How To Layer For Your Next Winter Hike!

Mountain Hiking Tips Asia

The December holidays are here and I’m sure you are planning to escape the sweltering heat in Singapore and head for a winter holiday.

How about including winter hiking into your itinerary? It may sound a little scary as we all have been living in the tropics and you are not exactly sure of what to wear for your winter vacation.

But fret not, we are here to help you with that! :)

A common misconception that many of us have is to purchase thicker jackets when we are going to a cold country!

However, the truth is that wearing multiple thin layers will keep you much warmer than a single thick layer! This is because layering can actually trap the warm air in between, which will act as an insulator. By layering up, you can also easily adjust your warmth level just by removing/adding an extra layer :)

So how do you layer?

Hiking Backpack with Water Bladder

Base Layer: Wicks Away Moisture

Did you know that your body still perspires in cold weather? While it is important for base layers to help retain your body heat, it is also equally important they have perspiration-wicking properties to ensure you stay dry, comfortable and warm.

Why is this such an important feature? Just try this short experiment:

Blow across the back of your hand - now, lick it and blow it again. The latter would feel much colder. This happens because as water evaporates, it draws the heat away from your skin as well. This is why it’s important for your base layers to have perspiration wicking properties - to minimise this effect as much as possible.

If you are going to a place that is especially cold, you might want to look out for thermal base layers instead. There is one main difference between thermals and normal base layers: thermals are made up of two-ply fabric, which helps traps more body heat than a single base layer. This extra body heat would help insulate against cold air and prevent heat loss.

Tip: Try to avoid 100% cotton when it comes to your base layer - this material tends to absorb your sweat which ends up making you feel colder.

Mid Layer: Retain Body Heat

Insulation. That is the main purpose of the mid layer. This layer is crucial in helping you retain heat radiated by your body. The better this layer is at trapping heat, the warmer you will be. At Decathlon, there is a wide variety of middle layers to choose from, ranging from fleece jackets to down jackets.

So how do you decide which is better for you?

Let me break it down for you:

Fleece Jackets
Fleece jackets tend to stay warm even if it gets damp, and they dry quickly. However they are not as effective against wind.

Down Jackets
Down jackets are extremely lightweight and compact, and it offers much more warmth for its weight compared to any other insulating material.
There are different ‘warmth levels’ for down jackets, and this can be measured by its fill power. The higher the fill power, the more warmth it will provide. The only downside to down jackets? Once it gets wet, it loses its warmth very quickly.

Synthetic Down Jackets
Synthetic down jackets have proven quite popular due to its friendly price tag. These jackets replicate the benefits of down but at the same time designed to be water-resistant and will continue to insulate even when it becomes wet. However, it offers less warmth for its weight compared to full down jackets.

Outer Layer: Protects Against the Weather

While the first two layers help to create warmth and lock it in, this layer will protect you from wind and rain! This is essential because once wind or rain gets into your inner layers, it will be very difficult for you to stay warm. There are a few things you might want to look out for in an outer layer:

1. Pick a Waterproof Outer Layer
This is important, especially if you are going to a place that is likely to rain or snow. Getting a waterproof outer layer will help prevent water droplets rain from seeping into your inner layers. Depending on the weather you will be expecting, you can look for jackets that either have a waterproof coating or which are made of waterproof material.

2. Pick a Windproof Outer Layer
It might be 15 degrees outside, but strong winds can actually make it feel like zero degrees! If you are going to a windy area, make sure you get an outer jacket that is windproof so that you are prepared for it.


3. Pick a Breathable Outer Layer
Before you buy any of your winter gear, you should always consider the type of activity you have planned for yourself. Dressing for winter hiking will be different than dressing for a day of exploring the city you are in. Therefore, if you are planning to add some adventure to your winter holiday with some hiking , it's important for your outer layer to be breathable as well!

This means that your outer layer should be able to direct moisture out, while preventing wind and water from entering into your inner layers. Of course, there is always a tradeoff - no jackets can be totally waterproof and breathable, so think about what your priority is before buying an outer layer :)

Don’t Forget Your Accessories!
When it comes to keeping warm, always remember your accessories - they can make all the difference in the world. You actually lose most of your body heat through your extremities (top of head, hands & feet), so having the right headwear, gloves, socks & shoes are all essentials when it comes to keeping you warm!

Congratulations, You’ve Graduated From Layering 101 :)

Now that you know all about layering effectively for the winter, it’s time for you to go forth & enjoy your winter holiday. If you’re still looking around for your winter gear, you can always check out Decathlon’s Winter Collection - where we have all your layers covered ;) If you have any other questions about layering effectively, just head down to one of our stores & our sports advisors will be more than happy to help you!

"The Best Views Come After The Hardest Climbs."

We would love to hear about your winter hiking adventures!
Join our Decathlon Singapore Hiking Club by liking our Facebook page to do so! Or tag us in your Instagram Posts! :)

Till then, happy hiking! :)

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