If you want to keep warm when the temperature drops, then you need thermal insulation clothing. In fact, researchers are currently developing super insulated clothing that may even mean we don’t need heating in our homes. Instead, 90% of our body heat will be reflected back to us – that’s 70% more than if you wear a wooly jumper. Until that day arrives, keeping yourself warm and comfortable in cold weather is all about the base layers you choose, and the thermal insulation clothing you layer up with.
Getting the basics right
A good base layer will regulate your temperature and wick moisture away from the skin, to keep you warm, comfortable and dry. If you’re active in cold weather, wicking is particularly important, as it moves sweat away from the skin to the outer layers of the fabric where it can evaporate.
Merino wool is an excellent choice if you run or cycle through the winter, as it’s soft, lightweight, has excellent wicking qualities and resists odour. In fact, you can wear a good merino wool base layer in temperatures from sub-arctic to 70 degrees without any discomfort.
If you want warmth without bulk and aren’t likely to be doing any physical exercise, then silk is an excellent choice. Extremely lightweight, silk feels good against the skin and provides warmth and comfort. It wicks moisture well and allow for other layers to be added, without making you look over-padded.
If you’re on a budget, synthetics are the cheapest option, providing excellent moisture wicking and breathability with warmth. Beware however, as synthetics are not great odour resistors and need frequent washing to keep them smelling good.
Whichever type of base layer you choose, buy the best quality you can afford and make sure they fit snugly to optimise the wicking effect.
A series of thin layers is better than one heavy sweater. It’ all to do with the way that insulation works – by trapping a layer of warm air next to the body to minimise heat loss. The more air you can trap, the warmer you’ll be, but your outer garments also need to be windproof for optimum thermal efficiency.
Fleece is a good all-rounder, which is why most of us own one and throw it on when the weather gets cool. It feels good, wicks well and dries fast. Add a waterproof shell to stop heat loss when the wind blows. Down is ultra lightweight, warm and super comfortable, but its achilles heel is wet weather, when it loses all its lofting ability and with it, the ability to keep you warm. Wool can be an excellent choice, as it’s lightweight, renewable, natural and wicks well to keep you feeling warmer for longer. It’s essential you have a waterproof top layer, though!
The combination of a great base layer, well insulated mid-layers and a good quality waterproof and windproof jacket will keep you warm and comfortable in any weather.