06 Feb

Learning to be warm: synthetic undershirts part two

I’ve been blogging about my quest to remain warm in the winter. I talked about silk here, and wool here. I then talked about Patagonia Capilene 2 undershirts here.

A small cult following kept telling me to make sure I tried Uniqlo HEATTECH undershirts. Now, I’ve already spent a lot of money testing these out (and am still in the middle of returning the wool shirts that didn’t work). But much to my surprise Uniqlo shirts are $12.90 a pop, so I ordered two.

They arrived in no time flat, and I think I’ve found the perfect compromise of warm, yet second-skin feeling (silk was my favorite fabric for the feels). I ordered a Uniqlo v-neck large and crew neck medium because they were out of larges when I checked in.

The shirt is, as advertised, warm. It’s very comparable to the Capilene 2, I think. Capilene might be just slightly warmer, but the days have been anything from 50 to 10 degrees Farenheit over the last week and a half of testing, and it’s really hard to baseline anything other than… what the fuck, Ohio?

Usually a medium is too short to remain tucked in, Uniqlo does that just fine. In a rare moment of weirdness, I actually prefer the crew neck to the V. The material of the Uniqlo is form-hugging, and the reason I hate crew is the slipping of the shirt to pull against my neck, the Uniqlo doesn’t.

The medium is a touch tight for me under the arms, so I’m going to be sitting and waiting for a large crew to reappear and order some. It will be the base of my new wardrobe I’m building up, along with the Patagonias. I’ll keep the silk ones until they degrade, as I’m curious to see what they’re like in the summer compared to these others.

I haven’t tested out how well the anti-microbial features work, but after hanging them up each night after use they’re still ready to be used again after 2 days (with two miles of walking each day). At the very least they seem to be holding up better than the Patagonias.

Short of it: $13 a pop, warm, comfortable, great base-layer. I’m a fan.

Next steps will be continuing to rotate the shirts and and see how they do in warming weather come spring, and how they operate in summer. I have friends who wear thermals in summer due to their moisture wicking keeping them cooled down. This is interesting to me.

I’m also interested in continuing to evaluate which shirt does better in handling transitions from really cold weather to warm interiors (which usually start to make me sweat).

But now at the very least I’m now able to live in a house with the thermostat set at 72 easily, and will be considering lowering the temperatures. I won’t be making people who visit my house uncomfortably warm due to my tropical preferences (my instinct to turn the thermometer up to 76). In fact, I can comfortably enjoy 70 degrees or so without chills. To handle that I would need fingerless gloves while typing, not sure if I’m on board there yet. We shall see.

23 Jan

Learning to be warm: synthetic undershirts

I’ve been blogging about my quest to remain warm in the winter. I talked about silk here, and wool here.

Wool has been scratchy, and silk the smoothest (and on a per weight basis, warmer). But yesterday the temperatures dropped down into single digits, negative with wind chill. There were drafts all throughout the house.

A week ago I acquired this Patagonia Capilene undershirt. It is about as thick as the Icebreaker wool shirt, not as smooth as my silk shirts. So it doesn’t slide as much, which is what I liked about the silk (a second skin).

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.

Next up, everyone has been emailing me that I *must* try Uniqlo’s undershirts. I’ve gotten enough positive recs that I will order one soon, once I get reimbursed for the wool shirts (I’m not made of money).

The other thing people have been encouraging me to do is purchase a mid-weight or heavy silk long sleeved shirt and have it tailored into a short sleeve (and to do the same with Patoginia) to get a killer warm undershirt that breathes well.

This is smart, and I will consider once I’ve moved through the Uniqlo test.

(Oh, and washing instructions for the Capilene are much simpler than silk, which I have to make sure not to harm with my stupidity, so that’s a bonus).

22 Jan

Learning to be warm: wool undershirts

I talked about my quest to be warm over here in a last entry about silk undershirts:

Look, I grew up with a light shirt or no shirt at all around beaches. Constrictive clothing is annoying. Adding layers of it literally starts making me twitch.

Some people laugh like I’m making a joke, but I’m fairly straight forward about how just simply pissed off I get about it. By the end of the day when I’ve had a cotton undershirt, a long sleeved shirt, and a jacket on, my blood pressure is up. I’ve been shifting and twitching fabric around to sit nicely all day. It’s annoying.

And long sleeves. They bunch in the weirdest places and I keep noticing them all day long. If I’m not wearing a jacket and out in the cold, I don’t want something cover my entire arm when I’m inside a house.

My general impression of a house is that it’s a piece of technology designed to allow us to be comfortable.

It makes sense to be uncomfortable outside. I understand it. It’s outside.

But now I’m inside.

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.

So here’s the next part in that series: testing wool.

But moving on, everyone raves about Merino wool, with Icebreaker being the big standout. I ordered 150 weight wool undershirts from Icebreaker and a 200 weight Smartwool short sleeve shirt.

The fit was nice, but I found the shirt to be colder than silk. People flocked religiously to wool’s defense, but walking around it felt like the cold was just cutting through the wool.

It was pointed out to me on twitter the wool I was wearing was too lightweight. But it was roughly comparable to the heft and weight of the silk (actually the silk was lighter and luxurious against the skin, while also being warmer). I needed to get a thicker, mid weight wool.

Fair enough. But I wasn’t going to be ordering a thicker fabric because… the wool I already had tested after a day drove me to itching. Sure, Merino isn’t supposed to itch, but it did.

I was told to wash the shirt to get rid of the initial scratchy. I ran it through the wash twice, and tried it out a second time.


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.

The silk is still not leaving me toasty, but it was better than cotton. Maybe not as good as a thicker Merino wool would have been, but hey, it worked great as a base layer in up to 29 degree weather under a simple cotton shirt. It helped regulate my temperature really well in the house under any of my polos or cotton shirts with the house set all the way down to 69 degrees, usually a temperature that left me miserable and shivering.

We’re on our way to finding a solution and way of handling winters. Not all of the items I’m testing will work.

This week I’ll be returning the wool shirts.