/ Midlayer for winter
I am currently looking at synthetic mid layers for climbing this winter. I do run a little cold so have been adding a gilet to my soft shell and have a hard shell on top,
The options out there are doing my head in so any first hand options would be appreciated. From looking online at reviews I have 3 favourites. Nano air (expensive) arc'teryx proton Lt (expensive but 50%off on sportpursuit regularly) alpkit katabatic (love there stuff)
Helly Hansen pile
The Nano Air is well worth the money - it's simply one of the most useful bits of clothing I've ever bought. I paired it with a heavier stretch-woven softshell (ME Frontier, I think) last winter, and it was like wearing a breathable suit of armour. No adjustments needed beyond throwing a belay jacket over the top when stopped, and never overly sweaty.
That’s great value. My HH double pile field jacket is 33yrs old and still going but a little snug. Honestly they are the warmest thing outside down that you can wear under a wind proof.
I bought my Nano-Air for £50 on eBay about 4 years ago and it has been my most used piece of outdoor clothing since. Very comfortable and breathable, when mine finally dies and I replace it I will be getting another one, but I will get the lighter weight version with the mesh back as for me personally I find the regular one maybe just a bit too warm.
Rab alpha direct. Its that good I think it must be made out of distilled quantum theory and unobtanium.
Personally I don't feel the nano air lives up to all the hype generated. It should be breathable given how freely wind flows through it, but I'm generally too sweaty in it (I do run hot though). And I'm not convinced by the durability of the outer fabric, though it's not an issue for midlayer use.
Fleece is my go-to over my nano air. I'd suggest you go for the Alpkit if your going synthetic insulation rather than fleece.
I bought an OMM Rotor smock as an emergency layer for winter running but it has also worked very well as a climbing mid layer. Very light and warm for the weight.
Yup, I have used Inov8 thermoshell for quite a few years already. Them fjell running things have a relly good cut, are lightweight and so on.
But as I got a fancy new Polartec Alpha jacket from OR, I'll give that a go. The new jacket has a hood, and it even seems to fit over a helmet...
> It should be breathable given how freely wind flows through it, but I'm generally too sweaty in it (I do run hot though).
I've seen mine go from soaked through (thirty minutes in a downpour soaked like it'd just been in the washing machine, not through sweat) to bone dry in the space of about half an hour on the back of a chair. It isn't going to stop you sweating if you're too hot, but it will get rid of it as quickly as you can make it.
If you're still feeling sweaty, it might be worth looking into a base layer which won't hold on to as much sweat - Brynje maybe? I reckon the Nano Air over Brynje would be the ultimate beginning of a winter clothing system.
I feel the cold. This was the thickest warmest looking fleece I could find.
So far so good and at the price I'm pretty happy. Mostly an offshore sailing design, so perhaps bulky for climbing. Very warm even when wet, good as part of a layering system, but not great without a top layer when it is windy.
I have the nano air but think the nano air light would be more useful as the nano "full" can get quite hot.
I’ve got a Nano Air Light, and an Alpkit Katabatic.
I also owned the previous version of the Nano, but sold it as it didn’t fit me. I also have an Arcteryx Atom LT.
I would say the Atom LT is the perfect winter midlayer. Whilst the Katabatic is excellent, it is a bulkier /warmer jacket. Great for standing around in but on the warm side. It’s almost like a light belay jacket, ie not a million miles away from a ME Fitzroy.
The Nano Air Hybrid is great, but doesn’t work super well on its own, not being windproof, apart from the front.
I have found a base layer, R1, hoody, atom and paramo to be a good combo when climbing.
If wearing a shell instead of the Paramo, I’ll swap the Atom for the Alpkit Katabatic.
This will all be backed up by a medium weight belay jacket.
Tom (who owns to many coats)
I also run cold and last year I got the Outdoor Research Uberlayer, 95g Polartec Alpha. I’m a convert to Alpha, this worked amazingly well ice climbing in Cogne, really breathable on the walk in and warm when climbing. Think I only got my belay jacket out twice! I also have a super light Alpha gilet from NW Alpine in case I need some extra warmth.
Merino wool and cashmere jumper. Bomb proof, breathable, shed drizzle, warm when wet and can wear to pub
> Merino wool and cashmere jumper. Bomb proof, breathable, shed drizzle, warm when wet and can wear to pub
Relatively heavy for warmth, wick poorly, take ages to dry, can be expensive, not as warm when wet as synthetics, merino baselayers wear out quickly.
Midlayer not baselayer
Mine is Knitted so breaths very well. Sweat never an issue. Lighter than synthetic fleece for same,warmth, dries very quick and is warmer when wet.
Spent a lot of time in the really foul weather this winter out in it. Beats fleece easily.
Problem is you need to know your yarns. And then getting it made / found
As for baselayer. Most of the big names aren't actually very good quality milling. They are mixing merino grades, and the factories have even been mixing yarn. Then there is chemical stripping to 'improve' the wool grade.
Another issue is China has limited experience of milling wool hence not the understanding on the shop floor to maintain top quality
Also have an MKH merino possum jumper....but that is just too warm
I've been getting on very well with the new Montane Prism this summer - very versatile, really well cut and a good light-to-mid weight for use as either a mid layer or an outer depending on conditions. It's fairly priced too. Review out next week (but you've just had it in a nutshell)
My vote goes to Polartec Alpha - whatever you can get. I run hot so it does have to be pretty cold before I can wear it compared to a softshell. Much more breathable than 'passive' insulation in my experience.
Thanks Tom I was after someone who had been through a few of my options, and could comment on them.
Thanks for all the advice and options I had not considered.
Just got to persuade my wife I need a new jacket for Scotland this winter
Do you get cold quite quickly? That sounds quite a lot to climb in.
I haven't tried the type of top you mention so can't compare. Have you got a link to them?
It would surprise me though if it outperformed a modern lightweight grid fleece and it would surprise me even more if it outperformed the kind of insulated top/jacket being talked about by most on here.
Also, are you actually winter climbing in it? I find I sweat quite a lot whilst leading so need something that can cope with that. That's why I ditched merino base layers for climbing after a few tries.
> Do you get cold quite quickly? That sounds quite a lot to climb in.
Not really, but I rarely wear a belay jacket, and most of the time am doing all the leading
Emma Twyford has become the first British woman to climb 9a with a redpoint of The Big Bang at Lower Pen Trwyn, North Wales. Emma's ascent is only the third of this route, first climbed in 1996 by Neil Carson.