How to Choose Your Mid Layers for Winter

Whether you are gearing up for a ski trip, or relaxing in a city in the cold weather, it’s always important to layer effectively so you keep warm.

We’ve talked about how base layers are crucial to a good layering system, but choosing the right mid layers are also just as important! If you are planning to do some winter sports where you will perspire, a moisture-wicking base layer would be practically useless if your mid layer is not breathable.

Psst.. if you’re new to the layering game, learn how to layer effectively for your winter holiday here!

In short, your mid layers should have to at least have heat-trapping properties! This layer is all about insulation and is crucial in helping you retain the heat that is radiated by your body. The better the layer is at trapping heat, the warmer you will be.

However, one common weakness of middle layers is that they are usually designed to only trap air, but provide no rain protection. If you’re going somewhere that will be rainy and wet,  you would definitely need a protective outer layer in order to keep the water out.

There are 3 common types of material used in mid layers: down, synthetic down and fleece. So how do you know which one you should choose? Let’s find out!

Down Jackets

Down jackets always seem to be a mystery to people. How can a jacket be so light and yet keep warm? Down jackets are actually made of down feathers (who knew? :D) – which come from geese and ducks. These feathers create millions of small air pockets, that will help to retain your own body heat. The more air pockets there are, the warmer you will be.

So how do you tell the difference between a good down jacket and a bad one? This is where “fill power” comes into play. I’m sure you’ve encountered that word many times when you’re looking for a down jacket! Technically speaking, fill power is a measure of the amount of space one ounce of down will occupy in cubic inches. The higher the fill power, the more space that one ounce of down will occupy.

However, the warmth of the jacket is not purely based on fill power. For example, if you use 12 ounces of 550 fill down, compared to 8 ounces of 850 down – it may be of similar warmth. The only difference? The 550 fill down jacket will be heavier!

Ultimately, higher fill power simply gives better warmth-to-weight ratios. If you want the lightest and the warmest jacket, look for a down jacket with the highest fill power. However, these jackets tend to be the most expensive – so it all depends on your priorities! 🙂

While down jackets tend to be the warmest, it is important to remember that it isn’t for everyone. One major downside about down jackets is that it doesn’t do well in wet weather, and it won’t perform well if you’re planning to do strenuous activities in them. Once it gets wet, your down jacket will lose its insulation properties and get you cold.

Synthetic Down Jackets

Synthetic down jackets have become much more popular in the recent years – and for a good reason. Synthetic down jackets are designed to provide the same warmth & lightweightness of a down jacket – and still retain these properties even if it gets wet! One more major upside? It’s much more affordable than a natural down jacket 🙂

These jackets are made with ultra fine polyester fibres that help to trap warmth in its air pockets, keeping you warm and toasty. It is also designed to be much more resistant to moisture, and when it does get wet – it also dries much faster!

However, it has a higher weight-to-warmth ratio compared to down – meaning that it needs to be heavier and thicker to achieve the same level of warmth as a down jacket.

 

Fleece Jackets

Fleece is a soft, insulating fabric that grew to popularity in the 80s. With the many benefits of fleece jackets, this was (and still is) one of the go-to mid layers for outdoor sports in the cold.

Fleece jackets are relatively more breathable, and with its ability to wick away your sweat quickly, makes it a very good layering piece. Another major advantage of fleece jackets is that it dries very quickly – so even when it’s wet, it will dry up fast and will still be able to provide you with warmth! 🙂

Choosing your fleece jackets is relatively simple – basically the heavier the fleece, the warmer you will be. But wait! Before you start reaching for the heaviest fleece jacket, it’s important to know what kind of activity you will be doing first before choosing a mid layer. While it may provide you more warmth, the thicker fleece jackets would also mean that it will be less breathable. This would mean that it would not be able to wick away your sweat as easily and might even end up getting you colder.

Did you also know that 75% our fleece jackets are made from recycled plastic bottles?

Another major plus point for Decathlon’s fleece jackets, if you ask me 😉

… and there you have it! The lowdown on all the different mid layers out there and how to choose them 🙂 

Remember, 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!

The number of layers you wear will also depend heavily on the type of activity you’re doing. For strenuous activities like skiing or hiking, you may want to consider fleece jackets as your choice! Fleece jackets will allow your sweat to dry much quicker, which will prevent you from getting damp and cold 🙂 For chill days in the city, or if you’re just going camping – a down jacket will be perfect to keep you nice and warm.

I hope this article has been helpful in helping you find the perfect mid layer for your winter adventure! If you’re getting ready for your winter holiday, and check out Decathlon’s collection of winter wear in Singapore 🙂 From affordable winter jackets to long johns, you can Click & Collect your orders in just 2 hours, or even enjoy free same day delivery on orders above $60! 🙂

Written by Andrew Ng, Trekking Sports Advisor at Decathlon Singapore