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Layering 101: what's the big deal?

We can’t ignore it any longer. Winter is fast approaching, and if you’re in Colorado like us, you know that it's about to get cold. Luckily, cold weather doesn’t have to get in the way of adventures! We are going to break down the basics of layering so that you can feel comfortable and confident no matter the weather!

Layering: why does it matter?

You might be asking yourself right now: “why does this even matter? I can just put on a bunch of sweaters and be fine!” The simple answer: sweat. When we are physically active, our body produces sweat, no matter the temperature! If we are wearing the wrong material, that sweat can cool our bodies too much and put us at risk for hypothermia. Our main goal in staying comfortable outside is to stay as dry as possible! The other great thing about layering? It allows you to easily adjust your warmth level by simply adding or removing a layer!

Layer 1: Moisture wicking

Having a good base layer is crucial to your layering system. The job of this layer is to keep moisture (sweat) off of your skin, allowing you to remain dry. This layer should also be quick drying, to remove as much moisture from your skin as possible.

Good base layer materials: polyester, nylon, merino wool, silk

Layer 2: Insulating

The job of this layer is to keep all of your body warmth as close to your skin as possible. Some examples of a good mid layer are puffy down jackets or fleece pullovers.

Good mid layer materials: fleece, wool, down insulation

Here is a basic layering example: a synthetic base layer followed by a fleece mid layer, protected by a soft shell on the outside

Layer 3: Outer Layer

This layer is your final line of defense against the elements. Rain, snow, and wind can turn a fun hike into a pretty miserable one very quickly. Your outer layer should protect you from water and wind to keep you warm and dry. You should be looking for an outer layer that is waterproof, windproof, and breathable. Materials like Gore-Tex and Neoprene are great materials to look for in an outer layer.

Other Tips!

  • Always make sure to protect your hands and head with gloves and hats

  • When in doubt, always bring an extra layer (just in case!)

  • Avoid having too many zippers--multiple zippers stacked on top of each other creates a space for cold air to get through

  • Zip up your coat pockets! Cold air loves to get in there and make you extra cold

  • Avoid cotton at all costs! Cotton absorbs moisture on your body and does not insulate your skin, leaving you at a high risk for hypothermia


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