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 that adapt to all situations, temperatures, activities and levels of perspiration.

To enjoy your favourite winter activities without fear of getting too cold or too hot, opt for a layering system. A base layer,  a mid layer, and a good outer layer are indeed more effective than one big winter coat combined with snowpants. And layering can be effective 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, the so-called long underwear must dry quickly, absorb moisture and push it back out of the fabric.

Merino undergarments are warm and antibacterial. Despite the sweat and the 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 practice a sport that requires a sustained level of effort, such as cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.

Our suggestion: the Oasis Women’s 200 gr Merino Baselayer and the Oasis260 Men’s Baselayer, both by Icebreaker.

The Mid Layer

The warmth you get from the 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 sweat to the outside of the fabric and dries quickly. And it is well suited for anyone practicing high intensity activities such as cross-country skiing, ice climbing or snowshoeing.

Our suggestion: the Apex Bionic 2 Men’s Jacket by The North Face.

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

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

Our tip: For warmth, choose a layer with a ratio of 80% down and 20% feathers or more.

Our suggestion: the ARC’TERYX Cerium Vest for men, and the Micro Ratio Down Jacket from MOUNTAIN HARDWEAR for women.

To find out more, see our article Down or Synthetic? How to choose

The Outer Layer

The outer layer (https://www.sail.ca/fr/vetements/femme/exterieur/manteaux-mi-saison), 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, with some of the most popular brands being ARC’TERYX (GORE-TEX®), Mammut (DRYtech ™) and Marmot (NanoPro ™).

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.

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