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How to Layer Clothes - Master The Art Of Layering Clothes With the Complete Guide
Whether you're heading to the snow in the southern parts of Australia or getting ready for the milder winter weather in our northern states, when it comes to what you wear in the colder months, mastering the art of layering is critical.
The purpose of layering is to make sure your body can operate at its best no matter what activity you're engaged in - even while sitting around a campfire doing nothing.
Keeping warm enough, but allowing your body to breathe without dangerously lowering your core temperature and compromising your physical wellbeing, is the outcome you're after.
There are three main layer categories: a base or wicking layer, middle or insulating layer and the outer or wind and water-insulating layer. Each of these layers serves a dedicated purpose in keeping you warm, dry and comfortable while you're out and about enjoying the great outdoors in the cooler months.
- Base or wicking layer
- Middle or insulating layer
- Outer or wind and water-insulating layer
- Headwear and footwear
Base or wicking layer
Good base or wicking layer clothing keeps you dry and stops body moisture from making you feel cold by drawing sweat away from your skin. This layer can also prevent chafing and blisters - an essential part of enjoying a winter hike. Polypropylene - as well as materials like merino wool, Thinsulate and DryFit - are the most effective options as your base layer because they're purpose-designed to wick away moisture and help regulate your body temperature. Most clothing categorised as thermals will work in this way. In terms of fit, base layer clothing should sit close to your skin, enabling it to draw away moisture and trap the heat. Make sure you never use cotton as a base layer. Once cotton becomes wet, it stays wet.
At Anaconda, you can find quality women's thermals, men's thermals and kids' thermals at low prices which means more outdoor adventures for less. A thermal top is great for layering under a jumper or softshell jacket for warmth, and thermal bottoms are excellent under ski pants and rain pants.
What material base layers are best?
Polyester thermals are a great soft, lightweight, breathable and cost effective thermal option whereas wool or wool blend thermals are a high performance option for extreme conditions.
What are the warmest thermals?
Merino wool thermals are superior in insulating and moderating body temperature. Wool is also breathable, moisture wicking and soft of skin for all day comfort.
Are thermals worth it?
Yes, base layer thermals are essential in keeping you warmer (much warmer than a normal top) when you are in cold conditions. There are many affordable thermals on the market which are efficient in keeping you snug.
Top picks for base layers:
- 37 Degrees South Adults' Unisex Polyester Thermal Top
- Mountain Designs Adults' Unisex Polypro Pant
- Mountain Designs Men's Merino Long Sleeve Top and Mountain Designs Women's Merino Long Sleeve Top
- 37 Degrees South Kids' Polyester Thermal Top
Middle or insulating layer
The next layer of clothing is your middle layer. The colder the weather you're weathering, the more likely you'll benefit from adding an insulating layer before you head out.
Just like base layers, your insulating layers - pullovers, shirts, fleece vests and tops - also need to have moisture-wicking properties. As well as being comfortable to wear, good insulating layer clothing should strike a balance between being breathable enough to allow moisture to escape (to avoid you overheating) yet trap enough body heat to keep you warm.
Materials like Polartec, microfleece and polyester do an excellent job of keeping you warm and dry while still enabling the range of motion you'll need during a hike or a run, day on the slopes or even something more sedentary like an afternoon of leisurely fishing.
Do I need a mid layer?
Mid layers are great for transitional dressing between seasons or when you are travelling across various climates. Mid layers add a boost of comfort and warmth without being bulky.
What is the difference between base layer and mid layer?
Base layers are directly on your skin which wicks sweat and protects whereas a mid layer helps retain that body heat.
What is a good mid layer?
When going into harsh conditions, an ordinary thin hoodie or t-shirt may not be a suitable mid layer, instead opt for high performance fleece, a softshell jacket or sherpa lined insulated hoodie.
Top picks for base layers:
- Cape Women's Storm Full Zip Fleece Jacket
- Gondwana Women's Mowarry Softshell Jacket Plus Size
- Mountain Designs Men's Bruck Full Zip Fleece Jacket
- Mountain Designs Men's Perisher Softshell Jacket
- Cape Kids' Mugwamp Fleece Jacket
Outer or wind and water-insulating layer
The final layer very much depends on weather conditions. The colder the climate, the more benefit you'll get from an outer layer such as a rain jacket, ski jacket or down jacket. As with your insulating layer, the outer layer also needs to strike a balance between allowing moisture to escape, yet retaining body heat, and to directly protect you from some harsh winter elements like wind, rain and snow.
When considering outer layer clothing, look for garments that are waterproof and windproof. Outer layer items with fully taped seams to prevent water seeping in through the stitching holes are exactly what you need to maximise your comfort while walking, running or hitting the slopes.
Do I need a waterproof jacket or a puffer jacket?
Depending on the conditions you are travelling to, a puffer jacket delivers superior warmth and insulation whereas a rain jacket keeps the wet out. Whilst waterproof puffer jackets do exist it is a great idea to have a reliable puffer jacket and a packable rain jacket in case the rains start to pour.
What is the best outer layer for cold weather?
The best outer layer is one that keeps you protected from the conditions you are facing. That could be a down jacket, snow jacket or waterproof rain jacket.
Top picks for outer layers:
- Cape Adults' Pack It Rain Jacket
- Rainbird Adults' Unisex Stowaway 2 Jacket
- Mountain Designs Women's Liberty 700 Goose Down Hooded Longline Jacket
- Mountain Designs Men's Peak 700 Down Jacket
- Cape Youth Recycled Puffer Jacket
Headwear and footwear
A certain percentage of your body's temperature escapes from your head, so taking steps to prevent excessive heat loss by wearing a fleece or woollen hat or beanie is an important accessory in keeping your body temperature regulated when the weather is colder.
As well as items like neck gaiters - if you're experiencing some really cold temperatures - consider equipping yourself with balaclavas and bandanas made from moisture-wicking materials that can help protect your face against wind, rain and snow. Discover the full range of women's accessories, men's accessories and snow gear to find what you need.
When it comes to socks and shoes, forget about cotton socks - they won't keep your feet dry enough and damp feet can lead to some nasty health issues. Instead, look for socks made from materials like merino wool or microfibre. Especially if you're going hiking or trekking where you will be on your feet, warm socks are imperative in keeping healthy and protected. When skiing and snowboarding, ensure your socks offer adequate protection and fit snug.
Top picks for socks:
- Mountain Designs Adults' Unisex Light Hike COOLMAX Socks
- Mountain Designs Adults' Unisex Trekking Plus Merino Socks
- Injinji Adults' Universal Trail Crew Toe Socks
- XTM Adults' Heater Snow Socks
In terms of footwear, make sure you're matching the appropriate shoes for the type of exercise. The shoes you select should offer you the right kind of arch support and overall stability for helping avoid joint and soft-tissue injuries. Always try your footwear on for size with the socks you intend to wear with those shoes. Waterproof hiking boots can protect your feet optimally when out on the trail, and proper snow boots will protect your feet in the alpine regions.
Top picks for footwear:
- 37 South Silverstar Snow Boots
- Chute Kids' Whistler Waterproof Snow Boots
- Salomon Men's Daintree Gore-Tex Mid Hiking Boots
- Merrell Women's Vego Waterproof Leather Mid Hiking Boots
Get the Right Layers and Enjoy the Outdoors to the Fullest
The cooler months of the year shouldn't mean a decrease in your activity and exercise levels. You just need to choose the right clothes to get the most enjoyment out of your activity and to avoid unnecessary injury or some of the more serious health issues like dehydration or hypothermia. Anaconda has a huge range of functional, comfortable and fashionable clothes across every category of layering to keep you dry, warm and enjoying the great outdoors throughout winter. Don't forget to check out the mens plus size clothing and women's plus size clothing ranges which have size inclusive clothing for everyone.
Find your local Anaconda store and check out our extensive range of outdoor clothing to keep you warm this winter. Additionally, your Adventure Centre has more great articles and buying guides to help you. Some articles you might like include:
- The Top 5 Puffer Jacket Styles For This Season
- Base Layer Clothing Buying Guide
- Jackets & Outerwear Buying Guide
- Rainwear & Waterproof Clothing Buying Guide
- Snow Gear Buying Guide