How to Layer Clothes for Cold Weather Travel


A quick check of the weather shows it is now 8°C and feels like 1°C!

The wind is like a knife as it tries to infiltrate the layers I have on. I am pacing around a carpark in the Peaks district in the UK waiting for an RAC van arrive and help us with our broken down vehicle.

Weather like this really brings home the importance and appropriateness of the clothing we wear.
The layering principle is really important here. As you move from inside to outside and back, you need to easily control your body temperature.

Why it’s important to dress properly for the weather

I am a little under-dressed this time as I don’t have thermals on. These are body-hugging garments that provide the base layer to all that follows. Not only do they trap warm air against the body but they also wick the body moisture away so that you remain warm and dry.

Bob West rugged up near Peak District

What are your options with thermals?

There are two choices with thermals – synthetic or more often now, merino wool. Both have their pros and cons but both are effective and comfortable.

Base layer

My shirt today is my base layer. An Outdoor Research top it also draws away the body moisture and provides the warm dry environment so important to comfort and wellbeing.

Fleece layer

Over this, I am wearing a mid-weight polar fleece zipped jacket which is comfortably warm, but in today’s conditions, not enough.

Jacket layer

Over the fleece, I am wearing a thin but wonderfully warm down jacket. It is thin because it is made from the highest quality down you can get and so provides maximum warmth for minimum weight. The shell is shower proof and importantly windproof so all that warm air trapped in the layers remains still and effective.

Lightweight rain jacket layer

Finally, I have a lightweight Gore-Tex jacket that I could also put on. This would ensure that there is no leakage of the body heat if I needed to go that next step. Not only wind and waterproof but like all the other layers wicking the moisture away from my body.

All these garments are designed and working to keep our core in the right temperature zone. They are of course augmented by choosing windproof quick-drying pants, gloves and headwear.

How do you stay warm and prepared for the weather when you’re on your adventures? 

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Joined back in January, 2014

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