Dress in layers when active in winter
It still astounds me. One may begin cross-country skiing in frigid minus 30-degree temperatures, and a short 20 minutes later be peeling off layers of clothing trying to not overheat.
In the old days, it was heavy furs and buckskins to keep in the warmth. But that wouldn’t work today with the countless outdoor sporting activities we play. No, today we need layers.
Plus, the weather alone isn’t the only factor dictating what you’re about to wear outdoors. Where you’re going, what you’re about to do, how long you’ll be out, and even the forecast will determine how you should dress.
In this autumn season, if you’re just heading out for a walk in the Glebe, you’ll dress for just the right amount of warmth in relation to the level of exercise you’ll be doing. If you’re going out for a hike with your spouse and children you’re wearing your base layer, mid layer and outer layer. And if you’re going for a run, or snowshoeing, what you choose to wear has to work with your rising body temperature as you exercise, yet keep you warm when you’re not.
These layers not only ensure your comfort, but your safety. Here they are explained:
THE BASE LAYER
This is the wicking layer. Here is where the clothing touching your skin is able to absorb perspiration, pulling it away from you, and drying both it and you quickly. This base layer should fit snug, and is often long- or short-sleeve tops and full-length bottoms.
Common materials of the base layer include polyester, nylon and polypropylene.
These fabrics are designed to wick moisture away from your skin, keeping you dry and warm in the process.
Look for brand names such as Omni-dry or COOLMAX, which have engineered base layer products for years. Some of these hybrid materials include anti-bacterial agents, which allow the material to reduce odours or act as a bug repellent.
But considering the wicking benefits alone, it means this base layer will allow you to perspire while exercising, and still remain comfortable.
THE MID LAYER
This is your insulation layer. Not only does this need to be breathable, but also fast-drying. As well, it needs to maintain contact with the inner layer to function properly. Fleece is the most common, but polyester, wool and down are often used.
These materials trap and hold body heat in small air spaces in the material. It’s this mid-layer that is also designed to carry moisture away from the inner layer, pushing it to the outer layer.
Fleece is popular because it comes in different weights: light, mid and heavy. This diversity allows you to match the fleece with the activity.
A thin mid-layer fleece is perfect for climbers, trail runners and mountain bikers because it conforms and stretches with the body. Backpackers and mountaineers, though, will seek a lightweight, packable thicker insulation midlayer to deal with the cold.
When purchasing mid layers, look for the comfort found in extra adjustable features. Underarm zippers and zip-up collars allow you to trap in heat or open for ventilation to regulate your temperature. And though some mid layers can zip into the outer shell, think twice, as often this means it’s not snug to your base layer where it needs to be to function properly.
Don’t forget to choose appropriately insulated pants as well. At some point, most have experienced the painful feeling of the cold on the legs.
THE OUTER LAYER
Different companies define their outer shells differently. Some say the shell will protect you from the elements, while being breathable so moisture can escape. Others just promise to block the wind and water.
Either way, all you need is a lightweight, but durable, outer shell. Gore-tex is the top choice, but always consider the outdoor pursuit.
Snowboarders need a shell with key ventilation areas around the torso and armpits. Ice climbers need greater manoeuvrability. And backpackers need a shell with abrasion-resistant material around the shoulders to prevent tears. There are many options from which to choose.
The good news is that when you’re outdoors this fall and winter, you’ll often start your day wearing just your base and mid layers and your shell will be packed away. That should keep you in great comfort until the weather turns, or you change what you’re doing. Either way, layers are they key to your outdoor comfort.
Layers of clothing allow you to adjust to varying conditions.