The Outdoor Clothing Layering System explained OR What to Wear Hiking }
To stay warm dry and cosy on the hill, you should be able to use your outdoor clothing to regulate your body temperature easily and protect yourself from the elements.
The three layer clothing system is an ideal way to achieve this.
Base Layer: Next to Skin
You’ve probably discovered that cotton is not the ideal layer to wear next to your skin while you’re being active as it holds the moisture of sweat your body produces and can make your feel cold and clammy.
A quality base layer will keep you drier, warmer and create less condensation inside your waterproof jacket.
Good base layers to chose are those made of polyester and / or polypropylene, as rather than holding water like cotton, they move moisture away from the skin; this is often referred to as ‘wicking’.
Helly Hansen Lifa Base Layers are made form polypropylene, a fibre which does not absorb water. This means Helly Hansen base layers perform exceptionally well and move the ‘heat stealing’ moisture away from your body quicker, which means you stay drier and more comfortable in your activities. Helly Hanson produce short sleeve and long sleeve base layers.
For the budget concious, choosing a multi-functional base layer that you can use all year round such as the Thermal Base Layer from Trespass or an Icepeak thermal base layer top would also make great economic sense.
Of course your legs shouldn’t miss out on the base layer treat if the weather or activity demands it. The Icepeak Thermo Leggings are fantastic value, really warm and have matching tops too. The classic base layer leggings for women are the Helly Hansen Base Layer Legs, these are the staple that will keep your legs a lot cosier on winter walking days, Skiing, biking or fishing trips etc.
Mid Layer: the insulating bit in-between.
A mid -layer keeps you warm, it does this generally by trapping air between the fibres. Fleece is great at doing this and makes an ideal breathable mid-layer.
Mid-layers may also come lined with a wind-blocking membrane, so you can keep the wind out without the need to put your outer waterproof jacket on.
The ICEPEAK Icestopper Windproof Fleece and ICEPEAK Soft shell Jacket are both perfect examples of a fitted water resistant and windproof fleece, that can be worn on it’s own over your base layer or under a waterproof jacket.
It’s always a compromise, as fully wind and waterproof fleeces tend not to be as cosy or breathable, but they are waterproof and windproof!
A good option is a fleece top, which has good warmth to weight ratio, coupled with a jacket you can pull on if you need to keep the wind or rain off.
Pile fleece has been processed to create a much thicker fabric, it is warmer but heavier weight than regular fleece and bulky.
For extra cosiness consider a Down Gilet to pull on at the summit or around your fire.
OUTER-LAYER – The Waterproof Jacket or Shell.
The outer layer provides protection from the weather. This should keep the wind and rain out and if the activity demands it, be breathable to allow internal moisture out.
Most people are concerned about keeping the water out and this remains the most important factor in waterproof jackets.
For example a popular, great value waterproof jacket that achieves this is the mighty Munro Jacket from KEELA, also consider the Hurricane and Tyhoon jackets from Icepeak.
The waterproof ness of a fabric is measured in pounds per square inch of pressure (psi) or millimeters (mm) of pressure.
Waterproof and Breathable: There are many types of laminates or membranes available now that allow moisture to pass out through the jacket but stop water from moving in.
Other features to look out for are waterproof zips or storm flaps, taped seams and the type of hood.
The choice is yours!
When looking for a breathable and waterproof outer layer, you just need to pick one ( or two) that fits your activities needs.
If you’re running or biking in cold or wet weather a very light weight waterproof and breathable jacket such as the Stashaway Jacket from KEELA or the OMM Kamleika Jacket would be the perfect companion.
In the spring/ summer/ autumn the reliable and lightweight Stashaway Jacket would also be the ideal jacket to keep in your rucksack and pull out when needed.
For hill walking all year round the Ladies Icepeak Typhoon or Hurricane waterproof Jackets are a smart technical choice. It’s highly waterproof and Breathable , windproof, taped seams, waterproof zips and looks great.
The three- layer system is a versatile way of ensuring comfort and protection from the outdoor elements. Its means you can change your layers according to the conditions and your exertion level. In general you would use the three-layer system on your upper body, but don’t forget you can apply the same principles to your hands and feet and legs to full benefit.
What are you waiting for? don your outdoor clothing and Head to the Hills…