How To Layer Clothing Properly For All Weather Conditions

It wasn’t until recently I learned how to layer clothing properly for all weather conditions. I grew up on a farm and was always outside, but I was never really taught how to dress appropriate for the weather. The winter consisted of wearing a big coat, t-shirt or long sleeve underneath, snow pants with jeans underneath, heavy boots, etc. In the Summer it was shorts and t-shirt; Spring and Fall a mix of everything. All my clothes and socks were made of cotton, nothing else.

I remember during the cooler seasons I was always left cold and wet; in the summer I was overheating and covered in sweat. I assumed that’s just the way it is and thought nothing more of it. As a kid it was okay, I didn’t know any better, but growing up I thought to myself, “there has to be something better, right?”

GO Outdoors has put together a great article and video about the concept of layering. Most information I’ve found elsewhere simply covers what layering is and the difference in fabrics, but not so much how to layer clothing properly for all weather conditions. Watch GO Outdoors video below and consult the simple chart I’ve created below so you can layer correctly for your next outdoor adventure.

What is Layering?

At the core, layering consists of three layers for the coldest temperatures:

  1. Base: Regulates body temperatures and wicks sweat away from skin;
  2. Mid: Traps warmth your body creates;
  3. Outer/Shell: Protective layer from the elements (rain, wind, snow, etc.)

The Baselayer

  • Your first layer
  • Wicks moisture/sweat from your skin to regulate body temperature
  • Great on its own for aerobic activity or warm days
  • DO NOT USE COTTON. Cotton soaks up sweat and stays wet, leaving you cold and angry.

Shop Base Layers on Amazon!

The Midlayer

  • This second layer helps trap in body heat and wick more sweat
  • Could be thin, midweight, or heavyweight fleece, or similar, depending on outdoor temperatures and your activity level.
  • Extreme cold use an insulated jacket

Shop Midlayers at Amazon!

The Outer Layer/Shell

  • The third layer
  • Protects against wind, rain, snow, etc.
  • This layer allows the sweat vapour to pass through and away from the body completely
  • Usually a lightweight, packable and breathable waterproof jacket

Shop Waterproof Shells on Amazon!

How To Layer Clothing Properly For All Weather Conditions

Step 1: Look outside or look up the forecast for the day(s) you’ll be outside.

Step 2: Dress accordingly using the handy chart below.

Weather Condition

What to Wear

Dry, sunny, and warmBaselayer
Dry, sunny, and coldBaselayer + fleece/softshell to keep you warm
Rainy and warmBaselayer + wind/waterproof outer shell for protection from rain and wind.
Very windy, rainy, and coldBaselayer + fleece/softshell + wind/waterproof outer shell
Heavy winds, freezing temperatures, Snow/hail/freezing rainBaselayer + heavy fleece or insulated jacket + wind/waterproof outer shell

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