Avoid These Layering Mistakes

Marmot layersEverybody knows that the key to staying warm while enjoying the great outdoors is to wear layers. Layering is important because it allows you to regulate your body temperature and stay comfortable in changing ambient temperatures and in different activities. It’s colder in the morning than at midday, and you need more insulation when you’re standing still than when you’re hiking uphill.

However, layering isn’t as simple as just putting on a bunch of jackets and running out the front door. There’s the proper way to layer, and then there are mistakes that can negate the benefits of layering. Here are 7 mistakes to avoid when layering for outdoor recreation.

Never ignore the forecast. You won’t know how many layers to wear, and what types of layers to wear if you don’t know what the weather will be like. Check the high temperature and low temperature, but also check the windchill, cloud coverage, what the temperature will feel like, and whether there’s a chance of precipitation.

When it comes to layering, you have to start with a good base layer, but avoid wearing cotton base layers. Cotton is great at absorbing moisture, but it’s also great at retaining moisture. This is bad news in cold weather. Instead of risking hypothermia, invest in a good synthetic or wool base layer. Both synthetic and wool fibers are great at regulating your body temperature and wicking moisture, and both fibers dry quickly.

Don’t wear bulky layers. Technically speaking, you could put on 4 different sweaters and you would be layering. however you would almost certainly be uncomfortable. Bulky layers can restrict movement, make it difficult to wear outer layers, and could be less breathable than thinner layers.

Wearing layers that don’t breathe well is a huge layering mistake. The point of layering is to regulate your body temperature and stay comfortable. If your layers don’t breathe well, you’ll end up saturated in sweat. When you stop moving that moisture will cool down, which could not only be uncomfortable, but also life threatening depending on the situation. Leave the denim jacket at home.

One of the easiest mistakes to make is being too warm when you start your day. No one likes being cold, but keep in mind that if you’re toasty before you start moving, you will be roasting when you get your heart rate up. It’s better to start a little cool than to start warm.

While you don’t want to wear too many layers, you also want to avoid wearing too few layers. It’s tricky finding the right balance, and there will be some trial and error while you work on dialing it in. If you’re feeling iffy about how many layers you’re wearing, pack an extra just in case.

Of course, it doesn’t matter how perfectly you wear your layers if you don’t take the time to remove them. Not peeling any layers defeats the purpose of wearing those layers. If you start to get warm, shed a layer, roll up your sleeves, or make whatever adjustments you need to stay comfortable.

One Comment

  1. […] That’s layering basics 101. Of course, it takes experience as well as a good understanding of how your body responds in weather conditions, and during activities, to truly dial it in. Here’s some more information about layering for outdoor activities. […]

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