Prepping

Power Outage? How to layer clothes for warmth!

It’s common sense that wearing an extra layer of clothes can provide additional warmth. But did you know the right combination of layering clothes may keep you warm in bone-chilling climates?

Brr…acclimating to Idaho winters was not easy for this California girl. Learning how to layer clothes for warmth became essential! Living in South East Idaho has introduced me to freezing weather (the average winter low is 16 degrees). When I first moved here, locals would take pity on me and recommend an item of clothing to help keep me warm. After a few years of gathering ideas on layering clothes for the winter, I finally have the right layer combination to survive snowy chill comfortably.

Currently, there are a lot of people without electricity because of hurricanes and winter storms. They are trying to find ways to stay warm since their central heat is no longer available. The right combination of clothing layers can trap body heat and keep the cold away from your body. If you don’t have insulated snow gear, learn how to layer clothes for warmth!

When I first moved to Idaho, we kept our thermostat at 65 degrees to keep our electric bill low, but our home was NOT well insulated, so only the hallway near the thermostat was 65. Anywhere close to a window or door was much colder and drafty. I learned to wear three layers around the house, and I’d put on a fourth layer when I left the house. When my mom would visit me from California, she was so miserable from the cold. She was a little skeptical that having the right clothes and layering them the right way would make a difference. She borrowed clothes for the first layer and immediately noticed a difference. When my mom went back home to California, she asked me for the layering fabric formula to purchase the right clothes so that next time, she’d be ready for cold weather.     

Here’s the combination that has worked best for me over the years. My preferred method to layer clothes for warmth is to use a spandex blend, cotton blend, and wool blend. See below for pictures and details.

How to Layer Clothes for Warmth

How to layer clothes for warmth!

Base Layer – (Blended Spandex)

The base layer transfers sweat away from the body. Spandex is an excellent material for hugging your skin closely to minimize airflow. It also keeps moisture from building up on your skin. When moisture builds up on your body (aka sweat), it can have a cooling effect. It’s essential to keep sweat off the skin and limit airflow to stay warm. 

The brand Underarmor makes a great spandex winter blend called Coldgear. It’s designed to compress tightly against your skin, trapping body heat. It also transfers sweat away from the body. My husband & I start our first layer with a sporty long-sleeve undershirt, leggings, and socks made of a nylon and spandex mix.

(The numbered clothing items below coordinate with the photo above.)


1. Under Armor Coldgear Top 

2. Under Armor Coldgear Bottom 
3. Compression Socks   

Best Way to Layer for Warmth - Layering Clothes for the Winter - Underarmor

Second Layer of Clothing – (Blended Cotton)

The second layer is an insulator. Cotton uses thermal insulation to trap body-heat-airflow between the two fabrics (Spandex & Cotton).

Most thermal long johns and jeans are made out of cotton. It is comfortable, form-fitting, and also moisture-wicking. My second layer usually consists of a thermal top, jeans, and cotton socks.

4. Thermal Top
5. Pants
6. Cotton Socks

Layering Clothes for the Winter

Third Layer of Clothing – (Blended Wool)

The third layer is an additional insulator. Wool is one of the greatest insulators among fabrics. It has one of the highest efficiencies of blocking air movement, trapping warm air, and blocking cold. It can provide warmth even when wet. It’s also the last layer because it can be itchy, so it’s great to have other layers protecting your skin. My third layer is usually a wool sweater and socks. I’ll add a wool cap and gloves when I’m outdoors.

If you wonder, do I really wear three pairs of socks, the answer is yes in extreme cold, and when layered correctly, I don’t even notice I have three sets of socks on.

  1. Wool Sweater
  2. Wool Socks

Layering Clothes for the Winter

Fourth Layer of Clothing

The fourth layer is for outdoor protection. This layer protects exposed body parts like the head, neck, hands and adds an additional layer for the feet. I prefer the fourth layer to be made of wool or down (for extra warmth) or a windproof and waterproof material for protection from stormy weather.

9. Wool Cap
10. Scarf
11. Wool Insulated Mittens
12. Snow Boots
13. Jacket

Layering Clothes for the Winter

Related Article: Portable Heaters

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reps for the Cold Winters

4 Layers You Should Know for Extreme Cold Weather - How to layer clothes for winter

Originally published October 15, 2014

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