How to Layer Your Clothes Like a Pro


With winter just about a month away, it won’t be long before you can enjoy fun cold weather activities like skiing, snowboarding or snowshoeing. When it comes to these activities, knowing how to layer your clothing is key to both your comfort and protection from the elements.

Every layer has a specific function. The base layer controls moisture; the mid layer adds an extra layer of warmth without adding bulk; the insulating layer shields you from the cold; and the outer layer protects you from wind and rain. The great thing about layering is you can easily make adjustments as needed, depending on changes in the weather and your level of activity.

Base Layer

base layerThe base layer is the layer of clothing that touches your skin. This layer wicks moisture from your skin to help regulate your body temperature. Base layer apparel should be made of merino wool, synthetic fabrics, polyester or silk. These materials wick away moisture from the skin, rather than absorbing it. Moisture-wicking clothing keeps you dry when you sweat, and dries fast in rainy or snowy conditions.

The weight of your base layer will be based on your activity and the weather conditions. A leading brand of base layer apparel is Polarmax. All Polarmax products are moisture-wicking and anti-microbial and will keep you comfortable and dry. For your upper body, choose the Confetti Zip Mock Shirt or Quattro Fleece Zip Mock Shirt, and the Quattro Fleece Tights or Double Base Layer Pants for your legs.

Mid Layer

Next is the mid layer, which is worn directly over the base layer. The mid layer offers extra warmth without adding extra bulk. A mid layer could be a nylon or polyester long-sleeved shirt, merino wool pullover or fleece vest. A good mid layer is the Woolover Quarter-Zip Jacket or Wool Ida Outfitter Vest from Stormy Kromer.

Insulating Layer

The insulating layer should be worn over the mid layer in very cold conditions. Heavier than the base and mid layers, the insulating layer could be a heavy wool sweater or fleece jacket. In extremely cold conditions, a down vest or down jacket would make a good insulating layer. Some brands like Columbia Sportswear offer shell jackets that have a removable zip-in fleece jacket for extra insulation.

Outer Layer
Last, but not least, is the outer layer. This layer is the most important if you are facing cold, wet and windy conditions. Your outer layer jacket, pants and gloves should be waterproof or water-resistant. Look for apparel that features industry leading waterproof/breathable technology, such as Mountain Hardware’s Dry.Q or Columbia’s Omni-Tech. Don’t forget to shield your head and face from the cold with a facemask or hat from Turtle Fur.

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