If you’re planning on traveling in a van this fall and winter, you’re probably wondering how you’ll stay cozy in the chilly weather. The best camper vans, like the ones we carry at RecVan, have powerful and efficient heating systems. However, van life still entails spending lots of time outside at campsites and on adventures. Plus, reducing the amount of heating you use in the van is a boon for the environment and your wallet.
Enter thermals. These streamlined base layers are specifically designed to make any outfit warmer by trapping your body’s heat. Thermals have come a long way thanks to innovative fabrics that are warm yet breathable. These garments should have moisture-wicking properties to prevent you from getting a chill when you work up a sweat. The most technical fabrics also have odor-reducing qualities so you won’t have to wash your garments as often.
Thermals allow you to stay toasty in the van and while outside, whether you’re running errands or scaling a mountain. They can help you reduce the amount of energy you use for heating and even permit you to do laundry less often. However, the average base layer becomes less eco-friendly when you take into account its materials and manufacturing process. Many thermals are made with plastic-based polyester, which produces massive amounts of waste and pollution.
If you’re in the market for cozy clothing that doesn’t have this kind of negative impact, look no further than our list of nine ethical companies that make thermals you’ll love. Aside from environmentally sound materials and manufacturing processes, we kept an eye out for fair working conditions and charitable giving. Keep reading to find your perfect set of thermals–guilt free.
This outdoor clothing brand is widely recognized as one of the most ethical companies in the world. They create all of their products in an eco-friendly and fair trade manner while also prioritizing performance and durability. Patagonia goes above and beyond by supporting over 1300 environmental grantees, many of which are grassroots organizations. Check out their collections of base layers for men, women, and children. These sleek garments are made with recycled polyester and responsibly sourced merino wool. Patagonia has also developed innovative knitting techniques to keep in heat and wick away moisture.
Speaking of wool, this next company makes top-notch activewear with the help of yak wool. All products are fair trade. Plus, part of each purchase benefits yak herders in the Himalayas. The yak wool is combined with merino wool to create a soft, warm, and naturally odor-resistant fabric that is perfect for thermals. Kora’s performance activewear can easily transition from under jeans on the city streets to under ski pants on the slopes. The company’s website also makes it easy to browse base layers and mid layers so you can invest in a complete cold-weather outfit.
Recognized primarily for its socks, Bombas is no slouch when it comes to other kinds of cozy clothing, including long underwear. The company uses a buy one, donate one model to provide homeless shelters and other organizations with socks and underwear, which are among the most requested items. Snag a pair of their soft and stretchy cotton modal long underwear or a long sleeve merino wool shirt for casual winter layering. The garments are extra comfy thanks to thoughtful features like minimal seams and no tag on the long underwear and thumb loops on the shirts.
PrAna embodies its tagline, “clothing for positive change,” in multiple ways, including by utilizing a high-proportion of eco-friendly fabrics like organic cotton and hemp, developing clever packaging that produces less waste, and committing to reducing their carbon emissions. Check out their new Ice Flow collection of activewear made for cold-weather workouts. These layers can double as thermals thanks to their sweat-wicking and insulating properties. You’ll fall in love with the lightweight luxury and space-saving packability that PrAna products are known for.
This German company is dedicated to taking care of people and the planet. Fair-wear working conditions and eco-friendly fabrics are just the start. Vaude’s headquarters have been completely climate neutral since 2012 and they are working towards 100% climate-neutral manufacturing as well. Shop Vaude for sustainable and comfortable thermal tops, bottoms, and even full-body options for men and women. Cyclists are in luck–many of the products are specifically designed with the sport in mind. Vaude also offers a cute color-blocked line of merino wool long underwear products for women.
Organic Basics is dedicated to making everyday essentials as ethically as possible. They are transparent with their customers that “there is no such thing as a sustainable fashion brand. But we can make clothes in a better way.” To accomplish this, they rely on plant-based and recycled fabrics, dyes made from agricultural waste products, and well-run factories. They are also working to reduce their environmental footprint and are currently offsetting 100% of their carbon emissions. With this responsible approach, you can feel good about rocking Organic Basics’ silky smooth thermal undergarments. Check out their layering-friendly women’s turtlenecks and men’s long johns made from the wood pulp fiber-based Tencel fabric.
This major outdoor clothing retailer aims to reject rampant consumerism by making long-lasting products, spearheading a clothing recycling program, and even putting out a bold advertising campaign with the message “Don’t Buy This Jacket.” Columbia is also known for the powerful insulation technology that makes them popular with skiers and cold-weather campers. Stay warm on your winter adventures with waffle-knit thermal shirts and half-zip base layer tops that use their trademark Omni-Heat thermal reflection technology. Columbia provides performance outdoor apparel for the whole family.
This European company also utilizes Tencel Lyocell to make comfortable long-sleeve tops and leggings for women. If you’re looking for a temperature-regulating base layer that doesn’t look like outdoor gear or activewear, Underprotection is for you. Their style-forward Celine collection can be worn as visible garments around town or layered as thermals, meaning you’ll get year-round use out of the pieces. Underprotection works towards sustainability in too many ways to list, but perhaps the most groundbreaking is their repair and reward program. They will pay customers up to 30 dollars to fix an item locally or by themselves as an incentive to prolong the lifespan of products. The company is also PETA-approved vegan.
Even if you don’t recognize the name, you’ve probably seen Cotopaxi products on the trail or at the crag. The trademark color-blocking look of their backpacks and windbreakers was developed to make use of colorful scraps of fabric that would otherwise go to waste. Besides utilizing recycled fabric, their garments are made in energy-efficient and fair-trade factories. They also donate 1% of their revenue to fight poverty. Cotopaxi carries cold-weather base layers for men and women that are stretchy to give you a wide range of movement, moisture-wicking to keep you warm and dry, and anti-odor to allow for more wears between washes. Thoughtful features like thumb holes and ultra-soft brushed back fabric complete the package.
Wherever your travels take you this winter, a good set of thermals will keep you toasty and comfortable. You can rest easy after a day of exploring the world’s natural splendor knowing you chose to support companies that take their impact seriously.
Pro tip: for more information on the strengths and areas of improvement for each company, search for them on the Good on You tool. Speaking of searching, if you are having trouble finding the winter wear items we discussed on a brand’s website, try searching for “thermal” and “base layer.”
Just like thermals allow you to enjoy the wilderness in cold weather, a quality van will open the door for camping in comfort year-round. Extend your outdoor adventure season with a top-of-the-line Class B van from RecVan.