Mastering the Art of Layering

When you embark on a hiking trip, one crucial element to master is the art of layering. Proper layering is essential for maintaining comfort, adapting to changing weather conditions, and ensuring a safe and enjoyable hiking experience. In this guide, we'll explore the key principles of layering to help hikers make informed decisions about their attire and stay prepared for whatever nature throws their way.

Base Layer:

The foundation of any effective layering system is the base layer. The base layer sits against the skin, regulating body temperature and ensuring a comfortable and dry starting point for the rest of your attire. Opt for moisture-wicking materials which draw sweat away from the body, keeping you dry and preventing chafing. We feel merino wool is best at this, but it is also the most expensive option. In colder conditions, choose a thermal base layer for added insulation. If using merino wool, opt for a fabric that is at least 200gsm, and if using synthetics go for warm breathable options like our Active Base.

 Insulating Middle Layer:

The insulating layer is designed to trap and retain body heat. Depending on the weather conditions, this layer can be adjusted to suit your needs. The key is to strike a balance—sufficient warmth without causing overheating. We don’t recommend down puff jackets for a mid-layer because they restrict movement and they don’t breathe well which causes excessive sweating during strenuous activity. We recommend opting for a  light, breathable “Active Layer.” The versatility of the active layers allow hikers to adapt to changing temperatures without the need for frequent apparel changes.

Shell Layer:

The shell layer is your primary defense against the elements, offering protection from wind, rain, and snow. Invest in a waterproof and windproof jacket that also allows for breathability to prevent overheating. The fabrics themselves are not breathable, so look for included design features like zippered vents, adjustable hoods, and adjustable cuffs to enhance adaptability to various weather conditions. In milder weather, a single layer, lightweight, packable shell will suffice, while more extreme conditions might call for a multi-layered shell (like Gore-tex) to keep you dry and comfortable. Convertible or 

Layering Your Legs:

Your lower extremities are much more resilient to harsh weather and because they are responsible for the bulk of the work while hiking, they generate a lot of heat and usually don’t require the insulating middle layer. Like the upper body, a good foundation is a light, moisture-wicking underwear, for this merino is definitely king. In colder weather be careful not to layer so much that you lose your range of motion. Try light shorts over some fleece-lined leggings or a pair of fleece-lined hiking pants. If you are really susceptible to cold or the weather is bad you can add a loose-fitting outer shell to protect from wind, rain, or snow, but just remember that shells don’t breathe well so be careful not to overheat. Sweat is not your friend in cold weather.


Don't overlook the importance of accessories in your layering system. A good hat protects against the sun in warm weather and helps retain heat in colder conditions. Sunglasses shield your eyes from UV rays and glare, especially when hiking in snow or at higher altitudes. Gloves are crucial in cold weather, providing protection and maintaining dexterity, and don't forget about high-quality, moisture-wicking socks to complete your ensemble.

Mastering the art of layering is a skill that can significantly enhance your hiking experience. A well-thought-out layering system ensures comfort, adaptability to changing weather, and overall safety on the trail. Each layer plays a vital role in creating a comprehensive and effective hiking attire. By carefully selecting and layering your clothing, you'll be well-prepared for the challenges of the outdoors, allowing you to focus on the beauty of nature and the joy of the hike.