Are Long Johns and Thermals The Same?

Are Long Johns and Thermals The Same?

With winter approaching fast, it is the perfect time to start getting your best protection from the cold. Thick hats, gloves, coats, and of course your long johns! However, every winter it seems like the same question pops up: is there a difference between long johns and thermal underwear? If there is, which one is better?

The use of these different terms can be confusing. You may be searching for long johns but only find clothes labeled as thermal underwear! Luckily for you, we are here to break down the terms long johns and thermals, and find out if there is a difference between them.

People Often Use the Terms Interchangeably

The best way to clarify this debate is to realize that a lot of people use the term long johns to mean the same as thermals. When asked to describe them, most people will give you the same description of both thermal underwear and long johns. They will mention:

  • The close fit to the skin
  • Wearing them under your regular clothes
  • The fact that they trap body heat
  • The ability to wick away sweat
  • How efficient they are at keeping you warm during the winter

 As you can see, they are certainly hard to tell apart! These similarities mean that most clothing can be identified as either a set of long johns or a set of thermal underwear. So they can mean the exact same thing!

Differences Are Slight Between Long Johns and Thermals

While the similarities are clear to the point of being undeniable, there are some very slight differences that may determine whether someone refers to their protective winter wear as long johns or as thermals.

First, the term long johns is actually older than the term thermal underwear. It is more likely to be used by older people as well as people who grew up using the phrase. The term has dropped out of use in certain parts of the country. In California, for example, it is much more common to hear people use the term thermal underwear.

Finally, there may be a slight difference based on material. Traditionally, long johns would have a more silky material, while thermals would be made from a scratchier and thicker fabric. Regardless of these differences, you can count on thermals and long johns to keep you warm during the winter! Don’t sweat the difference, as most people regard them exactly the same.

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