Staying warm isn’t simply a case of throwing on thick clothing and thinking this is enough to keep you from getting cold. This is a poor strategy as you risk protecting some areas of your body and exposing other sections to the cold, or you may end up heating up your body too much due to over-insulation.
This is why the technique of layering has become prominent as it doesn’t just provide any amount of insulation but the optimum amount so you’re not over or under-insulated in any area. It is also a flexible solution as you’re able to add or remove layers as necessary to adapt to your environment and ensure you keep your temperature at an optimum level.
How does layering work?
Layering consists of wearing different items of clothing in layers above your body rather than simply wearing a bulky jacket or multiple sweatshirts at once. Layering offers a superior form of insulation to wearing a single item as air is able to get trapped between each individual layers, essentially meaning more layers are there to keep warm air in.
To start with, a body-hugging inner layer, known as the base layer, performs important functions to keep you warm. With the base layer you need to make sure you find the right material which is capable of wicking away moisture, so avoid cotton at all costs as this soaks up moisture. By wicking away moisture, your base layer is able to keep your body dry and ensure sweat evaporates rather than being retained.
The middle layer is designed to go on top of your base layer and provide strong insulation so your body stays warm. The layer should be comprised of a material which can effectively trap warm air inside so you don’t suffer from the cold, yet also be breathable enough so that moisture can be released. Fleeces are popular as a middle layer as they also offer a degree of insulation for your neck.
The primary function of the outer layer is to shield your body from rain and wind, whilst also being breathable enough to allow moisture to leave the body. Usually a thin shell layer will be enough protection as your middle layer is doing most of the insulation work to keep you warm. However, if it is particularly freezing then you can adopt a thicker outer layer to offer more warmth.
Adapting to your environment
Another added bonus of the layering system is that you can customise how many layers you want to wear to adapt to the atmosphere around you. For example, if the sun has come out and you’ve also been active outdoor, you may find your current arrangement is too hot for you. In this case you can easily take off a layer or add another if you’re too cold, allowing you to keep your temperature optimal constantly.