mid layers being worn as part of a country style outfit.

Layering is basically a way of layering clothes together to ensure you’re comfortable during outdoor pursuits, whether it’s hiking, dog walking or watching sport.

A typical layering system consists of:

Base layer for moisture management

Mid-layer for insulation

Outer layer for weather protection

These clever garments will help to regulate your temperature regardless of the activity and without the need for a bulky coat. Master the art of layering and get the most out of your mid-layer.


The mid-layer is the garment worn as a second layer, known as the insulating layer. It can apply to a variety of garments which provide insulation for the wearer whether it’s a fleece, softshell or lightweight insulating jacket and which, depending on your requirements, offer varying degrees of insulation.

Mid layer gilet being worn over a jumper with chinos


The role of the mid-layer is to keep you warm by insulating and trapping body heat whilst still being breathable enough to allow moisture to escape without making you feel clammy or cold.

A mid-layer will direct any body heat that your base layer didn’t retain back into your body and prevent cold air passing through to your body.


Your choice of mid-layer will depend on the weather and activity so you can choose the right level of warmth accordingly. There are a number of options available and it’s important to remember that the warmth to weight ratio of a garment will determine how much warmth it provides for its weight; the material’s ability to trap body heat.


A fleece is highly versatile because they tend to dry quickly and their slightly fluffy construction will help to trap air and retain body heat. They are often available in different thicknesses. Our Aylsham country fleece collection of gilets and jackets are good examples of this. In addition, the our breathable windblock fleece has the advantage of a waterproof outer for protection in moderate to heavy rain.


A windproof softshell is usually made from Polyester or nylon and designed to bridge the gap between a waterproof hard-shell and fleece. They tend to offer more protection than a fleece. Our Westermoor protective jacket is an ideal layer for changeable days and, aside from being windproof, it also features Velcro adjustable cuffs to keep out unwelcome breezes and side ventilation zips should you get too warm.

Explore more lightweight options from Alan Paine with our collection of men's lightweight jackets & women's lightweight jackets.


An insulated jacket will provide an excellent warmth to weight ratio without the bulk. This is an especially good choice in cooler weather. The Calsall quilted jacket and gilet mid-layers are part of our new collection for AW22 and contain renewably sourced DuPont® Sorona thermal filling for ultra-lightweight insulation. Both products are made from water repellent 100% recycled Polyester for added protection.


A Merino Wool jumper is another lighter mid-layer option (fine Merino Wool is also used in the construction of base layer items). Merino Wool is a great insulator, being much warmer than regular wool, with excellent breathability due to the fact the wool is able to absorb and evaporate moisture. An ideal choice for dry, slightly cool days, we stock a wide range of Merino Wool jumpers.

If the weather is poor then an insulated jacket is probably your best option, if it’s cold then a thicker fleece or softshell and, for milder days a thinner fleece or merino sweater. Sometimes the mid-layer will be used as an outer layer if the weather is dry and wind-free.

Mid-layer garments which open at the front with a zip are your best option that way, if you get too warm, you can unzip it to cool off rather than having to remove the whole layer. It’s also advisable to avoid cotton mid-layers because they will retain moisture and cause you to feel cold.


  • Warmth
  • Breathability
  • Quick-drying
  • Weight
  • Zips
mid layer windproof jacket as part of a warmer attire worn with a roll neck jumper and jeans


A mid-layer can be worn on a number of occasions and the weight and number of mid-layers will be dependent on the time of year and activity. Those participating in vigorous activities such as skiing, hiking or climbing will embrace the three-layer system whilst others might adopt a two-layer system for more general outdoor activities.

Wearing multiple thin layers will keep you warmer than a single thicker layer because warm air is trapped between the layers acting as an insulator. The benefit of a layering system is you can remove or add layers depending on how warm you are.


In dry, warmer weather mid-layer clothing might be used as the outer layer whereas, if it’s extremely cold and depending on the activity, you might wear more than one mid-layer for increased warmth and comfort.