Being outdoors exposes you to natural elements that have both benefits and downsides. If you opt to travel or trek in winter, you are likely to suffer from cold weather. So It is important to know the basics of how to layer clothes for cold weather.

Layering a dress for outdoors is basically trial and error. No one can clearly tell you what you need for traveling in the cold weather. So for the most part, this is something you need to experiment with. However, the basic you should note is that you have to layer if you want to beat the freezing cold and stay warm.

Generally, there are three separate layers that you should keep in mind for the cold weather conditions. These include base, middle and outer. In this article, I will explain about these layer types and guide you on how to layer clothes for cold weather.

Now, let’s start!

Three Basic Layering Techniques for Cold Weather

1. Layer One: Base Layer

Base Layer

Your first layer should be your underwear . It should be made of nonabsorbent material and should fit snugly. You can choose a singlet that stays nicely under other clothes. The most important thing about the first layer is a little trick called the undie tuck. In this technique, you tuck your singlet into the top of your undies so it stays put. The method also helps you avoid the gaps so that cold air doesn’t get inside. Moreover, you can avoid the lumpy bumps from bad tucking.

You can have a wide range of fabric options to choose from. It includes synthetics like polyester and nylon, or natural fibers like wool and silk. Though there are small differences in drying time and durability for each material, a lot of people simply go with their personal preferences. In terms of weight, usually, the heavier fabrics keep you warmer.

2. Layer Two: Middle Layer

Middle Layer

The next layer is a long sleeve top which can be a light knit, skivvy, button-up or anything you feel comfortable in. This is also known as the insulating layer as it helps you retain the heat that is radiated by your body.

Just like the base layer, you can choose from a wide range of fabric options for the middle layer too. This includes both synthetic and natural fabric. Generally, thicker material equals greater warmth. The following are some of the choices for middle layers:

Polyester Fleece: It is available in lightweight, midweight, and heavyweight fabric options. The fleece stays warm even if it gets damp, and it also dries fast. Moreover, the fleece also breathes well so that you are less likely to feel overheated while wearing it.

Down Insulated Jackets: These highly compressible jackets offer more warmth for its weight than any other insulating material. The efficiency of the down material is measured in fill power that ranges from 450 to 900. As the down is always inside a shell material, these types of jackets provide some water and wind resistance as well.

Synthetic Insulated Jackets: While the synthetics don’t compress as well as down, they are a more popular option for rainy conditions. It is because they retain insulating ability even if they get damp. And like down, the synthetic insulation is always inside a shell material that offers added water and wind resistance.

3. Layer Three: Outer Layer

Outer Layer

Having a waterproof and windproof outer shell helps seal in the warmth when you are out in the cold weather. Besides, the layer protects you from wind, rain, and snow. The shell layer can range from pricey mountaineering jackets to simple wind-resistant jackets. The outer shell is crucial in stormy weather as it helps to block wind and water from entering the inner layers. This way, you can stay safe from the cold weather.

The shells can be categorized into the following types:

Waterproof/Breathable Shells: These types of shells are the best option for full-on rainy conditions.

Water-resistant/Breathable Shells: These are generally suited to drizzly and breezy conditions.

Soft Shells: Soft Shells emphasize breathability and feature stretchable fabric or fabric panels for added comfort for movement.

Extra Guidelines on Layering for Cold Weather

Extra Guidelines on Layering for Cold Weather

Try to master these basics of layering for cold weather:

  • No matter how frigid the temperature is, try to wear light and long-sleeved base layer. Thinner layers wick the sweat better and they also dry fast.
  • For your mid-layer, choose either wool, polyester, or a blend of the two.
  • Use a puffy zippered jacket with a hood.
  • Opt for a shell that is made of waterproof/breathable fabric with taped seams. Try to size it big enough so it easily fits over everything else. Avoid the white gears that may get lost in the snow.

Tips for Head, Face and Toes Protection During Cold Weather

Tips for Head, Face and Toes Protection During Cold Weather

It is a known fact that all your body heat escapes through your head, feet, and hands. Therefore, when you plan to adventure in the cold weather, it becomes necessary to cover those body extremities. You should pack a hat for protecting your head from exposure to the cold environment. Use woolen gloves help to keep your hands warm.

Apart from hats and gloves, there are other options for protecting your head, face, and toes during the cold weather. These include:

  • Scarves: Choose a scarf that feels soft on your chin and at the same time keeps your neck warm.
  • Buffs: Carry two sets of buffs during the journey. These can be used as a light hat or headband.
  • Liner Socks: Liner socks are small and lightweight and are perfect for wicking away the moisture. They help to keep your feet dry and warm.
  • Mid Layer Socks: The mid-layer socks are best for insulating your feet. These warm wool socks are usually enough for the cold weather. However, in case the temperature falls rapidly, having another outer layer is great.
  • Heavy Socks: If you are opting to trek in extremely cold weather, the third pair of heavier wool socks will keep your feet warm.
  • Goggles: The goggles keep your eyes warm, so I recommend you to include them in your cold-weather kit.
  • Winter Hiking Boots: For better protection of your feet, use winter hiking boots that are available on Amazon. Make sure to buy a size that accounts for the added layers of socks. Tight boots tend to freeze your toes.
  • Gaiters: Gaiters are the waterproof boot leggings that are placed above your boot and up your calf. If your hiking trail passes through deep snow or slush, gaiters keep your pants dry and keep water from sinking into your boots.

FAQs on How to Layer Clothes for Cold Weather

Q: What does layered clothing mean?

A: Layered clothing is a term that describes a way of dressing using many garments that are worn on top of each other. It is most relevant in cold climates where clothing helps to transfer moisture, provide warmth, and protect from wind and rain.

Q: How to keep clothes warm in the winter?

A: Basically, there are a few steps that you need to follow for keeping your clothes warm in the winter. They are:

  • Wear a proper baselayer
  • Layer it with a long-sleeve shirt or a t-shirt
  • Add a warm sweatshirt or fleece
  • Add a good-quality jacket to your wardrobe that is made for winter
  • Wear lined pant or jeans on the bottom with thermals under
  • Keep your feet warm with wool socks and sturdy shoes
  • Keep your head toasty warm so that the heat doesn’t escape

Q: What material is best for cold weather?

A: Most of the base layers designed for cold weather are made from either synthetic or wool. They help transport perspiration away from your skin, dispersing it on the outer surface where it can evaporate. The major benefit of synthetic clothing is that they are not itchy and tend to be less expensive than wool. They also dry fast and are durable as well.

Q: What are the options for mid-layers?

A: Mostly, you get four options for mid-layers:

  • Down Fill
  • Synthetic Fill
  • Fleece
  • Hardshell Fleece

Downs have the highest warmth to weight ratio, whereas Synthetics are durable and lightweight, and retain heat even when wet.

Similarly, Fleeces offer excellent air permeability and moisture management. On the other hand, Hardshell Fleeces have a smooth outer surface that resists snags and tears, making them exceptionally hard-wearing.

So as you can see, it is necessary to dress in layers when you are going outside to face cold weather. You should be careful and pay proper attention to covering everything from head to toe while layering. If one part of your body is cold, it can make your entire body cold.

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