Simplest layering for everyday use?

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 admltk 16 Jul 2021

What is the simplest way of layering clothes for everyday use? I am looking for a solution that is easily packable. For example I initially thought a baselayer+padded waterproof coat would be a good idea as it's got you covered for cold weather in general, but then if it gets hot the coat is very hard to pack.

One that seems to work well in general is a down jacket or fleece and a packable waterproof jacket. If it's cold you just wear the jacket which has got you covered for cold weather in general. If it gets hot you just remove the down jacket/fleece.

What's more packable, down jacket or fleece by the way?

Any advice would be apprecaited! Please don't recommend expensive items though, I am on a very tight budget. Just looking to buy used clothes for this.


In reply to admltk:

Probably depends a lot on what you are doing!

for most hill bumbling - temperature appropriate base layer, with a wind proof layer for moving about. A block insulation layer for stops and then waterproofs in case it rains.

the really simplest system is something like Buffalo shirts - but too hot for some times of year.

in terms of insulation - down is more compressible, but synthetic copes better when wet.

 Tringa 16 Jul 2021
In reply to admltk:

As Dr S says it depends what you are doing.

I don't climb but walk all the year round, though my lack of experience keeps me off the high tops in winter.

My set up for day walks all year is a thin synthetic wicking baselayer, a mid weight fleece and a waterproof. 

I don't fancy the idea of a padded waterproof. I can imagine needing a waterproof but getting too hot in a padded one. 


In reply to admltk:

I think you need to be a bit more specific than 'everyday use'. Going to the shops, ice climbing, summer bouldering, hill walking?

I've been impressed with my brynje string vest. Warm and wicking, and 80% of it is air. (You can get similar army surplus). A midlayer with a zip and a shell works for me in the winter. As does a running type base layer, a gridded fleece and a shell or synthetic jacket.

A dry bag or general compression sack will keep things small, but will affect down lofting.

 admltk 16 Jul 2021
In reply to Dr.S, Tringa, captain paranoia, dread-i:

(I hope that will quote the separate users)

Thanks for your replies everyone.

To answer the question about what I will be doing, it is mainly walking at a brisk pace for long periods of time.

 RobertKett 17 Jul 2021
In reply to admltk:

As others have indicated, many people find that the 3-layer system (wicking base layer; fleece; waterproof) works well; and a synthetic insultion layer that will fit over the top for when you stop (and in an emergency) is good.

Ideally, I'd add to that a windproof, as suggested by Dr S. They're useful over a wide range of conditions and less sweaty than a waterproof i.e. save your waterproof for when it actually rains. There's plenty of choice. I prefer one with some draught-free ventilation options e.g mesh-lined pockets, but it's a personal thing.

Hope you find what you want; happy walking!

 Smelly Fox 17 Jul 2021
In reply to admltk:

Forget layering.

You are either doing stuff (walking, climbing, shopping, wan****). Or you are standing still (eating, sleeping, belaying, d***).

You need to wear a nice “action suit” for when you are doing stuff, and a full on warm suit for when you are not. It doesn’t matter if it’s the most technical fabric, just the thickest jacket (or sleeping bag) you are happy to carry will do.

layering in the mountains is impractical, and has been pedalled by those in the clothing industry for too long.

Me? I wear a base layer top, and some stretchy lightweight trousers, and carry an down jacket in my bag. All seasons, all weathers (although I’ll chuck in a hard shell, and maybe an umbrella, if it looks wild). 

You are either hot or cold on the hill. Never comfortable. And being comfortable on the hill in the UK doesn’t have to cost much.  

Post edited at 02:05
 VictorM 17 Jul 2021
In reply to Smelly Fox:

> Forget layering.

> Me? I wear a base layer top, and some stretchy lightweight trousers, and carry an down jacket in my bag. All seasons, all weathers (although I’ll chuck in a hard shell, and maybe an umbrella, if it looks wild). 

You  do understand that that is literally layering as peddled by the clothing industry, right? 

In reply to admltk:

First forget down, for 364 days of the year in the uk they aren't suitable. 

3 layers, thermal base layer, fleece type mid layer, outer wind and waterproof.

In mild weather, your base might be a t shirt, in full winter long sleeved etc. The same with the outer, something much lighter compared to winter. In summer you might skip the fleece and wear the rain proof over a t shirt etc.. 

There is no perfect solution, but you don't need to speed a fortune. 

In reply to Smelly Fox:

What's your thoughts on a good tweed jacket? 

In reply to summo:

> What's your thoughts on a good tweed jacket? 

As long as the pockets are sufficiently commodious for a few ounces of rough shag, a pipe and a hip flask I find them acceptable.

In reply to Smelly Fox:

> You are either doing stuff

But how much 'stuff'? Slogging uphill? Strolling along the flat? Downhill? Walking? Running?

In what conditions?

Hot, still weather? Cold, windy weather?

A versatile layering system allows you to select your 'action suit' to match effort and conditions.

I use a five layer system as per the detailed post I linked earlier, not because it is pushed by the clothing industry, but because it's one that I have found keeps me comfortable, over 50 years or so of outdoor activity.

The simplest, cheapest, lightest and most useful part of a layering system is a wind resistant layer.

What the outdoor industry has been trying to push for years is garments that combine one or more of these layers; softshell, shelled micropile, shelled Alpha, etc. And pushing these as the perfect 'action suit'. The reality is that they are only perfect for a limited range of activity and conditions. I do have these things (far too many of them...), and they do have their place, but a versatile layering system can be adapted to all conditions and activities. For someone starting out, or not wanting to spend a lot of money, it is probably the best solution.

Post edited at 11:29
 Smelly Fox 17 Jul 2021
In reply to summo:

Too hot when on the move, too cold when you stop, and gets heavy when wet. Looks smart though.

In reply to Smelly Fox:

I think that your two layers for all seasons would be a non - starter for most people.

As someone else said, it is entirely personal; everyone feels the cold and sweats in their own way. You just have to experiment and find out what works, though most people would include a wicking base layer and a waterproof outer layer.

I have a 4/5 layer system for summer and a 7/8 layer system for winter, but many people wouldn't need that much.

In reply to Smelly Fox:

> Too hot when on the move, too cold when you stop, and gets heavy when wet. Looks smart though.

You could just as easily be describing a down jacket as tweed there! Both are best saved for the cafe and shops. 

 admltk 17 Jul 2021
In reply to captain paranoia:

Great suggestions everyone - thanks!

I think I am just going to go with summo's suggestion of having 3 layers. It seems to be the simplest solution. However just browsing on ebay, the variety of waterproof jackets seems to be endless. Nylon, polyester, goretex, pvc etc. I am just looking for a cheap waterproof jacket that can be packed away. Breathability would be nice too.

@captain paranoia: Thanks for the link. However I wasn't able to understand this sentence:

"A solution to this is to adjust the layering system slightly from a traditional base, 200 weight fleece, waterproof, to add a lightweight windproof layer."

Wouldn't a windproof not keep you dry? Or are you suggesting windproof + waterproof when it rains? Slightly confused as you can tell.

Edit: Is regatta isolite good? I should probably add that I want the waterproof jacket to be as durable as possible. I can't be bothered replacing stuff anything less than at least 5 years or so.

Post edited at 19:53
 ste_d 17 Jul 2021
In reply to admltk:

The windproof suggestion complements the waterproof, he is suggesting you have both

A simple pertex windproof is cheap and breathable, it'll keep a bit of drizzle or very light rain off, you'd be surprised how much you just end up wearing a base layer and windproof

Then when it's proper raining swap the windproof for your lightweight waterproof

 admltk 17 Jul 2021
In reply to ste_d:

Ah so the windproof is showerproof, makes sense now.

In reply to admltk:

> Wouldn't a windproof not keep you dry?

If you read down a bit, to where I discuss the options, I say this:

"If it's raining, you decide whether your windproof will provide adequate water resistance, and, if not, replace it with your waterproof."

If I could edit that post, I'd replace "windproof layer" with "wind resistant layer"; pertex and similar close weave microfibre fabrics aren't windproof, as they don't have a membrane, but they do greatly reduce wind penetration. The fact that they don't stop it completely is why they breathe better than the membrane or coated waterproof fabrics. And yes, most have a DWR treatment, so they will resist light rain.

As I said above, a wind resistant layer really is one of the best pieces you can add to a layering system to make it versatile and comfortable. I cannot recommend it enough.

Post edited at 21:35
 elliot.baker 17 Jul 2021
In reply to admltk:

I’m mildly tipsy and have just scanned down this thread and it made me chortle. 

“what will you be doing?” 

“walking briskly for long periods of time”

“Aha of course well you need this then”

“Well where will you be doing it?”


for what it’s worth, I have three 1/4 zip long sleeve synthetic baselayers I’ve owned for probably about 8 years which I got from Aldi or Lidl middle aisle and they have taken me through thick and thin in many weathers. I find having a 1/4 zip gives me plenty of ventilation to my core body area if I’m moving quickly in anything from mild to cold weather, and I can zip it up if I’m cold and obviously put more layers on.

if it’s the hottest day of the year my layering consists of a pair of running shorts and a thin synthetic vest or topless! Might pack the Aldi base layer and a waterproof jacket for if the weather turns or I end up immobile. 

in winter I have always had my big thick down jacket in the bottom of my bag and it’s cosy as anything if stopping for a coffee or whatnot, but I’m sure a fleece and waterproof would so the same job. 

you definitely don’t need to spend a fortune and you probably don’t need to get used stuff. I can’t imagine a situation in this country where the main factor in your demise would be wearing a £10 Aldi base layer and a mountain warehouse / regatta coat rather than a swanky £150 wafer thin expensive thing etc. 

Expensive things are made for one or both of people who can either a) afford it or b) are pushing the boundaries of human capability IMO. Sometimes nice to have for the average person but unlikely to be essential .

disclaimer I have had several beers and some port. 🍻 

In reply to elliot.baker:

> you definitely don’t need to spend a fortune

Yeah. Plenty of cheap stuff is perfectly good enough. Lidl, Aldi, Decathlon, etc. Decathlon has a summer sale on at the moment, I think...

 wercat 18 Jul 2021
In reply to admltk:

bamboo vest/T-shirt, lambswool/merino in thin outer layers, numbering from zero to 3 depending on conditions. 

 Forest Dump 18 Jul 2021
In reply to captain paranoia:

Honourable mention for Alpkit as a halfway house

 Gordonbp 19 Jul 2021
In reply to Dr.S at work:

And the large pocket knife, a notebook and pencil and 2d for the telephone....

In reply to Gordonbp:

Ah, when I used to regularity use phone boxes it was 10p  

must invest in a nice tweed jacket however

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