Size & Buying Guides

How to Layer in Four Simple Steps

Kirsten Maulucci

We take you through the best way to stay warm in any weather with the least amount of bulk and go over the finer points of insulating fabrics.
How to Layer in Four Simple Steps

How to Layer in Four Simple Steps

Keep it simple.

Wearing more bulk is nobody's idea of having a good time, so the less layers you can get away with, the better. We recommend: a base layer, an insulating layer and a shell. If there weather is extra chilly, beef up the insulation, but don't go overboard.

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Start with wool.

When it comes to base layers, look for soemthing that will wick sweat and still keep you warm when damp. To avoid that clammy, chill casued by cotton or some synthetics, opt for wool. More specifically, choose merino. It's soft while not itchy, durable and machine washable. Wool has a natural ability to fend off odours and traps microscopic air bubbles within the fabric to reatin warmth (or keep you cool when needed), a property that synyhetics try to emulate but can only hope to do almost as well, never better.

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Stay away from cotton.

The dampness transferred from your moisture wicking (wool) base layer needs to go somewhere. Ideally, that's not soaking your should-be insulating mid layer. Here, we're looking for a warm layer that will wick moisture. Fleece, down, merino or a technical synthetic are all great options for a mid layer.

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It's about more than good looks.

When it comes to outerwear, keep your location and activity level in mind. If you're skiing in the coastal mountains, it's likely to be warmer and wetter, as well as sweatier from all the hiking into back bowls. In this case, choose shells or lightly insulated outerwear made of breathable and waterproof materials, like Gore-Tex and layer accordingly. In Ontario and Quebec, plan for very cold, dry weather. This means insulation is key. Invest in lightweight, low-bulk insulated outerwear that allows for layering, without restricting range of mobility.

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