Cold Weather Undershirts. Wool, Silk, or Synthetic? Which Keep You Warmest – A Reader’s Perspective

January 26, 2013 | By | 3 Replies More

As I was poking around the internet recently, I came across a Science Fiction Author’s blog where he wrote a series of articles about his quest for an undershirt that would keep him warm during the mid-west cold weather months.

Cold Weather Undershirt Options

So Tobias reached out to his friends on Twitter, asking for recommendations and undershirts that would keep him warm. In addition to the recommendations, some folks pointed him over here to some articles I had written about winter undershirts and underwear. This is what he wrote me back after I reached out to him about his quest and evaluation:

Your site was one of the references my readers sent me when I asked for help on twitter for resources to help fight my constant freezing in winter. I’m slowly working my way through what I figured are the options based on some of your articles and some other online research, as well as the suggestions people sent my way. So far I’ve written posts on silk, wool, and tomorrow was planning to report on my Patagonia Capilene 2 short sleeve shirt (so far the warmest) as part one of my ‘synthetics’ test.

Here are some snippets from three different undershirt review articles he wrote about his experience with Silk Undershirts, Wool Undershirts, and Synthetic (Polyester) Undershirts.

Silk Undershirts

Undershirt tested: Land’s End. Price: $50. Purchased from Amazon.com. Note: I could not locate the item he purchased.

In 29 degree weather I pulled on a polo and my leather jacket and went out for a walk. Normally a polo and my leather jacket is too chilly for me, I opt for the down ski jacket.

But again, I felt cooled instead of frozen (my face and arms were able to let me know that there was a huge difference, as they were biting cold). With some gloves added to the mix and a fleece balaclava I was actually comfortable. Also, no sweatiness building up like in the heavy down full jacket with a shirt where I would overheat. The silk seemed to regulate.

…I found silk to be refreshingly comfortable and light to wear under anything. I can only find heavy silk in a long sleeve variety, however. My dislike of long sleeves limits options somewhat.

Read the full article: Learning to be warm: silk undershirts

Wool Undershirts

Undershirts tested: Icebreaker Merino Wool (150 weight), Smartwool (200 weight). Price range: $60 – $80.

While not as scratchy as those horrible old wool sweaters you may have once been forced to wear, it was still noticeable. It built up for me, slowly, throughout the day, until by the end of it I wanted to use pliers to pull the skin off my bones. Which is just not a fun sensation.

A suggestion was made that I wear a silk undershirt, with a wool shirt on top of that. Which is, frankly, getting comedic. Wool just doesn’t work for me. It’s okay, not every solution works for every person. Silk vs wool… for me silk won hands down. Now we know.

Read the full article: Learning to be warm: wool undershirts

Synthetic Undershirts

Undershirt tested: Patagonia Capilene undershirt. Price: $39

However, the Capilene #2 shirt was, hands down, the warmest base layer I’ve used yet. In fact, it wore well this weekend in multiple environs, from warm room parties to going out in the 30 degree weather under my polo to get something from the car. I was chilled, but not dangerously so.

I pulled it out again on Tuesday due to the single digit temps so I could go outside.

This could be a go-to shirt, though I’m curious to see what will happen come warmer temperatures. I’m looking for something very versatile, so we’ll see. But this is so far my favorite of the shirts.

Read the full article: Learning to be warm: synthetic undershirts

Current Winner?

Based on the feedback so far, it looks like the Synthetic (Polyester) Undershirt is Tobias’ favorite. But that might not last too long. Why? Read on.

What’s Next?

For my regular readers, you won’t be surprised that in my email exchange with Tobias, I highly recommended the Uniqlo Heattech undershirts.  Man, I love Uniqlo and the acrylic fibers used in the Heattech undershirts really keeps me toasty in colder weather.

So it looks like he’s going to be doing two more tests: 1) Uniqlo Heattech Undershirts, 2) Ordering a long-sleeve silk undershirt and having it tailored to make it short-sleeve

I’ll try to keep an eye out for Tobias’ review articles and update this one with his results!

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Category: Undershirt Reviews

About the Author ()

Tug is the world's undershirt expert. Looking for undershirt or men's shapewear information? You'll find it here on my site - guaranteed! You can also find me on

Comments (3)

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  1. don wiepert says:

    seems that your comment about uniqlo is outdated. It is now in San Francisco, ( maybe other places to?) I also think they do e purchases. Teir stuff is frat and warm, especially good for San Francisco. Love your web site.

    • don wiepert says:

      Now using Jockey thermal knit, very good with t shirt over, ar a buton shirt. Fit well, and look good.

    • heya don — just do a quick search on “uniqlo”, and you’ll see i wrote about the san francisco store opening as well as the uniqlo u.s. based ecommerce site launch.

      it’s not so easy to keep old articles up-to-date since things change so often (:

      thanks for stopping by though!!

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