The thermal shirt is a sartorial Swiss army knife


When the air gets cold and the snow starts to fall, you’ll need layers to stay warm. Of course, classics like a crisp white t-shirt or an old but gold tank top work well and fit nicely under sweaters and dress shirts, but if you want to be comfortable outdoors during the winter months, you need a thermal basecoat – a firm, foolproof foundation, if you will.

What is a thermal? And how is it different from a waffle knit shirt? Well, they’re one and the same. Colloquially, the term waffle knit refers to the fabric itself, a literal description of how it looks and feels up close. Rather, the term thermal refers to the function of the garment: to act as insulation for your body. You see, the style is meant to be chunky, a really heavyweight option, often cut from medium to heavyweight cotton. The weight alone warms the surface of your skin, but the breathable waffle formation lets air flow freely but barely inside, regulating your temperature and wicking away unwanted moisture.

This combination of capabilities makes it – waffle knit or thermal, whatever name you prefer – the perfect base layer. Put it on first under a nylon lining and a woolen overcoat? Incredible; you will be Great hot. But paired with faded blue jeans? Sleek in a ’90s Wrangler ad – you know, the now questionable one with Brett Favre throwing the pigskin – kind of way.

So, look for an iteration that feels heavy without being overwhelming, tightly woven without looking unnatural, and, of course, sleek enough to serve as an unidentifiable base layer or standalone top.

Cream – which is decidedly different from pristine white – is certainly the preferred color, but iterations of washed black, navy blue, olive, and gray are okay too.

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our selection

Vintage Thermal Surplus T-Shirt

The softness and aesthetics of a vintage find without the sleeves and stretched shoulders. This iteration is modeled after an official military number and comes in nine colors.

An upgrade

Waffle-knit thermal crew

Filson’s option is a bit heavier overall, which is why it costs more. This one has a straight hem opposite the others (curved or short hem), and comes in four colors. Consider this iteration as a tribute from this list to the rugged Americana, or the Cabin Core, if you’re a Gen Zer.

an affordable alternative

Waffle-knit T-shirt

Available in nine colors, Gap’s Waffle-Knit is a good option for those who don’t want to spend part of their budget on base layers. (They’re important, but I wanted to buy something more … affordable, especially if you’re looking to order more than one at a time.)

The Crew Long Sleeve Waffle Knit

If you already own something from Everlane, you know what to expect. Otherwise, here is the TLDR; excellent basics (T-shirts, chinos, sweatshirts) at affordable prices. But they also do a lot more: tons of types of outerwear, sneakers, and even niche underwear. Concrete example ? This waffle-knit long-sleeved shirt is both comfortable and strong.

Thermal crew neck

It’s the cheapest thermal here, that’s for sure. But at a price. While it’s only $ 8, you’ll definitely notice it, and it’s not a welcome revelation 10 minutes into an hour-long winter hike. This is a super undergarment option, meaning it’s thin, tight, and shorter in the sleeves so it doesn’t come out from under another shirt.

All-season thermal waffle

A lesser known fact about thermals? They can be worn all year round. The North Face is not afraid of this feature with its waffle thermal. It’s called “All-Season”, and it’s made from a blend of cotton and elastane, a composition that promises structure with plenty of stretch and warmth without suffocation.

Long Sleeve Waffle Thermal T-Shirt

The Real McCoy’s strives to reproduce classic clothing for a modern audience. (But even purists, that is, those who shop at supply stores and military surplus stores, appreciate them.) Appreciate this version for its versatility: it’s part of the pajama top, sportswear and is an obvious essential for everyday activities in the middle of winter.

Box Waffle Crew T-Shirt

Due to the pocket and square shape, this Marine Layer Crew Tee will not look good under a tighter top layer. It is best worn as a top layer with, if needed, another layer underneath. Or try wearing it under a puffer jacket or other parka – any outerwear that shouldn’t look tailored.

Signature Waffle Crew

When you’re discussing classic American attire, or at least one that’s deeply rooted in the American aesthetic, you can’t leave LL Bean out. Wearable as a base layer or as a lightweight crew-neck sweatshirt, the Waffle Crew by the Maine 0outfitter eschews extras and embellishments in favor of classic, dad-like colors and distinctive features like a dot. V and a straight hem.

Thermal embossed crew neck

What impresses the most about the Pact Thermal Waffle Crewneck is its fit. If you’re sure about your size – trust the measurements – you’ll find it wraps nicely around the shoulders, flatters the chest, and falls straight to the hips, creating a silhouette that’s both clean and classic.

Clive 3323 Slim Fit T-Shirt

NN07’s Clive 3323 Tee, as it’s called, the most edgy here, takes inspiration from military and old school styles but polishes them up for the modern man. It is soft, supple, quite ample at the level of the arms and available in nine colors.

Long Sleeve Ribbed Thermal Shirt

While thermals aren’t what you would have turned to Abercrombie & Fitch less than 10 years ago, the brand has made nearly 180 and filled their online store with solid basics – and almost all of them are free from that big. showy moose. logo.

Cozy Up Embossed Crew-Neck T-Shirt

Cop Up West’s Cozy Up Crewneck in one of six colors and trust it to help trap heat under other layers, stand alone under a lighter jacket (maybe a chore coat?)

Light waffle crew

The bonobos built their Waffle Crew with enough weight that it could be used on its own as a sweatshirt or as a second layer (not a base) under a lighter jacket. There’s an obvious versatility to this option, and it’s up to you how you wear it, which means there’s really no wrong way to go about it.

Textured crew neck

RRL is the top echelon of Ralph Lauren, where the good things go (and for more than three times the Polo stuff). This textured crew neck is definitely Well, otherwise great. It’s available in an already washed black color, with yoke stitching all the way to the arms, raw hems and ribbed cuffs.

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