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Layering for backpacking can be challenging. Layers come in different types, styles, and thicknesses. Backpacking clothing layers are made from different materials. And layers vary widely in their different properties with respect to insulation, moisture transport, and water resistance. Assembling a backpacking layering system that’s versatile enough to adapt to changing activity levels and environmental conditions is confusing and overwhelming. In this Member Live Q&A, we’ll tackle some layering myths and analyze a handful of layering scenarios to help the backpacker assemble a lightweight layering system that is versatile, adaptable, functional, and comfortable.

1. Keynote: How to Solve Layering Issues (~20 minutes, by Ryan Jordan)

  • What do we mean by layering?
  • Layering myths: layering is warmer and lighter
  • Conventional layering systems: the 3-layer model
  • Role of a wind shirt
  • 4-layer system for 1-2 seasons
  • 5-layer system for 3-seasons
  • 5-layer system for 4-seasons
  • Role of active insulation

2. Layering Systems Q&A (~20 minutes)

  • Synthetic, merino wool, alpaca in base layers
  • Layering for hot summer conditions
  • Hybrid layers and ditching back insulation
  • Vapor barrier liners
  • Zip base and insulating layer bottoms
  • Layering gloves and mittens
  • Polartec Alpha as a midlayer
  • Fishnet base layers
  • Layering for shoulder season in wet, cold mountain environments

3. Open Q&A (~20 minutes)

  • Lightweight and quiet inflatable sleeping pads
  • The future of lightweight backpacking and further gear/pack weight reduction
  • Traditional vs. DCF single wall tents
  • Infants and toddlers on multi-day backpacking trips
  • Backpacking light on a budget
  • Methods for cutting food weight

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