts were made in two different countries and thus had different fits. 

In that same vein, others reported the shoulders and sleeves being too short and tight for comfortable wear. Others report that the cut of the shirt is rather long. This may be bothersome to those who do not want to tuck it in or those on the shorter side.  

  • Available in a variety of colors 
  • Boat neck style is pretty and functional. 
  • Lightweight and made of a cotton-polyester blend
  • Certain colors had flaws in their construction
  • Does not offer bacteria prevention
  • Only suitable for low intensity activity

In conclusion...

Now is the time to get yourself into one of these great thermals. These garments are truly in a class of their very own. They are so lightweight and easy to wear, and they go anywhere. 

You can easily fit these into a suitcase, or even a large purse, for a fun and functional way to stay safe and warm while doing what you love during cold months. Take our suggestions and seek out a thermal that will keep you warm and dry, preventing hypothermia and other sicknesses. 

For those of you who sweat a lot, look for one that keeps those odors at bay, so your clothing doesn’t hold onto the smells of sweat long after your workout is done. Pay attention to the cuts and materials of these thermals. Although they are functional and warm, they are also tailored to fit women’s natural shapes for a feminine and pretty look. Embrace the cold!

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