How to layer to keep warm in cold weather

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Layering guide for cold weather for leisure travellers
Layering guide for cold weather for leisure travellers

Planning a winter trip for your next holiday? Read up on our layering guide to ensure that you keep warm and enjoy your trip as much as possible!

A typical outfit for winter consists of 3 layers: Base layer, Mid layer and Outer shell. In general, wool is the ideal material while polyester is good. An important tip is to AVOID cotton clothing at all cost as it is a very bad material for the cold. Cotton absorbs moisture, which cools you down rather than keeps you warm. A risk of hypothermia is the last thing you want when you are out in the cold.

Base layer: This is the first layer on you, helping to wick sweat off your skin.

Mid layer: This layer is the insulating layer, helping to retain body heat to keep you warm.

Outer layer: This layer is mainly designed to protect you from wind and rain. It usually does not provide any insulation or warmth

Footwear: The best footwear will be snow boots, which are insulated and waterproof. However, if you only going to be in the city, normal sneakers or hiking boots would be enough if you are wearing winter socks. In places with a high risk of rain or wet snow, it is recommended to get a pair of waterproof shoes or boots.
Your feet is one of the most important parts to keep warm (along with your hands and head) as you will still feel cold even if your body is well layered.

Socks: Merino wool socks will be the best choice due to its anti-bacteria, moisture wicking and high breathability properties. Polyester socks work great too. Avoid cotton socks if possible, especially if you have sweaty feet.

Check out the Icebreaker Merino Wool socks for Men and Women.

Another great choice is the Montbell 5 toe Merino wool socks

Legs: Look for a good pair of undergarment (also known as base layer, thermal wear or long johns). As mentioned earlier, wool is best, followed by polyester. Wear it as the first layer on your skin (without any underwear if possible). However, for temperatures 10 degree Celsius or higher, it might not be necessary to have a base layer. A polyester lined pants should be sufficient. If you are travelling to places with strong wind, it is advisable to get a pair of wind resistant pants or the wind will be able to penetrate through your layers easily. For places with rain or wet snow, get a waterproof outer shell bottom to keep dry.

The Montbell Climapro 200 pants is a very popular choice with its wind resistant properties.

For your base layer, there is the Icebreaker Oasis Merino Wool leggings or Montbell Zeo-Line leggings

Upper body: It is all about layering for your top. If you are going for a hike, you can take layers off when it gets too warm. The first layer should be the base layer to help remove any moisture from your skin. Again, Merino wool or polyester is ideal while cotton should be avoided.

If the temperature is around 10 degrees Celsius, an insulated softshell jacket will be sufficient for your mid layer. We suggest getting one that is wind and water resistant so you do not need to bring along an outershell. However, if there is a high chance of rain, you will need a waterproof outer shell rain jacket to keep you dry.

If the temperature drops to 0 or negative degree Celsius, you would need more mid layers between your base layer and insulated jacket. A fleece jacket would be perfect. Make sure that it is made of either wool or polyester. If you are still feeling cold, you can put on another jumper or shirt after your base layer before wearing your fleece jacket and insulated jacket.

Alternatively, you can also put on 2 base layers before your mid layer.

Outershell: The outer layer essentially protects you from the rain, snow and wind. While some insulated mid layer jackets are water resistant, it will only keep you dry for about 10 minutes in light rain. For heavier rain, a waterproof jacket is definitely needed.

An outershell is also windproof and this blocks the wind from penetrating to your inner layers. Again, if there is a high chance of strong wind in your travel destination, it is recommended to get an outer shell.

If you are planning for a lot of activities (hiking, climbing), you should get one that is highly breathable so that the moisture that your body creates will be able to escape through your clothes.

Accessories: It is important to keep your hands and head warm or you will still feel cold even with all the layering on your body. For this, gloves and hat/beanies are needed. If you are doing winter activities with strong wind, a balaclava is recommended as well.


layer guide

*Please note that the above guide should be used as a guideline, keeping in mind that every individual has a different tolerance to cold temperatures so do put on more layers using the same principals if you are susceptible to the cold.

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