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A Guide to Layering Clothes

Adventure is all about embracing the weather, whatever it throws at us, and using the layering system effectively is essential to staying warm, dry and comfortable in all conditions. There’s no established formula for a layering system, as the type of layers you need depend on your activity and the weather conditions. Understanding how each layer works independently, and as part of a system, will help you to build the right layering system for your adventures.


Outdoor adventures are full of unpredictability, and the most unpredictable part in the UK is often the weather. Whatever the conditions, staying warm, dry and comfortable is easier than you might think. Whether you’re taking a long hike over changing terrain or heading out to clock up the miles on the track, our guide to layering clothes will ensure comfort for every adventure.

Styled together or apart, there are three layers every active wardrobe needs. Including:

The base layer


Designed to regulate body temperature, retain heat and wick away moisture, the base layer is worn next to the skin. Merino wool layers are a good all-round choice. The antimicrobial fabric has insulating properties and wicks moisture away simultaneously. Synthetic base layers made with polyester or polypropylene are perfect for activities like football, running and cycling due to their quick-drying nature. 

The mid layer


Perfect for cold conditions, the mid layer provides extra insulation. Usually a fleece or insulated jacket that is still designed with a breathable construction to prevent excess sweating. Opt for quick-drying and breathable fleeces that retain heat and remove moisture, or pick up a packable insulated jacket that will keep you warm even on the coldest days. Avoid cotton mid-layers that might retain moisture as this can leave you cold.

The outer layer


Protect yourself from the elements with a great outer layer that protects against wind, rain and snow. Ensure any jacket you choose is breathable and allows heat and moisture to escape for comfort wherever the day takes you.
Choose a hard shell jacket with a waterproof outer, taped seams and zips that will keep rain out. While a soft shell jacket provides more wind-resistance but doesn’t necessarily need to be waterproof. In very cold conditions, opt for an insulated jacket but ensure you have a waterproof outer at hand in case of rain.

When should I use my layers?

A walk on a warm, dry day:

Stick to your moisture-wicking base layer to evaporate sweat and keep you cool.

A long walk on a warm but rainy day:

On top of your comfortable base layer, protect yourself from the elements with a soft shell jacket to protect you from the wind or a waterproof hard shell that you can easily pack away and throw on when the rain arrives.

A mountain hike on a cold rainy day:

This is the best time to utilise all three layers. Start with a great moisture-wicking base layer and add an insulating mid-layer for warmth. To finish, layer on your breathable waterproof jacket.

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