How Do I Choose the Best Women's Thermal Underwear?

Nicole Long

Choosing the best women’s thermal underwear requires a basic understanding of the types of thermal underwear on the market. Women’s thermal underwear comes in various fabrics, such as cotton, wool, and an assortment of fabric blends. Other considerations to keep in mind include the weight and usage specifications of the thermals.

Women's thermal underwear comes in various types of fabric.
Women's thermal underwear comes in various types of fabric.

Thermal underwear is most commonly worn during cold weather months. Those who enjoy camping in late fall or early spring may benefit from wearing thermal underwear to keep them warm at night and help take the chill off of early morning hikes. Athletes participating in cold weather sports, such as skiing and snowboarding, also use thermal underwear to protect their skin from the weather conditions.

A set of thermal underwear.
A set of thermal underwear.

Cotton women’s thermal underwear can provide an extra layer of warmth. Thermals made from cotton do not wick away moisture and are not ideal for women who will be involved in outdoor or indoor activities. Cotton is perfect for those looking to add an extra comfortable layer of warmth under other clothing.

Most women prefer a midweight thermal underwear fabric.
Most women prefer a midweight thermal underwear fabric.

Wool is perhaps the most common fabric fiber used for thermal underwear. Women’s thermal underwear made out of wool is more expensive than other fabrics. Wool thermal underwear provides warmth and also allows for moisture to be wicked away from the skin. The potential downside to purchasing women’s thermal underwear that is made of wool or a wool-blend is that the item will take longer to dry than many of the other thermals on the market.

Thermal underwear is important when participating in snow sports.
Thermal underwear is important when participating in snow sports.

Fabric blends also offer attractive benefits. Some women’s thermal underwear is a blend of spandex, wool, and polyester. This allows for comfort, warmth, and optimum moisture control. In addition, thermals made of fabric blends often contain odor and wetness control systems for maximum comfort.

Women’s thermal underwear comes in a variety of weights. Each weight corresponds with specific activity levels and uses. Lightweight fabric is best for those participating in high level activities and should not be used in extreme cold. Heavy weight fabric, also referred to as expedition weight by some manufacturers, is best for extreme cold. Most consumers will be best served by a mid-weight fabric.

Those looking to purchase women’s thermal underwear also need to keep in mind other performance and decorative aspects available in thermal underwear design. Some thermal shirts will have thumb holes to help keep the arm sleeve in place and prevent it from rolling up under other clothing. Other design aspects to keep in mind include the type of neckline and any fasteners or zippers that may interfere with other clothing.

Thermal underwear can help people stay warm in the snow.
Thermal underwear can help people stay warm in the snow.

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Discussion Comments


@seag47 – I had the same problem as you while searching thermal underwear in the ladies' department. Everything seemed made for function rather than appearance. The necklines were all high.

So, I decided to experiment with various forms of tight clothing and see if they would work as well as thermal underwear. I found some very lowcut cotton and spandex tops that fit snugly against my body, and I bought several pairs of leggings that I could also wear with skirts and sweater dresses.

On a snowy day, I put one one of the lowcut tops and put a sweater and a big coat over it. I put on a pair of leggings and a pair of sweatpants over them, and I went outside to see if the makeshift thermal underwear would work.

I think it worked just as well as any thermal underwear I have ever owned. My new underwear has set me free from having to wear the kind that shows and never matches everything.


I bought some ladies' thermal underwear to go under some of my scoop-neck sweaters. The thermal top is black and made of polyester and spandex, so it actually looks like an undershirt, and I don't mind it showing at the top of the neckline.

In fact, this is the reason I bought black thermal underwear in a shiny material. I couldn't find any underwear with a low enough neckline to hide underneath my clothes. While black is fine with some sweaters, I do have others that would look much better if the shirt didn't show beneath them.

I really don't want to wear the black thermal top with my light blue sweater. Does anyone know if there is a type of thermal underwear with an extremely low neckline that will still keep me warm?


My husband wears special thermal underwear for men that is designed to keep him both dry and warm. This is great, because he works in a refrigerated warehouse, and even though it's cool in there, he works hard enough to generate sweat.

The underwear feels silky, and it is solid black. When he puts it on, he looks almost like he is wearing a wet suit!

He wears jeans and a sweatshirt over the underwear, and he stays perfectly warm. Considering that he works in a thirty-eight degree environment, this is quite an accomplishment.


I have always worn cotton thermal underwear for women, and it has done such a good job of keeping me warm. I'm not too terribly active outdoors in winter, so I don't have to worry about moisture not being wicked away. My only concern is preventing the discomfort that comes with intense shivering.

I buy matching sets of underwear that include a top and a bottom. Both the top and the pants have cuffs to keep them in place. They fit snugly against my skin, so I have no problems layering clothing over them.

To save money on heating, I even wear thermal cotton underwear in the house. I turn the thermostat down to 67 degrees, and I stay comfortable.

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