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The best winter clothing strategy for keeping warm

So, just what is the best winter clothing strategy for keeping warm and how do you dress warmly for winter anyway?

The secret is by layering your clothes.

The best winter clothing strategy in how to keep warm in winter is to wear layers. Typically, it's three layers, these are:

  • the inside or base layer
  • the middle layer
  • the outer layer.


Each layer is important and has a specific purpose.

  • First, there's a close-to-the-skin layer like thermal underwear for your upper and lower body
  • Second, then a nice cozy, bulky, warm layer like a sweater or fleece layer then
  • Third, a windproof or waterproof coat-layer over the the first two layers to finish off

This basic combination of different clothing layers will serve you very well throughout your winter season in all its varieties. Together, all your layers of clothing are the secret to being warm and comfortable in winter weather as the best winter clothing strategy for keeping warm.

Winter activities - indoor and outdoor

For every day living and outdoor sports, the layering technique works as the very best winter clothing strategy for great winter living. The kind of layers can vary too. The difference is the amount of insulation in each layer that determines what best suits your activity.

What you wear during the day going from home to your job or shopping is different from going skiing or skating outdoors. It's still the same idea of layering but you are doing it for a different purpose so the type of clothing is going to be different that you'll need to wear i.e thinner fabric versus thicker, heavier fabrics per each layer.

For example, for that fishing trip up north, you would need the heavyweight layers (and more than three layers for sure) but for a trip to the mall, you'd need the lightweight option. For an afternoon of outdoor skating, the light or perhaps mid-weight layers would serve you well.

Since you'll be exercising vigorously, you don't want to get too hot and then have to take a layer off and then get too cold. The best winter strategy is to still keep with the light-weight option for your inner layer. Just skate or walk faster!


First up, let's talk about wicking. What is "Wicking"?

Wicking is the term used to describe how moisture passes through material and wicks (i.e. wisks) away any perspiration you've built up when doing any exercise. If the moisture is not wicked away, it remains trapped so that inner layer closest to your skin will make you feel cold and quite miserable too. If the moisture is being 'wicked away' it will keep you warmer longer because your inside layer remains dry (or drier).

So....the type of inside layer is very important! When buying thermal underwear, check the packaging to see what properties it has and will it suit your needs before buying it.

The inside or base layer

This layer is the one closest to your skin and needs to be tight fitting or body-contoured. You'll need several sets, two for sure, possibly three sets for both your upper and lower body.

You'll hear it called various names, the most common being these terms:

  • long underwear
  • thermal underwear
  • silk thermal underwear.

The best types to wear would be in:

  • Polypropylene, a polyester-spandex blend and specific brand types like Thinsulate or
  • Silk
  • Cotton-polyester-spandex blend.

The lighter the weight for this inside layer, the better it is for wicking away the moisture from your skin. This lightweight layer is ideal for everyday activities. We all like wearing cotton especially in summer, but it's not good for winter wear to keep you warm as there's the wicking problem as I mentioned above.

Any moisture becomes trapped making the fabric feel damp and cold. It takes heat away from your core so you'll feel and be colder. Depending on your level of exercise, you may want some wicking or a lot of wicking capability.

For everyday winter wear, I like to wear a cotton-poly-spandex blend that fits snugly, is warm but not too warm and makes being outside quite comfortable going to work or to the mall. The cost is reasonable and can be found easily as well. For silk, an outdoor specialty store is the place to go.

Price can vary with silk being the most expensive but still affordable, then polypropylene and the most affordable, the cotton-spandex blend.

The middle layer

This layer is the one that provides the best insulation. It's a usually a looser, thicker and bulkier layer. This allows the warmer air you've generated to circulate within its confines yet still be able to escape from your inner core so you don't become overheated.

Because this is the insulating layer, it makes you feel the most cozy, warm and comfortable. You'll find polyester, wool, down and blends of man-made and natural materials work very well. To add that extra bit of comfort, if you wear a middle layer of fleece, it often has higher collars, longer sleeves and zip pockets.

The best types to wear would be:

  • Wool
  • Fleece
  • Combination of wool and a man-made blend

Wool can be heavy to wear although there are lightweight wools too you can buy. Both fleece and combination blends are lightweight but still very warm. I like to wear a zipped fleece jacket for this layer for convenience and comfort.

The outside layer

This layer is the one that is the most exposed to the elements and shields you from wind and water. Gore-Tex is a popular type of branded material that is both water and wind proof for jackets in particular. Many of the jackets have additional zippers (like under the arms) for ventilation to wick away any moisture so it's a great choice for outdoor wear.

The best types to wear would be:

  • Nylon
  • Micro-fibers
  • Polyesters/Nylon blends
  • Wool (warm but not generally wind or waterproof)
  • Water-resistant and Waterproof.

Now there's a difference between the two types of material, these are:

  • Resistant means that the fabric will repel water for a time but will eventually soak through to the layers underneath.
  • Waterproof means exactly that while you are outside for a reasonable length of time. However, if you are out in the elements for an extended length of time or in a serious downpour of rain, it may get a little less water-proof.

Investing in a higher-end waterproof jacket is a smart choice because there are many benefits to you. The main ones are:

  • Rugged, flexible material
  • Lightweight
  • Durable and waterproof
  • Travels well and can be made smaller without damaging the jacket
  • Long-lasting.

The other outdoor materials that still claim the same features i.e. wind or water-resistant are usually less expensive. You just decide what best suits your purpose and budget.

Regulating your body temperature

Too hot? Then take off a layer or...

Too cold, then add a layer.


An easy formula to remember for the best winter clothing strategy for keeping warm is:

  • Inner layer = thin material and is body contoured to fit your shape
  • Middle layer = thicker material, bulky and warm to trap the air
  • Outer layer = waterproof, wind proof and good warm insulation in your jacket or coat.

Each layer is worn for a different purpose and collectively, makes for the best winter clothing strategy you can do to keep toasty warm.

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