Time to Layer Up: The Science Behind Winter Layers
Winter is coming. The frosty mornings, the chilly afternoons, the nights perfect for sipping hot cocoa by the fire. The best way to have a happy and healthy winter is to stay warm through all of it, and that starts with wearing the right clothes.
If your mother always told you to layer up, she was right. But it takes more than simply putting on more layers to get it right. Here are some proven layering tips to keep you toasty all through the coldest season of the year:
- Know your layers
There are three primary parts of winter layers: your base, middle and outer layers.
Base layers are the lightweight clothes that touch your skin directly, such as socks, leggings, and undershirts. You want to make sure these items are moisture-wicking so you stay as dry as possible. This is the most important feature of this layer.
Middle layers are all about insulation: these are your long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, fleeces, and jackets.
Outer layers are the last layer from the inside and your first defense on the out. You want this layer to keep you protected from the elements, such as wind, rain, sleet, and snow. A good down coat is often enough, but sometimes you’ll need another shell on top of it if it’s very windy, snowy, or raining. Make sure all your layers are snug against you -- that’s what traps heat where you want it.
Some smart outer layers serve dual purposes, like this Reversible Rain Scarf, which acts like a regular scarf, but reverses to reveal a rain hood that protects your hair and shoulders from dampness:
2. Be sure to use the right fabrics
The best materials for base layers are wool and polyester. Both resist moisture. Thin sweaters, such as those made from merino wool blends, are particularly comfortable for base layers. Most synthetic clothing designed for outdoor wear has polyester in it, as well.
One thing is for sure: don’t wear cotton in the winter. It’s great for working out or just hanging out in the summertime, but you should avoid it when temperatures drop. It’s highly absorbent but dries slowly, so it doesn’t work for optimal warmth (especially for a base layer).
Fleece-Lined Leggings make a good base layer since they’re made from a poly/spandex synthetic:
- Reconsider your gloves and hats
While five-fingered gloves are popular (especially when they’re texting gloves), the fact is, mittens keep you warmer. Bundling your fingers together provides more insulation -- in effect, doubling your body heat.
And while you may have heard that you lose the majority of your body heat through your head, that’s not actually true. Heat loss is dependent on the amount of exposed surface area, not the type of skin. Unless you’re bald, it’s just as effective for you to use earmuffs or head wraps to keep your head warm.
Want the stylish layered look of a hoodie without the bulky fuss? Try the Mock Hoodie; just tuck it under your jacket for all the head protection with none of the weight:
This winter, layer up, stay warm, and power on!