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The Art of Layering

Friday, November 8, 2013
A guide to making those crisp days outdoors both refreshing and comfortable.

If there's one main takeaway from the Art of Layering (or really going outdoors in general) it's to avoid cotton at all costs. Any synthetics and wools are better than cotton. The main reason for this is that cotton is extremely slow to dry (from rain or sweat) and can therefore cool the core temperature significantly, ultimately resulting in hypothermia.

There are three main parts of the layering system: the baselayer, the midlayer and the outer layer. Each is important and is adjusted according to the temperatures and specific weather conditions for the area your visiting.

BASELAYER



The baselayer sits next to your skin and is responsible for wicking away sweat and keep you dry. For this reason, baselayers are usually relatively thin (though for colder trips you can get heavier or "expedition weight" baselayers). This layer will be made out of a synthetic or wool. Here's an example of an Icebreaker Merino Wool baselayer out on the trail:
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MIDLAYER


This is the layer that will provide insulation. Though it's referred to as one layer, it can be made up of multiple garments depending on the weather. Everything from an extra down sweater to a fleece are fair game here and can be combined for extra warmth.

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OUTER LAYER


Your final layer will work to protect you against the elements such as rain, snow and wind. A good example of an outer layer is a rain jacket or ski jacket. They're less breathable then your other layers but this is a necessary condition because it's keeping weather out!

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The most important part of layering is learning what works best for you. Head out to the trails with more layers then you think you need and then as you hike you can add or remove layers and throw them into your pack. After a few times out, you'll learn what works best for you.

Enjoy these autumn days out.

Submitted by Sarah Knapp.

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