Being outdoors exposes you to the elements which have its benefits and downsides. It’s important to know how to layering up for hiking in winter and summer. You want to wear the right clothes to make sure you stay warm but don’t overheat. Learning how to dress for outdoor activities is a matter of trial and error.

No one can tell about your needs. Everyone experiences hot and cold differently. The most important point is that you need to use layers if you want to stay warm and dry. Secondly, you need to think about what kind of activity you will be doing. Will you be hiking, climbing, camping or sleeping at lodges?

The best way to protect yourself from the elements is to wear three separate layers: a base, mid and outer. The weather conditions you face will also affect what layers you wear.


This layer is closest to your skin and the one that collects the most sweat. It wicks away moisture and helps to regulate your body temperature. Wearing a good quality base layer is an easy way to boost your comfort on your next adventure.

Staying dry is essential to being comfortable. In warm weather, a base layer helps you maintain cool body temperature and in cold weather to keep warm.

To wick moisture correctly, the base layer should fit snug.

Most base layers are either synthetic or wool. They transport perspiration away from your skin, dispersing it on the outer surface where it can evaporate.

The benefit of synthetic clothing is that they are not itchy, tend to be less expensive than wool, are more durable, and dry faster. The downside to synthetic base layers is that they collect body odour quickly.


This insulating layer helps you retain heat by trapping air close to your body.

There are four options: down fill, synthetic fill, fleece and hard shell fleece.

Down has the highest warmth to weight ratio and compresses easily into a minimal volume for packing. The downside is that it dries slowly and is cold when wet.

Synthetic fill is durable, lightweight, dries quickly, retains heat when wet and is easy to care for. The downside is it is less breathable and doesn’t pack as small as down.

Hardshell fleece is a fleece with a smooth outer surface that resists snags and tears, making it exceptionally hard wearing. The downside is they offer less wind resistance than fill insulation. They also tend to be bulkier than fill insulation and fleece options.

Fleece offers excellent air permeability and moisture management. The texture of the fabric is soft, which makes it very comfortable against the skin. A fleece works best when worn under a protective shell and offers the least stand-alone weather protection of all the options.


This layer protects you from the wind, rain or snow. The outer shell is the essential layer when the weather turns bad because it prevents wind and water from penetrating your inner layers. When looking to buy an outer layer look for one that is waterproof and breathable. While this is often the most expensive choice, it is the most functional.

When trying on outer shells try to put a few other layers underneath to see how it fits. The outer layer should be roomy enough to fit over other layers and not restrict your movement.

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