The best mid layers for hiking and camping

Arc'teryx mid travel layer

It’s not easy to find a mid layer jacket or fleece that perfectly fits your needs. Maybe you are looking for something versatile or maybe you want a mid layer just for cold weather. Are you wondering what the best mid layer for is for you?

A mid layer is a layer that sits between your base layer and outer layer. Mid layers can be made of the following three materials: Fleece, synthetic fabric, or down. All three fabrics come with pros and cons. In this post, I will give you more detail on which mid layer is best for you!

What is the best mid layer for the outdoor

Which mid layer is best for you

Like mentioned above most mid layers fall into three categories Fleece, Synthetic and Down. I will break down what the difference between those fabrics is.

fleece mid layer

Fleece mid layers are probably the most common mid layer. They are cheap and give you great comfort for the price. Fleece mid layers are in general the cheapest on this list. What I like the most about fleece is that you can combinate fleece with another layer.

The disadvantages of fleece are its weight and the lack of water resistance. If your fleece layer gets wet it will take a long time before its dry again. However, even if it’s wet it will still offer you some kind of insulation.

Merino wool

Merino wool is compared to the other layers on this list a relatively new one. This wool is very popular at the moment because it is really good at wicking away the moisture of your skin. The unique thing about this wool is that it does not take up the sweat from humans making it smell proof. This makes it a great option if you are traveling since you will only bring two or three of these shirts.

The biggest downside of merino wool is its price. However, I believe that you get where you pay for and brands like Icebreaker of Smartwool make premium quality clothes.

down jacket

The warmest of the three is a down layer. Down is best in keeping you warm even in extremely cold conditions. Another good thing about down is that it is extremely compact and packable. Most down jackets fold up in one of their pockets so you can throw it in your backpack.

The disadvantages from down are the price and the lack of protection if wet. If your down jacket gets wet it will not keep you warm anymore and therefore makes it useless.

synthetic mid layer

When you don’t need the extreme warmth of a down jacket maybe you should consider a synthetic layer. They are insulated with synthetic down and other fibers to protect you from the cold. In general, synthetic layers are the best option for everyday use. Synthetic layers have a little bit of everything. They offer warmth but water resistance at the same time. Most are compact and light and they come at a fair price.

What is your favorite kind of mid layer?

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My 2 favorite mid layers

My layering system, in general, goes as follows: I wear a base layer from merino wool, over that I put a thin fleece layer or flannel, Than a synthetic layer and last I put on a shell if it’s raining. This system works for temperatures as low as -10 Celsius! It can even handle lower temperatures when you are hiking and keep moving.

Atom LT Series

Atom LT hoody midlayer

Arc’teryx is a Canadian brand with a high reputation in the outdoor industry. They have created a mid layer that really stands out: the Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody. This is a mid layer I think everyone should own. It is made with the most important aspects of a mid layer in mind: breathability, comfort, and protection. The Atom LT series are from themselves reasonably waterproof making it a great outer layer as well. The sides of the jacket are made from a stretchy fleece material making it extra breathable in the area under the arms. The Atom LT comes in a hooded version as well as one without a hood.

Patagonia Nano Air

Patagonia Nano Air midlayer jacket

The Patagonia Nano Air is made with a so-called “full stretch material”. This means the jacket is super comfortable and has a great fit for almost everyone. Just like the Atom jackets this jacket also has top performance in things like water resistance and breathability. The Patagonia Nano Air is made really durable. On the sides, they added extra strength to the jacket to protect the jacket from your backpack or climbing gear. Just like with the Atom jacket the Nano Air also comes in a hooded and non-hooded version.


How to care for your mid-layer jackets

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Daan Liberta

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My name is Daan a 23 year old Digital Nomad and creator of this blog! If you like the things I write about please read this first: