What upper clothing do I need for winter conditions?

13 November 2018

Choosing mountaineering equipment can be difficult. And the equipment you need to take with you depends on the type of location you are going to and also the length of time you will be staying there.

Regardless of whether you are a total beginner, or are an experienced professional, it is important to be correctly dressed before heading into the mountains. For winter conditions, it is important to make sure clothing is waterproof, warm, and of the correct fit.

So what equipment will I need?

The best way to approach dressing yourself before heading out into winter conditions is to layer up. Many people decide not to use this approach, instead opting to wear, for example, one thick jumper. However, it is better to wear several thinner layers so that depending on the temperature, layers can be added to or removed as necessary.

A good starting point for layering would be to start with a base layer then add to this with a light insulation jumper, medium insulation jacket and hard shell jacket. Additionally, if you are out in very cold conditions, you may decide to wear a parka jacket as well.

Base Layers

Base layers are the starting point of layering up. It is advisable to avoid cotton base layers because they tend to retain sweat and subsequently can make you feel clammy. Try and choose a material such as merino wool or polyester. It is faster drying than other materials and has anti-bacterial properties.

Our recommendation for a great merino base layer would be the ones available by Ortovox. They make unisex merino base layers in a range of colours. Although more expensive than other brands, they will last for years and will keep you warm too.

Light Insulation Jumper

The next layer that goes above the base layer is the light insulation layer. This typically consists of a lightweight synthetic jumper or fleece. As well as keeping you warm, it should be made from a breathable fabric. We strongly recommend The North Face Fuseform Dolomiti which is a combination of two properties in one fabric. It is light and breathable but also keeps you warm.

Medium Insulation Jacket

This layer should be highly insulating rather than breathable as this is already provided through the previous layer. To this end, a jacket with a down or synthetic filling would be a good choice. The Swedish brand Haglöfs make excellent insulating jackets. In particular, we highly recommend the Barrier Pro III jacket. It is easy to carry, wind resistant and can be packed easily into a rucksack if you decide you are too warm.

Hard Shell Jacket

This layer is not insulating but is resistant to the elements and is also lightweight. The key purpose of this layer is to keep you dry. As such, Gore-Tex jackets are a good choice, particularly ones with a hood.

In our opinion, Arc’teryx is a high-quality brand of Gore-Tex jackets. We particularly recommend the Alpha range of jackets which are available for males and females. One useful feature of these jackets is the helmet compatible hood.

Ice climbing adventure NEOA

Mountaineering Parka Jacket

For climbing in extreme winter conditions, an extra layer is necessary. Parka jackets are capable of coping with extreme winter conditions when you expect to be climbing beyond 6000m. Generally kept at the top of your kit bag, these jackets are particularly useful for rest breaks to ensure body heat is retained.

We recommend the Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket for climbing UK peaks. However, for more extreme conditions we recommend the Rab Andes Mountaineering Jacket or the Rab Expedition Mountaineering Jacket.

What upper clothing will I need for winter conditions?

In this post, we have mentioned various upper layers that would be required for walking in winter conditions. These include:

  • Base layer
  • Light insulation jumper
  • Medium insulation jacket
  • Hard shell jacket
  • Mountaineering parka jacket

Once you have sorted your winter clothing, you may think about potentially booking some winter courses. Did you know that North East OA offers a range of outdoor winter courses?