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Layering Winter Clothing

Links to Layering Winter Clothing
Base LayerInsulating LayerProtective Layer

Layering is simply the process of wearing a series of thin garments one on top of the other instead of dressing in a single bulky item. Layering your winter clothing offers winter sport enthusiasts key advantages such as:

  • Warmth - Because layers can efficiently trap body heat between them, two or three thin layers can often provide greater warmth than an individual thick layer can - and create less bulk in the process.
  • Customization - By selecting layers with complementary features, you can create an ensemble that fits the precise demands of your particular sport, activity level and climate expectations.
  • Versatility - Layering enables you to adjust to changing climate conditions and activity levels by adding or removing separate garments as needed throughout the day.

The classic approach to layering is to dress in three layers: the baselayer, the insulating layer, and the protective layer or shell. If these layers are chosen properly, each component fulfills a particular function, and all three work together to act as a complete weather protection system that keeps the wearer warm and dry.


The baselayer is the layer worn next to your skin and is frequently referred to as long or thermal underwear. The main purpose of the baselayer is to keep your skin dry throughout the day, even during high-energy activity.

  • Come in a variety of different materials, most efficient and popular baselayer fabrics today are synthetic materials
  • Synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, have moisture-wicking capabilities which promotes breathability and perspiration management
  • Different baselayers come in different weights to suit different environments
  • Styles include long-sleeve pullovers and pants, mock-neck tops, short sleeve tops, and shorter bottoms that cover the thigh

When purchasing a baselayer consider the following:

  • Consider the activities, climate and other layers you will have on before purchasing
  • Since baselayer is next to your skin, choose something comfortable
  • Fit should be tight and form-fitting so you can move easily

Insulating Layer

The next component is the insulating layer, which is worn over the baselayer. The primary function of the insulating layer is to provide warmth.

  • Trap warm air between the surface and your body
  • Create a barrier to air outside and retain body heat near your skin
  • Synthetic fabrics are common today due to their moisture-wicking abilities, excellent warmth with low bulk and their ability to remain effective even when wet
  • Synthetic fabrics are also machine washable, dry quickly and retain their shape well

When purchasing a insulating layer consider the following:

  • Should fit relatively loose to trap warm air, but not too big that you can't fit your shell layer on top
  • If you will be wearing in a variety of different temperatures, buy an insulating layer that has zippered vents under the arms. Enhance breathability on warmer days and increase instances you can wear the garment
  • Many jackets feature detachable insulating layers, such as fleece liners, that can be zipped in or out as needed

Protective Layer/Shell

  • Most effective types also allow for breathability, which enable perspiration to be wicked away by the base layer, maximizing warmth and comfort

When purchasing a protective layer consider the following:

  • Check the water protection level which can vary from water resistant to completely waterproof
  • Best to have high level of water protection for snow sports, so not even snow or rain will slow you down