How to Dress for Winter?

So you’re finally going to escape the sweltering Singapore heat and going for your winter holiday. You might even be planning to do some skiing, snowboarding or snow hiking! You are excited, but coming from the tropics, you are not exactly sure of what to wear for your winter vacation.

A common misconception is that when it comes to the cold, the thicker your jackets, the better. But here’s a fun fact: Wearing multiple thin layers can actually keep you much warmer than a single thick layer! This is because layering can actually trap the warm air in between, which helps act as an insulator. By layering up, you can also easily adjust your warmth level just by removing/adding an extra layer 🙂

Here’s a quick layering guide to follow:

 

Base Layer: Wick Away Moisture

Did you know that your body still sweats in cold weather? While it is important for base layers to help retain your body heat, it is also equally important they have sweat-wicking properties to ensure you stay dry, comfortable and warm.

Why is sweat-wicking such an important feature? Just try this short experiment:
Blow across the back of your hand – now, lick it and blow it again. The latter would feel much colder. This happens because as water evaporates, it draws the heat away from your skin as well. This is why it’s important for your base layers to have sweat wicking properties – to minimise this effect as much as possible.

If you are going to a place that is especially cold, you might want to look out for thermal base layers instead. The main difference between thermals and normal base layers is that thermals are made up of two-ply fabric, which helps traps more body heat than a single base layer. This extra body heat would help insulate against cold air and prevent heat loss.

Tip: Try to avoid 100% cotton when it comes to your base layer – this material tends to absorb your sweat which ends up making you feel colder.

Insulation Layer: Retain Body Heat

The middle layer is all about insulation. This layer is crucial in helping you retain the heat that is being radiated by your body. The better this layer is at trapping heat, the warmer you will be. There are a wide variety of middle layers to choose from, ranging from fleece jackets to down jackets to wool jackets.

So how do you decide which is better for you? Let us break it down for you:

Fleece Jackets
Fleece jackets are good because they tend to stay warm even if it gets damp, and they dry quickly. However they are not as effective against wind.

Down Jackets
Down jackets are extremely lightweight and compact, and it offers much more warmth for its weight compared to any other insulating material. There are different ‘warmth levels’ for down jackets, and this can be measured by its fill power. The higher the fill power, the more warmth it will provide. The only downside to down jackets? Once it gets wet, it loses its warmth very quickly.

Synthetic Down Jackets
Synthetic down jackets have proven quite popular due to its friendly price tag. These jackets replicate the benefits of down but at the same time designed to be water-resistant and will continue to insulate even when it becomes wet. However, it offers less warmth for its weight compared to full down jackets.

Protection Layer: Protect Against the Weather

While the first two layers help to create warmth and lock it in, this all important outer layer will help protect you from wind and rain! This is essential because once wind or rain gets into your inner layers, it will be very difficult for you to stay warm. There are a few things you might want to look out for in an outer layer:

1. Waterproofness
This is important, especially if you are going to a place that is likely to rain or snow. Getting a waterproof outer layer will help prevent water droplets rain from seeping into your inner layers. Depending on the weather you will be expecting, you can look for jackets that either have a waterproof coating or which are made of waterproof material.

2. Windproofness
It might be 15 degrees outside, but strong winds can actually make it feel like zero degrees! If you are going to a windy area, make sure you get an outer jacket that is windproof so that you are prepared for it.

3. Breathability

Before you buy any of your winter gear, you should always consider the type of activity you have planned for yourself. Dressing for a day of skiing will definitely be different than dressing for a day of just walking around the city. Therefore, if you are planning to add some adventure to your winter holiday with some skiing, it’s important for your outer layer to be breathable as well!

This means that your outer layer should be able to direct moisture out, while preventing wind and water from entering into your inner layers. Of course, there is always a tradeoff – no jackets can be totally waterproof and breathable, so think about what your priority is before buying an outer layer 🙂

Don’t Forget Your Accessories!

When it comes to keeping warm, always remember your accessories – they can make all the difference in the world. You actually lose most of your body heat through your extremities (top of head, hands & feet), so having the right headwear, gloves, socks & shoes are all essentials when it comes to keeping you warm!

Congratulations, you’ve graduated from Layering 101! 🙂

Now that you know all about layering effectively for the winter, it’s time for you to go forth & enjoy your winter holiday. If you’re still looking around for your winter gear, you can always check out Decathlon’s Winter Collection – where we have all your layers covered 😉 If you have any other questions about layering effectively, just head down to one of our stores & our sports advisors will be more than happy to help you!

Written by Andrew Ng, Trekking Sports Advisor at Decathlon Singapore