EMBRACE THE ELEMENTS
THE 5.11® LAYERING SYSTEM
Whether you’re battling a sudden downpour or your own body’s heat as you push through a grueling hike, layering is your secret weapon. It gives you control over your body temperature, helps you manage sweat, and shields you from the elements. Remember, it’s not just about enduring the elements…
… it’s about embracing them.
L1: Base Layer
This is the most important layer you will wear! Worn next to skin, this base layer garment is made of fabric that is engineered to draw sweat and moisture away from the body. This ensures that you will stay dry and warm during high activity in environments that can be cold, windy and also shift rapidly.
Layering Pro Tip: Select base layers with screen printed labels and lay flat seams. Nobody wants to struggle with scratchy tags and rolled up edges directly against their skin. Choose material based on your activity. Poly-blend works well if you are just going for a long run or an easy hike. Merino wool is best if you don’t know when you will be able to stop and dry up or change clothes.
L2: Mid Layer
This layer offers good warmth and breathability. There are various weights and thicknesses of garments, that you can choose from, for this layer depending on what weather you might be facing. Light jackets, fleeces and hoodies retain heat and permit airflow so that the wearer can stay warm without overheating.
Layering Pro Tip: Hoods, neck gaiters and thumb holes are small details that can enhance body heat retention, when necessary, without adding a ton of bulk. Making sure you have good insulation covering your largest blood vessels, for example, on your wrists and beneath your collarbone, will help keep the rest of the body warm.
L3: Active Insulation
Functioning as a protective barrier, this outerwear layer stops cold wind from penetrating and helps the wearer retain their body heat. The thermal insulation assists in warmth retention at colder temperatures.
Layering Pro Tip: As an active insulation layer, your L3 jacket or coat needs features that can vent the heat that builds up while you're on the move. Look for flaps, zippers, and drawstring hemlines that can be adjusted easily.
L4: Weather Protection
This outerwear layer is your best defense against variably rainy conditions. The durable water repellency and breathability of the fabric allows moisture transfer away from the body while keeping the rain out. This enables the wearer to continue active outdoor activities while remaining dry and warm.
Layering Pro Tip: The toughest grade zippers aren’t enough to keep water out. Storm flaps, adjustable cuffs, and a hood are a must for good rain wear. Wear a cap under your hood during heavy rain to prevent as much rain as possible from hitting your face and finding its way down your neck.
L5: Static Insulation
This heavily insulated layer will keep you warm in extreme cold and dry conditions when movement is minimal. The wind resistance of the fabric keeps out drafts so that lofty insulation can retain the maximum amount of body heat.
Layering Pro Tip: Make sure you choose an L5 jacket that has some abrasion resistance, so that it doesn’t tear easily at the first contact with tough nature surroundings.