An Outdoor Girl’s Guide to Winter Layering


Ya know what they say – there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear. In order to thoroughly enjoy winter and all the fun activities associated with it, one must dress appropriately. Read: warm.

There is an art to layering – you want to be warm, but not too warm, because too warm equals sweat, which could equal hypothermia.

Your main objective, when getting dressed for winter wonderland adventures, should be to maintain an ideal body temperature, whether you’re getting the blood pumpin’ while touring or not so much while taking a break to eat a sandwich at the top. The best way to do that? Yup. Layering.

Upper body layers can be broken down into three segments: base layer, mid layer, and shell.

The purpose of a base layer is to keep body-produced moisture at bay. Base layers should be close to the body and made of moisture-wicking fabrics, like merino wool or synthetics, like Patagonia’s Capilene. ProTip: check out New Zealand based Mons Royale for some stylish wool base and mid layers. Personally, I’m not a fan of wool close to my skin but I do like the smoother synthetic bases, like Under Armour and even Uniqlo’s HeatTeach basics. But people, please, please, please, do not wear cotton! It is literally a death trap in cold, wet conditions.

Your mid layer is the one you’ll be stripping off and zipping back on, again and again. Your mid layer provides insulation, so opt for cozier materials like (more) wool, down, or fleece. Each one has their perks: wool and fleece maintain their warming capabilities when wet, while down doesn’t. Down is the most compressible of the three and a 800-fill down offers the most superior warmth to weight ratio on the market. But these days, brands are creating down/synthetic hybrids, resulting in water-resistant down, so you can have the best of both worlds.

Last but not least, your shell – the layer meant to protect you from all the elements, like snow, rain, and wind. Breathability and waterproofness are both major factors in choosing a shell for outdoor adventuring. Look for ones made with GoreTex, eVent, or ripstop nylon.

For bottoms, I alternate between two combos: regular ol’ yoga pants with insulating ski pants or wool leggings with shell pants, like rainpants. However, many brands offer the perfect bottoms for winter play, like Outdoor Research’s Trailbreaker Softshell Pants or The North Face Summit L5 GoreTex Pant.

What’s almost as important as layering itself is remembering to shed those unneeded layers when you start sweating, as well as other preventative measures (like trying to avoid a few too many tumbles in the cold, wet snow). If you notice you’re soaked through your layers, throw in the towel and head to the bars for a Hot Toddy.


* By purchasing any of the aforementioned items using the links provided, you will help support Baby Got Backcountry and all of its endeavors!


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