You love backpacking, but the cold can be uncomfortable, at least. Layering correctly is vital when you’re planning to be out in nature with a tent or less for shelter. It’s even more essential in an emergency when you don’t know what you’ll encounter. Luckily, it’s not difficult to dress for any weather. I’ll walk you through the best long underwear for backpacking, and how to wear it for whatever weather conditions you might find yourself in during an emergency. Sadly, being chilly isn’t the worst thing that can happen if you’re under-prepared. Moreover, a little comfort can go a long way toward keeping your health and spirits up in a crisis.
How to Layer Long Underwear
Keeping your body temperature constant isn’t something we think about regularly, but having the right long underwear for backpacking could save your life. Most of us realize that you have to layer clothing when it gets cold, but why? The trick is, it’s not what you wear that keeps you warm. Essentially, it’s all about how you wear layers.
The pockets of air inside your clothing is what keeps your body warm. Just as a polar bears’ fur traps warm air around its body, you need to create pockets of heat to avoid the cold. The best way to start that process is with long underwear and good socks.
Depending on how active you are and how much you tend to sweat, wicking fabric is essential. You need your base layer to keep your bo warm, but not moist. Water or sweat on your skin will evaporate and take your body heat with it. Moreover, it’s okay to use more than one tight base layer if the weather is going to be very cold.
Once you have your long underwear, and possibly other base layers, you need an excellent intermediate layer. Down jackets and the ‘puffy’ fiber-filled coats are popular in winter because the space between feathers or fibers is one giant pocket of air. Hence, your body will heat that pocket around you to keep you warm. Finally, on the outside, I recommend a versatile waterproof layer like a poncho.
Get the Right Long Underwear
Before you run right out and get yourself merino wool long underwear for backpacking, stop and consider what you need. If you’re headed to Alaska, Siberia or Greenland, you might need that ultra-dense fabric base layer. However, in most situations, a lightweight sporty wicking material is a better choice. The type, weight, and thickness of your base layer fabric make all the difference.
Consider your plans. First, are you a power hiker who’s going to go full tilt for hours? If so, you’re going to sweat inside your layers, and a thinner layer of high-tech, synthetic, wicking material will keep you warm better. Alternately, if you’re a more normal hiker, you may want cotton. Natural fabrics breathe well after all. Fleece-lined is another superb option for colder weather.
Once you’ve determined how active you are versus how cold it is likely to get, plan for that. You can always add an extra set of heer long underwear to your pack as a precaution. However, you should always start light with a thicker intermediate layer.
Top Five Best Long Underwear for Backpacking
When survival is the goal, you don’t want to skip an essential like long underwear for backpacking. Avoiding a chill will keep your muscles from cramping. Hence, you stay on the move longer. Accordingly, when you are backpacking for survival, to escape a major disaster in your area, long underwear might be the difference between getting caught too close to town and making it into the hills.
Although feeling comfortable isn’t always at the top of the list for backpacking, getting through the day without shivering will raise your survival odds. Furthermore, it will help you conserve energy. Luckily, any of the high-quality options on this list will help you get to safety, or just enjoy a practice trip.
1. Amorbella Cotton Thermal Long Johns
Selecting natural fabric long underwear for backpacking, like cotton, helps the air move around your body. Breathability is essential when you’re on the move since you don’t want to trap a layer of sweat against your skin. Amorbella Cotton Thermal Long Johns have a soft fleece lining that will help you stay warm on the go.
With ninety-five percent cotton and five percent spandex, you can easily get the fit you need. Unfortunately, loose long johns don’t help much. Moreover, they can bunch up uncomfortably while you move. Chaffing and blisters will slow you down when backpacking, so always pay attention to the size charts and get the correct fit.
You can use your Amorbella Cotton Thermal Long Johns for sleeping at night, and as a base layer when you’re hiking in the day. Choose from a lightweight option for chilly temps, or the heavier fleece lined thermals for extra cold weather.
Get Amorbella from Amazon right here.
2. Little Donkey Andy Wicking Thermal Underwear
Sometimes, when you move around a lot while backpacking, you need long underwear that doesn’t pill over time. The Little Donkey Andy Wicking Thermal Underwear is made from a layer of polyester and spandex that’s designed to wick sweat away and avoid fabric friction. Ultimately, you’ll move around more easily and stay warm.
Choosing a thin, high-quality ba like this will help avoid unnecessary bulk, and that will make moving around easier. Balancing your need to move versus your need to layer for warmth can seem tricky at first. Fortunately, that’s why we train and do test runs with emergency preparedness equipment. Make sure you do the same with your clothing.
Unlike some options, the Little Donkey Andy Wicking Thermal Underwear has a fly for quick, mess-free relief on the go. It’s little details like this that make a big difference out in the field. Select from several colors to suit your plans like dark for nighttime blending or light and bright colors to stand out in case you get lost or encounter hunters. Furthermore, the soft, sleek feel against your skin and UV blocking will help you stay comfortable in any conditions.
Check out the Amazon reviews here.
3. Thermajohn Ultra-Soft Fleece Longjohns
Choosing a high tech poly blend set of long underwear for backpacking like these Thermajohn Ultra-Soft Fleece Longjohns can help you avoid that nasty clammy feeling. Moreover, smart odor control will help keep your scent down. By absorbing odor-causing molecules and pulling them away from your skin, Thermajohns keep you smelling and feeling fresh longer.
Extra strong seams and smooth, not overly bulky fabric won’t hinder movement. More importantly, you’ll appreciate being able to bend and flex without concern. You don’t want to tear a seam in the middle of climbing over rocks with your backpack.
Learn all about Thermajohn by clicking here.
4. Rocky Fleece Lined Thermals
Choose from three different weights of long underwear for backpacking with Rocky FleeceLined Thermals from Amazon. In warmer seasons, the light cotton-poly blend will keep a chill off in the mountains. Likewise, the midweight fleece, ultra-soft polyester, and spandex blend should help you stay warm in the fall or further north. Meanwhile, the heavy-duty polyester and spandex blend option will keep out the wintertime cold.
Rocky FleeceLined Thermals are designed with active people in mind. The stretch waistband and moisture-wicking fabrics can stand up to intense backpacking or other sporty physical activities. Plus, with multiple colors and patterns in each weight, you can coordinate your clothing and look good no matter what.
Have Rocky Thermals delivered to your door when you order here.
5. Fitextreme Maxheat Performance Long Johns
I always like to end a list on a high note, and Fitextreme Maxheat Performance Long Johns could easily have been my first choice long underwear for backpacking. According to Tripsavvy’s 2019 Performance Thermal Underwear, these made top marks. It’s not often you come across award-winning underwear, but they’re worth having.
Durable and optimized for both air circulation and ventilation, you’ll be surprised what a difference top-tier long underwear can make when backpacking. Moreover, Fitextreme Maxheat Performance Long Johns are seamless and friction-free using flatlock design to keep you extra comfortable while in motion. Finally, the ninety-three percent polyester and seven percent polyurethane blend is unique and gives a superb, flexible fit.
To get Fitextreme, click here.
Picking the right set of long underwear for backpacking is essential. Unfortunately, cold muscles cramp more easily. More importantly, shivering wastes energy as your body tries to warm itself. Both of those things could kill you. If you grabbed your pack and hit the tree line to survive a major disaster without the right winter clothing, you could freeze quickly.
Keeping yourself on the go is often the difference between getting caught up in a bad situation, and escaping unscathed. Luckily, with a well-packed backpack and the right clothing, you’ll have a fighting chance or a chance to avoid a fight, depending on your particular emergency. Regardless, the right long underwear will help you go further, move faster, and waste less energy in the cold.
Instead of worrying about how to stay warm, learn to layer, starting with outstanding long underwear to stay comfortable. Better emergency preparedness is more than how you pack your bag. You need to dress for the occasion as well.