Getting the Right Kit: Midlayers
Once you have a baselayer the next layer to put on is your midlayer. The aim of the midlayer is to keep you warm if a baselayer is just a little too chilly. The classic examples of midlayers are fleeces though there are many new materials out there that offer different benefits which might be more suitable. Remember, as with any outdoor layer, avoid cotton in your midlayer as best you can. Although these are not directly against the skin, the sweat from your skin that has passed through your lovely, breathable baselayer and gets trapped by the midlayer.
These come in several different thicknesses, often referred to by ‘weight’ of the material. These can often be seen as numbers e.g. 50, 100, 200, or 300. The higher the number, the warmer the fleece. The kit list states you must have two fleeces, and we recommend that you take a thin fleece (sometimes called a microfleece) and a thicker fleece as this combination give you the most flexibility. If it’s a little bit chilly you can put on the thinner fleeces. If it’s a bit colder then replacing the thinner fleece with the thicker fleece would be fine, and if it’s really cold then putting both fleeces on at the same time would also work! There are many different styles and colours available and chosing which you prefer is entirely up to you. Some questions to think about when looking at fleeces:
Do you want pockets for your hands?
How about a hood to keep your head warm?
- Will you find a full zip jacket easier to put on or take off?
Getting something that is not too loose and not too tight is a must as you want to trap a small amount of air between your layers to insulate you. Thicker fleeces tend to be more wind-resistant too.
These are relatively new to the outdoor scene and have slightly different properties to a fleece. Because they use a heavier weave on the outside fabric, they often wear better than fleeces and, although they are not waterproof, many softshells are shower resistant and wind-proof. This means that you can be more comfortable for longer and get away without your waterproof until the weather gets really bad. Note softshells are not a replacement for waterproofs, as when it is raining heavily a softshell might keep you dry for 10 – 15 minutes. It’s not worth the risk. Again there are a variety of styles but you can get great hoods and plenty of pockets on some soft shell jackets which makes them a very versatile piece of kit - think about the same questions as above. It might be worth thinking of replacing the thicker fleece with a softshell for this very reason.
We have a selection of fleeces that you can hire. These are mostly thicker fleeces for durability, however there are also some lighter ones in too. Please contact us for more information on these. Once you’ve picked your midlayer then it’s worth looking after them. We’ll have another guide up shortly that will look at how best to do this.