Layering is one of the best ways to maximize your warmth and comfort while outdoors. It allows you to make quick adjustments based on the weather and your current outdoor activity.
Each layer will provide its own function in keeping you warm.
Base Layer: Moisture Management
Your base layer is what will be next to your skin. This layer helps regulate your temperature and keeps you from getting wet by wicking away moisture close to your skin. If you’re cold, but active you’re still going to sweat. If you wear cotton, the sweat is going to absorbed into the shirt and hug against your skin making your feel cold and clammy for the rest of the day.
For maximum comfort, your base layer should be made of a synthetic fabric such as polyester or merino wool. These fabrics will wick the moisture away from your skin, moving it to the outside for evaporation. On warm days, this will help keep you cool and on cold days this will help you stay warm.
Middle Layer: Insulation
Insulation is going to keep all the warmth of your body trapped inside so you stay warm and comfortable in the coldest environments. Down is an excellent insulator, but isn’t reliable when wet, so it’s best for cold and dry climates. Synthetic options such as fleece and polyester are lightweight, fast drying and work when they are wet. Some ski jackets come with a built in insulation layer as do snowboard jackets.
Outer Layer (shell): Weather Protection
Your outer layer of protection can be your most important layer if you encounter bad weather. If wind or water is able to penetrate into your inner layers you will begin to feel very cold. You want to make sure this outer layer provides proper ventilation at the same time so perspiration can evaporate properly.
Check out our Guide on Ski and Snowboard Jackets to learn more about shells.