Layers are used to protect you against the weather, but also keep you comfortable regardless of what weather you are in. Layering up is a phrase you’ll hear so much when it comes to any form of travelling because it is such a fundamental thing that’ll change your travelling experience.

Start with the external shell.

It’s always best to pick the external shell first. This is due to the fact you can always add more layers underneath to aid in keeping you warm. The outer shell is there to protect you from the most basic of elements, wind and water.

They come in so many categories ranging from the ultralight jackets that’ll merely break the wind, to those that you could climb Everest in. The first thing to decide when purchasing a shell is what are your requirements. Often this will change the exterior layer quite drastically, so think about the type of location you are planning on visiting. But, overall, aim for something breathable and waterproof. You can always add more layers underneath, but the same cannot be said for adding more layers ontop.

There are two types of exterior shell, the hardshell and the softshell.


A hard shell is slightly more rugged and designed for serious weather. They keep the wind and water out like nothing else on the market. Here are a few tips for making the most of them:

Always put it on before the weather picks up. As they serve the purpose of keeping rain out of your baselayers, it’s well worth keeping dry until you get it on.

Ensure that none of your clothes hangs out from the sleeves, otherwise you could find that rain runs up through into the core of your clothing.

Don’t be afraid to use your vents, even in the rain. They’ll vent some of the heat and excess moisture. It’s also worth pacing yourself so you don’t get an excessive build up of sweat.


Hardshells retain an incredible amount of moisture, but a soft shell, on the other hand, is perfect for letting through a large amount of air. Basically, for those days when it isn’t going to rain 24/7 grab a softshell and you’ll thank me.

It’s good practice to have both a hard shell and a soft shell for your journies so that you are prepared for every scenario.

The boring bit (how do they work)

Most high-quality shells have a film that draws all of the juicy sweat into the surface from your core. This is then passed upwards and eventually evaporates. Technologies like Gore-tex utilise this, and it’s actually called a bi-component.

On the other hand, there are membranes which let through a large amount of air through pores in the jacket which let air through and sweat out, whilst keeping the rain out.

Basically, there are a variety of techniques. Anything that usually has an inwards facing membrane is only going to kick in when you really sweat, but we recommend giving the technology a read before purchasing to see if it is right for you.

The next step is to choose your base layers

I really recommend buying some good quality thermals, even if you find that you don’t use them on some days, they are just perfect for that first layer. When you get out of bed in the morning and throw on a thermal top, thermal leggings, and thermal socks you are already retaining a large amount of heat which means that a crazy amount of jumpers isn’t required to keep you warm.

Choosing breathable layers upon this

After the base layers and exterior shell are sorted, it’s just a case of choosing some good quality trousers and jumpers that compliment the weather. I’d highly recommend waterproof trousers and boots, but I’m sure you get the fundamentals of what clothing to choose at this point. Remember to pick yourself up a good quality scarf, and hat too.

P.s. Don’t forget to check out our ultimate travel guide.

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