A layering system typically consists of base, mid and outer layers which will allow the user a more versatile option for heat regulation, and moisture management.
Within the three layer system, the user has more versatility to customize their warmth/moisture management system to their specific needs. On colder days, they have the options of increasing their insulation, while on warmer days, they can minimize their insulation. Other options include changing up how the user utilizes moisture management while retaining the insulating properties they require. A layering system allows the user with the most versatile options to fine tune their garments to their specific needs.
Within the two layer system, the user only needs a base layer as the mid and outer layers are fused together into a single garment (typically and insulated jacket).
How to layer
- Pick a baselayer: these are designed to wick moisture away from the body while trapping the first later of body heat right against the skin
- Select a midlayer: this layer works to continue moving moisture away from the body, while adding insulation to help keep the user warm
- Choose an outer layer: this will provide protection from the elements, while allowing moisture to escape from within
A Baselayer is an insulating layer worn next to skin in order to help your body regulate its temperature while moving any perspiration away from the body to keep you cool. It is important that the first layer next to skin is a technical one which will both breathe (reducing likelihood of perspiration), wick any potential moisture away from the body and keep you warm and insulated.
Wool is a natural product which is known for its outstanding warmth:weight ratio. Wool is excellent at regulating body temperature and moisture, this material is very soft and naturally resistant to odor. Wool retains its insulating properties even when wet which makes it great for snow sports. Wool is measured in grams/m2 of fabric where the higher number is a warmer, heavier baselayer.
Synthetic baselayers are lightweight and easy to care for. They manage moisture well and drys quickly but tends to retain odour. These fabrices are durable and generally less expensive than their wool counterpart
S&B ProTip: Cotton doesn't make agreat baselayer because it tends to hold moisture becoming damp and cold.
The mid-layer (also called "insulators") are a layer which provides warmth and insulation in a three layer system. It is designed to keep you warm while continuing to move moisture away from your skin. Midlayers can be insulated, like a down vest or non-insulated, like a fleece sweater. These layers can include synthetic, wool, or down options, each with their individual pros and cons based on the materials used.
The outer layer is your primary defense against the elements. It will offer wind resistance, waterproofing and a breathable membrane which will continue to allow moisture and vapor to exit the garment while not letting moisture or wind back in. In a two layer system, the insulated outer layers eliminate the need of a separate mid-layer for warmth, as the insulation is built directly into the outer layer.
In a three layer system, the waterproof outer layer is often referred to as a "shell". A shell is a non-insulated outer later which provides protection from wind and wet weather while allowing a garment to breathe and avoid perspiration and over heating.
Shells are typically constructed using a waterproof/breathable membrane. There are various membranes being offered thought different companies, each with their own ratings. Check the garments tags for specific information regarding ratings and waterproof/breathable solutions being used. Gore-Tex is a breathable, waterproof membrane which jacket manufactures may use in their outer layers and shells. It is a licensed product which is synonymous with completely waterproof item which is still l breathable. Gore-Tex does not let water in, while allowing moisture vapor (evaporating moisture) to escape through the fabric, keeping the user dry and warm.
Waterproof shells are ideal when you anticipate being in wet weather or snow for long periods of time where the snow has a chance to melt and saturate the fabric, or wet climates.