Mid layers are designed to be worn beneath outer garments like a coat and on top of ‘next to skin’ clothing like your thermal underwear or shirt. A mid layer is used in your clothing system as the insulation, which can be easily adjusted to suit the climate you are visiting. The benefits of having a good mid layer include efficient temperature control which can be adjusted quickly, moisture wicking capabilities to keep your undergarments drier and you more comfortable.
We carry a range of mid layer garments from The North Face, Icebreaker, Mountain Hardwear, Mont, Berghaus and Columbia.
Synthetic mid layers are quite popular and are used in all types of conditions. Many different styles and thicknesses are on offer to suit. For warmer climates an open weave or ‘waffle knit’ is a good option. They allow good sweat management whilst also breathing very effectively. These types of fabrics are great as a thin layer and can be used over thermals or worn on their own. Waffle knit tops are very popular in athletic type activities like mountain biking, skiing or trail running. Styles include t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, and half-zip shirts.
Fleece (synthetic fluffy fabric) garments are another great option, and are extremely popular. Almost every outdoor enthusiast would have owned a fleece at one time or another. Not all fleece fabrics are the same. A good quality fleece should have a pill resistant finish, brushed interior fabric for better insulation and feel and are designed to maintain its shape after many uses. Some styles use a stretch fabric usually with a smooth nylon outer finish to aid in durability when used with a backpack and will offer more comfort for technical activities. Ideas from the animal world are also adopted in clothing. Fleece jackets with a ‘bear fur’ looking outer finish are available and designed to hold in tiny pockets of warm air within the fur. These are excellent underneath an outer jacket like a raincoat. A good example is the Monkey Man jacket from Mountain Hardwear.
Wool has become main-stream in outdoor clothing these days, but the garments available today are very different from the ones your grandma used to knit you as a kid. Traditional wool is prickly feeling and heavy. Today, merino grade wool is the norm. We carry Icebreaker because they use New Zealand grown merino wool, from sheep living at higher altitudes. The advantage of their merino wool is the fibres are much softer, finer, and more insulating as the sheep are born and raised in cold climates. Using Icebreaker wool as a mid layer garment has the following advantages – the natural fibre does not hold odour like a synthetic, moisture is sponged up inside the fibre meaning you will not feel wet even when the garment is damp and it breathes exceptionally well because wool is porous.
Wool clothing can be a good option for travellers as it will go many days between washes, feels nice even in warmer climates and keeps you warm in cold climates. Merino wool clothing works most efficiently when layered together. Our most popular model is the Icebreaker Tech Top, which has a neck zip, collar and thumb loops for better fit under a jacket.
Choosing the right style of mid layer for you depends on a number of things like, how warm do you need it to be, what do you need to fit it under, is bulk/weight an issue? What activities will it be used for?
To help you choose we recommend you come and speak to one of our staff to help narrow your options.