Synthetic Vs Wool - Which Is Better Choice For Your Kids Thermals?

Synthetic Vs Wool - Which Is Better Choice For Your Kids Thermals?

With the winter season upon us and warm days few and far between, getting high-quality thermals (or base layers as they are often referred to) for your kids is something to consider. If you are looking for some thermals for your little ones, it’s worth doing a bit of research before you make your purchase.

There is so much choice when it comes to finding the perfect material, fit and style. The choice of materials for good quality thermals is fairly straight-forward, there are basically two options: wool and synthetic fabrics such as polypropylene and polyester. To help you choose between the two we have created a handy break-down comparison guide. This will describe the properties of each, their advantages and disadvantages and which you should choose for your kids' thermals.



Synthetic fabric (polypropylene and polyester) are well known for being a great, cheap thermal wear option. These fabrics are hydrophobic which means they “hate water”, which in reality means that when your child gets hot and sweaty after a particularly ferocious snowball fight the thermals will not absorb sweat (like cotton would), instead the water will move away from their warm skin via natural evaporation and through the thermal (wicking). The result is a child who is not damp, cold and stroppy when they cool down from their snowball fight.  

Another consideration with synthetic thermals is the fit. You will find more options with synthetic than wool, particularly in the more technical garments. Some poly thermals are very thin which is ideal for a winter football or a hockey baselayer where you are racing around and generating a lot of heat so you really need the wicking to be working quickly. Other thermals will have a much thicker fabric with a brushed interior which works better for an activity like skiing where you need to trap body heat within the thermal so you don’t freeze on the chairlifts.

Polyester and polypropylene are not great on their own at controlling odours. More expensive thermals will have anti-bacterial treatments integrated into the weave to prevent them becoming too pongy! Be aware that cheap synthetic thermals will probably lose their shape and start to become a bit smelly after lots of use.




Cheaper compared to wool

Cheap synthetic thermals can get smelly

Lightweight, durable and quick drying

Not usually as warm as wool

Lots of fit options

Can lose their shape





Wool, the natural fibre option for thermals, is inherently very good at controlling body temperature. The wool fibres will trap body heat when it’s cold and will “breathe” when it warms up keeping you comfortable in a wide variety of weather conditions. Like synthetics, wool wicks water away from the skin but not as efficiently as synthetic fabrics.

A really practical advantage of wool thermals (and by the way merino wool is the best for thermals) is that it can be worn for days and not smell bad at all. This makes it great for long, less intense journeys and colder environments or when you are on holiday and can’t be bothered to do any clothes washing for a week! However, wool is a bit more expensive than synthetic thermals and if your child has particularly sensitive skin they may complain of wool feeling itch.




Better at regulating body temperature in a wide range of weather conditions

Gets heavier when wet

Better odour control, perfect for long journeys

More expensive than synthetic thermals


Some children don’t like the feel of wool against their skin - “it’s itchy!”


Which Should You Choose?

Both materials have their benefits and drawbacks. Regardless of materia,l you will find that the higher quality thermals will have a better fit and performance over the long term.

To make the best decision between materials, you need to consider what kind of conditions your kid/s will be using their thermals in. For intense activities where they sweat a lot, but can then come inside (like football) synthetic thermals are probably your best bet. If you are taking children out all day and they are going to have to cope with whatever the conditions are then investing in a set of wool thermals could be worthwhile.

Decided what you’re going to choose? Check out our great range of kids thermals that we stock at the Little Adventure Shop and keep your kids nice and warm this winter.

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