by Geir Mjosund 26/11/2014
Proper layering is one of the most fundamental concepts in outdoor activities, and for many outdoor enthusiasts is the importance of layering well known. Learn how you dress in layers, and you will get much more pleasure from being outside.
3 Layer Clothing System
This principle is about having clothing in several layers to regulate body temperature, so you do not overheat or get cold. The clothes will transport sweat away from the skin to keep it as dry as possible, while keeping the body warm. You regulates the temperature by taking off or on layers of clothing.
The layers with clothing, which together transport moisture, insulates and protects against wind and rain, can be divided into three categories: base layer, mid layer, and top layer. Each of these layers have different features to keep you warm. In addition, hat, gloves and boots.
The base layer should be thin and close fitting. It will transport sweat quickly away from the skin and out to the mid layer, allowing you to stay dry, warm and comfortable. Base Layers designed for outdoor activities often consist of wool or various synthetic materials. Wool is the absolute best option for most, since it has good transfer of moisture abilities and keeps you warm even if it gets wet. The exception is people who are allergic and can not tolerate wool against the body. Then a synthetic material would be a good option, but one should if possible have a layer of wool outside that again.
Stay away from cotton base layers, since garments of cotton absorbs moisture and becomes cold when they get wet. Garments made of cotton will only detect moisture, and do not transport it away from the skin to the breathable outerwear.
This layer has two tasks: to keep you warm and transport moisture and excess heat away from the body. The mid layer should be more loose and voluminous than the base layer and then it is very important that this layer forms an airspace between base layer and the top layer. A loose fitting mid layer also provides better transport of moisture (and heat) through air circulation. It is in the mid layer you choose the number of layers after the temperature outside. Several thin layers can function better than a thick layer, and multiple layers can also more easily regulate temperature changes during the day.
Wool is with its many good features the most traditional material for mid layer. Wool provides high insulation, it absorbs and transports moisture very well, but will not feel wet even though it contains significant amounts of moisture. In addition, the modern wool clothes are comfortable and lightweight. Fleece is another material that is well suited for mid layer, since it possesses some of the same properties as wool.
The top layer is often referred to as shell clothing. This layer will keep the weather out, while it should be able to transfer moisture. Select breathable materials that are well impregnated and which has sufficient ventilation possibilities. A good top layer has a membrane that allows moisture out but not in. The top should have a hood that holds a hat when the hood is on.
Shell Pants should have zippers at the ankles, so that one can easily take it off and on without taking off the shoes. It should also fit snugly over boots. How thick lining garments should have depends on the season and temperature, but one can regulate much by choosing good between garments. If it is very humid weather, a waterproof top layer would be the best option. It is then an advantage if they have ventilation option like an opening possibility under the arms. The location and design of the openings allows a cool down with a marginal reduction of moisture resistance. The closing mechanism on a top layer should be zipped, and often with a wind flap, secured with Velcro.
Hats, Socks and Gloves
Even if you’ve dressed up with the best layered clothing, you will get an unpleasant experience if you do not hold the head, hands and feet warm. Choose hats, gloves, socks and footwear for climate and activity level. In cold weather, you should always have at least one thin wool hat, since it is usually from the head one lose the most heat.
In cold weather it is often on the feet we freeze first. Wear socks made of wool directly on the foot to keep feet warm and dry. Never use cotton socks as damp cotton can cause discomfort and blisters. If cotton socks are wet, you are also guaranteed cold. Moist cotton isolates little and draws heat from the body. Make sure your shoes are not too tight. There is air inside the shoe that keeps the foot warm. Is it extra cool should use a thicker sock and not more couples onto another. It does not get hotter with several layers of socks, but tighter! This can prevent the blood circulation in the foot and the circulation of air in the shoe. The result is cold feet.
Gloves should also be made of wool. Is it very cold or if you are skiing in the mountains, it is advisable to use windproof gloves on top soft gloves.
Adjustment of Layering
As the intensity of exercise or environmental conditions change, one must regulate the amount or quality of the layers. When we are physically active, your body produces heat. If it gets too hot, the body will produce sweat to cool us down. This can be an uncomfortable and cold experience at low temperatures, especially if the clothes are wet with sweat before a period of rest and humidity did not have time to evaporate. Consider therefore the following:
- Start with underwear that is not cotton.
- Do not get overheated when you are outdoors. Remove layers to regulate the temperature when you are active, and take on more layers when the layers you do not generate enough heat.
- If you are active and intend to stand still for a long time, you should consider having an extra layer underwear and switch to this when you stop. It is cold shift at low temperatures, but the dry clothes will do wonders for comfort.
- It is better to be prepared and flexible than being undressed and exposed to cold related risks. If there is no wind or rain, you may not need an outer layer. Yet one should remember that the weather can change frequently, so it is better to have outerwear backpack so you can take it when needed. This is especially important on several day trips.
- Do not forget to drink enough when outdoors. The effects of dehydration will counteract the effect of layering and the body’s ability to keep you warm.
Follow these basic rules for the 3 Layer Clothing System and you will get much more pleasure from being outside.