Clothing layers

Clothing for mountaineering event must be chosen appropriately to the conditions of the event. The clothing during the movement should be at the lower limit of comfort temperature, it is necessary to keep in mind that our movement will keep us warm. If we are warming more than we were expecting or if we are getting colder, we regulate the temperature by removing or adding additional layers of clothing. The basic essence of proper mountaineering clothing is to remove moisture, whether it is water from outside or our sweat inside of the clothes. Damp clothing loses its insulation properties and exposes us to cold. The first general requirement is to have clothes wet as little as possible, and the second requirement is to have one that can be rapidly dried. We put the clothes on in certain sequence so it would best fulfil its function. Because the source of the sweat is human body, it is absolutely logical to have directly on the body fabric that can absorb the sweat and can take it further away from the body. On the other hand, when it is raining, we need to have waterproof outer clothing that will not let water to reach our body. And if you want to keep warm, we need to have thick, warm layer somewhere in between these two layers. That is the basic concept of dressing for mountaineering, next are just various variations on the given theme. Here we will take a look at some of them.

1st layer – thermal underwear

It takes the moisture away from the body. This is a very important feature because it has a preventive character against frostbite during the winter. Fabrics should be light, easy to dry and with minimal odour absorption. It is handy when the clothes can be easily washed, for example when we can achieve at least minimal cleanliness by simple rinsing in clean water or in water with addition of toilet soap. We will appreciate it during a travel.

2nd layer – variant a) thermal insulation

Mostly a fabric based on fleece, material made from polyester fibres. Fleece is sorted according to its thickness, expressed in grams per square meter (e.g. 100 g/m2). Mostly there are 100, 200 and 300 g/m2. But fleece can get wet and wind can go through.

2nd layer – variant b) windproof

Material is resistant to the wind, but can get wet after a relatively short time. As long as there is no rain it is very good, because the material is also very permeable and we don’t sweat too much. This may be fleece jacket with windstopper treatment or softshell jacket. Similar purpose also fulfils simple windbreaker made from breathable material worn over a fleece jacket.

3rd layer – variant a) waterproof and breathable

This layer is suitable for cold and dump environment, wherever it’s cold and raining. Materials based on permeable membranes have the property of letting the steam (water molecule in a gas phase) go through, but hold the water (the same molecule in the liquid phase). Compared to completely non-breathable layer is breathability very important feature that makes the layer pleasant. But on the other hand, breathability is significantly lower than that of the second layer in variant b. Therefore, the variant 2b is better for climbing as long as there is no rain, but if the rain can be expected, is the variant 3a better.

3rd layer – variant b) waterproof

In other words it is a raincoat. The good style of raincoat is poncho. It does not get wet, but it is also not breathable, so it is necessary to expect increased sweating during the movement.

3rd layer – variant c) clothes with down

Designed to really cold weather, therefore rather dry environment (cold weather = dry environment, because moisture will freeze and water in the environment stays in the solid state). Down clothing is needed when even the sum of all previous layers is not enough to assure thermal comfort. But the climbing in down clothes is very hard. During the climbing events it therefore often serves as a comfortable improvement, when we have a down jacket packed in a backpack, and for example belayer will put it on only on belay stations so he/she would not to get cold. The down jacket is also popular in planned bivouac. The movement in down clothing is quite bearable only when walking, so it finds its application in high altitude hiking in very cold temperatures, and special down clothing is also mainly used for climbing at high altitudes or in areas with arctic weather.

This content is preview from e-book.

Title Part 2Mountaineering Methodology – Part 2 – Gear and Accessories

ISBN 978-80-87715-08-6

MMPublishing, 2013

Available for download from Apple iTunes (in the Books section).

For example U.S. store – link

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Another possibility is Google Play. This version is a simplified (as PDF).

Title Part 2 GPMountaineering Methodology – Part 2 – Gear and Accessories

ISBN 978-80-87715-13-0

MMPublishing, 2014

Available for download from Google Play.