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The 7 most important things you need to know about layering

August 09, 2019 5 min read

The 7 most important things you need to know about layering


What is layering?

The concept and real benefit of layering, is that it gives you greater flexibility and comfort through a wider range of conditions. If you have one top and one really warm jacket, for example, it’s like having an on/off switch only. If you get too warm for your jacket and you take it off, you can end up too cold without it. You have no flexibility for ‘in between’ levels of comfort. Those sorts of layers also have the tendency to be quite bulky while wearing them, or if you need to store and carry them.

Layering is the concept of going with more, lightweight layers, giving you the option to make smaller adjustments to your temperature and comfort. Think of it as the difference between an on/off switch, and a dial with varying levels of warmth and comfort from 1 to 10 where you get to choose the exact setting that works for you on the day.

Merino is the world’s most popular fabric to layer because it’s natural, ultra lightweight, odour resistant, wicks moisture, breaths and helps regulate your temperature through a wide variety of conditions.

(Because it’s so compact and lightweight, it also means it’s easy to store and carry if you need to remove a layer along the way. One of our long sleeve tops will fit into a zip lock sandwich bag!)


 Image: ioMerino Outsider Jodie layering her Ultra tee over her Altitude Long Sleeve.


Socks and Underwear.

The first thing to do is make sure your socks and underwear are part of your layering system. Wearing regular socks and underwear that don’t breathe or handle moisture as well as your base layer, will compromise the performance of that layer. Plus, your undies are right next to some of your most delicate bits, so getting your underwear right is important. Really important.

You’ll struggle to find anything more comfortable than our high performance underwear and socks.


 Image: Black Multi Sports Sock and Red Crew Socks




Base Layers

The is the layer that sits next to your skin and in cold weather should ideally be ‘contact fit’ - that is, sit close against your skin. You don’t want it to be so tight it restricts your movement though, so it should also be nice and stretchy. The contact fit prevents cold air coming between your layer and your skin. You’ll want it to create a layer of insulation, but also wick moisture away from your skin and not completely trap air in which makes you sweaty and uncomfortable. A high quality merino layer does this job perfectly and it’s the reason so many adventurers and search and rescue teams use it as their fabric of choice.

For a contact fit base layer that can also be worn on its own, we suggest our Altitude Range. (Our altitude tops are longer in the torso, particularly at the back, so you can tuck in your layers to avoid any cold patches when you move or bend.)


Image: Hailey and Austin both wear Altitude Zip Base Layers



Single layer.

If you’re active in standard weather, anywhere down to about 5c / 40f, a single Merino layer, even a Tshirt, can help keep you comfortable while you’re active. The golden rule is to dress for how warm you’ll be 15 or 20 minutes into your activity. Even though you may be chilly before you start, this strategy will help keep you comfortable throughout your activity, and you can top up your warmth by adding merino gloves and merino arm warmers that are easy to remove as you warm up. Our zip tops are also good for this type of weather as it allows you to have your zip up and sleeves down when it’s cooler, and zip down sleeves up if it warms up.

Our Ultra rangeis perfect for activities in this type of weather. Choose between T-shirts, long sleeve tops, or for extra versatility, a zip top.

Our Altitude range also makes a great single layer, and if you prefer a looser casual fit, our Universal range is what you’re after. Just be aware the looser fit of the Universal gives cold air a chance to get in between you and the top which can make it a little less effective, but better in milder conditions.

If you choose a T-shirt and want the option of some extra removable warmth, go with our Gloves and Arm Warmers. (Unlike regular arm warmers, ours are made from our own, unique, merino-rich fabric which doesn’t just cover your arms, but actually delivers high performance warmth.)

Image: Hailey wear Ultra Zip and Women's Compression Leggings and Austin wears the Altitude Zip and Men's Compression Leggings




Mid & Outer Layers

For more extreme conditions, or if you won’t be generating as much of your own warmth through movement, you’re going to need an extra layer or two. This will vary depending on where you’re going and what you’re doing. In its simplest form, layering a looser long sleeve top over a contact fit top will give you plenty of extra warmth. Or if you really need to dial up the warmth a thicker knit or even a fleece hoodie might be what you need.

A casual fitting Universal top will also fit comfortably over an Altitude or Ultra top.

And for extra warmth go with the Pinnacle - a genuine mid layer that can be used for high intensity activities but is best suited for low to mid range activities.

For the ultimate in warmth the Summit Hoodies are made from one of the lushest, most deluxe merino fabrics on the planet. Wear this before or after your activity, or during if you really need that extra warmth.

The matching tracksuit pants are another great option to keep your legs warm.

And don’t forget a neck tube, skull cap or beanie if you need to keep your head warm.



Don’t forget your legs

We know people are particularly fond of compression leggings for how they look, feel and for any possible performance benefits. But it has to be noted that most compression garments are not designed to provide warmth. In fact, because of the way they handle cold air and moisture, they can actually make you colder! So if you’re looking for a stand alone layer, or a layer to go beneath your regular gear to keep you warm and comfortable, go with io.

For stand alone leggings, we recommend our merino-rich Compression Leggings.

If you’re looking for an underlayer, our regular Altitude Leggings are what you’re after.


Image: Allison wears the Women's Compression Leggings and reversible beanie 


Not all Merino layers are created equally.

Although we talk about Merino, it’s worth noting not all merino fabrics or layers are created equal. Like many products, there are all sorts of variables that contribute to the quality of the end product. For example, the quality of the Merino wool, the process used for turning the Merino wool into yarn, and how the yarn is knitted into fabric. There are all sorts of different qualities, and at ioMerino we only use premium Australian merino wool, knitted here in Australia to our own exacting specifications so we know exactly what we’re getting. No cheap or inferior blends. Just the best Merino wool knitted into the best premium, high performance Merino fabrics. And garments that are made ethically, with features like tag-free necks and flat lock seams for extra comfort.