How Many Layers To Wear In The Cold
You’ve spent an amazing summer enjoying sunshine by the beach, lots of picnics and hiking expeditions. Many people take advantage of every spare movement of the warmer weather for outdoor activities and begrudgingly surrender indoors when the weather gets cold.
Don’t let a bit of a chill wind lock you indoors for months on end. There are many benefits to spending time outdoors, even in colder weather. All you need to do is add a few layers of clothing to keep warm. But how many layers is enough? Firstly, it depends on just how cold the winters can be in your region. Secondly, it depends on what you plan on doing outside on a chilly winter day.
Before you head out, here’s how many layers you should be wearing in the cold.
1. Work Out The Basic Layers
When you are outside in the cold, you will feel the chill to a certain extent, no matter what you choose to wear. The idea is to wear enough layers to be comfortable, but not too many layers so that your natural movements are restricted.
Depending on what you are doing and how cold it is, three layers are usually going to be enough. You need a base layer, a middle or insulating layer and an outer or shell layer. Of course, this is not a hard or fast rule and you can add or omit any of these layers as needed.
2. Choose Your Layers Wisely
There are layers and then there are layers. You can put 5 layers of clothing on and still feel the biting cold if you don’t choose the right layers and, more importantly, the right fabrics.
We’ll start with the basic three layers and what you should be looking for.
- The Basic Layer – This is the layer that comes in contact with your skin and it’s also the layer that will soak up any sweat. The basic layer is usually an undershirt or plain t-shirt you would normally wear under the rest of the layers. The best materials for this basic layer will wick moisture away from your body, keeping you dry. Many base layers also come with thermal properties that keep the warmth of your body close to your skin. You should avoid cotton as a basic layer as this material absorbs sweat. Being wet is the last thing you want when you’re out in the cold so keep the cotton for warmer weather.
- The Middle Layer – The middle layer is also referred to as the insulating layer. This is the layer that will retain your body heat the most and you want this layer to have a little bit of room for that warm body heat to circulate and stay close. You also want this layer to be breathable so you don’t end up a soggy, sweaty mess.
- The Outer Layer – The final layer is the one that offers protection from the elements. Yes, we’re talking jackets and coats. This could involve protecting you from rain, snow or strong winds. The outer layer should be made of water-resistant materials to keep you dry and prevent chill winds from blasting through your bones. Some winter jackets or coats lean more towards being water-resistant, while others are more wind-resistant.
- Additional Layers – Some people just don’t feel comfortable with three layers of clothing and simply feel they need more. You can always add an additional layer of clothing if it will make you feel more comfortable in the cold. As an example, if you find yourself walking to work, you may want to put on a basic layer, such as an undershirt, then an actual shirt, followed by a turtleneck sweater or blazer and cover up with a jacket or coat to keep warm. The amount and types of layers should depend on how cold it is and what you are doing.
3. Weighing It All Up
Winter clothing can be incredibly bulky which is fine for a short walk from, let’s say, your car to the office. But when you are hiking up a snowy mountain, it can become a burden. Fortunately, many materials used in jackets, coats and sporting wear are lightweight and relatively thin so you have the full range of motion without feeling weighed down. This is particularly important when you are engaging in a lot of vigorous activities. Of course, if you like the comfort and coziness of a thick woolen coat, there is no reason not to wear one.
4. What About Below The Belt?
When we talk about layers of winter clothing, we usually talk about covering the torso. You need to keep warm from the waist down as well. A good pair of trousers is usually enough to keep you warm, unless you’re spending a lot of time outdoors. You can always team those warm trousers or pants with thermal tights that are super thin and will not be noticeable under your other layer.
5. And Now The Rest
No matter how many layers you wear, if you leave your extremities exposed, you’ll still feel the biting cold. For that reason, don’t forget to wear warm socks and appropriate footwear. Heat also has an annoying way of escaping from the top of your head so a warm hat is also a great addition. Wrap a woolen scarf around your neck and put on some gloves and you can step out into the cold with confidence. Use all of these components as accessories to complete a look that is attractive and functional.
The Beauty Of Layers
Whether you choose to wear three, four or five layers of clothing, you should dress in as many layers that are comfortable for you. Not too many though as you don’t want to feel like you’re in a vice. The magic of layers is that you can always remove one if you start to feel too warm.
Choose your layers depending on your activity. You can choose lightweight layers for hiking or other physical outdoor activities and bulkier, layers for walking in the city or going out in the evenings. It’s all about individual preferences and what’s comfortable for you.