The art of layering – How to stay warm this winter

Wearing the most appropriate clothing for a hike, long walk with the dog, or the weekly trek to the pub will have a profound effect on the quality of the whole experience. Wearing clothes that make you too warm, or not warm enough, can lower the enjoyment levels considerably. Who wants to be sweaty drinking a pint, for example?
What’s the answer? Well, it’s all in the layering, often referred to as The Layering System. Experienced walkers will be very aware of the art of layering effectively, but for those who aren’t, or if you’d benefit from a reminder, we at BCH Camping have put together a guide on how to stay warm without looking like you’ve just stepped out of a sauna.
What is layering?
For walking and outdoor activities, layering is a practical system that keeps you adequately warm by adding or removing layers that suit the temperature and conditions of your walk; the idea being, to wear some layers and carry others in a rucksack to wear as and when needed. Any layers you wish to take with you should be lightweight and easy to pack.
What is wicking and why is it important for the layers I wear?
An important element of layering is breathability. If your clothing is unable to breathe, your body heat will escape, leaving you to sweat heavily.
Wicking is the process of drawing moisture away from the body. Many technical fabrics used in activity clothing have wicking properties. A special cross-section picks up moisture and carries it away from your body, spreading it out to evaporate easily on the outside of the fabric.
Cotton, on the other hand, creates the opposite effect to wicking; it soaks up the sweat like a sponge so the sweat stays within the fabric, obviously leaving it wet. This can lead to hypothermia which can happen in surprisingly warm climates, simply because the sweat has no way of escaping.
As such, layering is far more effective when wearing clothing made of technical fabrics.
How does the layering system work?
There are three stages of the layering system:
  • Baselayer – to regulate your body temperature
  • Midlayer – to trap your body heat
  • Outer layer (shell) – for protection against the elements
This is where the wicking starts, and cotton is a no-no! The baselayer is worn next to the skin, and for light aerobic activity, or on warm days, can be worn on its own. Baselayer items consist of the likes of tops, pants and thermal liners:  
The function of the midlayer is to trap the body heat and allow sweat vapour to carry on moving through the layering system.
Because of its durability, affordability and quick-drying properties, fleece is often the fabric of choice for the midlayer. Midweight fleeces are ideal for colder weather, and thinner micro-fleeces are suitable for milder conditions.
  • The Berghaus Men’s Fortrose Pro Fleece Jacket creates the perfect balance of warmth, weight and protection. It’s an all year round insulating and versatile jacket, offering the ideal response to cold conditions.
  • The Berghaus Women’s Spectrum Micro 2.0 Fleece Jacket is a lighter option for milder conditions. As an added bonus, as part of our MADEKIND commitment to making high-performance gear that is kinder to the planet, it is made of over 50% recycled fleece.
Shell midlayers offer extra protection in blustery conditions.
  • The Buffalo Special 6 Shirt is used by Mountain Rescue teams and the Armed Forces because it is windproof, with AquaTherm pile lining, and is long enough to not ride up when wearing a harness.
  • The Berghaus Women’s Fastpacking Shell Jacket is, as you would expect, easy to pack away but it is also waterproof, therefore offering a highly versatile option for high energy walking.
Outer layer (shell)
The outer layer should protect against wind and rain, whilst still allowing sweat to leave the layering system. Ideally it should be as lightweight as possible, and pack down easily.  
Don’t forget the extremities!
Your hands not only need to remain warm and dry, but they also need to be fully functional! The Extremities Waterproof Sticky Powerliner Gloves are lightweight, dextrous, thermal gloves that are waterproof and breathable too. The main glove is constructed from a quick drying stretch fabric with a brushed lining. The sticky silicone print palm and fingers provide a secure grip and added dexterity and durability. A long stretch cuff gives a close fit to keep out draughts.
Once you have mastered the art of layering, you will find it extremely helpful in planning your activities. Just remember – don’t sweat it!
If you would like to know more about the layering products that we have available at BCH Camping, or for any general advice, please get in touch. We’d be delighted to help!