Proper layering is essential to a successful backcountry mission, and just any ol’ garments won’t do. You need breathable layers that are lightweight and able to take on the elements during the uphill, all while keeping you warm and toasty on the downhill. We’ve listed our favorite backcountry layering options—from outerwear to midlayers to baselayers—below.
Men’s Free Thinker Jacket — The North Face
The Free Thinker is crafted of ultra-waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex three-layer fabric, meaning Ma’ Nature won’t stand a chance against it. The North Face reduced the number of seams found in this garment to cut the amount of seam tape used, which lightens up the jacket, increases breathability and minimizes spots where the elements can get in. The remaining seams are fully sealed. Another quality touch: a water-resistant, insulated phone pocket.
$499 // Free Thinker Bib Pant
Eiger Shell — Spyder
Chris Davenport’s signature jacket, the Eiger Shell features lightweight Pertex Shield Plus fabric that won’t weigh you down on the skin track or boot pack. A 20K/20K rating means it’s plenty capable of blocking moisture while also wicking it away, and underarm vents help regulate temperature whether ascending or dropping in.
$450 // Norwand Bib
Darwin Men’s 3-Layer Shell Jacket — Faction
The Darwin is waterproof, breathable and windproof, to the tune of a 20K/20K rating. It also features built-in stretch, which promotes ease of movement when traveling uphill as well as an internal audio pocket and goggle stash compartment for first-rate storage.
$429 // Edison Men’s 3-Layer Shell Pant
Women’s Yotei Jacket — Dynafit
The Yotei is constructed of Gore-Tex C-Knit fabric, which increases breathability by 30 percent—for those incredibly strenuous approaches—while still maintaining waterproof and windproof qualities. Its massive skin stash pockets are also ideal for quick backcountry laps where keeping your skins warm and dry is key.
$599 // Women’s Yotei Pant
Incubator Jacket — Strafe
Wonderfully decked out with 100 grams of PrimaLoft Gold insulation, the aptly-named Incubator is a go-to for any day in the backcountry. Its watertight YKK zippers and 20D micro ripstop face fabric increase protection from the elements and a snug, freeride fit prevents any unwanted bagginess.
Roady Insulated Hoody — Armada
The Roady Insulated Hoody is all about keeping you warm and content on those freezing, midwinter back- country days. Polyfill insulation is the main force at work, while hand-warming pockets and an adjustable hem and hood seal the deal. Bonus: It stuffs into itself and turns into a travel pillow.
Boyd Women’s Down Mid-layer — Faction
This midlayer from Faction is packed with 800-fill goose down for supreme warmth and is built with 20D ripstop fabric for durability. An adjustable hem paired with nylon poly stretch cuffs maintains body heat, and an asymmetrical front zipper allows for comfortable face protection.
Centrifuge Hoody — Outdoor Research
The Centrifuge Hoody features a mixture of Polartec Power Grid fabrics—breathable parts placed where you sweat most frequently and thicker material where you need warmth the most. This gives the garment supreme breathability and insulation. Additionally, it boasts solid stretch capabilities, allowing plenty of mobility.
Coldgear Reactor Hooded Jacket — Under Armour
ColdGear Reactor active insulation—synthetic down that’s vertically oriented to achieve a higher loft and easily transport air—keeps this garment warm and breathable, to adapt to all conditions. Additionally, the jacket has a water-repellent exterior and can pack into its own chest pocket when you need to shed a layer but don’t want to take up room in your pack.
Men’s Basis Power Dry Zip Polo — Stio
The dual knit construction of the Basis Power Dry Zip Polo is geared toward those who prefer a heavy-duty baselayer. The zippered collar helps regulate temperature and exudes classiness—no reason to leave style behind when you hit the trailhead. Its Polartec Power Dry fabric—a blend of wool and polyester—obliterates all moisture to keep you warm and cozy.
Metal Vent Tech LS Wool — lululemon
Utilizing a moisture-wicking wool blend and a form-fitting design, this layer keeps skiers dry and comfortable no matter how burly and sweat-inducing the trek at hand may be. Antimicrobial X-Static fibers prevent odor-causing bacteria from building up to keep you fresh, too.
UA Coldgear Infrared Fitted Bottoms — Under Armour
Your lower half will be happy in these bottoms thanks to a snug fit complemented by a thermally conductive inner coating that helps keep warmth in. Plus, they boast moisture- and odor-nixing properties so your days on the skin track are neither smelly nor soggy.
Women’s Expedition Long-sleeve Zip Neck — The North Face
This next-to-skin, cozy women’s garment is a must-have for any backcountry expedition. Its half-zip comes in handy when regulating temperature, a lightweight profile won’t bog you down on the ascent and its Repreve fabric eliminates sweat and stinks.