Mountaineering climbing conditions can be tough and unpredictable. However, with the right clothing you can keep safe and warm during your climb. Choosing the best clothing for a climb can be difficult especially when you know that the weather conditions are unpredictable.
One of the best layering systems is termed the “Four Layer System” which provides ultimate comfort and warmth while climbing. The “Four Layer System” consists of the base-layer, the mid layer, the insulation layer, and the outer layer. The goal of the system is to create a barrier between you and the harsh weather conditions that mountaineering brings. While climbing, it is better to be overly warm than to feel cold. At least, if you are feeling warm you can peel of a layer or two to cool down. But if you lack layers, you will feel uncomfortably cold and this could cause you harm.
A base layer is the clothing that is worn next to the skin. Therefore, they must be comfortable and fit. For your base layers, choose clothing that will easily wick away sweat and moisture. Usually synthetic or wool materials work best. This will ensure that you stay warm and dry during your climb. Above all, comfort is the key goal.
The purpose of the mid-layer is to capture use trapped air to create warmth. When choosing jackets or vests it is best to go with fleece or wool materials as they provide the most warmth. Soft shell jackets are a great choice for its warmth, flexibility and comfort. Make sure that the jacket you choose for your mid-layer also has windproof properties. This way you will have the necessary barrier against strong winds. The mid-layer will protect you from the cold or strong winds that tend to go with mountaineering.
The goal of the insulation layer is to provide you with extra warmth. Therefore, its best to choose synthetic or down materials. Light down jackets are usually the best for this layer because it provides great warmth to weight ratio. Down jackets are best for dryer weather conditions. If you predict there to be constant wet conditions, a light weight synthetic jacket will provide more insulation.
Since the insulation layer will be going on top of both the base and mid layers, you have to choose the correct size. This way it will fit comfortably and not feel too tight. It should feel comfortable over your fleece jacket or soft shell jacket.
Once you have chosen the warmest base layer, mid-layer and insulation layer, you can now choose an outer layer. In preparation for the weather, your outer layer should be as tough and strong as the terrain you will be facing. In this respect, outerwear should be waterproof and windproof. Additionally, it should provide the right amount of breathability. This means that the fabric allows moisture to be transmitted through the material. In short, your outerwear should be durable and long lasting. Though this may seem like a heavy addition, there are many light weight options available.