Layer your outdoor clothing to keep warm and dry

This is your need-to-know layering basics

The key for choosing optimal outdoor clothing for your winter activities is the well known layering principle. Having a baselayer, a midlayer and an outerlayer for insulation and weather protection will make your outdoor adventure fun and comfortable, even when the weather changes. Let’s dig into the basic principles of how to layer your outdoor clothing.

Why layer your outdoor clothing?

The biggest benefits with layering your outdoor clothing for your winter activities are:

  • You can easily remove/add layers depending on your activity level or changing weather conditions
  • Every layer has its own function. Wicking sweat off your skin when your active, keeping you warm when taking a break or dry in rainy conditions. You can find the perfect combination of layers for any condition.

Layering principle – the function of each layer

Your layers hould complement each other and work as part of a flexible system. You might not need all the layers for every activity, combine them to fill your needs. 

The baselayer wicks sweat off your skin and release moisture and excess heat to the next layer. Go for a natural wool garment or a synthetic baselayer, avoid cotton.

The mid layer absorbs moisture coming from the baselayer, moving it away from your body to keep you dry. At the same time, the midlayer retains your body heat to help keep you warm. Fleece or other polyester materials are popular and functional midlayer materials.  

The outerlayer protects you from wind, rain and cold. It prevents your inner layers from getting wet, keeping you warm and dry also from external factors. This layer can also be used for heat regulation, add it or remove it depending on weather conditions/activity level. Your outerlayer should be a waterproof, fully taped garment with a breathable properties like ventilation zippers. The jacket should have a proper hood that will cover and protect you in harsh weather.

It is also a good idea to add an additional outerlayer to keep you warm when you for example take a break. The static insulation outerlayer will make sure you don’t cool off too much during your lunch break, and is also the extra layer you need to keep warm in very low temperatures. Static insulation clothing can be a down jacket or a warm synthetic jacket.

Don’t forget the wind chill factor

When checking the weather report for how to dress, don’t forget to look at the wind speed. The wind chill factor will affect how you experience the actual temperature. The stronger the wind, the colder it will feel, regardless of what the thermometer says. For example if your thermometer shows -5 degrees and the wind measures 10 m/s the actual temperature you will experience is -14 degrees.

Thermometer temperature

  10 5 0 -5 -10 -15 -20 -25 -30 -35 -40
2 m/s 9 3 -2 -8 -14 -20 -26 -32 -37 -43 -49
5 m/s 8 1 -5 -11 -17 -24 -30 -36 -42 -49 -55
10 m/s 6 0 -7 -14 -20 -27 -34 -40 -47 -53 -60
15 m/s 5 -2 -8 -15 -22 -29 -36 -43 -50 -56 -63
20 m/s 5 -2 -9 -16 -23 -31 -38 -45 -52 -59 -66
25 m/s 4 -3 -10 -17 -25 -32 -39 -46 -53 -60 -68
30 m/s 4 -4 -11 -18 -26 -33 -40 -47 -55 -62 -69

A layering system with extra everything

We at 5.11 are innovators who make purpose-built gear for life’s most demanding missions. All our technical apparel and gear are created to provide the durability, comfort and performance you need. 

Our outdoor clothing offers not only the basic functions of the layering principle, but every seam, material and zipper has been carefully chosen to give you a better experience when you’re on a mission. 

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