If you’re working, exploring or playing outside, your clothing is arguably your most important equipment. If you layer your clothing correctly, it can keep you warm (or cool) and dry. Layering divides up your clothing so that you can add or remove as much as the weather calls for without your clothes getting too bulky or leaving you too exposed. Here’s our guide on how to layer!
This is your first layer of clothing, the items you wear directly against your skin. The base layer for cold weather conditions is typically tight against the skin. That way, it reflects more heat back to the body. Base layers for warm weather should be looser so that air can flow between the garment and your body, helping you cool down. Think thermal/long underwear, t-shirts, socks and gloves. What you’re looking for is something that will add a little warmth but also wick moisture away and dry quickly. You may feel fine when you’re doing some sort of exercise, but once you start cooling down, any moisture held against your skin is going to make you that much colder. Look for items made from polyester or Merino wool. We love Icebreaker’s iconic line of Merino wool base layers, including shirts, technical tops, and leggings.
This next layer is generally responsible for insulation. It traps air warmed by your body when it escapes from the base layer. More than one mid layer can be worn at a time, depending on how cold you are. The mid layer should also be moisture-wicking and quick-drying. You don’t want moisture to get trapped between the base and mid layers. That’ll just weigh you down and feel uncomfortable. Ideally, you want a garment that isn’t too heavy or bulky, too, since you’ll have to carry it if you don’t wear it. Look for items made from polyester fleece or stuffed with either a down or synthetic fill.
This layer goes on top of everything else and is responsible for keeping wind, rain and snow off of you. Because they are made to repel moisture and block winds, shell layers are typically not very breathable. That means that they’ll reduce the effectiveness of any wicking properties of other clothes you have on. Shells are divided into three different styles: hard, soft and insulated. One material that is particularly favored in this area is GORE-TEX. It tends to be one of the more breathable materials that still stops moisture and wind from reaching the body. Arc’teryx offers some GORE-TEX shells.
Using a combination of these three layers of clothing will allow you to prepare for both expected and unexpected weather without leaving you wishing you’d brought along that one thing you left behind.
Text by Bo King
Wanting to get out and explore? Find what you need for your next winter adventure here.