When planning for winter hiking, layering is essential to regulate comfort. There are three primary layering levels: the base layer, middle layer, and outer layer. Below is an explanation of each layer and its function.
The base layer is also known as the underwear layer. It removes moisture from the skin. During winter, get absorbing long underwear styles as the base layer to keep the skin dry. The layer protects the body from chilling or becoming hypothermic.
There is a wide variety of base layer materials to choose from, including nylon, polyester, silk, and merino wool. The difference between the fabrics comes in drying, wicking, and durability. Choose a heavyweight base layer to keep you warm during winter.
Mid-layer, also referred to as the insulating layer, acts as a body heat retainer during cold seasons. A person becomes warmer as the layer traps heat efficiently. Choose between natural and synthetic fabrics, both of which will provide warmth. Some of the material options to choose from include:
- Polyester Fleece
This material keeps warm even when it’s damp. It is available in heavyweight, mid-weight, and lightweight fabric. Polyester fleece dries faster and breathes nicely.
- Synthetic Insulated Jacket
These jackets are great insulators for a rainy day. They keep warm even when damp and are water and wind-resistant.
- Down Insulated Jackets
The advantage of these jackets is that they are compressible to pack easily. They are weighty to provide efficient warmth. The insulator is inside a shell material for wind and water resistance.
The outer layer is also the shell layer protecting a person from rain, wind, and snow to avoid chilling. The shells are categorized into soft shells, water-resistance/breathable shells, waterproof/ breathable shells, and waterproof/ non-breathable shells. Waterproof/breathable shells are the best in the market for all weather conditions. Although they are pricey, they are durable as well.
When hiking, avoid wearing tight clothes to ensure proper circulation is taking place. Get gaiters to keep snow away. Waterproof breathable gaiters are the best for the job. Familiarize yourself with cold-related injuries and illnesses, and make sure you know the signs and symptoms to get the right treatment. Know the kind of food to eat and carry some along for the day. Take drinks regularly to stay hydrated.