Layered Clothing Is a Walking Essential

Walking in Layered Clothing
Walking in Layered Clothing. Hero Images/Getty Images

To go for a walk, all you need is to put one foot in front of the other. But a number of other things can make it a more pleasant experience. Layered clothing tops the list of essentials that walkers shouldn't leave home without. You could just step out the door wearing anything that won't get you arrested, but to walk comfortably you should learn to layer your clothing.

Three Layers of Clothing for Walking Comfort

Base layer: The base layer is next to the skin and should be of a fabric that draws sweat away from the skin. This allows it to evaporate and cool you without making you feel wet and clammy.

  • Avoid cotton, as it retains sweat instead of releasing it to evaporate.
  • For cold weather, look for polypropylene (Capilene, Thermion, Thermax, and Thermastat) or silk undershirt and long johns.
  • For warm weather, look for CoolMax, Supplex, or polyester microfiber.
  • Lightweight wool is another option, since it has moisture-management properties for both cool and warm weather. Look for athletic styles.

Insulating layer: In cooler weather, this layer adds warmth and allows you the option of removing it as you warm up.

  • This layer could be a shirt or vest of wool, polyester fleece, pile, or down.
  • Don't overdo it - you will be warming up as you walk, so save the down vest for truly cold days.

Outer layer: This layer protects you from the elements, and can also be removed as you warm up.

  • A windproof and water-resistant jacket worn loosely is a good outer layer.
  • For rain gear, look for fabric treatments that still allow your skin to breathe, such as Goretex or Ultrex. These are more expensive than a rain slicker, but when out walking you will discover you are as wet from your own perspiration as from the rain unless your outer garment breathes. A breathable jacket allows the sweat to evaporate and keeping the rain from penetrating through the jacket.

How to Wear Layered Clothing for Walking Workouts

By layering, you are assured of having enough clothing but not too much. By choosing fabrics that are breathable and wicking, you allow your body to shed excess heat and sweat while feeling dry.

  • You should start your walk feeling cool but not cold. If you are warm rather than cool, take off a layer or change to a lighter layer.
  • As you warm up, remove the insulating layer. The windproof outer layer is often enough to keep you from feeling chilly.
  • Are you still too warm? Remove the outer layer.

You may feel cool after stopping for water or a restroom break. This is why you dressed in layers. Now you can put the outer layer or insulating layer back on.

Stashing Your Layers While You Walk

But what do you do with layers once you have warmed up?

  • If you carry a lightweight backpack or waist pack, you can stash the vest or jacket in it or attach it to the outside with a bungee cord. Many pack designs have bungee cords built in for this purpose, or you could buy one to use. In a pinch, a large rubber band attached with a larks head knot to the pack could do the trick.​
  • For jackets and layers with sleeves, you could also tie it around your waist by the sleeves.
  • You could plan your route with a loopback past your house, office, or car to drop off and pick up your extra layers.
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