Clothing as an insulator

But they do allow you to retain the warmth that you produce. Think about how you dress: small details make a big difference when the weather is harsh and your energy level is dropping.

Clothes should insulate and support the body’s temperature balance. At the same time that our clothing should help to retain heat that the body produces, it should also transport excess moisture and heat that the body does not need.


An efficient way of dressing in a cold climate is to use layers. This provides a versatile and flexible system that not only protects against cold, wind and wetness, but is also easy to ventilate or modify if you get too hot. The layering principle is divided into four main layers.

A heat-insulating and moisture transporting base layer next to the skin. It is imperative to wick
moisture away from the skin, since water conducts heat 25 times more efficiently than air. A base layer
in synthetic fibers or wool is superior to cotton, which absorbs moisture and dries poorly.

A mid-layer that adds extra insulation, and thus retains body heat. The purpose of the second layer is to create an insulating layer of air. In cold weather or if the activity level is low, a thicker layer is needed. The more air in the clothes, the better the insulation.

A wind and water repellent shell that protects against external cooling and retains the warmth created
between layers 1 and 3. Modern shell garments release some moisture through their material. During high activity levels, the garments should allow ventilation at the neck, the cuff or at other dedicated openings to increase the release of warm, moist air.

Windproof, high loft down or synthetic-filled garments that are easy to put on over the shell layer. These should be worn during break times or when making camp. Keep this layer easily accessible so that the important breaks do not become shivering adventures.