An Absolute Guide to Layering
It's easy to think that wearing the thickest clothing possible on the mountain is the best way to keep warm, when in reality your expensive, technical jacket & pants will become completely useless if you get the system of layers beneath wrong.
Layering your breathable clothing can help you to keep warm, dry & comfortable through varying conditions, allowing you to add or remove layers depending on how you feel & the conditions you’re in.
In this guide we'll offer you all the advice you need for how to layer up correctly.
There are 3 main elements to successful layering... so let's peel back the layers.
This layer is the only one in direct contact with your skin, so of course you want something that will be kind to it. This layer should be tight fitting so it traps air next to the skin and insulates the body from the cold. Its main purpose is to transport, or 'wick' perspiration away from your skin and move it towards the surface of the fabric so that it can evaporate. If your base-layer holds moisture, you'll quickly start to feel cold when you
slow down or stop for a rest.
Traditional woollen base-layers scratch and can be very uncomfortable, but merino wool is super fine and soft against your skin. Unlike synthetic base-layers, wool fibres actually absorb moisture whilst remaining dry to the touch. Wool is lighter than synthetic fabrics but provides the same amount of warmth and is very durable. Plus it's highly breathable and naturally odour-resistant, so it’s a good choice if you’ll be working up a sweat, and your friends will thank you! The drawbacks with wool? It does take slightly longer dry out than synthetic fabrics and is generally more expensive.
Synthetic base-layers tend to move perspiration rapidly and are very quick drying. These fabrics, such as polyester, make great base-layers. The drawbacks of synthetic fabrics? They can retain odours if not washed regularly. However, many brands have started using antimicrobial treatments to try to cut down on unwanted smells so keep an eye out for these!
The outer-layer is there to protect you from the elements and is what people tend to spend the most money on. It must be breathable to allow the moisture from your inner layers to escape and large enough to fit over your inner layers whilst allowing free movement. When choosing this layer you should also consider how your jackets cuffs, collar, hood etc. will integrate with your gloves, boots & helmet.
These are generally heavier and don't pack down so small but, if you're going to be in extremely cold conditions or need extra warmth, a jacket and pants with built-in insulation could be for you. However if you'll be experiencing varying conditions they aren’t as versatile as a shell type system.
A hardshell provides the most weather protection. Hardshells are a technical layer designed to be windproof, waterproof and breathable. They’re lighter weight and pack smaller than other outer layer options. Typically, the fabrics are made of two or three layers bonded together to form a single textile. Generally, the more expensive the product, the better the breathability of these fabrics it's made with. When choosing your perfect layer, make sure you look for features like durable water repellent (DWR) coatings and seam taping which increase capacity to shed water and prevent it from getting inside.
Softshells can be very versatile as they offer slightly more insulation than a hardshell and are windproof and will shed light precipitation. They are flexible and air permeable, meant to protect but not to provide as much shelter as a hardshell. They do offer good breathability, along with stretch and comfort, but they don’t offer anywhere near the same level of protection from rain or snow as a hardshell.
CREDIT: Mons Royale (https://www.monsroyale.com/how-to-layer/)