With temperatures plummeting and energy bills at an all-time high, many people are looking at ways to keep warm which involve having the heating on as little as possible.

One of the most obvious ways of staying toasty is to wrap up warm in comfy thermal clothing. Thermal layers don’t just have to be for special excursions or winter sports – many people wear them in their day-to-day lives to dodge the cold.

But what is the best cheap thermal wear to invest in this winter? Here’s our full rundown.

What kind of thermals keep you the warmest?

Thermal clothing comes in many forms, such as jackets, jumpers, boots, socks, and so on.

However, if you’re seeking maximum warmth for minimal cost then the best place to start is with an article or layer of thermal underwear, or “base layer”. This doesn’t refer to underwear in the usual sense – thermal underwear means any piece of insulated clothing that sits underneath your outer layers. This could be a pair of leggings or long johns, a thin insulated shirt, or even a one-piece layer that covers your entire body.

These tend to be really effective because they trap warm air against your skin and absorb any sweat you produce. Because they are an inner layer, the design of thermal underwear tends to be very simple and inconspicuous as well.

What are the best and most affordable thermal clothes right now?

Here’s a few of our top picks for thermal wear that combines reliability and warmth with affordability. While we mainly link to thermal underwear in this article, most of the retailers shown here also offer options like thermal jackets, socks, fleeces and so on if you want to expand your thermal wardrobe.


Some of the most affordable thermal wear comes from sporting goods company Decathlon. There are a variety of colours and styles available for men, women and children, but the cheapest options on their website are the black BL100 base layers, which go for £6.99 per item.

Sports Direct

Sports Direct is another great option if you are looking for simple, affordable thermal wear that isn’t too flashy. Many of their thermal items are discounted if you buy two at once, so you might want to club together with a family member or friend.

Uniqlo Heattech

Uniqlo’s Heattech range tops many lists of the best thermal clothing on the market. The range is lightweight, stylish, and most importantly, affordable, with thermal shirts and leggings available for under £15. Most of the products come in a nice range of colours, and some products come in “extra warm” variations if you really struggle with the cold.

In addition to thermal underwear, Uniqlo also offers plenty of accessories like thermal socks and options for children.

Marks and Spencer Heatgen

Marks and Spencer’s Heatgen range comes in a wide variety of options, with a large range of sizing options. They also tend to stay very well-stocked, meaning you are less likely to lose out even if you wait a bit longer to purchase.

For extra thickness and warmth, you can opt for something in their Heatgen Plus range. The Heatgen Plus fabric is brushed on the inside for extra warmth in the coldest temperatures.

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Mountain Warehouse

Like Decathlon and Sports Direct, many of Mountain Warehouse’s thermal clothes are marketed with a sporty angle, but will work just as well to provide extra warmth in everyday life. Many of their thermals fall under £10, so they’re another great option if you want to keep spending down.

Other ways to keep warm this winter

For some creative ways to keep warm this winter without spending too much on energy, read our articles 11 practical tips to keep warm and save energy this winter and Eight ways to winter-proof your home.

You might also want to check out our article on the 6 best electric blankets to keep you warm 2022.

If you’re worried about your energy bills in the coming months, then our article The energy bills crisis: what can you do about soaring costs? contains more  advice that you may find helpful.