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  • Writer's pictureSukrit Gupta

Ultimate Winter Layering Guide !!

Ultimate Winter Layering Guide !!

By Reshma Rajendran 

Image courtesy:  Neha & Arindam @breathtakingpostcards | Gear correctly for your outdoor adventures

Ever wondered what to wear in winter while running, or while cycling or hiking or any sports for that matter, because you always wear either too many or too few layers and end up either shivering or sweating or worse both at the same time?! If so, do not worry, most of us have been there one time or the other. And for the lucky ones who have not, well, let’s say you have mastered the art of layering.

Okay, I know most of us still don’t understand what the big fuss is about layering. For many, it is just adding more layers of clothes until you are warm (or until you have run out of clothes to add on!!). It seems fine if you are taking a stroll through the garden or going out to meet up with your friends or relatives. But the problem arises when you are engaged in an outdoor sport and the weather is cold!! Now that is a situation many of us do not know how to handle. Because if you add more layers you end up sweating and warm and itchy and if you do not, you end up shivering. So how do you balance this? How do you pick clothes for the winter season that is suitable for outdoor recreational activities? The answer to this is simple. You find the right layers. So, without further ado, here comes the ultimate guide for winter layering.

Let’s start with the basics. What are the different layers of clothing available? There are 3 basic layers namely the base layer, mid-layer, and outer layer.

Base Layer

The base layer is that piece of clothing that is the closest to your skin. Also called thermal, their main job is to wick sweat off your skin. Remember that time when you ended up being warm and shivery at the same time while you were running or cycling or hiking? Yes, you got it right, the base layer is the one responsible for that. Chances are you chose a base layer that is not quick dry and retains moisture. Merino wool is one of the best options when you want to go for the base layer. It keeps you warm and is sustainable (Yeay!!). But one of the problems is that, as it is wool, it might not help in quick-dry, so the next convenient option is a wool blend. Like how Kosha has invented a brilliant blend of wool and bamboo which has the properties to keep you warm at the same time it is quick-dry, wicks the sweat off super easy, is lightweight, and is temperature regulating (told ya brilliant). They have thermal wear for winter for men and women.

Mid Layer

The next layer after the base layer is the mid-layer. It is also called the insulation layer. Just as the name suggests, their duty is to protect you from the cold by ensuring that your body heat is trapped between these layers. Some common middle layers are your regular hoodies or jackets which have insulating properties. If you are into eco-conscious clothing, the best option is to opt for organic plant based fabrics. If you plan to buy a hoodie online in non-plant based fabrics, you can also choose from recycled polyester options. 

Outer Layer

The outer layer is the piece of clothing that is meant not just for warming your body but has the property to shield you from wind, snow and rain. It is called the shell layer as it has the weatherproof properties and can be either a soft shell or hard shell depending on the requirements. Softshells are more breathable as compared to hard shells, but hard shells offer better protection. You can further choose between waterproof or water-resistant materials based on the weather. Waterproof layers are ideal when you are expecting rain (unless you are planning on getting drenched) and water-resistant will work for a slight breeze or light raining (like when you want to cycle in the drizzling weather).


Image courtesy: Rebecca Umm Crook @Stickylittleleaves camping in Kenya.

The art of layering would not be complete, without discussing the accessories. Many of us do not pay much attention to winter layering accessories as much as we should. So here are some of the extremities you need to take care of.

  1. Winter caps: To all the ladies and gents out there, apart from protecting your ears and throat from the harsh cold outside, caps also add a touch of personality to your entire attire. And yes, wearing winter caps under your helmet is a thing, especially while cycling.

  2. Socks: When you take all the trouble to find the perfect shoes for hiking or trekking, why do you always ignore the poor socks that protect your sole? The perfect socks can not just keep your feet warm, but it can work wonders in making sure your feet are dry. While going for the warmest winter socks, also keep in mind to choose the one that can dry quickly. Kosha offers socks that are breathable and have a quick dry mechanism.

  3. Gloves: Your hands are the part of your body that gets exposed a lot to the outside. So, it is extremely important to make sure that it is well protected. So, go ahead and invest in some good hand gloves for winter.

Now that you are an expert in the layers and their function, let me give you a bit more insights on how you can layer based on the temperature, weather, and sports.

Let’s start by making a disclaimer that this is generic tips and is subjected to individual resistance to cold.


Image courtesy: Neha & Arindam @breathtakingpostcards | An insulated jacket for those desert safaris

Hiking and trekking are among the two most favorite eco-friendly recreational sports. A good hike or trek is not simply good for our bodies, but it brings us close to nature. It is important to be prepared while choosing your layers. So, depending on the temperature, let me give you a brief overview of how you can layer.

20℃ – 15℃: This is what I would like to call “pleasant weather”. There is enough sunshine, and you can see the blue sky, but there is also that cool breeze that often teases us and leaves. This is a wonderful time for any outdoor activity. What you need in this weather for outdoor activities

is a breathable T-shirt that can make you feel warm as you go up but at the same time wicks off the sweat and protects you from the sunburn as you go outside.  Kosha’s winter T-shirts are a wonderful option for this with their temperature regulating properties and their dual role as a T-shirt and a base layer. If it is a mountain hike, chances of you being caught by surprise showers are high, and you do not want to hike in wet clothes, that is an open invitation for hypothermia. So, it is always advised to carry a weatherproof jacket as you can never accurately predict the rain while hiking. The same goes for running, but if you are into cycling, do not forget hand gloves for winter to protect your hands.

15℃ – 10℃: Now this is a chill we enjoy. Here, the focus is to make sure that you are warm but not so warm that you find yourself wet in sweat. You need to have a hoodie or an insulating jacket for this weather over your base layer. Your mid-layer can be removed if you find it warm but do not forego it as it might get colder. As before, weather-resistant jackets, winter caps, and socks are some options.

Image courtesy:  Rebecca Umm Crook wearing Kosha’s base layer  for hiking in the forests in Kirinyaga, Kenya.

10℃ – 5℃: This is when you are getting chilly, not the one you particularly enjoy, but the one you must endure. Here depending on your body’s insulating capacity, you can wear two to four layers. A wool-blend base layer and a shell-layer jacket. You can add one or two mid-layers as per your body requirements. Anything below 10℃ requires accessories. You can carry scarves, waterproof gloves to protect your hands, and technical socks to warm and protect your legs. If you are a hiker, choose the winter socks for trekking and hand gloves for winter. For all the skiers, waterproof insulated skiing gloves are the best option.

Below 5℃: Anything below 5℃ usually gets you shivering. This is the weather wherein you can expect snow. You might need four to six layers here (if you are like me even more :D).  As before you can add more mid layers depending on your requirement. Here you must protect your extremities by wearing caps, gloves, scarves, and socks. The outer layer should be windproof and waterproof.

Now, that you have mastered the art of layering, what are you waiting for? Let’s show off your new layering skills.


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