YOUR GUIDE TO LAYERING
When dealing with the elements, it is essential to be comfortable against the extremes of nature, such as cold temperatures, rain, snow, and other forces. While staying comfortable is necessary, the most important reason to choose the right cold weather apparel is that it can be downright dangerous and potentially life-threatening to have insufficient gear.
This is where a functional and practical layering system that is tried and trusted comes into play.
Your base layer should keep you warm and dry.
It is a functional next-to-skin layer that wicks sweat away from your skin, leaving you feeling dry and comfortable. Perspiration and exposure to moisture in the air can cause your skin to become cold in winter conditions, so a first layer of wicking fabric is critical.
A good base layer will help regulate your body temperature. In cold conditions, a snug-fitting base layer in dark colours will trap body heat in and keep you warm, while in warmer conditions a loose- fitting base layer in light colours will allow air to circulate and keep you cool.
The best performing base layers are generally made from merino wool or synthetic fabrics. Avoid wearing a cotton tee as a base layer, as cotton is a hydrophilic material (absorbs water). To ensure all your bases are covered, be sure to use both a top and bottom base layer, and wear socks that are designed to be compatible for your footwear and conditions. Merino wool is a great fabric option for socks because it absorbs moisture and provides insulation for this vital part of the body.
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A mid layer is a warm and breathable thermal layer that offers insulation and keeps you warm.
Fabrics like wool, down and fleece are great as they trap body heat in their fibres. These fabrics are also highly breathable, light and moisture-wicking with an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio, providing comfort without the bulk. Don't be fooled by the thickness of a garment when it comes to warmth and protection, microfleece garments are an excellent option for when you're after all the pros of a technical mid layer without the bulk.
A mid layer can be multiple layers on top of each other for maximum warmth and insulation. If you are going to have more than one item of clothing as a mid layer, make sure you put the lightest material closet to the body with heavier materials over that for maximum insulation and comfort.
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The outer shell layer is your prime line of defense against cold temperatures and elements such as wind, rain, and snow.
This is the outermost layer of clothing, and much like base and thermal layers, it serves its own unique purpose. It does little in the way of insulation on its own, which is why the base and thermal layers are so important.
As the goal of this layer is to protect you from wet conditions, the best outer shell solution is one made from durable, waterproof and windproof fabrics. There are a variety of options on the market:
- Waterproof/breathable shells: a functional choice for full-on squall conditions as it offers incredible dryness, breathability and durability.
- Water-resistant/breathable shells: suited for light wind and light rain, perfect for being highly active in drizzly and breezy conditions.
- Softshells: offer breathability and stretch for added comfort. Many products on the market combine light rain and wind protection with light insulation.
- Waterproof/nonbreathable shells: a bare-bones shell for rainy days with light to no activity. They are designed with a focus on being water and windproof. Due to the lack of breathability, these are not recommended for when you are going to breaking into a sweat.
Most technical pants can be considered soft shells and are excellent for anything up to hard, persistent rain. If you do need a hard shell for very rainy days, then you'll be best served by either an overpant or overalls that won't soak up any water and that you can strip off once the storm finishes.
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ACCESSORIES & FOOTWEAR
A layering system is the best way to ensure you stay safe and protected when conditions are cold and wet, however, leaving certain parts of the body exposed can be just as dangerous. You still need to protect your hands, face, feet, and head. Adding a hat, gloves, footwear, and face masks to your layering system ensures total coverage.
When looking at hats, opt for beanies that sit close to the head to trap in heat. For maximum protection from wind, a face shield is a great choice.
For footwear, you'll be wanting a lightweight and flexible boot that's ready for serious cold weather action. When selecting footwear, you will need to consider your needs relating to waterproofness, breathability and warmth. To ensure footing through snow, ice, mud, etc. you'll need a sole that features deep, and aggressive lugs.
When looking for suitable gloves look for options that are lined with wool or fleece for adding insulation, as well as waterproof exteriors and mobility features to make sure you have full control of your fingers for essential tasks.
Once you have all your layers covered, you can mix and match them to suit the conditions and your personal preference. When dealing with colder temperatures, wind and water exposure can quickly become a life or death scenario if you aren't prepared with the right materials and garments.
The best thing about layering is that as the conditions change, you can adjust your gear to keep you as comfortable as possible. That can mean ditching your fleece on a warm spring afternoon or adding a vest under your shell jacket to combat super cold weather.
It's all about customisation to your environment.
If you require assistance with your layering needs, have a chat with our in-store team located in Canberra and Melbourne and they can help you out. Plus, you can try everything on as a full layering system.
LayeringBy: Evan on 24 June 2019It helps too, when you are reading the description about a product, that you include weather it's a base, mid or outer layer. This will assist customers in determining what layer it is.