SnowUniverse guide for buying mid layers

Just as crucial as the base and outer layers, the mid layer is responsible for trapping heat. Its role is to insulate the body from the cold weather. As well as its insulating power, this layer must provide good breathability in order to wick away any moisture from the base layer to the third layer, and to prevent you from overheating and sweating. Several fibre options are available to suit every need.

The indispensable polar fleece

The most common mid layer for skiers is the polar fleece. It’s actually one of the most effective fibres that owes its success to its heat/weight ratio, its softness and its rapid drying capabilities. Loved for its cosy comfort, the fleece is also very breathable and strong, yet lightweight and easy to wash. 

Fleece consists of synthetic fibres such as polyester, PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and others, sometimes recycled. It is available in different weights, allowing for different warmths. The type and intensity of physical activity to be performed guides the choice of weight, or grammage, of the fleece. For alpine skiers who ski on groomed trails, a high grammage is recommended (around 300g/m2), while for ski tourers who perform more intense exercise, a thin and breathable fleece layer is better. 

Other insulating fibres are available

Synthetic or natural, other insulating fibres can be used in mid layer manufacture. A broad choice of mid layers are available meet all needs and preferences — warmth level, fabric weight, fabric density and water repellency.

Synthetic fibres

Polyamide, polyester, acrylic, polypropylene and others are chosen according to intended use of the finished product. The warmer a mid layer is, the less breathable it will be. However, these synthetic fibres ensure faster drying time than natural fibres.

Natural fibres

Natural down can be found in micro-down jackets. Highly effective in terms of insulation and compression, down loses performance in damp conditions. Another natural fibre merits consideration: Merino wool. More expensive than synthetic fibres because it’s more effective, Merino fibre has other advantages. This incredible insulating fibre has the ability to regulate body temperature. It stays warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather. Shawn from a breed of New Zealand sheep, this wool is three times finer than traditional wool. Another advantage: it is a biodegradable fibre,, plus it’s easy to look after and is odour resistant.

Additional advice

  • An insulating mid layer with a collar and adjustable cuffs (sleeves or elastic) is more effective because it blocks wind from getting in.
  • The right size and fit, neither too large nor too small, is essential for good freedom of movement.
  • Either a full zip or a short zip at the collar is a plus as it regulates body temperature and facilitates easy layer removal.
  • As soon as you feel like you’re overheating, it’s advisable to take off the mid layer before sweating begins!

buyers guide for choosing mid layer clothing for skiing and snowboarding