Baselayers 101

Layering: The Art of Staying Warm

This winter, don’t let cooler temps keep you from enjoying your snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hiking or camping adventures. Make sure you have the right clothes to adapt to any situation, temperature, activity or level of perspiration.

To enjoy your favourite winter activities without fear of getting too cold or too hot, layering is the way to go! A base layer, a mid layer, and a good outer layer are more effective and versatile than one big winter coat and snowpants. Layering is useful in all types of weather. No need to buy a new coat with each change of season.

The Base Layer

Made from merino wool or fleece, your base layer should be quick-drying, absorb humidity, and be able to wick moisture.

Merino undergarments are warm and antibacterial. Despite the sweat and time spent outside, the fabric will not emit bad odours and will retain body heat, even when wet! Ideal for athletes who tend to sweat more, or do a sport that requires a sustained level of endurance (such as cross-country skiing or snowshoeing), the base layer is a definite must.

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The Mid Layer

The warmth you get from your base layer is not enough in colder temperatures. To trap body heat even more effectively, you need a middle layer. Made of synthetic fibre and down, this layer will keep you warmer when the temperature drops.

Despite the accumulation of sweat, the synthetic fibre maintains its insulation qualities and doesn’t lose its shape during your activities. It is highly effective at wicking moisture and dries quickly. And it is well suited for anyone doing high-intensity activities such as cross-country skiing, ice climbing or snowshoeing.

Down is warmer and more compressible than synthetic fibre. When wet, however, it doesn’t insulate as well or dissipate odours if you sweat a lot. It is therefore recommended for those who do medium or low intensity activities, or for those who take several breaks during their activities.

The air absorption capacity per cubic inch guarantees the insulation of the down contained in the mid layer. This index, called fill power, generally varies between 650 and 850. The higher the fill power, the less air will be absorbed by the down, keeping you more protected from the cold.

Our tip: For warmth, choose a layer with an 80/20 down to feather ratio.

The Outer Layer

The outer layer, which is also known as the shell, must be lightweight, compressible, breathable and
wear-resistant for long-term protection. Its internal seams must also be sealed to prevent water from seeping in.

1) The outer layer. In direct contact with the outside climate, this first layer of nylon or polyester is treated with a waterproof water repellent finish. In order to strengthen its ability to repel moisture and water, it needs a lining just beneath it.

2) The membrane. Designed for breathability and long-lasting waterproofing, the membrane is essential for protecting you from rain and snow. Membranes are made of microporous Teflon fibres. Among the brands that offer this type of membrane are Arc’teryx (GORE-TEX®), Mammut (DRYtech™), Marmot (NanoPro™), The North Face (DryVent™) and many others!

3) The lining. Its quilted pattern allows it to breath and wick moisture. For the lining to be effective, spaces in the weave must be smaller than a drop of water, but larger than a molecule of air.

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Try it for out for yourself! Choose your layers, and be set for your winter activities. Top it off with a multipurpose headband that absorbs moisture, a breathable polar fleece beanie, and some warm gloves.