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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.



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