If you want to have a great ski day, you need the right snow gear and especially the right kind of clothing. You cannot enjoy skiing no matter how great the snow or ski conditions are if you feel uncomfortable whether it is too hot or too cold.
While it is also great to feel warm and cozy when you are out and about, you will not be able to enjoy the sport if you excessively sweat while burying yourself under heavy clothes. Also, if you do not have the right kind of clothes for the day, you may end up feeling too cold and numb. How can you ever enjoy the surreal surroundings and the thrilling sport if all you can think about is your clothes?
The Purpose of the Middle (Second) Layer
While on the slopes, you need ski clothes that can work for a varying range of weather conditions. Of course, your skis, bindings, and boots are crucial, but what is often underestimated is the importance of the right clothing.
Some days on the slopes are unusually chilly and windy while others may be on the warmer side. For this reason, you need proper layers of clothes that you can put on to keep you warm and comfortable but can also remove a layer of clothing if the weather changes and you feel too warm. When you are skiing, you will sweat so you do not want to overheat yourself or carry extra weight on your body if you do not need to.
We have already discussed the importance of having a base layer. It is a crucial part of your cross country ski clothing that keeps you comfortable and dry. What comes on top of the base layer is the middle layer (also commonly referred to as the mid-layer). Your middle layer clothing is an essential layer that keeps you warm and comfortable, but if the weather or the circumstances get too hot for you, you can take off the mid-layer to make yourself comfy and regulate your body temperature. It’s like controlling and regulating your body temperature through layers of clothing – isn’t that technical and cool at the same time?
So, the real reason having your middle layer is to get a hold on to the warmness through trapped air. This layer has some space to help trap warm air. It is still breathable and does not cause any sort of suffocation or sweat under your outer layer. Your middle layer is generally a thick woolen layer or a fleece. You may have noticed different brands labeling their middle layers with varying weights. For instance, the Icebreaker Merino Wool clothing that comes in with a 260 middle layer weight, or the R1 – R4 system of Patagonia fleece.
In the 3 layered clothing system that comprises of the base layer, mid-layer, and outer layer, your mid-layer can be in the form of a synthetic or down puffy layer which is more like an insulating layer. It is also a good idea to go for a zippered mid-layer so regulating the heat is easier for you.
Let us focus more on the middle layer section and the factors you should be looking for when purchasing your very own mid-layer clothing.
Considerations for Choosing a Comfortable Middle Layer
Consider the following main factors while deciding upon your middle layer:
On warmer days, your middle layer can act as an outer layer. It all depends upon your comfort level and the purpose the layer is serving you. Mid-layer is often made from wool and fleece, but avoid using cotton clothing as mid-layer. The fleece material is generally ideal and gaining more and more popularity due to its practicality – it is light in weight, has a great breathability factor, and possesses great thermal properties.
A sweater or a jacket made from wool or fleece is a good example of a useful mid-layer.
A mid-layer softshell jacket is also a great idea as it doubles up as an outer layer and protects you against rain, water, and snow – it acts as a second (internal) layer of waterproof and windproof shield that repels water or moisture from reaching the base layer.
A lightweight insulated jacket is also another good option for mid-layer clothing. It is more versatile as compared to fleece and is lighter in weight. With the same great heat-retaining property, your lightweight insulated jacket takes minimum space when it is compressed. This comes in very handy when weight is a concern or you are packing for your ski clothes and have limited space.
Flexibility and Comfort
It is always better to buy thinner clothes and put on multiple layers. This layering system not only traps warm air inside keeping your body warmer (as compared to putting on a single thick jacket), but you can conveniently remove a layer if conditions get too hot for you. Your middle layer should not be rigid or restricting. In fact, it should be flexible so that your body can easily move, stretch, and bend in all directions without the middle layer causing any sort of resistance.
You can always experiment or play with your mid-layer. Some skiers who ski in extremely cold conditions use multiple mid-layers. You can use a combination of different texture like a light fleeced layer along with a soft jacket on the top. You can remove a layer if your body gets too hot.
Your middle layer also gives you the flexibility to be used as an outer layer in weather conditions that are not too cold. If you believe the weather conditions do not require a heavy shell (outer layer) and putting on one is just an over-kill, you can go for your light wind jacket layer that you could have used as a mid-layer in colder temperatures.
When going for your mid-layer, make sure the fabric and the layer are breathable. This will allow all kinds of moisture (primarily sweat) from your base layer to evaporate through this fabric. Ventilation is an important factor when deciding upon your mid-layer.
Many people who are new to this sport or to the technical layering system that such sports demands, often get confused with the term ventilation and think it will expose you to the outside wind. A properly ventilated mid-layer means that although it can trap warm inside to keep your body warm, this layer is still breathable enough that it does not suffocate your body or cause sweat.
5 Best Women’s Mid Layer Sweaters and Jackets
Here are our 5 top recommendations of women’s mid-layer sweaters and jackets:
1. Marmot Women’s Neothermo Hoody
The Marmot Women’s Neothermo Hoody is manufactured using 92% polyester and 8% elastane. It uses the Polartec® Power Grid™ technology which boasts a grid channel that not only increases your hoody’s warmth and has a great wicking property, but also reduces its weight. This makes your Marmot Neothermo Hoody easy to pack and travel with as it easily compresses inside your backpack.
It has a chic design with a zippered chest pocket to keep your important stuff handy. The integrated thumbholes keep your sleeves in place so you do not have to face any issues when layering your clothes – the elastic cuffs also make it super easy and comfortable.
The Marmot Women’s Neothermo Hoody is specially designed for all kinds of weather – you can wear it as a mid-layer for colder weather conditions and as an outer hoody jacket when it is not so cold.
It is available in multiple sizes from X-Small to X-Large. You can get yours in Red Dahlia, Blue Tint, or Black for a price range of $120 – $125.
2. Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket Women
If you want a great quality mid-layer that is comfortable, durable, long-lasting, and of course warm (800 fill power goose down), there is nothing better than the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket. It weighs only 8 ounces and the lightest one you may get. Not only that, it gets super compact and zips up into its pocket.
This water repellent and windproof women’s jacket boasts an Alpine fit that can be conveniently layered under your outer jacket. The elastic cuffs are practical for making you warm yet comfortable to wear at the same time.
With handy zippered pockets, this versatile mid-layer can be used in different weather conditions, and you can even zip it up to compress in and use it as a pillow! Taking about versatility and practicality!
You can pick your favorite color/ shades from the stylish range of Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Jackets – Mystic Purple, Bright Rose, Dive, Green Fade, Marionberry, Black, and Zinc. Get yours for $187.05 – $324.00.
3. Arc’teryx Women’s Proton LT Hoody
The Arc’teryx Proton LT Hoody is your cross-country skiing partner and protects you from external elements by keeping you warm and comfortable. Constructed using 100% polyester, this hoody features the Proton LT Hoody that has a breathable insulation mechanism ideal for mountainous and outdoor adventures.
It is light in weight and quite durable that can serve you as your mid-layer ski partner for a long time. It retains its warmth even when it gets damp making it great for your snow-bound adventures.
The Arc’teryx Proton LT Hoody is available in a good range of sizes from X-small to X-large. It is available in a large range of interestingly labeled colors – Dynasty, Ellipse, Enigma, Sunhaven, Rhapsody, Black, Lampyre, Iliad, and Macaw. You can get yours for $191.72 to $299.00.
4. Mammut Women’s Runbold Hoodie Midlayer-Jacket
If you are looking for a combination of style, comfort, and practicality, there is nothing better than the Mammut Runbold Hoodie. It is an ideal mid-layer jacket that works perfectly well for your cross country skiing adventures.
This hoodie is manufactured using 92% polyester and 8% spandex. It is light in weight, flexible due to its stretchy fleece, and comfortable. With its waffle-gridded exterior, your hoodie can provide you with great breathability, wicks moisture, and dries quickly. If you find the two kangaroo pockets impressive, wait until you find the hidden surprise pocket inside the kangaroo pocket to keep your important items extra safe.
Specially designed keeping women in mind, this Peacoat jacket is available in X-small and medium sizes for $119.00 to $140.72.
5. Helly-Hansen Women’s LIFALOFT Hooded Stretch Insulator Jacket
The Helly-Hansen LIFALOFT Hooded Stretch Insulator Jacket for Women is warm, well-insulated, breathable, and chic at the same time. It has multiple pockets at practical places – two zippered hand warming pockets and not to forget the small zippered chest pocket to keep your important items secure.
This women’s insulator jacket can make a perfect mid-layer with a hood for under the helmet. It is ideal for your cross-country trips and is available in two attractive colors/ shades – Charcoal and Navy. If style and practicality are your things, you can get your Helly-Hansen Women’s LIFELOFT Hooded Stretch Insulator Jacket for $182.00.
5 Best Men’s Mid Layer Sweaters and Jackets
Here are our 5 best mid-layer sweaters and jackets for men:
1. Helly-Hansen Daybreaker Lightweight Full-Zip Fleece Jacket
Manufactured with recycled Polartec® technology, this fleece jacket is light in weight, warm, and versatile. Its full zipper front-open design gives you the flexibility to use it as a great mid-layer on your ski days as well as stylish casual wear when you are not on the slopes.
With Helly-Hansen’s name that guarantees the quality of all its products and the HH logo embroidered at the chest, this fleece jacket comes in a wide array of funky colors including Bright Orange, Navy, Wood Green, Alert Red, Electric Blue, North Sea Blue, Quiet Shade, and Fallen Rock.
The Helly-Hansen Daybreaker Lightweight Fleece Jacket is available in different sizes from small to X-large and you can have yours only for $36.20 – $65.00.
2. The North Face Men’s Gordon Lyons Full Zip
If you are looking for a warm mid-layer that can be a great standalone jacket, look no farther as you can get the North Face Men’s Gordon Lyons Jacket. It is made with 100% polyester and you can conveniently put it in your washing machine and tumble dry it – the quality of the jacket remains the same.
The best part about this front-zip jacket is that it is made with a soft blend of recycled fabric that provides you with unmatched softness and warmth. The stand-up collar adds to its coverage when the weather gets even more chilly.
Not only does it have two zippered front pockets for holding your stuff or warming your hands, but it also has a secure pocket along its left sleeve that lets you keep your small-sized valuable items. The North Face logo at the chest shows how confident the manufacturer is about the great quality and value this jacket delivers.
With a variety of sizes and colors available, you can order your full-zip jacket for $44.53 – $109.95.
3. Arc’teryx Proton LT Hoody Men’s
The Arc’teryx Proton LT Hoody for Men is light in weight but heavy in performance. It is manufactured using a breathable insulation mechanism that works as a great middle layer for cross country skiing as well as many other outdoor high-performance activities.
The exterior is weather resistant allowing you to use it as an outer layer when things aren’t as cold. And if that is not enough, this durable hoody is specially designed keeping your flexible movements in mind.
It is available in different eye-catching shades including Utopia, Iliad, Neptune, Crux, Phoenix, Cobalt Moon, and Black. With sizes ranging from X-small to XX-large, you can get your Arc’teryx Proton LT Hoody for only $299.00.
4. Mammut Men’s Runbold Hoodie Midlayer-Jacket
You do not need to worry about the weather when you have your Mammut Men’s Runbold Hoodie. This mid-layer jacket is made with 92% polyester and 8% spandex and guarantees durable material and a great stretch – exactly what you need on long adventurous days.
Its quick-drying mechanism is great for long outdoor trips and its front-zipper makes it super convenient to be worn. It has a secret pocket inside the kangaroo pocket to store your valuable items.
The Mammut Runbold Hoodie for Men comes in three attractive colors – Gentian (blue), Spicy (red), and Phantom. You can pick your size from small to X-large and get one for only $119.00 – $142.37.
5. Helly-Hansen Men’s LIFALOFT Hooded Stretch Insulator Jacket
Helly-Hansen has been a trusted name for over a century and its LIFALOFT Hooded Stretch Insulator Jacket will show you why. Its unmatched LIFALOFT insulation by Primaloft with a 4-way stretch feature along with its one of a kind quilt design is proof of its great construction and design.
It is windproof and water-resistant and works as an excellent middle layer for your cross country skiing adventures. Available in different sizes and shades including Antique Moss, Patrol Orange, Navy, Electric Blue, Charcoal, North Sea Blue, and Black, you can have your very own Helly-Hansen LIFALOFT Hooded Insulator Jacket for $182.00 – $280.00.