How to Stay Warm and Comfortable in Cold Conditions

Photograph Courtesy of Sierra Design

The insulating layer keeps cold air out and warm air in.

Down jackets and fleece pullovers are some of the most common types of insulating layers, although synthetic materials –– such as PrimaLoft or Thinsulate –– can be highly effective, too, especially if you’re facing wet-weather conditions. These types of layers come in a variety of weights as well, allowing the wearer to mix and match based on the current conditions. If temperatures aren’t particularly cold, a thinner, lighter jacket can be used. But when the temperature dips into subzero territory, a heavier, warmer option can be worn instead.

The insulating layer is the piece of clothing whose job it is to collect body heat as it escapes from the base layer, creating warm pockets of air that can keep us comfortable in cold weather over extended periods of time. This layer is designed to keep warm air in and cold air out, while still allowing moisture to escape. This means it must have a high level of breathability to go along with its thermal properties. 

Which Layers Should You Buy?

Photograph by Kraig Becker

Selecting the proper products to incorporate into your own layering system can be a challenge, as there are, literally, dozens of options to choose from these days. But we’ve sorted through many different products to come up with some suggestions of items that should be on your short list, whether you’re on a tight budget or have a little extra cash to spare.

Budget Layering Options

Blending performance and savings, these layers offer a lot of bang for your buck. For the price, it is tough to beat any of these products, which won’t put too much of a dent in your wallet, while still managing to keep you warm this winter.

Base Layers: Cabela’s ECWCS Polar Weight Hoodie Top – $69.99
Cabela’s ECWCS Medium Weight Bottom – $59.99

Insulating Layer: Sierra Designs Sierra DriDown Jacket – $159.00

Outer Shell: Eddie Bauer Cloud Cap Rain Jacket – $99.00

Total Cost: $387.98

Premium Performance Layering Options

These layers are among the best that money can buy, providing top-of-the-line performance, durability, and technical fabrics. If your budget allows it, and you need to stay warm in the harshest conditions, these are the garments you’ll want with you.

Base Layers: Icebreaker Bodyfitzone 200 Long Sleeve 1/2 Zip – $120
Icebreaker Bodyfitzone 200 Leggings – $110

Insulating Layer: Arc’Teryx Cerium LT hoody – $379

Outer Shell: Outdoor Research Interstellar Jacket – $299

Total Cost: $908


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