Say what you like, for me there is nothing much worse than being cold. Wet and cold is so much worse and if you are out in the hills for a long run-out then this is potentially life threatening. A slightly different story on the streets of the city, yet the same wet and cold problem can still be relevant. So what to do?
“Layer up! That’s the key”.
Finding what works for you is key. Not being afraid to invest in some really decent kit can also make all the difference too. Not just to you yet also to the environment as kit will last longer and has the potential to be made with less waste. In addition good quality base and mid layers can be used beyond winter – in the summer too. Now that has to be a good thing.
A Layering System
Think ‘Angel Cake’ – base, middle and top layers.
The key for me is breath-ability of the clothing I wear, whilst offering insulation. I hate being cold! I also find that if my clothing gets too wet then I get cold. So I actually avoid waterproof jackets because of their less than adequate breath-ability. So where to start…
The Base Layer
Or sometimes referred to as the ‘Next-to-Skin’ layer – NTS. Yes, I want it all. Insulation, quick drying and breathable. Most of all I want warmth even when a little damp from my own perspiration. So I look for a micro-fiber tee or longsleeve that offers a degree of insulation and breath-ability. Micro-fibres are better at moving moisture away from the skin. They are also less likely to hang onto any moisture, drying fairly quickly. They are versatile as they can be woven into ‘Grids’ of insulation (pictured below, right). Small squares of tightly knit fibers which are then linked together by more open and breathable channels of fiber. A blend of insulation and breath-ability, coupled with wicking and quick drying.
Other options include a tighter woven fabric made from microfibres and for some merino wool ticks the box.
I often find a short sleeve NTS, with a long sleeve version of the same worn over the top can work extremely well.
The Mid Layer
So the temperature is dropping below 2-3°C and perhaps there is a cooling breeze out on your run. This is the point many will pop a waterproof on. Noooooo, you’ve just created a sweat-bath for yourself. Add another wicking, warmer layer instead. Save that jacket for when you really need it. Here a heavier warm layer can work very well. Can help block the cooling breeze and simply provides more insulation, therefore warmth. Larger, thicker ‘Grids’ can work well, as can tops with varying panels of different fabrics that allow for greater breath-ability in high sweat areas and improved insulation in other areas.
This is very much about keeping the weather off you. Windproofs and waterproofs are designed to do this.
Unless it is raining stick to the windproof. They are more breathable and most definitely dry exceedingly quickly. They also preserve the life of that more expensive waterproof as you will not be wearing it as much. Waterproof jackets (*See note below) are not designed for daily running use. All that movement breaks the membranes down that are designed to protect you – now that is expensive.
The amount of times I hear of people complaining their waterproof only lasted a couple of years – then they refuse to buy a windproof… My waterproof jacket is seven years old and going strong. My windproof even older and is still like new. Now, that gets hammered!
The Icing on the Cake. Yes, there is one, arguable it is a bit of a treat. Yet, if you are a daily runner, especially at higher or more remote locations then the icing can be very tempting.
So called, Soft Shells. Super nice midlayers that are just marvelous to wear or jackets that blend a windproof panel or two with insulation (pictured in use, left).
Yes, you will pay a little more for these yet they can be well worth it.
They tend to last for quite sometime if cared for and can offer that middle ground many seek. Those that have them, swear by them, and generally find they end up with more than one. For high mountain use I personally find they are extremely good, especially when the conditions call for it. Plus,they make for a brilliant spare layer to be carried, for when the need arises. I probably have more of the warmer variety, collected over the years, and just the one windproof combo. That probably says more about me than the jackets!
Clearly in all of this there is going to be a lot of mixing and matching to get the combo right for that days run. On many occasions it will not matter too much if you get it wrong – yet it is always better to be warm than cold – especially on the trails and hills around Sheffield. NTS layers often make for good summer tee’s and they don’t have to be body hugging to be effective – thank goodness. Planning your running wardrobe carefully can in the long run prove to be more cost effective than just buying random cheap gear.
With all that said, be warned, due to the pandemic quite a lot of the clothing we currently have available, is it. When it’s gone, it’s gone. We have been told there are no restocks available and we are already running out of our winter allocation of clothing.
Oh yes and if you fancy baking your own 3-Layer Angel Cake then follow this link for some direction from Baking with Granny >>
Some of my favorite winter clothing is as follows: “For base layers and tee’s I can wear all year I use Patagonia Capilene tops a fair amount. The same applies to their mid weight range. I really like Patagonia’s environmental approach to making clothing. I think that their mid weight tops are also worth exploring as is the Scott Trail Run Long Sleeve top…The ‘Grid’ picture above is from this top. New kids on the block, Dynafit, also look like they will fit the bill. One to try when I next need a top. When it comes to windproofs I am a big fan of the Patagonia Houdini. It packs small and into the pocket of their shorts for a starter. It just works and I have had mine for around 9 years. I also have the Patagonia Peak Mission soft shell, It’s excellent although a little pricey. The new Dynafit Alpine Jacket has already received some very favourable comments and is better priced. For a cosy warm mid layer I am at the moment trying the Dynafit Radical Jacket. So far so good. This is the most up to date and available warm hoody I have.”
*Please Note: Waterproof Jackets are made from delicate membranes and designed to be worn when it is wet. The downside to this is that they are fairly delicate and despite everyone’s best efforts are not as hard wearing as we would like. They are light weight and consequently best avoided for everyday use. Hence, the suggestion of a windproof and to preserve the life of your waterproof.
About Run Stu
Performance and Healthy Run Coaching, Heart rate, Periodisation, Strength & Stability. Business owner @accelerateuk Coach to #TeamAccelerate
The open road, fell, moorland and high places. Sunny days, days the wind blows and rain is horizontal - 'You're Alive!' Twitter and Instagram: @RunStuCoach