Three cozy layers for a weekend outside

Clothing for people who either (1) spend time outside in all seasons or (2) are always cold.

woman sitting outside tent
Stock up on a good three-layer system.Julian Bialowas via Unsplash

It’s time to plan a packing list for your next outdoor cold-weather adventure. The most important thing you’ll need as the temperatures drop? Layers. But not just any layers—ones that are made with the right technology and synthetic materials for keeping warmth in, and keeping the cold (and damp!) out. Using a three-part layering system prevents your skin and body from getting wet, while keeping your body heat around you like a warm hug. You’ll begin with a close-to-the-skin base layer, followed by an insulating midlayer, finishing with a water- and wind-proof outer shell.

Below, find gear for both women and men that will keep you warm and toasty in your tent, on the trail, around the campfire, or wherever you may find yourself in the great outdoors. The best thing about each piece is that it’s versatile, lightweight, and easy to pack. We’ve pointed out the materials used for each layer, and why those materials are best for spending time outside.

SmartWool Merino 250 Base Layer

SmartWool Merino 250 Base Layer (Men, Women)
SmartWool merino wool yields a warm base layer with ample ventilation.Amazon

Made from 100 percent merino wool and designed with an interlock knit, this base layer sits close to the skin, but isn’t constricting. Soft, breathable, and warm, this crewneck shirt can be worn for cool-weather hiking, or doubles as pajamas when you slip into your sleeping bag at night. Check out the SmartWool merino bottoms that complete the outfit.

Patagonia Better Sweater

Patagonia Better Sweater (Men, Women)
This fleece sweater-jacket is warm enough to keep you cozy during cool days and nights.Amazon

Made from Patagonia’s famous sweater-knit exterior and super-soft fleece interior, the Better Sweater seals in warmth while wicking away moisture. It sits close enough to the skin to increase mobility and reduce bulk, but still allows for layers beneath and overtop.

Black Diamond Stormline Stretch Rain Shell

Black Diamond Stormline Stretch Rain Shell (Men, Women)
A terrific all-around outer layer made from breathable, waterproof, windproof material.Amazon

Considered Black Diamond’s fully featured rain shell, this jacket is made to withstand all foul weather. Crafted from BD.dry material—rainproof, windproof, and breathable—the durable fabric can stretch as needed. Convenient zip-front and pit zips allow for ample ventilation, and the hood is both adjustable and climbing helmet-compatible. This jacket is great for backpacking, as it can pack tightly into the right-hand pocket.