How to Dress for Travel in Winter

What is the layered clothing system?

The layered clothing system is a strategy to neutralise weather phenomena that may otherwise impact on your enjoyment of a place or activity. In other words, it gives you the freedom to do what you want, when you want! It is the difference between being cooped up, teeth chattering, nose running, in a cold hotel room; or gazing in awe at the magical Christmas decorations glittering on Nuremberg’s main market square.

How does it work?

The system acknowledges that temperature or weather conditions vary as you move through the day and from location to location. From a rain shower early in the morning, to a sheltered and air-conditioned restaurant for lunch, to a freezing stroll along the Seine at dusk, the layered system allows you to peel or add layers as your body temperature rises or falls. This empowers you to control the way you experience weather conditions.

What are the layers?

Generally speaking, the layered system contains four layers, each one uniquely designed to achieve very specific outcomes. This is what they do:

The Base (or Inner) Layer

The base layer is the next-to-skin layer. The most important function of this layer is to move sweat away from your skin and deliver it to the exterior surface of non-absorbent clothing where it can evaporate quickly. This is wicking, a capillary action that allows moisture to flow in narrow spaces despite, or without, external forces such as gravity. At the same time, base layers should feel comfortable – even luxurious – against the skin and provide a level of insulation. Look for flat seams to avoid irritation.

The best base layers are synthetic, wool or silk. Even though they are classed as ‘underwear’, select items appropriate as stand-alone garments so you can strip down should the need arise. Depending on your travel itinerary, choose between microweight (for mild to cool conditions), lightweight (cool to moderately cold), midweight (moderately cold to cold) and heavyweight (cold, frosty or windy conditions).

Leading synthetic brands, such as Ex Officio, CoolMax, Capilene, Marmot and others, principally use polyester or blended options with nylon, spandex or elastin. This fabric is very good at moisture wicking and dries faster than either wool or silk. While it lags behind wool and silk in temperature regulation and odour resistance, it retails at a good price point.

Wool, represented by brands such as Patagonia, SmartWool, Ibex and Icebreaker, also has an excellent moisture wicking facility and is top of its class in temperature regulation and odour resistance, but it is more expensive. The natural Merino wool fibre is soft on the skin and wrinkle-resistant. Aficionados of these garments believe wool is a better insulator than synthetics when the weather is cold and also more comfortable over a broader temperature range when it’s hot.

REI’s silk fabric has the most luxurious feel and is more compact than the other materials. Its wicking capacity (often chemically enhanced) is not quite as good as synthetics or wool, but silk is a very good insulator in cold conditions.

TIP: Temperature-control is very important when performing demanding aerobic activities. If this is on the agenda, it might be preferable to wear a thinner base layer to maximise moisture wicking and prevent overheating. Let the outer layers, discussed next, take control of insulation.

The Mid (or Insulating) Layer

The mid layer’s most important job is to keep you warm by trapping air close to the body. This is the insulation layer. They should be slightly roomier than the base layer, but not baggy.

INSERT: In mild climates, the mid layer may consist of nothing more than a favourite cotton t-shirt. This guide is geared towards maximum comfort in deep winter.

The best insulation is typically a choice between down, synthetic or fleece that breathes well (to allow for moisture wicking), lightweight and compact.

Goose down provides the best warmth-to-weight ratio, the natural loftiness of the fluffy filaments trapping air and preserving warmth. The down’s ability to capture air is measured by its fill power. A higher fill power means less weight and superior warmth. A fill power ranging from 400-550 is medium to good quality and harvested from immature geese raised for human consumption. Garments with a fill power of 600 to 900 is excellent, but is more expensive as the down comes from mature geese bred specifically for this purpose, which raises the supply costs.

Goose down is the best choice for very cold but dry conditions. A significant downfall is that down loses its insulating ability when wet. It is also very slow to dry and an 800 fill down jacket is expensive!

NEWS: Great strides are being made in developing treatments to retain down’s loftiness when wet.

Synthetic fibres, predominantly polyester, might be a better insulation choice in wet conditions. With advancements in weight, compressibility and breathability, they are drawing ever closer to down. PrimaLoft leads the pack in producing top quality synthetic products while respected clothing manufacturers such as Patagonia, Arc’Teryx and Marmot market polyester under trade names such as Thermogreen, ThermaTek or Thermal R. Cheaper than goose down, they still cannot match it in minimising volume and weight.

Fleece is a good choice when concerned about overheating during aerobic activities. Polartec provides a choice between light (100), mid (200) and heavy (300) weights. However, fleece is probably not suitable for extended exposure in very cold conditions. Try fleece layers made from 100% wool, which is very comfortable over a larger temperature range in milder conditions. Supporters also love the odour-free nature of natural wool.

The Outer (or Shell) Layer

This is the buffer between you and what Mother Nature throws at you. It provides protection against rain, wind and snow. Major considerations when deciding on an outer shell should be fit, it must be roomy enough to allow for the layers underneath; breathability, to facilitate moisture wicking onto the outside surface from where it can evaporate; and how efficiently it resists water and wind.

The best technical shells for sedentary comfort, such as Gore-Tex, will offer both wind resistance and water-proofing with taped seams and waterproof zippers. These are called hard-shells and while excellent in keeping the rain out, vary in breathability. Pliable soft-shell jackets are usually water-repelling but not waterproof. They are typically used during more strenuous activities where breathability – to prevent overheating – and freedom of movement is desirable.

The beauty of the layered clothing system is that the traveller can adapt the layers to existing temperatures and weather conditions – and do so in real-time. Getting warm, peel off layers; cooling down, add layers!

Write by phần mềm gốc

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