How to layer for any outdoor adventure

Author: Pierre Pienaar, In-house Product Specialist

The layering principle is designed to keep you both warm and dry. Your body heat is your only source of warmth and it should not be wasted. This principle will trap your body heat efficiently and effectively, without the unnecessary weight of heavy blankets and outdated heavy jackets. Just follow these three steps and you’ll be good-to-go for any adventure!

Here are the 3 “W’s” of the Layering Principle:

Layer 1: Wicking

  • The wicking base-layer is worn directly on your skin. A fabric that wicks moisture will soak or absorb the perspiration away from the skin and will trap body heat, even if the material is wet.
  • Wicking layers are generally made using technical materials and not cotton. Cotton does effectively wick moisture, but it does not dry quick enough, resulting in the wet material cooling your body down instead.
  • Base-layer materials “hate water” or are known as hydrophobic. Moisture on a hydrophobic material will quickly spread over a bigger surface area which, in turn, allows moisture to evaporate faster.
  • Base-layers should fit tightly on the body as it helps keep the body dry and traps body heat.
  • K-Way base-materials have four-way stretch so that it does not restrict movement.
  • The K-Way Explorer Series is also classified as a base-layer. The technical materials will wick moisture away from the body and will help keep you warm, with the addition of a mid-layer.
  • A K-Way Thermalator Elite Vest can be used, in conjunction with a K-Way Explorer Shirt, to provide a lightweight solution to chilly days without the need of a jacket.

Layer 2: Warmth

  • The mid-layers are designed to trap body heat. The technical fabric will wick moisture from the base-layer and will help keep the base-layer dry.
  • The base-layer and mid-layer work together to keep you dry and warm.
  • Mid-layers can be worn and adjusted according to temperature fluctuations and physical exertion.

A Fleece is a very good option to be used as a mid-layer:

  • K-Way Fleece material is very effective at wicking moisture and trapping body heat.
  • K-Way Fleece Jackets have a four-way stretch and will not restrict your movement.
  • K-Way Fleeces dry quickly and act as insulators, even when wet.
  • K-Way Fleeces are classified in 3 different weight classes:
  1. Lightweight Fleece is very light, dries really fast and is super stretchy.
  2. Medium-Weight Fleece is slightly thicker and heavier than Lightweight Fleece and will therefore trap body heat better. Lightweight Fleece can be worn under a Medium-Weight Fleece to make the perfect combination for colder conditions.
  3. Heavy-Weight Fleece jackets are even thicker and warmer. They are the most effective in trapping body heat and can be worn over lightweight fleeces in very cold conditions. Heavy-Weight Fleeces are bulky to carry in a daypack, especially while commuting, travelling or on a hike, so consider thinner layers if you do not have a lot of packing space.

Layer 3: Wind and Water

  • The outer layer is the layer that is designed to protect against cold wind, rain and snow.
  • The outer layer is also the final insulating layer, trapping all the body heat in a protective cocoon.

K-Way Down Jackets are a very popular and stylish outer layer:

  • These jackets are completely windproof.
  • The outer material has a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating which will keep you dry in snow and a light drizzle. Remember, you should never get your down jacket too wet - the DWR coating should be maintained using the Storm Down Proofer.
  • The excellent insulation of Down eliminates the need for a mid-layer fleece but works exceptionally well in conjunction with the correct base-layer.

K-Way Softshell Jackets perform exceptionally well as an outer layer:

  • These jackets are completely windproof.
  • K-Way Softshell Jackets all have a factory applied DWR coating which will keep you dry in a light rain. Only the K-Way Kilimanjaro Softshell Jacket is Waterproof though, so general softshell jackets are not suitable as on outer layer in heavy rain.
  • Softshell jackets are very effective as mid-layer jackets and work well to trap body heat.
  • These jackets can also be worn in conjunction with a base-layer and a lightweight fleece.

K-Way Shell Jacket are also known as outer jackets or hard-shell jackets:

  • These jackets will protect against wind and rain as the outer material is windproof and waterproof.
  • K-Way Shell Jackets have a DWR coating which keeps the outer material dry. This coating should be reapplied using the Storm Fabric Proofer.
  • Thicker outer-shell jackets like the K-Way Blizzard Ski Jacket has built-in insulation and can be worn in conjunction with a base-layer and lightweight fleece in colder conditions.
  • Thin outer-shell jackets can be worn to protect against rain in warmer weather. Wearing the correct layers under a thin outer-shell will keep you warm and dry in extreme cold conditions as well.