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OK. I need some advice to help Santa on my list for Christmas. For years, I have just used layers of sweatpants under my pants and when applicable, insulated bibs when I've been out on late season hunts and fishing trips, as well as ice fishing. They work, but are bulky and can be uncomfortable. Additionally, many of the ones I have are wearing out. I have some old style woolen longjohns that are warm but itchy as heck. I would like to improve what I have and Santa may help out.

Any suggestions?
 

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The modern fabrics are a great thing to have considering the old wool long-handles that were worn years ago.

I picked up a pair last year from Cabela's as much as I hated to do business with them and they work quite nice. I went to look in my account to see if I could pull up the ones that I got and Cabela's had deleted my account from their system, so much for checking things. They were the mid weight ones and have worked quite nice. They are not too heavy to overheat you while you are hiking but heavy enough to keep you warm if you are sitting or doing nothing.
 

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Believe it or not, but IFA carries some good thermals. Have 3 ratings, light, medium, warmest.
I have the medium and warmest. I wear them a lot in the fall and winter. Don't have to wear a heavy coat for just kicking around. But for ice fishing and snow machines they work great when you have to wear the heavy coats, bibs, etc.
Once it gets cold they actually sell out pretty quick. Them farmers and ranchers that work outside all winter know how to stay warm.
 

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The "new" merino wool thermals are pretty nice. They've come a long ways over 15+ years. But they are pricey and still suffer from less durability than synthetic underwear.

Given the chance Patagonia Capilene is still pretty amazing but there price point is rough. And they stopped using any real odor prevention for environmental reasons years ago. The smell can start to linger after a few seasons of you use them regularly.

People seems to swear by companies like First Lite but I've never used them. I found a Sitka thermal shirt on sale years ago and had a gift card. I've been happy with them. My friend almost exclusively hunts in their hoody version of their thermal shirts and loves it. Given its Gore they tend to use higher end textiles.
 

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I’ve been slowly converting to merino wool a piece at a time because it’s spendy. But watching for sales I’ve found pieces for 30-40% off, which makes it a little less painful. I’ve bought stuff from Duck Camp and First Lite so far. I love it, but can’t speak to long term reliability because I just dove into it last waterfowl season for the first time.
 

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The biggest question here is what is Santa’s budget?

I have merino wool long Johns from Black Ovis and Icebreaker. I’ve liked both. Neither are super warm, but they aren’t designed to be and I didn’t buy them for that. They work really well for what I use them for, a light under layer that warms up the bottom half under pants.

I have fleece pants for under waders and bibs when it’s cold, and if it’s really cold I could slip the merino under the fleece.

If Santa is being very generous you can consider some of Kuiu’s layering system. They’ve got everything from light layers for cool weather to down pants for really cold, and everything in between. I’ve never bought any of it, but I’ve dabbled with samples and it’s nice stuff, just pretty spendy!

Cold weather stuff:

Not as cold weather stuff:
 

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My first sunhoody from them does carry enough stench to make folks puke 😁

Just looked up prices. Impressed that Ice Breaker hasn't shot up more.

And they have a wider array of options if you want pure merino. The gram system they use for base layer weight helps you hone in on the exact product you need as well.

I will say their ideal model is very New Zealand like and not the American dad bod 😁🤪
 

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I was just thinking about this topic, I feel like I always hear different things. What fabric should be next to skin and what should be a mid layer? Is cotton in or out?
 

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Cotton really isn't a great layer at all for cool to cold weather. It retains moisture which ultimately robs you of heat (to evaporate the moisture). If you aren't exercising it doesn't matter quite as much, though sleeping in it can be problematic.

On the other hand, my friends and I use to joke that cotton is the original technical fabric for summer because the evaporative cooling helps in the heat of the day.
 

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i wear a lot of different underlayers for work and play. spending most days outdoors in the elements i get to see how they perform in different conditions. what i've determined is this:

-if you want durable, go poly pro. (capilene and other synthetics)
-merino wool is great if you don't wash them often and never dry them above medium heat
-Layering correctly for the conditions and task is important.
-not all merino wool is created equal.
-merino blends are the best of both worlds, imo.
-you can cheap out and still get good use out of poly underlayers. (32* cool)


32* cool can be had at costco and online. it's cheap at costco but ridiculously inexpensive if you catch a sale online (60% off and up).
 

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Like the others have said, Merino wool is great but pricy, also after a few years, it does start to stretch. Although that is true for most fabrics I suppose.

The last few winters, I have actually been wearing running tights beneath my pants as a base layer (Got them for running then gave up on it). They are very warm for their weight, flexible, and often odor resistant. They can be a bit tight fitting (for compression), and if you look for second-tier brands such as New Balance or Puma they are much more likely to be heavily discounted than other outdoor base layers. Because they are worn beneath pants, it does not matter what they look like.
 
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