Learning to Layer

Enjoying Winter from the Inside Out
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When temperatures plummet and snow starts to fly there's no reason to shiver and shake. Whether you're blazing along an alpine trail on cross-country skis or walking the woods on a moonlit night, you can keep dry and warm by dressing properly and adjusting to changing conditions. Comfort in the cold requires attention to details, and more than anything that means layering your clothing from the inside out.

What is the key to a proper layering system? The answer lies in the subtle dynamics of heat and moisture against your skin. The traditional garb for combating cold was a bulky parka and lots of wool undergarments. While this combination might work for someone standing still, they are impractical for the active outdoor enthusiast. Parkas are heavy, wool is itchy, and, most importantly, both garments trap moisture, which leads to damp discomfort when someone wearing them works up a sweat and then cools down. Layering, on the other hand, allows for a variety of conditions using lightweight and comfortable fabrics.

The trick to layering is to combine the right clothing in the proper order, trapping the air warmed by your body heat while letting moisture vapor from your body's perspiration be conducted away from your skin. The choice of garments must be versatile enough to adapt to your activity level and variations in weather conditions—maintaining the delicate balance of staying cool when active and warm when at rest.

Published: 26 Feb 2003 | Last Updated: 27 Jun 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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