Friday, 11 November 2011

How walkers should "layer" for comfort and joy

It's cold outside - and so you pull on t-shirt, a jumpers and a jacket. Good enough you think. But then you start walking and you become hot and sweaty. You remove the jumper, but you feel damp and chilly. That's because your cotton t-shirt is soaked with sweat, causing your body temperature to drop and really what you need is another slightly thinner layer, and not a jumper. You end up feeling so disgruntled and uncomfortable that you don't really enjoy your walk.

But it doesn't have to be like this!

The sensible walker will "layer". Layering is not just about throwing on a t-shirt and a jumper, it's about careful management of body temperature.

The steps for effective layering:

1) Choose thin layers that are made from sweat-wicking materials. These won't stop the sweating, because sweat is a natural body function when you become hot. These layers simply help to move the sweat from your skin to the outside. A few to choose include Helly Hansen baselayers, baselayers made from Merino wool, Skins.

2) Wear lots of thin layers. Start with a vest or t-shirt and then add long-sleeved layers according to the weather. Wearing thin and thin-ish layers allow you to take off and add on layers one at a time so as to better manage your core temperature.

3) Add a waterproof, windproof and breathable jacket on top. Gore-tex is the leader in waterproof and breathable jackets, although there are many other similar fabrics. A jacket that is breathable is one that allows sweat to pass through form the inside to the outside.

So, if you're layering correctly you'll have much less sweat on your skin, you'll be able to manage your temperature by adding and removing layers and you'll keep the wind and rain out with an outer jacket. This is the recipe for happy walking this winter!


  1. GoreTex WAS the leader in waterproof/ breathable jackets.

    That title now goes to eVent, and also NeoShell is a very strong contender.

    Also, what about an insulation layer? Seems dumb to me to go outdoors in Scotland without something to keep you warm when the temperatures drop or there's a strong, cold wind.

  2. A few choices include Helly Hansen Basel Ayers, Ayers low merino wool, hides.

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