The layering system is frequently written and spoken about within the walking, hiking and climbing community….but what is it?
It is quite simple! The layering system is simply a method of wearing your walking clothes in a way that protects you effectively from the weather.
If you are going on a trip that will involve multiple weather conditions and varied terrain, the layering system is perfect and means that you will be prepared no matter what Mother Nature throws at you.
This guide is to help you keep comfortable and at a perfect temperature no matter what the weather brings.
Wearing multiple layers is always more effective than one thick, core layer. This is because the multiple layers trap air near your skin, keeping heat close to you.
Layering is not just for keeping you warm in those cooler climates…it can also keep you cool in warmer climates.
When exercising you may get hot and produce sweat…but what about after the heavy exercise? If the sweat cools on your skin it can decrease your body temperature which can lead to illness.
Adding a fleece layer carried or packed away en route will make sure that you are ready and prepared for all parts of your run, hike, walk or climb.
The most important thing to remember is that the layering system is not just about how many layers you have – but what the layers are made of.
The 3 basic layers are:
1) A Base layer -The base layer mops up and wicks away any moisture.
2) A Mid layer-Traps in heat to keep you warm. This can be a fleece or jumper.
3) An Outer layer- The outer is your 'shell' shield against the elements, wind, rain and snow.
1. The Base layer - The First Layer
- The base layer is the main body temperature regulator. It wicks away moisture and keeps you comfortable.
- It is key that this layer is protected from the elements – if it gets damp it can decrease your body temperature and can be responsible for causing illness.
- Base layers aren’t just for the outdoors, you can also use them in the gym or an indoor climbing wall, so they are worth the money!
- Usually, base layers are made from Merino Wool, or Synthetics.
2. The Insulating Layer - The Second Layer / Mid layer
- The Mid layer is worn over your base layer and keeps the heat in during your outdoor activity.
- The mid layer should be tight to your body allowing minimal air movement for maximum heat retention.
- Fleeces are ideal – we stock some fantastically priced fleeces from £6.99 – click here to see!
- Hoodies and other jumpers are good for a cool down, but be careful, because cotton and other natural fibres will not protect you from moisture build up and are terrible when you start to sweat.
- Synthetic fabrics such as polyester fleece are ideal for the mid layer - they are great at repelling moisture and maintaining heat.
- Fleeces can come in different weights, so make sure you get one with the thickness and the breathability you need! Have a look at our fleece guide here.
3. The Waterproof/Weather Protection Layer/ Outer Shell - The Third Layer
- Your outer layer is designed to keep you comfortable by keeping you safe from wind, water and freezing temperatures.
- If you do not have an outer layer on, you risk your body temperature decreasing, getting soaking wet and risk getting ill (and…have your exercise completely ruined!).
- You need to look for a layer that's waterproof, windproof and also breathable enough for your chosen activity so you don't retain moisture inside of your jacket.
- To get your head around the waterproof ratings and breathability ratings have a look at out Waterproof Guide.