How to Layer Outdoor Clothing

Whether you're off on a gentle stroll or a serious hike, it's absolutely essential to dress right. Especially as Ireland and the UK are famed for their changeable weather! Whether it's an unexpected bout of hot sunshine, or a (perhaps more expected) downpour, the right gear will keep you nice and dry whilst maintaining your core body temperature, so you can keep comfortable and enjoy your walk to the fullest.

The secret to getting it right? Layers.

Follow the three layer system and you'll have an adaptable outfit that can cater for practically all weather conditions.

Layering Clothes: The 3 Types of Layer


Your base layer on is the first on and last off. As it's right next to your skin, its job is to keep you comfortable. Base layers do this by wicking moisture away from your skin.

Even on the coldest of days, if you're exerting yourself on a hard walk you are going to sweat, and the last thing you want is damp fabric rubbing against your skin. Additionally, when you stop for a rest and your body temperature drops, any moisture can quickly start to feel chilly.

This is where technical outdoor fabrics come into play. Whereas cotton holds on to moisture, our quick drying base layer fabrics are designed to instead drive it away from your skin and help it to evaporate. Regatta base layers made from lightweight quick dry airy polyester mesh fabric that's still soft to wear. Look out for features like offset shoulder seams to sit smoothly under rucksack straps, and collars with internal neck tape for friction-free comfort.

A common misconception is that base layers are exclusively long sleeve, but this isn't the case. Long sleeve base layers are perhaps seen more often due to the cold weather creating the necessity for layering clothes and achieving full body protection from the cold. However, short sleeve base layers are much more useful to wear instead of a t-shirt on a hot sunny day, but for the most part they just look like normal exercise tops.


The name of the game here is insulation, again it needs to be lightweight, moisture wicking and not so bulky that you can't get your third layer over the top.

A fleece is the go-to mid layer of choice, they'll keep you wonderfully warm even in the coldest conditions, maintaining body heat yet still offers breathability for optimum comfort. You don't want to swelter! Choose the right weight of fleece for the weather conditions, or opt for a stretchy softshell jacket if you're going to be particularly active. Equally, if keeping the wind out is going to be more of a priority than keeping warm, you could also consider going for a gilet instead.


Your outer layer is there to keep out the elements, protecting you from the wind and rain. With your bottom two layers taking care of temperature regulation, think of this as an outer shell to fend off whatever the weather throws at you. A waterproof jacket is ideal, though when the mercury drops you may want even more warmth in the form of an insulated jacket.

So now you've got all the key components of the 3 layer system, you can combine them in different ways to suit the conditions. Layer up and down on your hike if conditions change.

Layering Combinations For Summer & Winter

Sunny and Dry: Base Layer

If you're hiking abroad or you've got one of those rare golden days in the UK, then a light and breathable short sleeve base layer is ideal for keeping you cool and comfortable.

Don't forget the sun cream and perhaps a cap or sunglasses to shade your face from the sun. It's a good idea to still pack your other two layers in your rucksack should the weather conditions change. Especially if your heading up a mountain, conditions can be different at the summit, and your temperature can soon drop if you stop for a decent break. Our handy packaway jackets are useful to bring along if you don't want to lug around a jacket all journey.

Cold and Dry: Base Layer + Mid Layer

You've got to love those cold, crisp and clear days, it's perfect hiking weather!

Combine a heavier weight fleece or insulated jacket with a long sleeve base layer to beat the chill if it's especially cold, maybe even pack a waterproof coat in your rucksack in case of an unexpected shower. If it's not too freezing but there's a chill wind, a softshell jacket makes a great mid layer choice to act as a windbreaker.

Realistically, if you aren't going hiking and are just going about your daily life, this is the most common combination of layering clothes. Simple yet effective.

Warm and Wet: Base Layer + Outer Layer

If it's rainy but keeping warm's not going to be a worry, simply skip the mid layer and wear a lightweight waterproof jacket over your base layer, and pack a light fleece in your rucksack in case the weather turns. This is better suited to shorter journeys out rather than full blown hiking/trekking, unless you're planning on walking during humid weather, in which case it's very effective.

Cold and Wet: Base Layer + Mid Layer + Outer Layer

This is the full Monty. If the weather's throwing everything it's got at you, you'll need all three of the layers listed above to keep warm, dry and comfortable. Of course, if the rain eventually goes away or you warm up through exertion, simply layer down as required. Your base layer will keep you warm and absorbent, whilst your mid and outer layers will do most of the performance. For more versatile outer layers, it's worth looking into our 3 in 1 jackets as you can adapt them on-the-fly.

There you have it! We hope we've given you enough advice and inspiration to form your own outdoor outfits by layering clothes. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out some of our other great gear guides.

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