Winter Layering System: Upper Body

imageThe winter season just offers a wealth of topics that are season specific to write about! In today’s post, I’ll be discussing the first of a two-part series on my winter layering system. Most of this gear has been tested, but there are some new entries.

Layering is an extremely important part of outdoor activities, especially in the winter. Layering allows you to thermo-regulate your body’s temperature appropriately. Too many layers – you’re too hot, and you start to sweat. Too few layers, you get cold. The important parts of layering are having the appropriate amount, being able to shed or put on layers as needed, and to manage moisture.

You sweat, you die.
                                –Les Stroud

Since I am Just Your Average Hiker – I don’t have $900 jackets and $2500 basecamp winter shelters… no, I have some finely tooled equipment, as well as some cheap additions… because I have a budget! While I would love all that fancy gear, I just don’t have the means to spend that much.

imageI also wanted to do this post because, when I read about layering, I like to see examples of what people are actually wearing. I have seen far too many books and articles discuss layering and just use generic terms. If you have no idea what it means, some visuals work wonders! Andrew Skurka nails this in that regard in his book: The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide: Tools and Techniques to Hit the Trail.

And I hate being cold. Absolutely hate it. So, I have developed this system over time, and wanted to share it.

I also have many layers (hence the onion image above!), to properly adjust as needed. This means there can be lots of adjusting during a hiking or backpacking trip, but, I am using what I have, so I am not wasting any resources, and also saving a little scratch along the way.

My winter layering system consists of the following…

And that’s it. That’s my system. I can use as few or as many as I need, and all of this system comes in at less than $200 for the entire system. For the comfort level and the myriad of layering options, especially for the price, it cannot be beat.


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