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Planning on spending lots of time on the trails this winter? Looking for some extra warmth and comfort during your outdoor adventures? What you need is a good pair of long johns (aka thermal underwear). But do you know what are the best long johns for hiking?

One of our big goals here at The Adventure Junkies is to help you gear up for the outdoors. In this article, we’ll walk you through how to choose the best long thermal underwear and show you our selection of the best models available.

For more of our top hiking apparel recommendations, check out the Best Hiking Underwear.

 

Quick Answer - The Best Long Johns

  1. Patagonia Capilene Midweight
  2. Smartwool NTS Micro 150
  3. Arc’teryx Phase AR
  4. Smartwool NTS Mid 250
  5. Craft Active Extreme
  6. Icebreaker Winter Zone
  7. Minus33 Merino Wool Kancamagus
  8. Duofold Mid-Weight
  9. Carhartt Base Force
  10. Under Armour ColdGear

 

Comparison Table - Best Long Johns for Hiking

PictureNameWarmthMaterialPriceRating
Patagonia Capilene MidweightMedium97% polyester/3% spandex$$5.0
Smartwool NTS Micro 150High100% Merino wool$$5.0
Arc’teryx Phase ARMedium100% polyester$$5.0
Smartwool NTS Mid 250High100% Merino wool$$$4.8
Craft Active ExtremeMedium100% polyester$$4.5
Icebreaker Winter ZoneHigh97% Merino wool/3% lycra spandex$$$5.0
Minus33 Merino Wool KancamagusHigh100% Merino wool$$4.7
Duofold Mid-WeightHigh60% cotton/40% polyester$4.5
Carhartt Base ForceHigh100% cotton$4.5
Under Armour ColdGearHigh87% polyester/13% elastane$4.4
PictureNameWarmthMaterialPriceRating

Reviews - The Best Hiking Long Johns

Patagonia Capilene Midweight


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Material: 97% polyester/3% spandex
  • Warmth: Medium
Features
  • Polartec Power Grid fabric
  • Grid backing
  • Fabric with 66% recycled polyester
  • Permanent odor control
  • Functional fly
  • Brushed elastic waistband
  • Chafe-free flatlock seams

PROS: Made with recycled materials, odor control

CONS: Size runs a bit large

Smartwool NTS Micro 150


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Material: 100% Merino wool
  • Warmth: High
Features
  • Chafe-free flatlock seams
  • Merino wool
  • UPF 30 sun protection
  • Functional fly
  • Wide waistband

PROS: Very warm, sun protection machine washable, doesn’t shrink when drying, lightweight

CONS: Less durable than synthetic options

Arc’teryx Phase AR


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Material: 100% polyester
  • Warmth: Medium
Features
  • Anatomical shaping for fit and comfort
  • Gusseted crotch

PROS: Durable, quick-drying, breathable, moisture-wicking, stretchy

CONS: None that we could find

Smartwool NTS Mid 250


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Material: 100% Merino wool
  • Warmth: High
Features
  • UPF 50+ sun protection
  • Covered elastic waistband
  • Chafe-free flatlock seams
  • Soft non-irritating merino wool

PROS: Machine washable, sun protection, very warm, usable as a single layer in moderate weather and as a base layer in icy cold weather

CONS: Pricey

Craft Active Extreme


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Material: 100% polyester
  • Warmth: Medium
Features
  • Ergonomic fit
  • Hexa-channel hollow core fibers for moisture transport
  • Flatlock seams
  • 300% stretch

PROS: Temperature control, very stretchable, moisture wicking, comfortable, great value for money

CONS: None that we could find

Icebreaker Winter Zone


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Material: 97% Merino wool/3% lycra spandex
  • Warmth: High
Features
  • Zone panels for warmth and protection
  • Soft elastic waistband
  • Anti-chafing flatlock seams
  • Lightweight merino mesh in gusset

PROS: Very warm, flexible, controls temperature well

CONS: Expensive

Minus33 Merino Wool Kancamagus


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Material: 100% Merino wool
  • Warmth: High
Features
  • 18.5 micron merino wool with interlock grid construction,
  • Anti-chafing flatlock seams
  • UPF 50+ sun protection
  • Stretching cuffs
  • Tagless label

PROS: Sun protection, machine washable and dryable, odor resistant, very warm

CONS: Merino wool wears down more easily than other fabrics

Duofold Mid-Weight


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Material: 60% cotton/40% polyester
  • Warmth: High
Features
  • Pull-on closure
  • Two-ply cotton blend
  • No-chafe flatlock seams
  • Moisture-wicking waistband
  • Tag-free

PROS: Affordable, very warm, comfortable, durable

CONS: Less breathable, less flexible

Carhartt Base Force


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Material: 100% cotton
  • Warmth: High
Features
  • Moisture wicking fabric
  • Stain breaker technology
  • Reinforced stitching
  • Rib-knit cuffs

PROS: Thickness, warmth, durable, great value for money

CONS: Less flexible

Under Armour ColdGear


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Material: 87% polyester/13% elastane
  • Warmth: High
Features
  • Dual-layer fabric,
  • Ultra-warm brushed interior
  • Fast-drying exterior
  • Stretch-mesh gusset
  • Inseam panels
  • 4-way stretch fabric
  • Moisture transport system

PROS: Super warm, great stretch, durable, comfortable

CONS: Runs small

 

 

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST LONG JOHNS

FABRIC

Just like base layer tops, long johns come in four different types of fabric—synthetics, cotton, wool and silk. All of them have their own characteristics and specifications. Choosing between materials is arguably the most important decision you’ll have to make. We’ll explain the pros and cons if each material below.

 

SYNTHETICS

Long johns made with synthetic materials are often cheaper. Synthetics include polyester and polyester blends, which can consist of spandex, nylon or polypropylene. These types of fabric are lightweight and soft, comfortable and wrinkle-resistant. They are tough and durable, which is an important factor to consider.

The biggest downside of synthetic long johns is that they’re prone to absorb odors. If worn repeatedly and not cleaned regularly, they often begin to smell.

 

COTTON

Cotton is a material that’s both revered and criticized by outdoor enthusiasts. It has great characteristics, but also some that make it less ideal for outdoor activities.

Cotton is a great insulator. It provides necessary warmth in cold weather and is a durable material. On the downside, however, cotton does not insulate when it gets wet. It dries very slowly, which poses dangers on the trail in winter. This is why it’s recommended to opt for long johns that are a mix of cotton and synthetics, rather than 100% cotton.

 

MERINO WOOL

Merino wool is essentially a fancy type of wool made with fine fibers of wool from a specific breed of sheep. This makes merino wool clothing a lot softer than clothes made with regular wool. Merino wool long johns are more expensive, but they’re also warmer, breathe better and dry more quickly.

The only real downside of merino wool is that it’s a delicate material, so it is less durable than the synthetic and cotton options. It also requires special washing care.

 

SILK

Silk long johns are good for outings in moderately cold weather, but they won’t suffice when it gets extremely cold. They’re excellent for skiing and snowshoeing. Silk is lightweight and feels soft and luxurious. Cons are that it’s prone to abrasion and may absorb odors.

 

WEIGHT

Base layers are divided into different weight categories, which indicate their thickness. You will need to consider how you will layer your clothing and the lowest temperatures you will expect on your trip.

 

LIGHT-WEIGHT

Light-weight long johns are the thinnest and often the most affordable. They’re suitable for intensive activities in cold weather and regular use in warmer conditions.

 

MID-WEIGHT

Mid-weight long johns are considered to be the most multifunctional type. They’re good for moderately cold to cold weather and best used in fall and spring or with additional layers in winter.

 

HEAVY-WEIGHT

Heavy-weight long johns, also known as expedition-weight long johns, are the thickest type of underwear available. These types are usable in frigid and blustery conditions.

 

FIT

The best long johns are those that fit snugly but don’t restrict any movement. In cold weather, you want your base layers to be tight in order to better trap body heat. In warmer conditions, it’s better to opt for loose-fitting clothing, which allows for more air circulation.

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For more of our top hiking gear recommendations, check out these popular articles:

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