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It may be tempting to put on that big bulky jacket when you are surrounded by snow-capped mountains and a shiver runs down your spine, but believe us when we say that the best way to keep warm in the numbing cold is to layer up. Layering up breaks down to the simple logic of wearing different layers that you can add or subtract depending on the temperature.
The reason wearing multiple thin layers instead of one thick layer is that it will help you keep warm as the heat between all the thin layers acts as an insulator and if you remove one layer the heat trapped inside will release making you feel cooler. The benefit of 'layering up' is that you are ready for any sort of diverse temperatures out there in the open.
The base layer is in direct contact with your skin. It has two primary functions- to regulate your body temperature and absorb any traces of moisture from your body. The base layer is the most important layer to protect your body from the elements of nature and will provide just a bit of warmth. The layer will help regulate your body temperature as it will absorb the sweat which may otherwise steal away the heat build-up. A cotton base layer is a strict NO as it will soak any moisture and leave you feeling very cold.
The mid-layer helps provide the insulation. The mid-layer will channelize any body heat that the base layer failed to retain into your body and help the cold air from passing through. The perfect mid-layer will be breathable and will also steal away any moisture away from the body and any moisture trapped by the base layer is transported out to be evaporated. A fleece acts as one of the best mid-layer. You can opt for a thinner or a thicker fleece depending on the temperature.
The main purpose of the outer layer is to protect you from wind and rain and hence the outer layer should always and strictly speaking, be WATERPROOF. You shall be able to rely on your outer layer should it rain; because as they say, 'the show must go on'. In most cases, a thin shell jacket should do the trick. If you are still cold, you can put on one more mid-layer and you are sorted for the adversities of nature.
The gist of all the long talk is, using a layering system will allow you to self-regulate your own body temperature as and when needed. If you find yourself grinding your teeth, reach out to your backpack and pull out that fleece. If you find yourself sweating way too much, all you have to do is just remove one layer and feel the heat release. Something you couldn't do if you did not 'LAYER UP.'