Let’s first understand the three-layer system before entering the mid-layers. The 3-layer system is essential for skiing, sailing and hiking. It consists of a base, mid-layer, and shell jacket. These layers serve three purposes:
Base Layer: Transport moisture away from your body, and protect you from the sun if your other layers are removed. This foundation is essential for temperature control and moisture management.
Midlayer: Additional warmth that can be removed from high-intensity activities and then added back when temperatures drop.
A shell jacket is an outer jacket that protects from rain, sleet, or even waves. Do not let the elements take you down.
Fleece is well-known for its softness. It is more technical than other mid-layers and can be worn inside like a sweater. Fleece is a great wardrobe addition because it’s easy to maintain and comes in many colors and prints. While lightweight, fleece is an excellent choice for leisure activities and not extreme expeditions.
Because the pile structure is open, it allows for good ventilation. This makes it an excellent material for high-energy activities in cold weather (for example, loggers who do a lot of physical labor at low temperatures). However, the pile will not provide wind protection.
LIFALOFT ™ was developed in collaboration with PrimaLoft(r), the king of insulation. It is lightweight, warm, and breathable and allows for freedom of movement even during the most intense activities.
This insulation is great for hiking or skiing when space and weight are limited. Our LIFALOFT(tm) jackets can be thrown in your bag and worn again as temperatures drop. They quickly dry thanks to incorporating LIFA(r) fibers.
We released LIFALOFT(tm), an extra-breathable version of LIFALOFT(tm), Air in 2021. This was specifically designed for ski touring and other activities requiring heat, not just your base layer.
Because of its heat-to-weight and compressibility, down is an excellent insulation material. This makes it a perfect choice for lightweight insulation during cold winter days.
Wool is well-known for its warmth. Wool is a natural fiber that resists odors and can keep people warm in cold winters. Wool is excellent for indoors and as a mainstay. Wool is not light, so it’s better suited to skiing groomers or sailing on cold days than high-intensity activities where you might overheat.
Although vests are not often considered mid-layers, they can be an excellent way to stay warm. If your core temperature drops, your body will reduce blood flow to your extremities. This is to protect your organs. Vests can help keep your core warm, even if your arms aren’t covered. These vests can also be used as standalone pieces.
No matter what mid-layer you choose to use, keep in mind that they can be taken off or on depending on the weather and the activity.