Layering 101

The Basics:

Layering clothing is a winter survival essential skill—it’s all about body temperature regulation. Though parts of Alabama seldom breach the freezing threshold, layering is still an essential skill for those who enjoy late fall/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 add more as you see fit—you can always remove layers once you’re out.

The Layers

Base Layer

The first layer, or base 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.

Mid Layer

The mid layer is often an insulated piece, made of soft natural or synthetic fibers, that is added for additional heat retention. It should be easy to throw over a base layer, yet thin enough to wear under your outer layer.

Outer Layer

The outer layer is a lightweight, waterproof shell. The outer layer is 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 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.? Layer!  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 cooking, taking photos, and grabbing items out of your pack. Next, throw on an outer (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.


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—instead, opt for thicker socks based on your activity, rather than layering socks.

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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