Why do we need functional clothing?
Are you an outdoor enthusiast? Do you enjoy spending time out in the mountains, exploring nature, even in windy conditions and bad weather, refusing to accept compromises? In that case, functional materials provide everything you need:
- Heat regulating
- Easy to care for
- Integrated UV protection
In most situations, temperatures and weather conditions are not constant. Furthermore, our body temperature rises during physical exertion and falls during rest periods, so it makes more sense to wear coordinating layers of clothing. The right combination of garments will help you to stay comfortable in any weather. Each of the three layers fulfils a different function. They transport sweat to the outside, insulate the warm air generated by the body, while preventing wind and rain from penetrating inside.
The layering principle is based on three basic layers:
First layer: base layer (conducting layer)
This layer is in direct contact with the skin. It rapidly absorbs moisture or conducts it to the next layer.
Second layer: mid-layer (insulation of body heat)
Second-layer garments (e.g. fleeces or down jackets) should insulate the body from the cold and at the same time rapidly transport moisture to the outside. This layer can consist of several clothing layers.
Third layer: shell layer (protection from water and wind)
Hard Shells and Soft Shells are used for this layer. They provide protection from wind and wet conditions. Hard Shells are completely waterproof, windproof and breathable. Soft Shells are windproof, extremely breathable and water repellent.
|1. Layer||Regulation||Fast-drying, rapid transport of moisture away from the body, forwarding to the next layer (e.g. Baselayer)|
|2. Layer||Insulation||Warming layer for cold temperatures (e.g. fleece)|
|3. Layer||Protection||Provides reliable protection from wind and water (e.g. hard shell)|
Five basic rules for an effective layering system
- Several thin layers work better than one thick layer.
- The layers with the greatest water vapor permeability are worn next to the skin: The faster moisture is transported away from the skin, the better the body temperature can be regulated.
- Do not wear clothing that is too warm, this will make you sweat too much.
- Wet clothing is uncomfortable and you may very soon start to feel cold when the physical exertion becomes less intense. Materials such as cotton should therefore be avoided as they absorb moisture, but release it very slowly. They therefore take a long time to dry.
- How tightly or loosely fitting should a (third layer) jacket be? It depends on the activity! Air is a good insulator but is less efficient at transporting heat. In other words:
- If you are taking part in an energetic mountain sport involving alternating active and less intense phases (hiking, mountaineering,…) throughout the day, your jacket should not be too tightly fitting. The air between your body and the jacket (air gaps) acts as a "buffer" between the outside temperature and your body temperature, helping to keep the inside temperature as stable as possible.
- For activities generating lots of perspiration (trail running, ski touring, etc.), these air gaps are not desirable. In this case, clothing should be tighter and more closely fitting. This will accelerate the penetration of water vapor!