Layering 101

Do You Layer?

It’s no secret that ambulatory athletes (our runners, walkers and hikers) harbor a special hatred of winter. Walking in the cold and snow is unpleasant. Running in the dark is dangerous.

But many of these problems can be fixed by taking a fundamental adaptation—layering our clothes—and applying it to working out.

Why Layer?

Adding or shedding layers will give you more control over your body temperature than even the best coat. This means two things to an athlete. First, you’re drier, warmer, and more comfortable. Second, you’re less prone to sickness and the injuries that come with stiff muscles. Both make it easier to maintain your fitness goals through the winter.

But layering multiple cotton sweatshirts on top of each other isn’t the answer. Effective layering requires the right materials.

How to Layer:

The most efficient, weather-resistant training outfit should consist of three layers:

1. The Baselayer

This is the layer closest to your body. It’s important that it fit very close indeed, and that it be made of a wicking material. A cotton baselayer will absorb sweat and become heavy and cold—not the kind of thing you want against your skin in the cold. Wicking materials carry sweat away from your body, keeping your body temperature consistent.

Staff Pick: Craft ProZero Crew


This often-overlooked piece feels like cotton but sheds sweat like cotton can't. It's also excellent for keeping you cool—not hot—on long workouts.


2. The Midlayer

This layer provides extra warmth. If your body runs hot, or you’re wearing a warm baselayer, this may be excluded until temperatures hit freezing—but when they do, you’ll be glad you have it. Also make sure this layer continues the work started by your baselayer: carrying sweat away from your body.

Staff Pick: Asics Thermopolis

If you're looking for warmth, but without extra bulk, the Thermopolis delivers. It's also soft enough to be worn on its own on a cool day.

3. The Outer Layer

This layer is meant to protect you from the elements. All the insulation in the world won’t keep you warm in rain or cutting wind. These situations demand water and wind proofing, or at least resistance.

Staff Pick: Brooks Infiniti Running Jackets or the Asics Storm Shelter

This jacket is windproof and water-resistant (not to mention highly visible at night), all in a very lightweight package that won’t get in a runner’s way.

P.S.: Any love for the legs?

Only above-waist coverage is covered above. That’s because legs are made of large, active muscles that produce a lot of heat on their own. Only frigid or blustery days should demand extra layers from the waist down. Otherwise, the usual pants or tights should be warm enough.

Tim Betz
Running Fanatic and Sales Associate
City Sports Suburban Square
Click here to check out my personal Blog

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