Best Long Johns of 2022

Updated on October 21, 2022 12:41 PM

Choosing the best long models means finding base layers that match your activity and the temperature where you plan to be outside. Long underwear that is ideal for long stays in a deer stand or over a tip space may not be the right choice for cross-country skiing. Weight, fit and materials matter when it comes to choosing the right thermal underwear. Synthetic blends are popular, as are merino wool base layers, both of which are far preferable to old-fashioned cotton longs, which lose their insulating value when wet or sweaty. Mountaineers call cotton the “cloth of death” and have come to trust wool and synthetics to wick moisture away from the body, keeping you dry and comfortable.

While synthetics are generally more durable and cost less than wool, some retain odor, making them a smelly choice if you have to wear the same base layer for several days. Merino wool is soft, comfortable and stays fresh longer. Finally, remember that the best long johns for you are those that fit well, not too tight, but that fit close to the skin where they can do their job of wicking away moisture.

Features to consider when shopping for Long Johns

How do you choose thermal clothing? Price and comfort play a role in finding the best pairs of long glasses. However, it is more important to match the needs of your long underwear with your outdoor activity and temperature. Think about what you will do in them. If you’re sitting on a duck or deer stand in sub-freezing temperatures, you’re going to want a different base layer than when you’re hiking the pheasant fields or deer woods when you’re in the 40s. Keep this main activity in mind when shopping, because thermal underwear varies greatly in material and construction.

Will you be active when you wear Long Johns?

If you’re going to be moving around and generating sweat, that sweat has to go somewhere or it will cool down quickly. Any good merino or synthetic wicks moisture, but a body-crafted garment—which uses different weights of material in different places—is best. It will retain heat in some critical areas and release it in others. A quarter zip fastening also works well for activewear because you can open it to let out excess heat.

Best Moisture Wicking: Cabela’s ECWCS Thermal Long Sleeve Quarter Zip Quarter Sleeve

Cabela's ECWCS Thermal Quarter Sleeve Long Sleeve Zip Up

This base layer is designed to combine maximum insulation with minimum bulk. of Cable

Made for the military, this base layer is designed to keep you warm and moisture wicking in harsh conditions anywhere in the world. Heavy just where it needs to be, the ECWCS (Extended Cold Weather Clothing System) base layer is easily layered under winter clothing. The all-synthetic material contains 4 MORE INHIBITS to reduce odor. Quarter chain design allows you to quickly vent excess heat.

Will you be in extreme cold?

Extreme cold calls for heavyweight base layers. The natural loft of merino wool traps air very efficiently, making it warmer than synthetic materials of equal weight. While synthetics can dry faster, merino is warmer and more comfortable when wet.

While lambswool is actually warmer than merino wool, it is too scratchy to wear next to the skin. To be effective, a base layer should fit well enough to wick away moisture, but be flexible enough not to restrict your movement.

Most manufacturers reserve the term “expedition weight” for their heaviest base layers. The weight of the Merino base layer is expressed in grams per square meter of fabric. Ultralight base layers are made of 150g/m2 fabric, while anything over 250g/m2 is considered heavy. If you will be ice fishing or doing anything in extremely cold conditions, get long johns designed for such use.

Best for extreme cold weather: Minus33 Merino Wool 707 Yukon’s Expedition Weight Crew

Minus33 Merino Wool 707 Yukon's Expedition Weight Crew

Minus 33 Expedition weight base layers put a thick layer of merino warmth between you and the cold. Minus 33

In the fleece business since 1916, LW Packard introduced the Minus 33 brand in 2002, initially marketing their warm base layers to snowmobilers who face brutal wind chills as they speed through the cold. Expedition Weight parts have survived the extreme cold of Everest. Made from heavy, 400g/m2 merino wool, they’re cut to a regular fit that’s not super tight like some synthetics, but not so loose that it’s difficult to layer. This makes these shirts a great option to wear alone at camp after the hunt.

Will you be deer hunting?

Thermal leggings and a top are essential staples of any deer hunting outfit and must meet several requirements. A day in the forest can start with a long walk to your stand, where you will sit for several hours. You can go down to hunt at noon before sitting down again in the evening. Your base layer should keep you warm when you’re sitting and wick away moisture when you’re moving.

A stinky base layer will instantly give you any game that wanders downwind, so an odor-free garment is a plus, both in the woods and at the cabin.

Finally, on warm days or when you’re particularly active, it’s useful to be able to wear the top as your only layer, so the camo colors help you stay hidden from the game even if you take off a few layers.

Best for Deer Hunting: The First Lite Men’s Furnace

The first Lite oven for men

The oven base layer will see you through a day in the deer woods, no matter what you’re doing. The first Lite oven for men

Made from 95% merino wool with 5% spandex woven into a warm, high-loft 250g fabric, the John Kiln Long Shirt can be worn on its own, as a mid-layer, or paired with thermal leggings Kiln as a base layer. . Available in three solid colors, as well as First Lite’s own Fusion and Cipher models, the Kiln base layer helps you stay hidden. A quarter zip allows you to open the throat for ventilation once you fill the tag and the hard work of bagging your deer begins.

Will you be extremely active?

Cold weather athletes have special base layer needs. Runners, cyclists, snowshoers and cross-country skiers need plenty of warmth. Their base layer will work as hard as they do to remove sweat from their skin. Tight, compression-fitted thermal underwear allows for freedom of movement and easy layering. Elite athletes wear compression gear in all seasons because it reduces muscle fatigue and soreness and enhances their performance.

Best for active sports: Under Armor ColdGear Compression T-Shirt

ColdGear Under Armor Compression T-Shirt

ColdGear form-fitting compression provides warmth without bulk. Courtesy of Under Armour

UnderArmour’s ColdGear is made from a stretchy, polyester/lycra material that moves as you do. Designed to fit snugly for both layering and providing the benefits of compression wear, the ColdGear has a warm, brushed interior finish. Designed to wick moisture and sweat away from your body, this is the ideal thermal garment for strenuous activities.

The Best Budget Long Johns: What You Get for Under $50

If you wear base layers day in and day out, you’ll want more than one. You’ll also want different weights for different purposes. Long expedition weight underwear that you wear for weekend outings will be extremely hot in the office. You may need several sets to get you through the winter, and that can add up. Find a good budget brand that meets your needs and you can build a base layer wardrobe. Even cheap brands will wick away moisture to keep you comfortable. The construction and durability may not be on par with the best brands, but it will keep you warm.

Best Budget: Men’s Long Sleeve Crew Neck 32 GREG

Men's Long Sleeve Crew Neck 32 GRATE

32 Degrees offers affordable base layers to keep you warm all winter long. 32 GRAND

Made from a synthetic blend, the 32 degree base layers give you performance on a budget. This is definitely a no-frills outdoor device. You don’t have the option of a quarter chain, it doesn’t control the smell and the material can get stuck. But it sells for such a low price that you practically can’t afford not to buy it, and it will wick moisture away from your body and keep you warm and comfortable.

Related: 5 Boy Scouts’ Winter Survival Rules That Will Keep You Alive In Cold Weather

Frequently asked questions

Q: How to choose long underwear?

Choose long underwear that is suitable for your cold weather needs. Make sure you choose the right weight for the temperature and think about your activity levels too. A base layer that is perfect for sitting in a deer stand can be too warm for a hike.

Q: Which material is best for the base layer?

The best base layer material depends on what you are using it for. Avoid cotton, which does not absorb moisture and will cool you down quickly if you sweat. Merino wool is currently popular because it’s wicking, warm, and doesn’t immediately hold odors like synthetics can. Synthetic materials also absorb moisture and usually cost less than wool.

Q: Should long johns be tight or loose?

Base layers work best when they fit close to your skin. With the exception of compression garments for very active sports, you don’t need a perfect skin-to-skin fit, but it shouldn’t be loose and should fit under mid and outer layers without bulk.

A final word on shopping for the best Long Johns

The right base layer will play a big role in keeping you warm and comfortable in the cold, but it should match your activity level. Merino wool and synthetics work well. Decide what fits your budget and make sure you choose the right weight and style for your cold weather activities.

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