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Home>>Layering for Adventure Racing, Trail Running, and Winter Exercise
Base Layer Recommendations: Layering for winter exercise and activities provides a method to control and effectively manage a couple critical variables: staying reasonably warm, excess heat, and moisture production and management.  The challenge during winter exercise and training months is staying warm, yet not over heating and effectively removing the moisture that is produced (especially true for a race like the Susitna 100).  The typical layering approach involves a wicking base layer (close to the skin--Capilene is an example, but wool was the original mountaineer's choice and still is for some people), an insulating layer and an outer layer that provides wind and/or increment weather protection (rain/sleet/ snow).  The concept is to create and maintain a thin stable layer of warm dry air to maintain your proper body temperature.  The wind proof outer layer maintains the stable warm dry layer that keeps you warm, while the wicking layers move moisture away from the skin.  The colder the conditions the more layers are required to trap warm air.

I originally used cycling arm warmers only for cycling, but this year I have used arm warmers and a short sleeve wicking shirt to control my temperature in mountain trail races and training as well as 14er bagging. The ability to push the arm warmers to your wrists opens up the airways around your arm pits and allows for better venting of heat generated from intense hill climbing. This keeps you from generating actual water droplets of sweat since many fabrics can transport water vapor, but once the vapor turns to droplet form it is trapped inside your layers.

Recommended layering selection criteria:

  • Highly flexible layering system based on weather and terrain conditions.  This is especially true of mountain biking, trail running and any skiing involving climbing: telemark, Nordic, alpine touring, or snowshoeing, etc.  Climbing a steep incline at speed will generate a great deal of heat and sweat, while the descent will generate very little and add the wind chill component
  • Adjustable on the move.  Layering must be adjustable without stopping and removing all your gear.  Look for side vents, and/ or use a wind proof vest which protects your core heat, but allows the arms to vent excess heat and moisture
  • Comfortable fit for all layers: not too tight
  • Start off your exercise or activity with less layers and cloths than think you will require.  You will generate heat quickly exercising and you do not want to sweat excessively.  Moisture will speed heat loss through convection and/or evaporation

Bottom Line: Experiment with a number of wicking base layers and determine what works for you.  Try a soft shell which affords superior moisture management relative to a hard shell outer layer. Layer your clothes with the idea of not slowing down or stopping to adjust to changing temperatures and terrain. See base layering tips below for specific actions during training and racing.  More over, ensure you are consuming enough calories to maintain glycogen levels because fat metabolism is reduced in colder temperatures.  More on Nutrition>>

Tip #1: Remove your hat to help assist with excess heat management.

Tip #2: Start out with layered clothing that still leaves you feeling cool when you start out hiking, mountaineering, mountain biking, etc...Your activity level will produce a great deal of heat that will cause you to sweat if you begin layered and comfortably warm.

 

Icebreaker Altitude Crewe (Women's)

The Altitude Crewe by Icebreaker is part of their coldest weather base layer clothing. The Altitude is incredibly warm, made with three types of Merino wool providing excellent insulation as well as ... more info.


Icebreaker Altitude Zip (Women's)

The Altitude Zip by Icebreaker is a slimfitting, stylish base layer designed for the coldest weather you can endure. Made with three types of insulative Merino wool, the Altitude Zip will keep you ... more info.


Icebreaker Long Sleeve Crewe (Men's)

The Long Sleeved Crewe Shirt by Icebreaker is an outstanding fabric that is the warmest and most breathable performance base layer in the world. For cold to very cold conditions, ideal for all winter ... more info.


Icebreaker Long Sleeve Crewe (Women's)

The Long Sleeve Crewe from Icebreaker is the warmest and best performing thermal bodywear available. Icebreaker merino wool provides high performance temperature and moisture regulation for extreme ... more info.


Icebreaker Long Sleeved Atlas Shirt (Women's)

The Long Sleeved Atlas Shirt by Icebreaker is made with the lightest pure merino wool and is a super comfortable base layer for keeping you cool when you are active and your energy levels are ... more info.


Icebreaker Long Sleeved Glider Shirt (Women's)

The Glider Shirt by Icebreaker is a long sleeved pullover great for active outdoor pursuits. A great midlayer that insulates with its 100% merino wool and with its sleek, low bulk design you can wear ... more info.


Icebreaker Mondo Zip Shirt (Men's)

The Mondo Zip Shirt by Icebreaker is a 100% merino wool baselayer that has 25% more wool than BodyFit 150. The Mondo is warm and insulative when out in the cold elements and offers odor resistance ... more info.


Icebreaker Oasis Crewe (Men's)

The Oasis Crewe by Icebreaker is a made with 100% merino wool and is one of the most comfortable pieces of clothing you can wear this winter. Great for highly aerobic activities or just layering ... more info.


Icebreaker Oasis Crewe (Women's)

The Oasis Crewe from Icebreaker provides high performance temperature and moisture regulation for extreme environments. Icebreaker is the warmest and best performing thermal bodywear available. The ... more info.


Icebreaker Olympia Crewe (Women's)

The Olympia Crewe by Icebreaker is a part of their cold weather base layering system that offers the warmest and most breathable layer in the market. Great for the winter cold with its athletic fit, ... more info.


Icebreaker Olympia Zip Shirt (Women's)

The Olympia Zip Shirt by Icebreaker is a super warm and breathable layer for all your cold weather activities. Made with 100% merino wool, the Olympia Zip is versatile as it is cozy. Zip the collar ... more info.


Icebreaker Rock Zip Shirt (Men's)

The Rock Zip Shirt by Icebreaker is another great piece from the makers of the warmest and best performing thermal bodywear available. Icebreaker provides high-performance temperature and moisture ... more info.


Icebreaker Sport V Shirt (Men's)

The Sport V Shirt by Icebreaker is a highly breathable and insulated mid layer that offers low bulk so it is easy to layer during cold weather. The Sport V has articulated side seams for awesome ... more info.


Icebreaker Tech Top (Men's)

The Icebreaker Tech Top is the warmest and best performing thermal bodywear available, offering high performance temperature and moisture regulation for extreme environments. The Tech Top is perfect ... more info.


Icebreaker Tech Top (Women's)

The Icebreaker Tech Top is the warmest and best performing thermal bodywear available, offering high performance temperature and moisture regulation for extreme environments. The Tech Top is perfect ... more info.


Icebreaker Tornado Shirt (Women's)

The Tornado Shirt by Icebreaker is a super snug mid layer made of 100% merino wool that acts as an air conditioner in the summer and heater in the winter. Highly insulating and incredibly ... more info.


Mountain Hardwear Long Sleeved Advance Lightweight Crew (Men's)

The Advance Lightweight Long Sleeved Crew by Mountain Hardwear is a moisture wicking, quick drying shirt that performs best when outside getting pushed to its limits. Constructed with MHW's Chitosan ... more info.


Patagonia Biostretch 3 Crew (Men's)

The Men's Biostretch 3 Crew by Patagonia is a formfitting, high-performance baselayer for endurance activities in cold conditions. The Biostretch 3 Crew features strategically placed open-mesh knit ... more info.


Patagonia Biostretch 3 Crew (Women's)

The Women's Biostretch 3 Crew by Patagonia is a formfitting, high-performance baselayer for endurance activities in cold conditions. The Biostretch 3 Crew features strategically placed open-mesh knit ... more info.


Patagonia Biostretch 3 Zip-Neck (Men's)

The Men's Biostretch 3 Zip-Neck by Patagonia is ideal for a day spent linking sunny cirques with shady groves. This formfitting, high-performance baselayer features strategically placed open-mesh ... more info.


Patagonia Biostretch 3 Zip-Neck (Women's)

The Women's Biostretch 3 Zip-Neck by Patagonia is ideal for a day spent linking sunny cirques with shady groves. This formfitting, high-performance baselayer features strategically placed open-mesh ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 1 Crew (Men's)

The Men's Capilene 1 Crew by Patagonia will give you dry, cool comfort and a bit of sun protection while you're trekking or tropical kite-boarding. Slip into the highly breathable, fast-drying ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 1 Graphic Crew (Men's)

Stay dry and cool in Patagonia's silky Capilene 1 Graphic Crew baselayer, ideal for high-exertion, hot-weather pursuits. Stay dry and cool between sessions in the silky-soft Capilene 1 Crew made with ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 1 Graphic T-Shirt (Men's)

Stay dry and cool in Patagonia's silky Capilene 1 Graphic T-Shirt baselayer ideal for high-exertion, hot-weather pursuits. Stay dry and cool amid the summer swelter in this silky tee, or wear it as ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 1 Scoop (Women's)

The Women's Capilene 1 Scoop by Patagonia is made to help you stay dry and cool in this silky baselayer ideal for high-exertion, hot-weather pursuits. Get some insulation for a ski tour from ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 1 T-Neck (Women's)

The Women's Capilene 1 T-Neck by Patagonia is the ideal baselayer for high-exertion in cool weather and sun protection in hot. Pair this silky, lightweight layer with a vest and soft shell for a ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 1 T-Shirt (Men's)

The Men's Capilene 1 T-Shirt by Patagonia is perfect for chilly Moroccan mornings that soon turn hot as Hades. When this happens, no matter where you are, reach for the highly adaptable Capilene 1 ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 1 T-Shirt (Women's)

Stay dry and cool in Patagonia's silky Capilene 1 T-Shirt baselayer ideal for high-exertion, hot-weather pursuits. Ideal for an after-work grind through Chocolate Gulch, Capilene 1 keeps you dry and ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 1 Tank (Women's)

Stay dry and cool in Patagonia's silky Capilene 1 baselayer tank, ideal for high-exertion, hot-weather pursuits. Stay dry and cool in this highly breathable singlet made with Patagonia's ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 2 Crew (Men's)

The Men's Capilene 2 Crew by Patagonia is perfect for a shady climb that tops out in pure mountain sunshine, enlist the comfort of this crew. It has the fastest dry time of all Patagonia performance ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 2 T-Shirt (Men's)

The Men's Capilene 2 T-Shirt by Patagonia is designed for use in a range of activity levels and temperatures. Stay dry and cool in pursuit of endless desert singletrack wearing Patagonia's Capilene 2 ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 2 V-Neck (Women's)

The Women's Capilene 2 V-Neck by Patagonia is designed for use in a range of activity levels and temperatures. The open knit of Capilene 2 V-Neck delivers maximum breathability, superior wicking and ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 2 V-Neck (Women's) - Spring

Stay dry and cool in Patagonia's's highly breathable Capilene 2 V-Neck baselayer designed for use in a range of activity levels and temperatures. Capilene 2's open knit offers maximum breathability, ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 2 Zip-Neck (Men's)

The Men's Capilene 2 Zip-Neck by Patagonia helps you to stay dry and cool in this highly breathable baselayer designed for use in a range of activity levels and temperatures. When spring slickrock ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 2 Zip-Neck (Women's)

The Women's Capilene 2 Zip-Neck by Patagonia is made from their fastest-drying performance baselayer fabrics. The Capilene 2 Zip-Neck keeps you cool during endurance activities in warm to moderate ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 2 Zip-Neck (Women's) - Spring

Stay dry and cool in Patagonia's highly breathable Capilene 2 Zip-Neck baselayer designed for use in a range of activity levels and temperatures. Made with the fastest-drying of Patagonia's ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 3 Crew (Men's)

The Men's Capilene 3 Crew by Patagonia is ideal for moderate exertion in cool or cold weather, so stay dry and warm in this versatile baselayer during your search for fresh in the bowls of the ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 3 Crew (Women's)

The Women's Capilene 3 Crew by Patagonia is the most versatile and fastest-wicking of Patagonia's performance baselayers and helps you stay dry and warm. This crew provides excellent insulation, and ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 3 Crew (Women's) - Spring

Stay dry and warm in Patagonia's versatile Capilene 3 Crew baselayer ideal for moderate exertion in cool or cold weather. Perfect as a first layer on a midsummer glacier climb, Capilene 3 is the most ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 3 Crew (Youth)

The Kids' Capilene 3 Crew by Patagonia is a versatile, fast-wicking, quick-dry layer with Gladiodor natural odor control. The Capilene 3 Crew is built for up-tempo activities in cool to cold ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 3 Mock-Neck (Men's)

The Men's Capilene 3 Mock-Neck by Patagonia is made with their most versatile performance baselayer fabrics. Capilene 3 styles will help you stay dry and warm, whether you're in the pipe or hanging ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 3 Mock-Neck (Women's)

The Women's Capilene 3 Mock-Neck by Patagonia is made with their most versatile performance baselayer fabric. Capilene 3 styles will help you stay dry and warm, whether you're in the pipe or hanging ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 3 Set (Youth)

The Baby Capilene 3 Set by Patagonia is a fast-wicking cool-weather baselayer with versatile room-to-grow construction. Two more reasons this fall to dress babies in fast-wicking, softly insulating ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 3 Zip Neck (Youth)

The Kids' Capilene 3 Zip Neck by Patagonia is a versatile fast-wicking, quick-dry layer with Gladiodor natural odor control. The deep zip opening is good for making easy entries and exits and for ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 3 Zip-Neck (Men's)

The Men's Capilene 3 Zip-Neck by Patagonia will retain or dump heat as the conditions or exertion levels demand with a simple zip of this top. The most versatile and fastest-wicking of Patagonia's ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 3 Zip-Neck (Women's)

The Women's Capilene 3 Zip-Neck by Patagonia will combat the bone-chilling cold and clammy damp of winter steelheading with this soft, quick-wicking zip-neck. The most versatile of Patagonia's ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 3 Zip-Neck (Women's) - Spring

Stay dry and warm in Patagonia's versatile Capilene 3 Zip-Neck baselayer ideal for moderate exertion in cool or cold weather. The Capilene 3 Zip-Neck offers easy climate control when calories are ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 4 Crew (Men's)

The Men's Capilene 4 Crew is Patagonia's warmest synthetic baselayer that will help you to stay dry and warm during high-output activities in cold conditions. Its smooth jersey face slides easily ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 4 Zip-Neck (Men's)

The Men's Capilene 4 Zip-Neck by Patagonia is designed for high-output, stop-and-go activities in cold weather. River level: 6,000. Air temp: 32. Water temp: glacial. You: dry and toasty warm in the ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 4 Zip-Neck (Women's)

The Women's Capilene 4 Zip-Neck by Patagonia needs to be placed at the core of your layering system for those sub-zero Montana mornings spent on cross-country skis. Designed to keep you dry and warm ... more info.


Patagonia Capilene 4 Zip-Neck (Women's)- Spring

Stay dry and warm in Patagonia's stretch Capilene 4 Zip-Neck baselayer designed for high-output, stop-and-go activities in cold weather. Made for stop-and-go activities in cold weather, the Capilene ... more info.










 

 
Other gear recommendations and suggestions for adventure racing, trail running, mountain biking and backcountry travel: