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Uniqlo HeatTech review: Thermal clothing you’ll actually want to wear

The synthetic, finely tuned technology is designed to hold in heat while creating warmth

Lois Borny
Friday 10 November 2023 13:41 GMT
We considered whether Uniqlo’s HeatTech leggings, socks, tops and trousers are worth your money
We considered whether Uniqlo’s HeatTech leggings, socks, tops and trousers are worth your money (iStock/The Independent)

From crisp morning walks to cosy evenings spent indoors, there are many things to love about this time of year but, sometimes, it can just feel cold and miserable. Of course, there’s also the tricky task of dressing for the chilly weather. But one of the best options is thermal technology, which is designed to help keep you warm and toasty. To help you, we’ve been trialling HeatTech, Uniqlo’s (inexpensive) answer to winter attire.

The HeatTech collection spans the types of clothing and accessories you’d wear day to day –?think socks, tights, leggings and super slinky turtlenecks. It’s all designed with synthetic, finely tuned thermal technology, to streamline your winter wardrobe and keep you warm, without having to rely on bulky clothing.

Promising stretchability and smoothness on the skin, HeatTech has evolved since its initial debut two decades ago. Odour control has been introduced, and extra levels of warmth added, so now you can choose the right level to suit your needs.

What’s the science behind it? In a nutshell, Uniqlo says the fabric not only retains heat but creates warmth. Air pockets in between the fabric’s impossibly thin fibres (said to be one-tenth of the width of a human hair) help prevent heat from escaping, while moisture is wicked away from your body, creating energy, which in turn generates warmth.

But we wanted to find out if the science was worth investing in, so we’ve been wearing HeatTech clothing and accessories (across the three warmth levels), to see how it fares.

How we tested

The extra warm turtleneck, ultra warm leggings and padded scarf were among the items we tested (Lois Borny)

Naturally, our main aim was to see whether the HeatTech pieces made a difference in how warm we felt. We tested the attire indoors on cold days, as well as outdoors during nippy evening walks. To decipher whether the items make a worthwhile investment, we considered a range of different factors, including cost, quality, style, comfort and whether we would actually want to wear them day to day. Keep reading to find out our verdict.

Uniqlo HeatTech ultra-light turtleneck long-sleeved thermal top

Uniqlo Heattech ultra light turtleneck long sleeved thermal top
  • Colourways: Orange, off white, grey, dark grey, black, green, purple
  • Sizes: XXS-XXL
  • Why we love it
    • Barely there feel
    • Great for layering
  • Take note
    • Slightly sheer

New this season, and thinner than regular HeatTech, there’s a barely there feel to this turtleneck, which we really liked. With a slinky look and ultra smoothness, it fits snuggly over the body but doesn’t feel tight, thanks to the lightweight material. Made from extra fine fibres, it feels ultra stretchy and supremely comfortable. Importantly, it helped us stay warm, with the high neck silhouette keeping us toasty.

We should note it’s ever so slightly sheer, so you may prefer to wear it under shirts and sweater vests when you need a little extra warmth. But it does make for the perfect layering piece.

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Uniqlo HeatTech extra-warm seamless ribbed striped turtleneck

Uniqlo Heattech extra warm seamless ribbed striped turtleneck
  • Colourways: Black and white stripes, dark grey
  • Sizes: XXS-XXL
  • Why we love it
    • Long, stretchy sleeves
    • Versatile

Hailing from the extra warm range, this turtleneck is said to be one and a half times warmer than regular HeatTech. It feels a little thicker than the regular warmth scoop neck top we tried (?14.90, Uniqlo.com), but it’s still thin.

Layering it under a fleece, we found the turtleneck helped keep us warm during a drizzly walk through the park. Elevating the cosy factor, the sleeves were fairly long on us, so we could pull the cuffs past our wrists. We noticed the odour control feature fared well, too.

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Uniqlo HeatTech ultra warm thermal leggings

Uniqlo Heattech ultra warm thermal leggings
  • Colourways: Dark grey, black, navy
  • Sizes: XXS-XXL
  • Why we love it
    • Soft lining
    • Nice and thick
    • Good amount of stretch
  • Take note
    • Crease around the crotch area

Reach for these on the bitterest winter days, as they’re part of the ultra warm range, which is touted as being two and a half times warmer than regular HeatTech.

Thicker than regular leggings, these have a soft, fluffy, brushed lining, and boast a nice stretch. However, they did crease around the crotch area, which may have been because they were slightly too big on us (we are 5ft 5in) and because they’re not as slinky as typical leggings.

While they don’t have a defined waistband or panelling – which can be flattering and add a bit of interest – they’re a simple pair of leggings that will keep your legs warm.

Worn with the HeatTech ultra warm high neck long-sleeved thermal top (?24.90, Uniqlo.com), we could really feel them doing their job, taking the edge off a frosty evening.

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Uniqlo HeatTech warm lined trousers

Uniqlo Heattech warm lined trousers
  • Colourways: Light grey, black, dark green, navy
  • Sizes: XXS-XXL
  • Why we love it
    • Cosy fleece lining
    • Bordering on smart casual

While we could feel these trousers keeping our legs warm, what appealed was the soft fleece lining, which made the design cosier. Arguably smart casual in style, they still tick the box for everyday wearability and practicality, with an elasticated waist and three zippered pockets (we found the front two were roomy enough to house our iPhone 13). Secured with a hidden zip and popper fastening, the trousers have a nice slim fit around the hips and fall into a smart tapered silhouette.

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Uniqlo HeatTech pile-lined joggers

Uniqlo Heattech pile lined joggers
  • Colourways: Off-white, grey, black, dark green, blue
  • Sizes: XXS - XXL
  • Why we love it
    • Quality feel
    • Good thickness
  • Take note
    • Slim-fitting for joggers

The soft pile lining paired with Uniqlo’s HeatTech fast made these our favourite loungewear. With two decent-sized pockets and a cinched-in and elasticated waist, the pair features ribbed hems at the ankle to prevent any heat from being lost.

The quality feels excellent, and they have a nice thickness. The slim-fit silhouette will appeal to those who don’t love overly baggy tracksuits. Most importantly, our legs felt cosy and warm while we pottered around the house.

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Uniqlo HeatTech lined padded scarf

Uniqlo heattech scarf
  • Colourways: Olive, off white, black, navy
  • Sizes: One size
  • Why we love it
    • Not too bulky
    • Folds away easily

While this scarf looks like an extension of a puffer jacket – padded and finished with crisp nylon on the outer side – it’s anything but big and bulky. The design is compact and fairly short, and it can be tucked into a coat and won’t whip around in the wind.

It folds into a neat little square for easy packing and, instead of tying it in a knot, it secures by being fed through itself, enabling it to lie flat. Covering our entire neck for optimum cosiness, it’s lined with soft grain cotton, which we found didn’t cause any itchiness and, crucially, made a real difference to how warm we felt while out in the cold.

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Uniqlo HeatTech pile thermal socks

Uniqlo Heattech pile thermal socks
  • Colourways: Red, beige, navy
  • Sizes: One size (UK 4-7)
  • Why we love it
    • They’re not too thick

No one enjoys having cold feet, so, a reliable cosy sock rotation is a must. Putting Uniqlo’s HeatTech to work is this pile set, offering warmth as well as odour control.

Made with a thick wool blend, and finished with ribbed hems and a spongy pile interior, the socks have a soft feel to them and aren’t itchy. Even better, they stopped our toes from getting cold on chilly evenings. A pair to consider if you find fleece-lined options too thick.

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The verdict: Uniqlo Heattech

If you’re searching for a range of relatively inexpensive clothing that will help keep you warm, while slotting easily into your everyday winter wardrobe, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed with Uniqlo’s HeatTech collection.

With a choice of regular, extra and ultra warm options, you can pick the most suitable level for your needs, whether you’re lounging around the house or heading outdoors when the air feels particularly raw.

Crucially, HeatTech made a difference in how toasty we felt, with the ultra-warm items (unsurprisingly) keeping us the toastiest. However, we see ourselves getting the most use out of the HeatTech extra warm pieces.

For us, it was the stretchiness and supremely soft feel of the long-sleeved turtleneck tops that made them our favourites out of the attire we tried. The style is simple, the fabric is lightweight, and the items are ideal for layering. A collection we actually want to wear, we think HeatTech is a great way to bolster your defences against the cold.

Looking for something a little more festive? These are the best Christmas jumpers for the whole family

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