How to Layer for Cold Weather

Braving winter temperatures can be brutal, especially if you aren’t equipped with the proper cold weather clothing. That’s why it’s essential to know how to layer for cold weather, so you can stay warm and comfortable — even when it’s freezing outside.

Layering for cold weather consists of a three-piece outfit: a base layer (such as a sweat proof shirt), a middle layer and an outer layer. This technique is versatile and offers optimal insulation.

Read on to learn the essential tips on how to layer clothes for cold weather and stay warm all winter long.

Layering For Cold Weather: Why It's Important

Clothing layers help keep you dry, which is crucial for staying warm. Being cold and damp puts you at a higher risk of hypothermia, which may be life-threatening.

For some people, excessive sweating, even in cold weather, is a problem. People with a condition called hyperhidrosis sweat for no reason, no matter what the weather is. If you have hyperhidrosis, layering your clothing in cold weather is essential for comfort and safety.

Dressing in layers prepares you for any situation, as winter weather can be unpredictable. First, check your local weather report daily, then wear clothing that will insulate you for at least ten degrees cooler to be safe. Whether it’s 60 degrees F or -10 degrees F, layers can be a lifesaver.

How to Layer For Cold Weather

There are two important things to know when layering for cold weather:

  1. Layers should be snug - but not tight - to allow air to circulate: A common misconception about dressing in layers is that the layers should be tight. However, having a thin layer of air between your skin and clothing helps insulate you against the cold. Allowing that air to circulate between your layers is one of the most effective ways to stay warm.
  2. Layers should be added or removed to maintain a comfortable body temperature: One of the biggest challenges in wearing clothes for cold weather is staying comfortable indoors and outdoors. Layering allows you to add or remove clothing as necessary to maintain a “just right” body temperature.

Cold Weather Clothing Guide: 3 Layering Essentials

There are three layers you should wear to keep you warm in cold weather:

  1. Base layer: For absorption
  2. Middle layer: For insulation
  3. Outer layer: For protection

1. A Base Layer That Keeps Your Skin Dry

The best base layer for cold weather is a close-fitting undershirt.

Thompson Tee Long Sleeve Base Layer for Cold Weather

An undershirt will move sweat away from your skin to keep it dry, which is your first defense against the cold. If your skin is damp, the cooling process of evaporation sets in, causing shivering and a chill that can be impossible to stop.

Thompson Tees’ sweat proof undershirts for men and women are a great base layer option for cold weather. Each shirt features patented Hydro-Shield technology that traps sweat to escape as vapor.

2. A Middle Layer That Keeps You Warm

The middle clothing layer traps body heat, insulating you from the cold. The better the middle layer retains your body heat, the warmer you’ll be.

Merino Wool Sweater Mid Layer for Cold Weather

Mid-layer garments are available in a wide range of options, both synthetic and natural. Polyester and Merino wool sweaters, sweatshirts, flannel and fleece are all popular choices. Lightweight down also makes a great middle layer but is less effective if it gets wet.

Check out this list of brands that provide great middle layer options using the latest in warmth technology.

3. An Outer Layer That Protects You

The outer layer is a coat or jacket that shields you from wind, rain and snow, keeping your inner layers dry. Unfortunately, many people skip the first or second layers and jump straight to the outer layer, which is not the best defense against bone-chilling weather.

When selecting an outer layer, remember that it will be covering two other layers. Therefore, make sure it’s large enough to fit over other garments without being too tight.

Outer Layer Jacket for Cold Weather

There are two types of outer layers: waterproof and water-resistant.

Waterproof jackets protect against heavy rain and snow. Waterproof jackets are also “windproof,” which is something to keep in mind if cold, heavy winds are also an issue. Waterproof garments usually cost more, but the investment may be worth it if you regularly endure severe weather conditions.

Water-resistant jackets have a water-repellent exterior finish that repels moisture and keeps you dry in light rain or snow. Water-resistant jackets are best for light rain and drier climates. They are breathable and allow excess body heat to escape easier.

Note: An additional outer shell can be added as a fourth layer if you’re doing activities in very wet conditions for extended periods. The shell layer is a thin, sturdy waterproof jacket that offers wind resistance and extra protection against heavy rain and snow

How to Keep Your Head, Hands, Legs and Feet Warm

Now that your body is nice and toasty, what about the rest of you?

You may believe that body heat mainly escapes through your head, but that’s not entirely true. Body heat can escape from any exposed body part, so it’s essential to cover up all the way to keep warm.

Hats, gloves, pants and boots perform the same function as clothing layers: absorb moisture, insulate and protect you from the cold.

Hats: Even if your jacket has a hood, adding a wool cap or beanie provides an extra layer of insulation. Consider adding a balaclava (ski mask) to protect your face and ears in extreme cold.

Gloves: Sometimes pockets aren’t enough. Insulated gloves or mittens provide extra protection for your hands in frigid weather. While mittens keep your hands warmer than gloves, they can be challenging to manage if you need to use your fingers.

Pants: Flannel-lined jeans are a great option to keep your legs warm if you’re outside in cold, dry conditions for up to three hours. Denim does hold moisture, so adding insulated overalls may be a good idea if you’re outside for extended periods.

Boots: Boots protect your feet and ankles from the cold, in addition to providing extra traction on icy or wet surfaces. Add a pair of thick wool socks for warmth, but make sure you size your boots accordingly for the extra padding.

Stay Warm and Dry With Thompson Tee

If you need clothes for cold weather, Thompson Tee’s sweat proof undershirts are an excellent addition to your winter wardrobe.

Regardless of whether you sweat heavily or not, it’s crucial to have a base layer that wicks moisture while keeping you warm. Thompson Tees’ comfortable, sweat proof undershirts are ideal for layering in the cold or wearing year-round at any temperature.

Not only do Thompson Tees keep you dry and comfortable, but they also prevent sweat stains from ruining your outer garments. In addition, Thompson Tees are available in both short and long-sleeved options for protection in warm or cold weather.

Try one risk-free today!