"Onions have layers; people have layers!"
This week, we're in Asia. Our suitcases are bizarrely small for the season—even in November, it's mid-eighties nearly all the time here in Taiwan, where we're basing ourselves for the next couple of weeks.
As we're scoping out some excellent hiking trails here in this mountainous country, we're also reminded that temperatures can drop several degrees for every foot of elevation. And, in the winter months of more temperate climes, it's doubly important to dress correctly for the training, especially if you're going to be taking advantage of the extra calorie-burning capabilities that working out in colder weather can have.
Over the years, we've discovered several things that are pretty much hard-and-fast rules for layering, and we're passing the knowledge on to you.
1. Never, ever wear cotton next to your skin. When it gets wet, with either sweat or rain or clumpy snow, it stays wet. That wicks warmth away from our skin and leaves you freezing. Definitely not a good place for you to be.
2. Instead, wear a merino wool or polyester layer as your first layer. The merino wool (think companies like Smartwool or Icebreaker) will wick moisture away from your skin, keeping you dry. And, from long experience, we can say that even when we were totally drenched, merino wool kept us warm.
Wool has been keeping little guys like this warm for just about ever. Why not us, too?
3. Your mid-layer is going to be a fleece layer, something that provides loft, or little pockets of air, that get warm really quickly and keep your body warm. Polartec 50-weight is a good layer for this. The next level up, Polartec 100, can get a little bulky, but will do well too.
Some PolarTec is made from recycled plastic bottles. Green, warm, and fuzzy! Win-win, all around.
4. Your third and final, or uppermost, layer, is your wind or rain gear. Choose a relatively breathable membrane, like GoreTex, that will keep moisture off of your mid-layer but that will still allow some moisture to escape from your body.
Wearing layers will allow you to peel them off as you work up a sweat. And more important, it will also allow you to regulate your body heat. Pit-zips (zippers that run under your armpits) are a good bet for this, too, as they'll allow your body to breathe when you need it.
Of course, our favorite added advantage is that all the added warmth will keep your joints nie and toasty--and performing well--too!
What are your favorite layering tips? Let us know in the comments below.