- Wearing cotton
- Heavy, bulky clothes
- Non-weather resistant outer layer
Although every person is different, proper layering still starts with the most important layer being the base layer. If I had to pick a layer that you never forget, it would be this one. For starters, it is right next to your skin so it should be keeping your skin dry and warm (yes, this does include underwear and socks too). Whether you choose natural or synthetic, is up to you.
The next layer is the one that will make or break your day outside. This second layer is the one you can take off or put back on, depending on temperature or your activity level. It is usually between a down or wool (both natural fibers) and fleece. Which one would be better?
If you choose wool or down, both are amazing insulators. They have the best warmth to weight ratio and are highly compressible/packable. However, remember down will lose its insulating ability if wet, so the best conditions for down are when it is dry and bitter cold. (see How To Choose A Winter Jacket)
If you choose fleece, usually it is lightweight and breathable. With the best part being that it still insulates when wet. Look for Polartec or Thinsulate for the quickest drying and highest warmth to weight ratio. However, the main drawback is wind permeability and it being less compressible.
Last but not least is the outer layer. Ok, so it might be a tie on which layer is the most important. Although your base layers are what is wicking away moisture and keeping your skin dry, the outer layer is blocking the wind, rain and snow.
There are 3 main types of shells: weatherproof shell, soft shell or an insulated shell.
A weatherproof shell is waterproof and windproof. Usually, they are your every day rainwear; being lightweight and packable or more alpine geared, being more abrasion resistant. Sometimes with Gore-tex and pit-zips, which adds breathability.
A soft shell is a very versatile jacket because many offer shell like benefits with additional insulation benefits. They will protect you from the elements and usually contain a soft fleece or light synthetic insulation.
An insulated jacket is your classic winter coat. It has a weather resistant or waterproof outer-layer with insulation on the inside. Usually, a heavier jacket that is harder to layer is perfect for cold, wet conditions.
My best advice is to layer for your passion. Whether that is climbing a 14er or watching your favorite football team, just be outside! Head in to your local SCHEELS to talk with an Expert to help you “layer for your passion”.