Everything You Need to Know About Proper Winter Layering
How to stay warm and dry, one layer at a time
Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.
You know better than to wear a cotton T-shirt as a baselayer. But do you know how to dress to maximize performance and ensure you stay warm and dry without overheating? Here are tips for layering up this winter, no matter the temperature outside.
Corbeaux Cusco Long Sleeve and Mons Royal Mid Long John ($105 and $120)
Your bottom layer counts the most. Start with a thin, breathable, wicking baselayer like Corbeaux’s Cusco Long Sleeve, a versatile top with thumb loops, a hole for your altimeter watch, and a sporty fit. On the bottom, check out Mons Royal’s Mid Long John, a full-length long underwear made from silkweight merino.
Patagonia R1 Fleece Pullover ($129)
Next, you’ll want a midlayer that's just warm enough without being too hot. We like Patagonia’s R1 Fleece Pullover, a lightweight fleece made with Polartec Power Dry that's breathable, but still offers some protection from the elements. Skip midlayers with hoods, as the hood can feel bulky under outerwear.
Kavu Switchback Vest ($95)
Vests are highly underrated. Warm your core with an insulating vest and you’ll instantly boost your entire body’s temperature. We like vests with a little style, so you can wear it over a flannel to the bar after skiing. Try Kavu’s Switchback vest, which has synthetic insulation and a retro look.
Flylow Rudolph Jacket ($225)
Some down jackets are so bulky there’s no way you can layer over them. That's not the case with Flylow’s Rudolph. This water-resistant 800-fill goose down puffy is plenty warm, but it packs down to the size of a travel pillow and layers perfectly under a shell, thanks to a streamlined design and ultra-compressible down.
The North Face Free Thinker Jacket ($649)
Lastly, you need a tough exterior shell. The North Face’s Free Thinker is made from bomber three-layer Gore-Tex Pro fabric that waterproof enough for the worst downpours. Plus, its loose, freeride fit means you can layer generously underneath and still have plenty of mobility on the mountain.