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Advanced Layering: Temperature Regulation Hacks for Cold Weather and Winter Hiking

You can roll up your sleeves to vent access heat on cold weather hikes without removing an entire layer
You can roll up your sleeves to vent access heat on cold weather hikes without removing an entire layer. By doing this, you’re cooling off the blood that passes close to the skin in your wrist.

Layering for cold weather and winter hiking is a lot more nuanced than people make it out to be. While assembling a wicking base layer, insulating mid-layer, and waterproof/windproof shell is  the foundation for a layered clothing system, experienced hikers employ a number of temperature regulation techniques beyond adding or removing their shell or mid-layer to avoid sweating or getting cold as their level of activity changes during a hike or snowshoeing trip.

The Function of Clothing

Your cold weather clothing layers are designed to trap heat and keep it close to your body so you can stay warm. But they can also trap too much heat and cause you to perspire when your activity level increases, say when you are climbing a steep hill. While you can conceivably remove a layer to prevent overheating, there’s a good chance that removing your shell or mid-layer insulation will release too much heat and you’ll get too cold.

Release Some Heat

The trick to fine tuning your temperature regulation is to release some of the heat without removing an entire layer. Opening the center zipper or pit zips on your hard shell jacket (if it has them) or unzipping the chest zipper on your mid-layer fleece pullover, or unzipping the side zippers on rain pants (if they have them) are good ways to shed extra heat without removing an entire garment.

Some other tricks hikers use are to:

  • Push up the sleeves of your mid-layer or baselayer to shed heat from your wrists where the arteries pass close to the skin
  • Remove your gloves or switch to a lighter weight pair
  • Roll your fleece beanie up over your ears to vent more heat
  • Switch to a lighter weight hat or a thin buff
  • If there’s no snow (to make your pants wet), take off your gaiters to vent more heat from your lower legs
  • Open the side venting zippers on your pants, if they have them
I was cold so I put a buff on to insulate my neck and gloves with wrist gauntletts
I was cold so I put a buff on to insulate my neck and gloves with wrist gauntlets. Again, insulating the areas where your blood flows close to your skin pays big dividends in staying warm.

Trap More heat

If you’re too cold, you can always put on a warmer hat and warmer gloves, pull the hood of your rain shell over your hat and close all of its zippers. Some other tricks include:

  • Cover your neck with a Buff to better insulate the blood flowing close to your skin in your neck. Insulated buffs can be overkill, but they do warm you up fast!
  • Put on a pair of gloves with wrist gauntlets and cinch them closed
  • Close the wrist cuffs of your rain shell (if it has them)
  • Put on gaiters to better insulate your lower legs
Mid-layers and baselayers with chest zippers provide an excellent way to vent heat
Mid-layers and baselayers with chest zippers provide an excellent way to vent heat

Leg Insulation

Most of the advanced layering techniques I’ve illustrated so far involve your torso or extremities. What about layering for the legs?

Truth is, you need less insulation for your legs when you’re hiking in cold weather. They are the biggest muscles in your body and they generate a lot of heat. That said, everyone’s physiology and the weather they hike in are likely to be different. But before you assume that you need to wear long underwear for cold weather or winter hiking, try hiking without them, using just your regular hiking underwear, gaiters, and pants for insulation.

It’s easier to add layers than take them off, and overheating and sweating profusely because you started off with too any layers is best avoided. Whenever you start a cold weather hike, you want to try to start ‘cold’ and add layers as needed after your body and core temperature heat up from exertion.

Clothing and Accessory Selection

When you go to buy the components that make up your own cold weather or winter layering system, you want to select garments and accessories (hats and gloves) that give you a lot of different combinations that you can mix and match as circumstances warrant.

Here’s a large list of clothing options to consider, listed by layer. The trick is to give yourself a lot of different options for the more nuanced temperature regulation I describe above by choosing a collection of clothes that give you many different venting or warming up options. Cold weather and wind conditions can be very dynamic, so you want a lot of flexibility in the layers you bring.

  • Base layer (top)
    • Warmth level (usually as a function of thickness)
    • Long sleeve or short sleeve
    • Chest zipper (1/4 or 1/2 length)
    • Hooded to cover neck
    • Thumb-loops to cover wrists
  • Base Layer (bottom)
    • Warmth level (usually as a function of thickness)
    • Leg length (briefs, boxer, thigh length, full leg)
  • Mid-Layer (top)
    • Warmth level (usually as a function of thickness)
    • Long sleeve or vest
    • Chest zipper (1/4 or 1/2 length)
    • Full length jacket zipper
    • Hooded to cover neck
    • Chest pocket zipper
    • Thumb-loops to cover wrists
  • Mid-layer (bottom, as in pants)
    • Warmth level (usually as a function of thickness)
    • Side zips (full or partial)
    • Wind proofing (for example, ski pants often have a hard side and a soft breathable side)
  • Shell Layer (top)
    • Warmth level (usually as a function of thickness)
    • Side Torso zips (ex: Outdoor Research Foray Jacket)
    • Pit zips
    • Velcro wrist cuffs
    • Hood
      • Side pulls
      • Zipper height (covers neck completely or just chest)
      • Rear volume adjustment
      • Brim (to block wind)
  • Shell Layer (bottom)
    • Warmth level (usually as a function of thickness)
    • Side zips (full or partial)
  • Hats
    • Warmth level (usually as a function of thickness)
  • Neck Insulation
    • Warmth level (usually as a function of thickness)
    • Integrated Face mask
  • Gloves
    • Warmth level (usually as a function of thickness)
    • Wrist cuffs or not
    • Breathability
    • Waterproof or not
  • Gaiters
    • Warmth level (usually as a function of thickness)
    • Height
I only wear long underwear under my hiking pants in sub-zero weather
I don’t wear long underwear in winter unless it’s very cold (sub-zero). My legs generate so much heat, that wearing calf length boxers and high gaiters is the only extra insulation I need.

Real World Example

If you’ve been overwhelmed by the possibilities listed above, here’s an example of what I carry for cold weather hiking during New England’s shoulder seasons in early spring and autumn when temperatures range from 10 degrees up to 40 degrees. When it starts to snow, I keep wearing the same gear except for my pants, which I switch out for slightly warmer softshells.

Wrap Up

Cold weather layering is much more nuanced than taking a layer off when you start to sweat or putting one back on when you get cold, requiring all kinds of different micro-adjustments to maintain your comfort. When choosing your core layers and accessories, in addition to hats, gloves, and neck insulation, you want to make sure that you build in a lot of different venting and layering options that let you fine tune your layers without having to stop and readjust your clothes each time. Learning how to stay warm and dry in cold weather takes practice, but it’s an important skill to learn if you plan to do a lot of cold weather or winter hiking.

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  1. Wish I could post the pictures. My Nieces Husband and Grand Nephew and I just returned from a trip where the day time Temperature was 50 degrees and the night time at 0230 was 24 degrees. At 0600 I had to wipe the ice off our little electronic thermometer and it read 23.8. I had been personally testing two of these “Base Layer” Garments and discarded them for my old Polartec Long Underwear and switched to the Military ECWC long underwear.. I will be returning the Base Layers for a Refund.. The next Layer was a 7.5 Ounce Flannel Shirt, and then a Cablela’s 10 year old Goose Down Vest followed by a 8 year old Gore-tex Shell from REI. The Grand Nephew was warm in a cotton Waffle Long underwear set and a heavy Hoodie as was his Father. All three of us wore Knit Hats, Jeans, and Gloves, which kept us warm throughout the trip. On our Feet were Danner Hiking Boots, Braham Waterproof boots and Nike Sneakers. We slept in two tents a EUREKA! Back Country Two and a Back Country Four both owned by me..It was fun popping the ice off the Rain Covers in the morning.. Sleeping was done in a Western Mountaineering Ultralite Goose Down bag, a Blue Kazoo and a heavy ECWC system bag from Military Surplus… Nobody was complained of the Cold and we all slept soundly….As I got warmer I removed the REI Shell and the Vest and walked about in the Long Underwear, Flannel shirt combo with Gloves and the Knit hat, which was the Radar O’Reily Style with the short Brim which was good for keeping the Sun out of my eyes and very warm….

    • Uh huh. But I’m hiking 15-20 miles per day through freezing rain and snow, up and down mountains. No way would I do that wearing cotton. If the frozen clothing didn’t kill me, the chafing would.

      • True Cotton Kills, but not many people will be hiking 15-20 miles a day through Freezing rain and snow…and the cost of most of the current gear is excessive so people have to “Make Do” with what they can afford.. $80 for a Base Layer shirt is robbery and and well out of the price range of every day folks…

      • Well that’s who this article is written for (“advanced”, “cold weather”, “winter hiking”) and honestly, that’s the kind of mileage that winter hikers in New England and New York hike all winter long.

        And no one should be purchasing baselayer clothing at full price. You can ALWAYS find a discount and I shop the sales like everybody else.

      • $80 for a base layer shirt? I got a mid weight synthetic “long john” style shirt from Costco for $7. You can regularly find synthetic tops and bottoms made for running at Target for…well, Target prices.

        If it is made for running, you can use it for backpacking/hiking. They use the same principles of moisture management.

      • you’re thinking wool for $80 (smartwool and icebreaker). Patagonia Capilene is far less expensive , even at full retail.

      • Baselayer from walmart ,top and bottom twenty dollars. Other places to get a good baselayer is the army surplus store.

      • Even if you are doing a much shorter hike, say 5 miles, wearing cotton, and related products, is a bad idea. You have the potential to sweat, get chilled and hypothermic. You can certainly get appropriate base layers that are synthetic or wool or a combo, and for much less than $80. If you have not tried a non-cotton base layer, then you don’t know what you are missing. Also, some people would rather say that they are doing fine in their cotton and are not cold and/ or wet, when they actually are. That is the danger of the “toughing it out” mindset that affects some groups.

    • Depends on where you are hiking in the winter.
      Did 700 miles of PCT in So Cal desert, Temps 20F-90F.
      Mountain and valley.

      Without a Patagonia flannel shirt you will suffer unnecessarily.
      Lots of times that’s all I wore on top.

      Wrapped my air pillow in it at night.
      Sweat dirt frozen hot cold sunburnt wind, I don’t care…it got worn the most.
      Hung strung, all bleached out. The buttons stayed on.
      Yes I had baselayers and good stuff but desert needs cotton.
      Doesn’t rip or snag and doesn’t burn so easily around the fire.

      Don’t do winter desert without one.


  2. Done a lot of winter trips here in Europa. For real winter a good softshell (for me the Arcteryx Venta MX) are the way to go. They block the cold wind in exposed areas and breathe better than traditional hardshells, although my Rab NeoShell ‘breathes’ pretty well. Trousers are also softshell with a merino base layer. If it’s really getting cold a hardshell will do the trick.

    • Second this. For winter outings in the Lake Superior region I find that a good microfiber jacket works better for me – windproof, acceptably moisture-resistant, sheds snow, light and flexible, and breathe better than any waterproof/breathable. I have two, both Patagonia (Krushell and Ready Mix). My wife found a nice one from the Swedish company Haglofs. I’m impressed by NeoShell (go Rab!), but I find the microfiber more comfortable overall.

      On the bottom I use an old pair of Mammut pants made from Schoeller Dryskin Extreme. After 15 years they’re getting a bit worn, but still serviceable. Underlayer varies with temperature, base layer bottom, a pair of Powerstretch tights, or both.

      For multi-day outings I will carry actual rain gear, just in case. So far I’ve found that the softshell clothes manage acceptably, even in wet snow, sleet, or outright drizzle.

  3. So you wait until base layers are on clearance or on a clearance website like Sierra Trading post. I purchased my lightweight Icebreaker wool base layers for ~ $22. I have some capilene 2 and 4 that I purchased for ~ $30. You dont have to purchase Patagucci, you can get almost same stuff from a clearance site, or check for used clothing deals at Goodwill or Salvation Army. Military surplus stores may have some of the fleece layers base layers available.

    Cotton kills. My life in the backcountry is worth spending on plastic clothimg and wool.

    • Exactly, and no one can see the frightful colors of discount clothing under a midlayer fleece. :-)

      • Also – Patagonia Capilene is made with a fabric called Polartec Power Dry. They used to be the only manufacturer to use it, but many more do now, including REI, Marmot, LL Bean, Outdoor research, …the list goes on. Shop around and look for baselayers made using Polartec Power Dry or Polartec Power Dry High Efficiency. Just saying.

  4. I have a problem in that I hate starting out cold. With temps in the 30’s and even the 40’s, I put on a lot of layers to start, and I’m too hot in 10 minutes. If I’m lazy, I don’t stop to remove layers and then I sweat :( I have to stop being lazy!

    I have to say that I finally bought a Houdini a year ago after reading about them on your site. It is my FAVORITE piece of hiking clothing! It has proved to be a great layer. When I get too warm and start to sweat, I’ve used it on top of my base layer. It keeps me from freezing due to the sweat, and is light enough to help reduce how much I’m sweating.

    • I put on layers to start, but i quickly peel them off. After I’m warmed up, im comfortable hiking in baselayer, fleece midlayer, no buff, no hat and no gloves and all my venting is open as I can get it. The reverse is true, too. When I stop, the layers go back on in reverse. Buff, hat, gloves and then warming layers over my core.

    • i also have a hard time starting cold. getting out of a warm car into those cold morning temps in the mountains is tough, so i start out with more layers than i need and just take them off once i start hiking up hill. i usually don’t need to before then. and if it’s really cold and the pace (depending on who i’m hiking with) isn’t really getting my heart rate up, i sometimes don’t remove anything.

      • I know what you are saying, Sally. What I’ve been doing over the past few years is wearing the minimum in the suv and keeping the heat down with windows cracked open. I keep it somewhat cold inside and I find it makes it easier when I step back outside.

    • When I started in cold-weather outdoor activities the received wisdom was to just build in a stop at the 10 – 15 minute mark – whenever you feel yourself starting to overheat – for adjusting layers. By then your metabolism has ramped up, and you need far less insulation to be comfortable.

      These days I tend to dress in my “action” layering from the start (including the drive to the trailhead), and throw on a puffy jacket while sorting packs, getting into snowshoes or skis, deploying the sled, whatever. Then, ready to go, I doff the puffy, pack it away quickly, and go, go, go to build some heat. The first couple minutes can be a bit uncomfortable, but after that I’m good to go.

      • Yeah, another issue is the amount of time I spend outside of the car getting ready. I have a dog too, so I also get him ready. Coming from a toasty car out into the cold – not moving much getting myself ready is an easy way to get cold.

        I saw the suggestion about cooling the car temp down before you arrive. I’m also going to think about what “tasks” I do outside of the car when arriving, to see if I can streamline those too. I wonder if I could strap my snowshoes on inside of the car…..

  5. Venting through pit zips can be taken a step forward by pulling your entire arm(s) through the zips. It’s more of a contortionist move in some jackets than others.

  6. Yo, WTF is “calf length” boxers? I have never heard of this and a google search didn’t turn up anything but some longer mid-thigh boxers. Sadly all these were way to snug to be of any comfort to me. Might as well be wearing heinous whitey tighties. So I thought perhaps you could enlighten me on this because I am truly interested if there is a long loose fitting type of even knee length boxers. I suppose one could amputate a pair of merino long johns. Like you, I do not don long johns until it is below 0*. I wear merino wool boxers during the winter and spring. My preference is for Ibex D-Lux because they are so comfy and loose fitting. But most of my merino gear comes from Sierra Trading Post, as was earlier noted) and are either Icebreaker, Smartwool, or Red Ram (by Icebreaker). Summer time means going commando and give the twins some freedom!

    • Good catch – that was a typo. Replaced ‘calf’ with ‘mid’.

      • Speaking for women, SportHill offers a polypro, “windproof” mid-thigh underpant using their proprietary 3SP technology. It is called the Northwind Under and pant length is 8 inches, for this year’s product. In previous years it was just 6 inches. The 8-inch version is much better. Worn under softshell pants, like SportHill’s 3SP breathable cross country ski pants, they work very well.

      • Marie, nice! Just checked the SportHill website, they make a men’s Northwind Under as well, which might be just the thing under softshell pants for those very windy days, when certain areas of anatomy can suffer in the wind.

        I’d forgotten about SportHill. They’ve been doing the “softshell” thing for decades. Have you used the pants? How well do they hold up in use?

      • Hi, Illimani94. Yes, I have several pairs of these pants, as I do more cross country skiing right outside my back door than I do winter hiking. Trying to change that and the 3SP pants are fine for winter hiking, as are the Northwind unders. For mild winter days above 25 degrees with little wind, I do not bother with the Northwind Unders. I do carry Marmot shell pants with me on hikes and ski excursions as well as a shell with pitzips for the top.

  7. What I want is something to keep my nose warm that doesn’t fog up my glasses.

  8. Another factor to consider in the price of base layers is how much you wear them. I adore merino base layers and live in them daily about 6 or 7 months of the year. Even if I pay full price, my cost per wear is very low.

  9. You are so right, Phillip, about using small clothing pieces to fine tune comfort level. Two of my favorite items, carried on all trips (even mid-summer) are a silk or synthetic scarf and the cut off tops from old favorite merino socks. The scarf makes it easy for me to cover or bare my neck without even stopping. The sock tops are perfect wristlets to bridge the gap between sleeve end and gloves (long arms here) or to wear pulled down over the top of my hands if gloves are a bit too much. So easy to whip them off, roll them together and stuff them in a pocket while still moving down the trail. I’ve also used them at the gap between boot and pants on cold days with little snow (therefore no gaiters) when I’m wearing quilted Czech surplus pants with rib-knit cuffs that don’t fit down over the boot tops.

    • Yes, it’s simply amazing what these little pieces can do for your overall comfort without needing to stop. I like your wristy-sock idea. I have friends who use arm warmers and leg warmer too in winter for “precision layering” and I am very partial to polar buffs, as I mention above.

  10. I would be interested to hear your approach to cold weather footwear. For example, when do you decide that it is a good idea to switch from trail runners to more waterproof and insulated boots?

  11. I get odd looks and all sorts of advice (some polite, some not) because for most of the winter (live and hike in the northeast) I’ll wear the same shorts I wear during the summer. I’ve even had to ditch the gaiters. Too much heat being generate getting my 250 pounds plus the weight of all that winter gear up and down the mountain. If the temperature is single digits at the trailhead I’m expecting wind I’ll wear my hard shell pants. No base layer just ex officio boxer shorts. The full zip sides allow me to adjust the amount of ventilation as I go – often just about fully unzipped on the way up and then partially zippe on the way down. Cold with no wind I’ve been wearing my three season convertible pants/shorts.

    My goal in winter when hiking alone is to keep moving – if I never have to stop or take my pack off I’ve had a good hike. Because I lead a lot of group trips there are a lot of stops. The one I try to eliminate is the layer change ten minutes into the hike. I suggest as others have to start cold since you’ll warm up. Many times people don’t believe me and are bundled up so much that I get warm just looking at them. While not everyone can do this I bought an extra winter coat and hat and wear them in the parking lot. Then when it’s time to go I ditch them in the car.

  12. My favorite heat management technique in the shoulder seasons is shorts + gaiters. It works surprisingly well to keep your legs warm and protected if you get cold and it the absolute height of fashion.

  13. I already mentioned last week about pull-over/partial zipper layers in which everything ends up around my shoulders when I try to remove one. I’m now looking for a 100-wt fleece top with a full-length zipper, which I can unzip altogether, if needed, without removing my pack.

    I’ve found that gloves and head covering often make the difference between sweating and not sweating while moving. I often use a Smartwool headband which protects my ears but lets most of my head ventilate. Admittedly, I live in a warmer part of the country than you do, so the coldest temps I would hike in would be the upper 30s/low 40s, often higher. Big problem is our Columbia Gorge east winds which can push the windchill factor into the lower teens. Those days I stick to 1/2 to 3/4 hour exercise walks, though.

    Great article, Philip! I think a lot of people worry about being warm enough and pile on the layers to where they end up sweating–and when they stop, the sweat freezes! The layers are needed, but only for stops or in camp, not for actively moving.

  14. Excellent write up, very methodical. And simple, especially the Real World Example section. The absence of cotton is understandable given the outdoors’ community’s attitude towards it. But have there been actual stats that demo cotton as the killer it is often called?

  15. If the cotton item stays dry, no big deal. Back in the 1950’s I skiied in bluejeans–in Wyoming, with dry powdery snow and temps below freezing. Cotton absorbs a lot of moisture, instead of wicking it as wool and synthetics do. If cotton gets wet, whether from wet snow, rain, or sweat, it takes a long time to dry (what’s the last fabric out of the dryer?) and will either freeze or chill you for hours. Evaporative cooling is wonderful on a 95* day, but not when it’s below 65*F.

    My daughter developed the early symptoms of hypothermia at 60*F wearing wet blue jeans. She insisted on being fashionable (at age 14)–but she learned her lesson (so did I!). I should have realized something was wrong because she was so quiet. She was still shivering, but was almost incoherent. We made camp in a hurry, I got her wet stuff off, bundled her into two sleeping bags, and filled her up with hot cocoa. In an hour, she was fine. I had to wave her jeans over a campfire for almost two hours to get them dry.

  16. Recently read an article which mentioned the pooling of water in fabrics infused with spandex, elastasane, etc. and the possible consequences in cold weather. When I evaluated my personal clothing preferences for moisture management in cold temps, I discovered a distinct preference for those pieces that did not contain spandex. That revelation changed how I select clothing for cold weather. This may also explain why some aerobic (non cotton) gear feels clammy for a long time after a sweaty work out.

    • Thanks for this comment! I will go through my wardrobe with the spandex warning in mind. I lead snowshoe tours at 10,000 ft, and this might explain some of my discomfort at times.
      Active Grammy

  17. The problem I have is a sweaty back, more so when using my winter pack. Even wearing a lightweight baselayer and of course when you stop or slow down I end up very cold. My baselayer often ends up very wet, not good on top of a mountain in freezing conditions. Any suggestions?

    • Slow down your pace (if possible) to reduce sweating. Next get the thinnest synthetic baselayer you can (forget wool it drys too slowly). When the bottom baselayer wets out, put another thin one top of it to wick the moisture up your layer stack. This is essentially what Polartec Power Dry does (Patagonia Capilene) but you want to go thinner than their “Daily” silkweight layer to vent more heat.

    • Use a cycling vest with a mesh back panel as a component of your action suit

  18. 150 wt wool baselayers aren’t too bad, for me, anyway. Much heavier than that and I notice they do take a long time to dry. As long as I dont cover up right when I stop, my fleece midlayer does a pretty good job of allowing the base layer to dry before i get cooled off. Then, I just add my puffy or shell, and im good.

  19. I was told on my first hiking trip to dress for the 2nd mile when starting out each day. That advice has served me well since there is no need to undress after 10 minutes of hiking, whatever the weather. Since I practice the Colin Fletcher model (stop every hour), it is a time saver to dress right heading out. In winter, I wear a silk top base layer, wind shirt, and thin breathable vest (Macabi), opening the vest and/or shirt to vent as needed. Below, I wear a wool base layer (Helly Hansen) with a long hiking skirt on top that can be snapped up to a shorter, knee height (Macabi) for climbs or temperature adjustments. Also, I found some Polish army surplus wool leggings that can scrunch down to vent or be pulled high for warmth. Sorta different, but very versatile. I use Shug Emery ‘ s glove combo: fingerless glove base (Nike), topped with wrist covers (Wristies), and waterproof mittens if needed on top. I wear a buff on my neck and a fleece head band to keep my ears warm while hiking but carry a down hat for sleeping. Like you suggest, lots of small options. Finally, I carry my Arcteryx jacket, but end up only pulling it out in camp since I mostly hike midatlantic states these days.

  20. Calf or 3/4 length on the leg insulation is the ticket. Socks can be pulled up or down to do some venting and you don’t have boots, sock, long johns all bunched up together.

  21. Outdoor winter activity has always been a challenge for me. I sweat a lot, an obscene amount from the head. It doesn’t really matter if I slow down. To prevent sweating , it would either have to freeze as it was coming off my body (see hypothermia) or I would have to go so slow I would never get anywhere. So, I work mostly under the premise of warm when wet. I mostly choose merino baselayers (or hybrids) and for head, neck, feet for this purpose. I never spend more than $40 for a baselayer piece and it’s usually Icebreaker from Sierra Trading Post

    I also bring 1 or 2 baselayer changes for my core, and lots of layering options.

    I love Polartec Alpha as light outer or mid for ascents, and I just got a Polartec Powerdry High Efficiency midlayer I’m anxious to put to the test as well.

    My biigest problems arise when I stop for more than 15 min. I’m getting better at bringing quick thrown on layers for breaks and stops so I can stay out longer and not make every winter trip a race to the finish.

  22. It amazes me just how much thermoregulation is provided through the use of a hat. During high activity with possible snow, I wear a felt ‘crushable’ brimmed hat. Keeps the snow off well, shields the sun, and provides a ‘lid’ to contain heat. When temps drop further, a simple microfleece beanie replaces the felt hat. I lose sun shielding, but the warmth held in is immediately noticeable. Easy to pull off, in roll, or push up higher on my head if I’m feeling a bit too warm. Also along the same lines is a wool ‘Afghan’ hat, for lack of the correct term. Kind of a panel hat that folds up similar to a beanie. Purchased as a freshman in college 20 years ago, I’ve never come across another like it. But I always consider it when prepping for a winter jaunt. A bit heavier than the microfleece beanie, which seems to weigh nothing, but to me it seems to block the wind better. Again, adjusting by pushing forward or backward on the head really changes the amount of trapped heat. I believe headwear is a very important part of this discussion!

    • I still wear a baseball cap since the back of my head/neck area sweats so much. I achieve a lot of what you are talking about with a Buff. At the coldest I will have it all the way up under my eyes and covering most of my head. Most of the time though I am in various stages of just covering my ears to using the buff just on the back of the head.

    • I really like my crushable brimmed hat! I can wear a thin beanie under the hat, if necessary, but my favorite is a merino wool buff that can cover my lower face, neck, and head. The hat has ear flaps that can be pulled down when necessary.

  23. Using pretty much the same set up except that I am using the Outdoor Research Mentor jacket and the LL Bean 850 Down jacket. The Mentor jacket was a bit of overkill but I picked it up from the Amazon warehouse deals section as an open box return and save serious $.

    One part of my system I am still working on perfecting is the gloves. In the White Mountains in winter your hands need to be covered at all times and it seems to be a constant struggle between warmth and having the dexterity needed.

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