Are you on board with multilayering?
During spring and fall, it's even harder to know what kind of clothes and how many layers you should wear while hiking. There can be a big temperature difference between the sun and the shade, and if you’re hiking in the mountains, the weather can turn from cool summer to bitter winter in an instant. As always, it’s important to check the weather forecast, plan your hike well and dress according to the multilayering principle.
By layering clothes, you can combine garments with different characteristics to ensure good breathability and insulation. You can easily remove or add layers if you get too warm or too cold. This lets you adapt your outfit according to the weather and your level of activity, and with some experience you’ll soon learn what you need to achieve the perfect comfortable temperature.
A common approach is to combine three layers like this:
Layer 1: Breathability
The base layer should wick moisture away from the skin. For this, we recommend using fairly tight-fitting woolen underwear. Wool is a unique natural material which both insulates and wicks moisture away from the body. It also continues to insulate when wet. Thin wool also dries quickly on the body. You should decide what thickness you choose based on the temperature of the day, your level of activity and your personal preferences.
Layer 2: Insulation
The mid-layer is there for insulation. For low levels of activity, thicker woolen clothes, or a thin quilted jacket, down or synthetic, are good options. These are garments which insulate well and keep you warm. For high levels of activity, thinner and more technical clothing is recommended made from fleece, wool, or a combination of materials. A good tip is to always pack an extra mid-layer in your bag.
Layer 3: Weather protection
The outer layer should protect you against weather and wind. A waterproof shell jacket is a popular option for this layer, but many people are increasingly choosing softshell jackets instead, which offer good wind protection when you aren’t expecting a lot of rain. If you choose this option, you can pack an ultra-light shell jacket in your bag for use in emergencies. The advantage of not using a shell on the outside, i.e., a garment without a membrane, is that you achieve significantly better breathability through all the layers.
As mentioned above, the principle of wearing three layers is a standard solution, or a starting point, which is also called the “three-layer principle”. At Bergans, we prefer to talk about the “multilayering principle” because the number of layers should vary according to the weather, time of year, where you're hiking and personal experience.
The number of layers on the upper body and lower body can also differ. How much insulation you need and how much you sweat also varies a lot from person to person. If you’re going on a quick hike for a few hours in good weather and aren’t up in the mountains, a single layer of thin wool and a super light softshell jacket may be sufficient. But again, it often boils down to personal preference.
It’s just a question of getting out there and experimenting!