What do we mean by layering? Simply put, it is placing clothes over your clothes to stay warm. Just like putting a jersey on when it cold or a rain jacket on when it rains.
That’s the basic version, however to effectively “layer” in a way that makes sense in regulating your temperarture dependant on your activity and the weather, then it makes a big difference as to which fabrics you use as the different layers.
The benefit of layering is to control your warmth based on the amount of activity you are doing. If this is not news to you, then I will quickly outline that we utilise these layering systems built into our gloves with the real kicker being the extra merino liner that you can add if you are just standing around waiting for the correct light, or take off when hiking, or even just wear by itself when the winter does a back flip and pretends to be summer for an hour or two. The ability to put on and take off layers as needed is what makes “Layering” so effective.
Layering works as 3 main levels; Your base layer, Middle layer/insulation layer and outer layer.
The Base layer sits on your skin and should be a material that transports moisture off your skin and to the outside of the fabric where it can evaporate, otherwise know as “wicking”. The best material for this is Merino wool (Obviously! That’s why we use it in our gloves). Other materials that can do this can be synthetic like polyester or pollypropelin.
These base layers keep you warm becuase the moisture, whether water or sweat, does not sit on your skin and chill you off. It’s also why they work well when wet and can dry a lot faster then cotton which absorbs moisture instead of transporting it.
The middle layer / Insulation Layer is exactly as it sounds, it insulates.
By trapping air between the fibres of the fabric you become cocooned in a vacuum of warm air, (do you have an image of a force field in your mind?). Feathers or down are a great example of this. There are multiple fabrics that provide a great insulation layer with the core principle that there is empty space between the fibres that can be filled by air.
The outer layer protects you from the extremities.
Moisture and wind are the main driving forces of chilling you to the bone, thus the outer layers should have properties of wind protection and water resistance.
How does this work in practice?
Think of the last time you where freezing and the last time you were way too hot, it sucks! No need to explain these feelings in detail, the principle of “layering” helps you regulate your temperature so that you are always comfortable.
You set off in the dark and start climbing the steps of a lookout tower to capture the vista overlooking a magnificent landscape. You start working up a sweat and decide to remove your big thick and super warm jacket which you wore to stay warm whilst you waited for that golden light to ignite. “Ah, fresh air”, but now the wind is whistling through your clothes and freezing your sweat to which you start to play the irritating game of Jacket on.. Jacket off. If you wore a thinner shell with an insulation layer you would be able remove the layer needed to keep you comfortable, in this case the insulation layer and enjoy those dark steps all the way to the sunrise in perfect comfort.
Why the same principle works with your gloves.
Most of the time we run around searching for a great composition, get set up and wait for the light or for the action. Moving like a crazy person with all your photo gear keeps the blood pumping to your hands. Having a base layer removes sweat and with it the “Clammy” Feeling whilst the outer shell protects from the wind and or precipitation in the form of snow or rain. Once you get set up and take a breather, the heart starts to slow and with it your blood redistributes to protect your inner organs in the cold. Now is your chance to add an extra base or insulation layer to improve the warmth around our digits, keeping you comfortable while that light starts to take shape.
The whole purpose is to enable yourself to enjoy the process of capturing your prized shots. With changing conditions, changing activity and unknown time frames, Start layering and you won’t regret it.
Images: Header: Luca Zanon | base layer: Thing Vellir | insulation Layer: Anton Repponen | OuterLayer: Henry Hustava | Bottom: Carl van den Boom