Layering Clothing Dressing for outdoor activities is a skill and can prevent a great outdoor experience from turning unpleasant or even deadly. To prevent the latter you will want to dress in layers. Varying weather requires different amounts of insulation to keep you safe and happy. The amount of insulation also varies with the activity you are participating in. Wearing and carrying different layers offers you the flexibility to achieve desired insulation and maximum comfort.
Fabric Selection The fabric your clothes are made of also heavily impacts your comfort. Cotton is nice for settings when shelter, staying dry, and ability to change clothes are guaranteed. While outside in unpredictable weather away from permanent shelter however, cotton can kill. All your layers should be made of non-cotton fabrics such as wool, polypropylene, nylon, fleece, capilene, polyester, silk, etc. These fabrics will continue to provide insulation even while wet at a rate much better than cotton. Let’s call these wicking fabrics as they will wick or pull moisture away from your skin.
Other tips -Cover your neck and face! We lose a lot of heat from neck and exhaling. Plus wind burn on the nose and cheeks is no fun. A facemask, balaclava, or scarf work great. -Use a lip balm or salve to protect the nose, lips, and cheeks. Helps on the forehead too for hat rub. -Carry extra gloves and hat. -Use hand/foot warmers in boots and gloves. Hot rocks can be substituted in a primitive situation. -Stay DRY! and get out of the wind. -Avoid wearing too tight of under layers and too many/too thick of socks. Too tight of clothing restricts blood flow and can greatly reduce warmth.
How to Dress properly in layers Step 1: Base layer-The basic idea of layering is to start with a tight fitting yet comfortable (not too tight) wicking layer against your skin. Good options here are long underwear made of Merino wool, capilene, etc. Step 2: Insulating layers-Wear as many layers as you need to keep warm but not so warm that you sweat. These layers can vary in thickness. Good options here are long and short sleeved shirts/sweaters and pants made of fleece, polyester, wool, etc. Step 3: Shell Layer- The outermost layer needs to be waterproof and windproof. Good options here are anything from your basic rain jacket to a high-tech breathable skiing coat as long as they are wind and rain proof. Avoid wearing two shell layers on top of each other as they will trap moisture and cause discomfort. Think about carrying a backup shell.
“There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”