How to Layer for Your Outdoor Adventures Back »

Do you avoid going outside in the winter months because you hate being cold? I used to, too. When a friend told me there is no such thing as bad weather, but only bad clothing choices, it stopped me in my tracks. Perhaps, rather than avoiding wintertime outdoor activities, I should learn how to dress for them appropriately.

When choosing clothing for those cold winter days, it’s important to plan for your specific activity. Think about the:

  • Effort you will be expelling
  • Range of motion you will need
  • Weather on the day you plan

All of these factors should impact your clothing choices.

Three Basic Layers

There are three basic layers that you should be thinking of regardless of the other factors:

  • Base Layer: Think of your base layer as your long underwear. It should fit somewhat snugly so that your motion is not limited. Base layers are designed to wick moisture away from your body, so cotton fabrics that trap moisture make poor base layers. Rather, choose a wool or synthetic brand.
  • Insulating Layers: Insulating layers are often a fleece material, and they trap heat near your body. This is the layer that you can add to if your day is going to be exceptionally cold or you will be more stationary. It is better to have multiple thinner insulating layers than one thick one.
  • Outer Shell: The outer shell is your final protection against the winter elements. This shell should serve as a wind break and to keep out any precipitation that may be falling. Not all outer shells are created equal, so make sure you make sure you do your research and plan for your specific activity and weather.

By using the simple rule of three types of layers, you will be able to stay warm during even the coldest outdoor activities. If you need some inspiration for your next adventure, read When the Days Are Short, Spend Them Outside.

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