Everyone knows layers keep us warm in colder conditions, especially here in Alberta where we know cold! But did you know that what each layer’s fabric type is can affect the efficiency of your layers? To understand layering your clothing for outdoor activity, you need to know the purpose of each individual layer. It can be broken down into three basic layers, the inner, the middle, and the outer layer.
The inner layer is meant to keep sweat and moisture away from your skin. Cotton, while comfortable, isn’t great for inner layers. If it gets wet, be it from sweat or outside elements it will stay wet and be uncomfortable. And when wet it no longer insulates well. Wool also isn’t great for an inner layer, aside from being notoriously itchy, it actually insulates so well that you could find yourself over-heating, and then the sweat will be held by the wool and make it both wet and itchy. One of the best fabrics for an inner layer is linen. Linen does wick away moisture and so will allow your body the best chance of wicking away sweat and allowing you to self-regulate temperature.
The middle layer is where you want your cotton fabrics. Between you and your outer layer cotton is mainly protected from both your body moisture, or sweat, and any outer moisture brought on by elements. This way it stays dry and can do its job of insulating, dry cotton is good cotton. The inner layer of course is less crucial to use specific fabrics. Just something that won’t soak up moisture from the outer layer is what matters.
The outer layer is important for keeping water out of course! Wool is great for this, it wicks moisture different than linen, getting saturated and wet but allowing for water to evaporate and even wet wool still insulates, unlike many other fabrics. Linen can come in handy on outer garments as a lining. If the outer layer of a jacket is a woolly fabric with linen beneath then the linen acts as a barrier and lets everything dry out again instead of just slowly soaking through the layers.
On top of layers on the body, remembering things like a warm hat as heat escapes the head and gloves, as well as warm socks, can ensure you stay warm all over. When traveling with Red Arrow to your winter adventures, remember these tips and make outdoor activities fun. Even in the cold!