How to

25 July 2017

The Importance of Layering Clothing in Cold Environments


Different garments serve different purposes, and so to get the most out of your winter attire layering is absolutely vital. There’s more to it than just, “more clothes must mean more warmth,” as each layer performs a job of its own. Beyond this, layering will also allow you to adjust your outfit to suit changing conditions, such as a sudden influx of warm sun or an instantaneous downpour of rain.

With that in mind, we thought we should break down each layer in an effort to provide a little insight as to what will work best for each. So, let’s start from the base and work our way outward.

Base Layer – Moisture Wicking

The base layer of your outfit is primarily responsible for moisture wicking, drawing moisture away from the skin in order to conserve heat. This layer should be lightweight, and ideally made of wool, silk, or synthetic fibres – never cotton. This is because cotton will absorb the moisture and hold it against your skin rather than wicking it away, and will result in you feeling colder than if you had skipped this layer altogether. If you’re facing particularly extreme weather and a standard base layer doesn’t quite seem up to the job, opt for a thermal base layer instead.

Mid Layer – Insulation

The mid layer is there to provide insulation insulation, trapping air close to the body in order to ensure warmth. Goose down serves this purpose well, although whether you opt for that option may depend largely on your opinions of the industry. Other options include wool or synthetic fibres, which will also perform the job perfectly well without the added ethical dilemma.

In order to perform properly this layer should be fairly snug, fitting close to your body. Do be careful however to get the balance right, as you wouldn’t want to hinder your movement via restrictive clothing.

On milder days when strong winds and rain are less of a concern, this mid layer may also serve as the outer layer.

Outer Layer – Wind/Rain Protection

The outer layer serves as your shield against the wind and rain, and is vital in terms of maintaining warmth when the worst of the weather hits. The wind chill factor can substantially lower the apparent temperature while also stripping away the layer of warm air held close to your body by whatever insulation you may be donning, and so keeping it at bay is of paramount importance. Rain is also quite an issue without the presence of a suitable outer layer, as any moisture that makes its way into the middle insulating layer will prevent it from being effective. As such, your outer layer should be made of a material that is windproof, waterproof, and breathable.

By making proper use of layers, you will be able to adapt to conditions as you go by adding or removing said layers, ensuring optimal warmth, safety and comfort throughout whatever activity in which you are partaking.


Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.