Layering in a nutshell

If you live in Britain, you’re probably used to layering. You no doubt do it automatically, like reaching for a tea after a crisis, or falling into a queue at the first sign of a crowd! Our ‘diverse’ and unpredictable weather means that layering is an important part of how we dress so we don’t get soaked when the heavens open and sweat when the sun appears.

But staying warm is more advanced than shoving on a thick wool jumper and hoping for the best if you’re more inclined to be up Snowdon that hunkered into the sofa on the average weekend. 

We have our Layering System Guide if you want the full story!

The method of layering the right clothes can make the difference between being too hot or too cold, situations that can cause trouble in the outdoors.The key point is that multiple layers are better at trapping air near your skin, keeping heat close to you. Multiple layers will always be a more effective warmer than one, thick layer.

The baselayer is worn next to the skin for maximum wicking of sweat and to keep your body heat regulated. Baselayers mop up sweat and transport moisture away from your body, all factors in keeping you cool and comfortable. To work, your baselayer needs to be made from a manmade synthetic, like a polyester, (or a specific wool called merino.)Cotton is the worst fabric you can choose for a day on the hill or the wall- as it will work like a sponge, soaking up moisture!

The midlayer is next. Worn over your baselayer, this is designed to trap heat and keep you  warm. It also needs to deliever moisture from your baselayer to the outer layers of your clothes. The most common midlayer is a fleece which is low in cost, low in weight and great at wicking. Hoodies and  jumpers may be great for periods of low or no activity, (on the sofa!)  but midlayers designed with cotton or other natural fibres won’t protect you from moisture build up and are no use when you start to create heat and in turn sweat.

Your outermost layer is your hardshell or softshell jacket; a ‘shell’ designed to keep you comfortable, safe from the wind, water, and freezing temperatures.  You can choose a waterproof jacket, a windproof jacket , or one that is both, or it can be coated with a DWR (Durable water repellent). The key is that it is breathable. Breathability is crucial, not just for when you’re running, climbing or walking so you don’t ‘steam up’ inside your jacket, but to release the heat produced as you just go about your daily life. Consider your outer shell carefully, because for each activity you undertake, you may need a different outer shell.  A jacket for specifically for climbing will be cut higher to accommodate a harness, whilst a typically car coat will be long, designed for periods of standing. The down jacket that keeps you warm in the cold and wind will be near useless if subjected to heavy rainfall!

So that’s layering in a nutshell! Focus on getting each layer as right as possible for your destination, and hopefully, your trip should be comfortable.