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Best kids’ thermals and base layers: socks, vests, gloves and underwear

Keep kids warm during the winter months with some of the best thermal base layers, insulated gloves, fleece-lined hats and more

Best kids' thermals

Winter in the UK can be a tricky season, with changeable weather from one day to the next. Kids’ thermals are the ideal solution for the chilly winter months, with everything from insulated gloves to keep hands nice and toasty, to base layer sets for wearing underneath regular clothes.

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Below, we explain what to look for in the best kids’ thermals and provide a varied selection of options to suit your little one.

Plus, if you’re looking for more ways to stay warm, you might find our guides to the best coats for kids and the best toddler coats helpful. We’ve also got the best kids’ sledges and toboggans to make the most out of the cold weather, too.

What to look for in thermals for kids

Start with a base layer – This would be a thermal vest or thermal top and bottoms set, which offer a warm but relatively lightweight layer for children to wear underneath their usual clothes, school uniform or even PE kit.

Materials – While something like fleece might be warm, it’s likely to be relatively bulky and is probably better suited to items such as hats.

Cotton layers should be breathable and lightweight enough to wear as a comfortable extra layer. Merino wool has anti-bacterial properties which means it is anti-odour, while being better for more sensitive skin and allergies.

Heat Technology – You’ll sometimes find these specially designed thermals, which offer maximum warmth for minimum thickness. They should help keep the heat in while being comfortable for little ones to move around in.

Thermal accessories – As well as kids’ base layers, there are a wide range of other thermal clothing items. Fleece-lined hats, for instance, keep ears and heads warm against the chill.

Thermal ski socks are extra thick and can reach as high as the knee for extended protection from the cold. Gloves are also an essential in the cold weather and there are kids’ thermal gloves with special linings for extra insulation.

See our pick of the best thermals for kids…

1. Heatgen Thermal Vest, from £7

Sizes: 6 to 16 years

If you’re looking for kids’ thermal vests, this top from M&S ticks a lot boxes. The long sleeve vest has “Heatgen” technology which means the clothing features a warm layer to keep out the cold, but one which is lightweight so it shouldn’t restrict movement.

One parent, on the M&S site, who chose multiple vests for use during their daughter’s PE lessons said, “they are thin, so she can wear uniform/PE kit on top and she now feels warm during the lessons. Wash well and dried quickly, too.”

Another parent of a 7 year old agreed and said they “proved excellent” when “bought as a rugby and sports base layer.”

Available from: M&S

2. Children Thermal Ski Knee High Warm Wool Blend Socks (pack of 4), £8.99

Sizes: 9 to 12, 12 to 3

This pack of 4 pairs of kids’ thermal socks is ideal for helping keep little toes toasty. The ski socks are knee high, so they offer extended protection up the lower legs as well as covering the feet.

The socks were rated 4.5 out of 5 stars overall from more than 140 reviews on Amazon.

Parents described them as, “really great quality socks” which “washed well” and were “really thick and warm”

“My children have used the socks with their wellies, they have found them comfortable and have kept their feet warm,” added another reviewer.

Available from: Amazon

3. Kids’ Fleece Lined Character Balaclava, £14.99

Sizes: one size

Not all thermals need to be hidden beneath your child’s outdoor clothes and this fun unicorn hat is the perfect example. The balaclava is lined with fleece to keep little heads toasty in cold weather and is well insulated against the wind.

Some reviews mentioned this one may be a little large for most children under 5 years old, but reviewers generally said that kids were happy with the hat.

“Grandson loves this,” said one buyer, while another added that it was “super cosy and my son loves it.” It was also described as “excellent” and as a “very warm and practical item.”

Available from: Mountain Warehouse

4. Reima Toddler Pakkas Beanie, £25

Sizes: one size

Although a pricier purchase, this toddler beanie is knitted from a warm wool mix which helps to regulate children’s temperature due to the inclusion of natural materials. Ideal for younger children, the thermal hat also comes with the addition of tie to make sure it stays securely on.

We also like that the sweet, pom-pom topped design comes in 2 neutral colour choices – either white with grey or navy with grey.

Available from: Snow and Rock

5. Kids’ Heattech Lined Thermal Gloves, £12.90

Sizes: S/M, M/L

These kids’ thermal gloves are lined with “Heattech” fleece which should offer warmth and windproof protection for little hands.

The thumb and index finger are even cleverly designed for modern kids as they are touch-screen friendly, so they can keep their fingertips warm even if they want to unlock a smart device.

The gloves are available in a choice of 2 sizes (listed above) and three colours; grey, black and navy. It’s also worth taking a look at the rest of the Uniqlo Heattech kids’ range for more well-priced thermal base layers.

Available from: Uniqlo

6. Britwear Kids Official Thermal Winter Warm Underwear, £5.99

Sizes: 2 to 13 years

For £6, you can pick up a full set of thermals for kids includes a long sleeve top and long john bottoms, offering extra protection under their usual clothes for the cold winter months.

The set comes in black, white or grey and is a particularly economical choice considering it is for a 2-piece set. This option is also an Amazon bestseller, with an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars from over 1,200 reviews

One parent of a 9 year old said the thermals made their daughter “feel snug and warm” during outdoor activities and described them as a, “great fit” with “lovely, soft material.”

Another parent of a 6 year old also said there were “no itchy tags on the inside” and “no horrid seams which press into your skin.”

Available from: Amazon

7. Printed Snuggle Thermal Set, from £15

Sizes: 1.5 to 12 years

These printed thermal sets from Next are ideal for days spent at home. They come in a choice of designs to suit different styles, including grey and blue stars as well as dinosaur and unicorn patterns.

To get even more use out of them, the top and leggings set could also double as a pair of winter pyjamas on colder nights.

Available from: Next

8. Long Sleeve Thermal Vests x2, £6

Sizes: 2 to 13 years

These cosy kids’ thermal vests with long sleeves come as a pack of 2 which shouldn’t break the bank. The soft fabric is also ribbed for extra stretch and comfort.

They come in pastel colours with silver detail stitching around the neckline and score an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars on the Matalan website.

Previous buyers described them as “very good value for two long sleeved thermal tops” which are “warm and look good.”

Another parent who bought these vests added that they are “great value, good fit and [they] wear and wash well.”

Available from: Matalan

9. Kids Heattech Fleece Thermal Neck Warmer, £7.90

Sizes: one size (F)

This thermal neck warmer is designed with “Heattech” fleece which absorbs moisture as well as insulate against any chilly wind.

It’s also fluffy for extra comfort and it is adjustable so kids can get the perfect fit.

There are a choice of 4 colours available, including subdued tones such as natural, olive and navy plus a bold orange (which certainly wouldn’t get lost if it was dropped in the snow!).

Available from: Uniqlo

10. Merino Kids Round Neck Base Layer Top, £24.99

Sizes: 2 to 13 years

This base layer is made from a Merino wool mix which is antibacterial, breathable and lightweight for better comfort and freshness. The high wicking fabric helps keep moisture off the skin, so kids will stay dry too.

It is available in 4 different colours and parents seemed pleased with the thermal tops, with nearly 100 full 5 star reviews on the Mountain Warehouse website.

Reviewers described it as “lightweight and warm” and said it was a “really lovely, soft top” that kept their kids toasty.

Available from: Mountain Warehouse

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