Friday, January 04, 2013

Winter Plein Air Painter’s Gear II–Clothing (Middle Layers)

I thought I would blog a primer on how to gear up for comfortable winter outdoor painting. The next few posts will take on clothing as well as painting gear for winter.
In my last post I focused on the Inner (next to skin) layers. Here we will focus on the middle layers:

Clothing: Middle layers.


The purpose of the middle layers is to keep the wicking motion going outwards but also to build warmth and layers of protection. I use three or more middle layers depending on the temperature. My first middle layer is a thin polyester/thermolite/merino wool blend sweater. I love this sweater. I use it year round and only take it off when it gets really warm. Next up are a couple of fleece zippered hoodies. Be careful when you buy fleece. You want wool fleece not the polyester kind. Polyester fleece repels water and will trap it in building a layer of cold humidity in the middle of your clothing. You won’t last too long outdoors with that system.

I use lots of zippered layers in the middle and outer layers because here is where you can regulate the temperature of your body depending on how the day goes. If you need less layers, the zippered layers are easy to take off. They also allow you to shed layers quickly without loosing too much body heat in the process. If you can, make sure the zippered fleece layers have a tightening string in the bottom seam to hold them close to your body and not to hang loose. This prevents cold from seeping in from below the loose layers.

So again I would recommend at least two to three layers as middle layers, preferably fleece, and definitely not cotton or water repellent polyester fleece. Use zippered layers to allow for quick shedding or adding as the need arises.

We have to start talking about head and neck protection here. As a middle layer, I use a woolen scarf wrapped from the back of my head to the front. I hold it in place in the back by putting on a fleece cap. This is the first layer on the head. I know some people who use pantyhose on the head as a first layer below the fleece cap. I don’t. This system allows me to mimic a Balaclava by manipulating the scarf up or down. It keeps my ears warm and is not as cumbersome and unyielding as Balaclavas are. I frankly don’t recommend them.


I used jeans as my middle bottom layer for a long time, but now I use either insulated pants or simply jogging pants. I like the comfort of the jogging pants and the fact that they are banded at the bottom. Another set of wool socks or cotton jogging socks are OK here.

Again shingling is important here. Make sure that the first middle layer (not zippered) fist below the insulated pants or jogging pants and that the socks fit over the pants.

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