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How to layer outdoor clothing

KMD Winter2017 RT 7144

Layering your clothing when heading outdoors is key to being comfortable and protected from the elements. Learn about the different layers and which materials will work the hardest for you.


Layering 101:

Each layer has a function.

  • The base layer is the layer closest to your skin and manages moisture.
  • The mid-layer keeps you warm.
  • And the outer layer shields you from wind, rain and snow.

Simply mix and match the layers to suit the conditions: wear all layers if it’s freezing and wet, or just the base and outer layer if it’s hot and windy.

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How to choose a base layer

The base layer is your next-to-skin layer. Its function is to wick sweat away from your skin so you feel dry and comfortable — rather than cold and clammy — which is especially important in cold conditions.

The base layer also regulates body temperature: in cold conditions a snug-fitting base layer will trap body heat in and keep you warm, while in warmer conditions a loose-fitting base layer will allow air to freely circulate and keep you cool.

The best performing base layers for outdoor adventures are generally made from merino wool or synthetic, such as:

How to choose a mid layer

A quality mid-layer keeps you warm by trapping body heat in its fibres.

Fabrics like wool and fleece (altica® 100, altica® 200, altica® 300 and altica® tech) are great for this, and have the added bonus of being highly breathable and moisture-wicking (again, moving moisture away from your base layer).

They also have a great warmth-to-weight ratio, providing comfort without bulk.

How to choose an outer layer

The outer layer is generally a lightweight jacket that provides excellent protection from wind, rain and snow.

The best outer-shell options are made from durable, waterproof and windproof fabrics:

  • GORE-TEX® jackets are treated with a durable water repellent that makes water bead up and roll off, ensuring maximum performance in extreme conditions.
  • NGX® jackets are waterproof, windproof and breathable; keeping you dry inside and out.
  • Softshell jackets are another great option that hold in body heat and allow vapour to escape.

Need more layers?


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