Whether you are skiing, mountaineering, or just venturing outside on a winter day, it's important to layer properly and wear the right fabrics to keep you dry and comfortable. You never know when you may need to shed a layer (or add one!), and it's very important to have that option. Furthermore, the fabrics that you choose to wear have a huge impact on your comfort and safety, especially if you will be facing the elements. Read on to learn about some of the products we recommend for staying comfortable throughout all the conditions of the coming season.
While we love a good cotton shirt, it is never a good idea to wear this material when trying to stay warm. Cotton holds moisture to your skin and will end up making you colder. Wool and synthetics make the best base layers. Merino wool is breathable and dry and will hold up to a third its weight in moisture before it even starts to feel wet. Wool is also odor resistant, and unlike the itchy wool of the past, merino wool is soft and comfortable against your skin. Synthetics, such as polypropylene and nylon, are specially designed to be moisture wicking, fast drying, and to retain heat.
base layer: Patagonia Capilene MW
Zip Neck, $69
vest: The North Face Thermoball Vest, $134.95
insulated jacket: Salomon Brilliant Jacket, $350
Mid-layers are made from a wide variety of different materials. Many fleece pieces are great as mid-layers--check out our favorite fleeces and see which ones we recommend for skiing. Fleece, down or synthetic insulation will trap your body heat from escaping into the cold air around you. Fleece and synthetic insulated jackets have the added benefit of keeping you warm even if they get wet, while down has the advantage of being super packable and light. The best part about mid-layers is how versatile they are, as they can also be used as light outerwear in the fall or on warmer winter days.
base layer: Smartwool NTS Mid 250
Crew LA, $95
mid-layer: Patagonia R3 Hoody, $199
insulated jacket: Obermeyer Leighton Jacket, $350
A hard shell will be windproof and waterproof, acting as an important layering piece and allowing you to dress for the temperature underneath and utilize the shell mainly as protection against the weather. Shells are an important layering piece because you can dress for the temperature underneath and then utilize the shell mainly as protection against the weather. Goretex is the top name-brand material used by our brands in waterproofing; it's a durable membrane that can adhere to a fabric to make it wind- and waterproof.
base layer: Icebreaker Oasis LS
mid-layer: Patagonia Nano-Air Hoodie, $299
shell: Arc'teryx Tantalus Jacket, $675
Many ski jackets and general winter coats are insulated, offering a ton of warmth all on their own. They can be worn with just a base layer underneath, or a base and mid-layer for additional warmth and layering options. Lots of insulsted jackets are waterproof. Insulated coats are a combination of a mid-layer and shell together. While they aren't as versatile in temperature ranges as layering with a mid-layer and shell, it is very easy to grab only one coat and stay warm and dry on your winter outing.
base layer: Hot Chilly's MEC Crew
vest: Ibex Shak Vest, $130
insulated jacket: Bogner Fire+Ice Lela-D Jacket, $700
Sometimes a base layer can be enough to wear underneath your insulated jacket, but other times you'll feel that you need a little something extra without adding an entire mid-layer to the mix. This is where vests come in, allowing you to keep your core nice and warm without adding too much extra bulk.