The benefits of layering

When practicing outdoor activities, layer your clothing to stay comfortable, dry and warm. Learn how to layer up properly before you head out!

woman smiling in the rain wearing a rain jacket

At Decathlon, we go to great lengths to ensure our products are made with technical fabrics that have your back (literally!) in all types of weather conditions. We design each item carefully, while keeping in mind the activity for which it is intended. Discover how our products are tested, and how you can layer for each outdoor activity.

Layering basics

Layering is a good idea because it ensures you are ready for anything. If you get too warm, you can remove a layer or two. If you start to feel chilly, or it starts to rain, you can throw an extra layer on. The key is to consider the fabric each garment is made with, as well as the amount of physical exertion you expect during the activity. 

woman and man hiking in the rain

When going on a long hike, you may work up a sweat as you head up the mountain; but your body temperature will likely drop when you stop at the summit to take in the view. Your needs will be different depending on the amount of sun or rain that day; so it’s important to consider all factors when deciding how to layer up appropriately. You will want to consider the weight of the fabric when conditions are cold outdoors. The thicker a fabric is, the warmer it will keep you; so choose some layers made with thick fabrics when the temperature is really low.

Skip the cotton
Cotton is not a great choice when layering up for outdoor activities because it absorbs moisture quickly and dries slowly. This creates a damp cold layer close to your skin which could increase the risk of hypothermia.

The 3-layer technique

To keep things simple, you can always follow this three-layer technique to ensure your bases are covered, particularly for cold weather or winter activities.

Base layer: You want to stay dry while you exert yourself, so choose a sweat-wicking fabric for the first layer as it is the one in closest contact with your skin. This base layer will pull moisture away from your body so that you don’t get too damp and cold. Merino wool is a great choice of fabric because it regulates heat and doesn’t absorb odours.

Middle layer: This second layer will help keep you warm if the air is cool and should also be breathable in order to wick away moisture. A light-to medium thickness fleece may be a good option for this layer. Choose something that is easy to put on and take off as your needs may change depending on how much you are moving.

Outer layer: This top layer will protect you from wind, rain or snow. Choose a waterproof or water resistant fabric for this layer and consider its ability to cut the wind on particularly gusty days.

woman zipping up her jacket
man zipping up his waterproof jacket

Water resistant or waterproof?

You may have already asked yourself: “What’s the difference between the two?” Let's break it down…

Water resistant: The fabric is tightly woven and covered in certain coatings so as to resist the intrusion of water, but the solution is temporary and won’t stand up to a serious downpour.

Waterproof: The specially coated fabric resists water penetration almost entirely and the garment is also designed so that zippers and seams are equally coated to guard against leaks. This is your best bet for extremely wet conditions.

Let's test it! 

At Decathlon, we make a point of testing our products to identify any issues or design flaws that should be improved. When it comes to the fabrics we use, we test everything from toxicity to impermeability. We also put items through rigorous lab and field tests to see how well they stand up to regular use. Here’s a peak at some of the tests we run.

member testing

We also ask our members to test our products and evaluate durability to see if anything was missed during our mechanical or field testing. Who better than our members to give us honest feedback about our products? We take all comments into consideration and our teams work together to determine how our products may be improved.

Let's talk boots

Of course, we test a variety of items, but one of our most tested items are our boots. We know how important it is to keep your feet warm and dry when you’re out in the elements. We also want to ensure you have adequate grip and support regardless of the conditions you’re experiencing while you practice your sport.

Most of our boots have a waterproof membrane to provide optimal waterproofing and breathability. Boots are immersed in water with pressurized air inside to check that no bubbles form on the surface of the boot. Next, the boots  are put on a mechanical foot that simulates walking while half immersed in water to ensure the inside stays dry.

During the waterproofing test, we test 5 levels of waterproofing:
- 2,000 flexes (approximately 4 km, 30 minutes of walking)
- 10,000 flexes (approximately 10 km, 3 hours of walking)
- 30,000 flexes (approximately 15 km, 6 hours of walking)
- 50,000 flexes (approximately 20 km, 8 hours of walking)
- 100,000 flexes (approximately > 20 km, 24 hours of walking)

water resistance test on boots

All geared up

We firmly believe that, with the right gear, you can stay active and comfortable in all types of weather conditions. Layering up with technical fabrics is a great way to stay dry and warm as you move. Each sport has its own requirements and you can always check in with one of our knowledgeable in-store sports advisors if you have specific questions about your chosen activity. Learn to layer like a pro, and you’ll get the most out of every season, all year long!

woman wearing a waterproof jacket

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