Fiona Outdoors logo My independent guide to the best of Scotland outdoors

How to choose clothing for outdoor activities?

Written by Fiona

January 12 2022

Active trips require preparation and this includes making sure you have the right clothing and equipment for the adventure.

This is especially important if the trip is planned during a cold season. In order not to get hypothermia, there is the principle of layering, which provides the greatest protection and comfort.

But how do you choose the right layers of clothing for a winter hike? What are they made of? How do they differ from each other?

The purpose of multiple layers of equipment is to protect you from the weather wherever you are. It is also worth remembering that each layer has its own function.

The first layer

The thermal underwear, in contact with your skin, should provide effective moisture regulation. The best layer will absorb and remove moisture so that the body is not wet and cold.

For hiking or when you are working hard outdoors, such as running, the first layer underwear is likely to be made of a natural fibre, such as wool, or synthetic or composite materials. You want a layer that allows sweat to evaporate easily but also provides warmth by trapping heat create by the body between the layer and your skin.

One of the best materials for thermal underwear is merino wool. It has maximum thermal insulation and, importantly, allows moisture to wick away. This composition has antibacterial properties, which means that unpleasant odours will not bother you.

The second layer

This is a layer of insulation that insulates and protects you from the cold. The insulating layer helps in the retention of heat emitted by your body. The more heat is absorbed by this layer, the warmer you will be.

The second layer will create a layer of warm air that is trapped between it and the first layer of clothing. The aim is for a thin layer as the second layer. Several thin layers that trap heat between them is more effective than one thick layer against the skin.

Fleece jacket

Fleeces come in lightweight, midweight and heavyweight fibres, and they stay warm even when wet and dry quickly. Fleece jackets are also breathable, so you won’t overheat or become too sweaty while wearing them.

The Cortazu hybrid fleece is made of a cosy-soft, hi-tech microfleece fabric and with a high-quality shell-panelled yoke. With an added upper yoke made with DWR treated shell fabric, this reinforced addition not only increases the protectiveness of the jacket but also contributes to a unique and slick style.

Mid layer jacket

Suitable for both winter hiking (insulated) and for walks in nature, a Mid-layer jacket is warm, breathable and perfect for layering in colder conditions or just as a standalone piece. Being fully insulated, it is ideal for the winter season.  This type of mid-layer will keep you protected, whether you are hiking, skiing or just for everyday use.

There will be a choice of down or synthetic insulation in a mid-layer jacket. In general terms, synthetic insulation will keep you warm even when it gets wet. For down to do the same, it needs to have been treated with a water repellency.

There are also lots of different weights of insulated jacket. Choose a lightweight insulated jacket to continue the concept of layering lots of thinner layers for best warmth and versatility of warmth.

The third layer

A waterproof hardshell is a classic outer covering that should effectively protect you from rain and snow during outdoor activities. Look for a waterproof and breathable fabric, such as Gore-Tex or similar. Taped seams and weatherproof zips are important features, too.

Hard shells with a durable water resistant (DWR) coating can also be used as a light outer layer in warm weather and for low-intensity activities.

Hard shell jacket

Quality jackets should be waterproof, breathable and allow for freedom of movement. And, of course, waterproofness and windproofness are some necessary qualities for jackets that serve as the third layer of clothing.

The Cortazu Mountain Hard Shell is highly water and windproof while remaining breathable. It is made to deliver premium functionality for any kind of snowsport in any kind of weather. The durable fabric is tough enough to protect you for years to come.

Choosing the right clothing for outdoor activities can at first be a daunting experience. Focusing on layering makes sure you get all the protection you need, even for the most extreme weather conditions, it also gives you a clear and concise procedure to use. By following this advice you will ensure you are protected and comfy no matter what your adventure.

More Like This

Adventure

Review: Vango Alpha 300 tent 

Kit

Sizzling beach fashion trends to rock this summer

Kit

Scottish athletes on their way to Paris Olympics 2024

Adventure

Review: Gregory Alpaca gear organisers

Adventure

Review: Outwell Constellation Duvet Lux Double

Adventure

Review: Salewa Ortles Light Mid PowerTex (PTX) boots