The importance of layering clothing is well-known to most folks who spend time in the mountains and other cold weather areas, but I still receive questions on this subject, especially regarding materials selection and preferences. Outfitting yourself for a wide variety of conditions can be quite expensive, and mistakes can be costly in more ways than the obvious. To compound the problem, it is difficult to acquire useful information on the subject, requiring a significant amount of research to get more than cursory information on the basics, and often it is hard to find information on specific products other than general descriptions.

I have done this a number of times, making some of the typical mistakes, and the last time I acquired a new kit I did it in stages, first planning on augmenting my existing legacy kit and then deciding to create multiple interacting kits made from three complete layering arrays designed for different conditions, allowing me to gain experience with a number of products. I intend to pass on some of the information I have developed in the hope that it will be useful to people planning to augment their kit or acquire a new one from scratch.

This dissertation will define the principles involved in layering, focusing primarily on base, mid and insulating layers in synthetics and Merino wool, as well as discussing legacy synthetics and current products. Suggestions will be made as to how to best make use of what you have with the addition of one or more purpose-bought layers, and how to select materials when acquiring a kit from scratch. There will also be a discussion of field shirts, pants and shorts, and outerwear. More than 60 products from 18 manufacturers were involved in the preparation of the Layering Guide, and recommendations based on experience and field testing will be made at the end of the Guide in a brief summary for those who prefer the short version.

The entire dissertation is indexed and hyperlinked for easy navigation.

Click a page label below to open the page,
or use the Layering Index links to jump to a section.

This dissertation may offer more than you want to know. I recommend that you read the Introduction,
followed by the Summary. From there you can use the Index to branch out into an area of interest to you.


Layering Index



Base Layers: Synthetic and Merino

Field Shirts, Pants, and Outerwear

Legacy Synthetics

Summary and Recommendations

Product Descriptions


Click to visit the Introduction page.


Click to visit the Legacy Synthetics page.


Click to visit the Base Layers page.


Click to visit the Outerwear page.


Click to visit the Summary page.


Click to visit the Product Descriptions page.