Winter Weather Layering

Mastering layering is a winter weather survival skill. Proper body temperature regulation is vital for enjoying the season to its full capacity. Though parts of Alabama seldom breach the freezing threshold, layering is still an important skill for those who enjoy winter camping, hiking, hunting and other various outdoors activities.

With the right pieces, layering is a foolproof method for retaining warmth. Three pieces are fundamental to proper layering, but more never hurts—you can always remove layers once you’re out.

The Layers 

Base Layer

The base layer, or skin layer, sits closest to your body, is lightweight, and allows for flexibility and free range of motion. Base layers are breathable and thin, low-bulk pieces that slip easily into your mid layer. Often these layers are made from merino wool or polyester blend with moisture-wicking properties.

Lightweight Mid-Layer

The lightweight mid-layer is an optional additional layer. This layer is thicker than your base layer, yet thin enough to wear under your outer layer. A fleece jacket or pullover functions well as an option mid-layer.

Insulated Mid-Layer

The insulated mid-layer is a “puffy” jacket, made of soft down or synthetic fibers, added for additional heat retention. Insulated jackets are lightweight, providing the best warmth-to-weight ratio, should be easy to throw over a base layer, but not too puffy to wear under your outer layer.

Outer Layer

The outer layer is a lightweight, waterproof shell. The outer layer protects you from the elements as it serves as the final piece to seal in warmth and keep you dry in various winter weather conditions. Many insulated and shell jackets feature an interior pocket made for rolling up and stowing your outerwear within itself.



Keeping your hands and fingers warm in freezing temperatures can be a daunting task, and wearing a single pair of gloves can lead to a miserable time. How do you keep your hands from freezing, cramping, drying, etc.? Layering is as essential for your hands as it is for your torso.

Start with a liner glove. Liner gloves provide moderate warmth, but allow for plenty of flexibility and free movement of your fingers—perfect for campfire cooking, taking photos, and grabbing items out of your pack. Next, throw on an outer or shell glove. Your outer glove should be thick, waterproof, and insulated. They protect your fingers from rain or snow, and retain heat. If you find you need a mid-layer, you may choose to add a thicker wool or fleece mitten.


Keeping your head warm is crucial to your winter weather comfort. Headwear options include beanies, ear warmers and gaiters. Buff offers seamless microfiber head and neckwear that can be worn over ten different ways. Wear it around your neck to block wind, use it as a beanie, headband, or face mask, to name a few. There are also Buffs made of 100% natural Merino wool, for additional warmth.


In freezing temperatures, your toes are often the first to get cold. Wool socks are ideal for warmth retention and moisture management. Layering socks can be too constricting on movement and blood flow—so instead, opt for thicker or thinner socks based on your activity.

Though layering clothing adds visual interest in a daily, fashion-centered environment, proper layering is a true survival skill when it comes to the great outdoors. Remember that you can always remove layers if you are too warm, start with more than you think you will need.

*Find the items featured in this article in store, or online. Limited quantities available, see store for details.

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