What is it for
Thermal underwear, as the name suggests, is a set of warm and enveloping accessories to be worn under clothes in direct contact with the skin. These items of clothing are characterized by excellent insulating properties and are ideal, if not indispensable, for people who have to stay outdoors for long periods during the coldest months of the year. Those who live in places that are climatically unfavorable in winter, such as in the mountains, can benefit greatly from wearing thermal underwear, as can people who work outdoors all year round or those who love to practice snow sports. Thermal underwear keeps body temperature high, ensuring comfort and warmth even in the most difficult conditions such as snow, ice or wind. Thermal underwear is also ideal for people who practice outdoor activities in the colder months of the year, such as joggers, fishermen, hunters, but also cyclists, footballers and many other sportsmen who do not let themselves be discouraged by low temperatures. Still on the subject of sport, there is nothing better than good thermal underwear for going to the stadium and watching a football match without suffering from the cold in the stands. Thermal underwear can really make a difference in the most extreme conditions, provided of course that it is made with top quality insulating materials that also have good breathable properties and a certain softness in contact with the skin. There are models of thermal underwear for men, women and children, so that everyone has the opportunity to adequately protect themselves from low temperatures.
The idea behind this particular clothing is that there is effective insulation thanks to the fabric fibers that retain heat. At the same time, thermal underwear must allow the body to breathe and free itself from sweat while always remaining dry: it is precisely the absence of humidity, in fact, that prevents heat from dispersing through the skin. In the most classic sense of the term, thermal underwear consists of a "two-piece", i.e. long-sleeved jacket and long trousers. It is possible to wear only one of these two garments depending on your needs, the weather conditions and the outdoor activity you have to do. There are also thermal shorts and short-sleeved shirts, which guarantee warmth and comfort mainly to the torso and are therefore suitable for less rigid temperatures. At the other end of the range there are also one-piece models, which due to the lack of division between the upper and lower parts allow you to obtain a certain advantage in terms of heat retention. However, this underwear is not exactly among the most practical to wear, both when you have to put it on and when you need to go to the toilet.
The materials with which the thermal underwear items are made are of fundamental importance in the choice, since some fabrics are characterized by better properties than others. Very often, in this regard, thermal underwear is produced with a combination of different materials in order to achieve the best performance in terms of insulation, wearability and comfort. Here are some of the main types of fabric these accessories can be made of:
- cotton : it is a material of plant origin, which makes its softness and softness in contact with the skin its best advantages. However, cotton tends to absorb moisture and this can negate the positive effects mentioned above, making underwear uncomfortable and cold on the skin in the long run. However, cotton is cheap, so choosing thermal underwear made of this material is convenient when you plan not to carry out activities that make you sweat; however, it is not recommended for workers and athletes;
- polyester : it is a synthetic material that allows the humidity produced by the skin to breathe, so in case of intense physical effort, polyester underwear is a good option. Polyester is also lightweight, easy to wash and dries easily, and by wicking away moisture it reduces heat loss due to evaporation. The negative aspects linked to polyester, however, are due to the fact that this synthetic fabric can generate bad odors and is flammable;
- wool : it is one of the oldest materials that man knows and uses to protect himself from low temperatures. Wool is undoubtedly very warm, but it also has some defects: it can cause itching and irritation on the skin, without forgetting that over time this material soaks up moisture, creating unpleasant sensations of cold and discomfort.
Thermal socks deserve a separate discussion, truly indispensable when it is very cold since the feet are the parts of the body most subject to heat loss. There are also different types of these accessories based on the material they are made of, which can generally be synthetic (polyester) or natural (cotton or silk). By wearing a good pair of thermal socks you can keep your feet warm even on the coldest days, provided of course that you wear footwear that is ideal for low temperatures. These accessories allow the moisture produced by the skin to escape, which gives the feet a feeling of warmth and comfort. Those who practice outdoor sports in winter, such as skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing or other physically intense activities, can opt for thermal socks reinforced in the most stressed points, i.e. toe, heel and sometimes shins. Thanks to these padded models, the foot will be protected from the formation of calluses, blisters and other wounds due to rubbing. Thermal socks used by skiers, fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts usually reach just below the knee, and are ideal for wearing with boots or ski boots. However, many people also use these special socks in everyday life, for example to go to the office or school, but also to keep their feet very warm at home or under the covers.
How to choose good thermal underwear
When you need thermal underwear, before proceeding with the purchase it is a good idea to carefully evaluate various aspects in order to identify the model that is right for you. This means considering first of all your usage needs, but also the environmental conditions in which the thermal underwear will be used. As regards materials, a good compromise between comfort and prices is represented by thermal underwear produced with a mix of cotton and polyester fibres, warmer than pure cotton but less subject to the formation of unpleasant odours. The same goes for wool, which when mixed with synthetic materials is softer and more breathable. A good percentage of polyester can generally be considered around 20-30%. Before purchasing thermal underwear, it would always be best to try it in person, to understand the different sensations that each model is able to convey. When trying on a model in the shop it is advisable to make large movements with the torso, legs and arms to make sure that the garment does not roll up near the folds and does not cause rubbing which could be annoying in the long run. There are people who prefer to buy thermal underwear half or even a size smaller than their own, to minimize the movement of the fabric but also to not compromise the fit of the fleece, jackets and trousers that will be worn over them. The idea itself is good; be careful, however, because some models of thermal underwear, depending on the material they are made of, can shrink slightly after washing. This happens frequently, for example, with wool.
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