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The Key to Outdoor Warmth & Comfort: Layering!

One of the single most important aspects of being warm and comfortable in the elements, regardless of your activity, is proper layering of clothing. Layering is an important concept to follow year-round – not just in cooler weather.

What is “Layering”?

Simply put, it’s a way to combine your clothing layers that will help to regulate your core temperature while you’re participating in your favourite outdoor activities. Your core temperate should stay constant so that you don’t overheat or get cold.

The layers break into three categories: Base, Thermal, and Protective Layers. These three layers work together to trap heat, wick moisture, breathe, block wind, and repel water.

Individually, each layer performs specific functions:

Base Layer

First layer, second skin – your outer layers are useless without a good base, one that promotes both warmth and moisture transfer. The best base layer fabrics are synthetics such as polyester and polypropylene, as they conduct moisture away from the skin and into the protective layer or into the air. Do not wear cotton as a base layer. Cotton holds moisture, which then facilitates the rapid transfer of body heat, causing your core temperature to drop.

Thermal Layer

The Thermal Layer ensures enhanced insulation and moisture movement from the body. This snug-fitting layer should consist of fabrics that efficiently wick moisture away from the base layer, yet retain your precious body heat. Thermal Layer fabrics should trap your body heat in small air pockets between the fibers – garments made of wool and synthetic materials are ideal.

Protective Layer

The final stage – the Protective layer serves as the outer-face of the 3-Layer System; it keeps external moisture out, while allowing moisture wicked away from the body to escape. Ideally, in wet weather, this layer will consist of waterproof breathable fabrics, such as Gore-Tex® or GORE-TEX XCR®. In dry weather, a simple windproof, such as a Gore WindStopper® and N2S shell may do the trick.

To learn more about layering and layering products, visit the MEC website and click on 'Learn' in the top menu bar.