Whether you’re planning an overnight backpacking trip or a multi-day thru-hike, an effective layering system with a base, mid and outer layer will help you adapt swiftly to changes in weather and activity levels. The key to staying comfortable on a backpacking trip is to pack lightly, making sure every piece is versatile, breathable and lightweight.
Whether a long sleeve, short sleeve or tank top, base layers are the first layer in the system and manage moisture by trapping air for warmth and wicking it away to keep your body cool. The most effective base layers for hiking tend to be made with high-wicking fabrics like polyester and ultra-fine merino wool. With naturally occurring anti-odour properties, merino wool base layers are designed for multiple days of wear before they need to be washed. Synthetic base layers can retain more odour, but they’re more durable and quick drying, so tops can be washed and dried in a pinch. Savvy backpackers typically carry two t-shirts: one for hiking in and one for sleeping in. With two shirts, you’ll always have a clean one in rotation if you’re doing laundry at camp.
Made of 79 per cent recycled polyester, the Dune Sky Tanklette is a versatile option for backpacking in warm weather or for a day hike. Its anti-odour treatment extends the time between washes, and the tanklette is an ultra-lightweight piece that features The North Face’s proprietary FlashDry™ technology, which excels in moisture management by swiftly wicking your sweat away from the body to help you stay dry and comfortable. True to its name, the moisture-wicking tanklette also dries in a flash if you need to do laundry at camp.
Worn between a base layer and an outer shell, the mid layer works to retain body heat by wicking moisture away from the base layer. Because of its ability to stay warm when wet, fleece is a popular material for mid layer insulation. In particularly colder climates, supplement your layering system with a down jacket in addition to a fleece layer.
Purpose-built as a layering piece, the Summit Series FUTUREFLEECE™ Crew is a lightweight fleece designed to be worn over a base layer and is ideal for wearing around camp or as an extra layer to bed. The gridded pattern makes this an exceptionally breathable layer while trapping ample warmth. Sans hood and pockets, the crew boasts a minimalistic design that’s perfect for gram-counting ultra-lightweight backpackers looking to shed a few ounces. The flat-locked stitching and absence of shoulder seams help maintain comfort when wearing a pack.
Similarly, the men's Summit Series FUTUREFLEECE™ LT Pullover Hoodie is made with innovative technology that uses a low-pile, full-loop fabric to help minimize weight and optimize body temperature, keeping you comfortably insulated wherever the trail takes you. The attached hood features a pre-tensioned elastic opening so it won't slip off.
Fitting snugly over your base and mid layers to retain warmth, the outer layer is typically a rain and windproof jacket that keeps you dry and comfortable in wet conditions. But some backpackers opt to wear hard shells even on dry days for protection from the wind and in places where hungry mosquitoes are especially rampant.
The adjustable hood on The North Face's Dryzzle FUTURELIGHT™ Jacket (women's and men's) helps retain visibility as you hike, and its breathability prevents overheating when hiking in mild weather. Plus, the internal stow pocket allows you to conveniently stash this jacket away while taking up minimal space in your pack.
Designed with warm weather activity in mind, the Paramount Pro Shorts (men’s) and Bridgeway Shorts (women’s) are made with 91 per cent recycled polyester and feature FlashDry-XD™ materials for superb moisture management. The non-PFC DWR finish on the Paramount Pro Shorts also helps to keep moisture from seeping in from the outside and the secure-zip hand pockets on both versions are ideal for stashing a few energy bars and a bandana for hikes.
Both the Hypnum Luxe Shoes (women’s) and Oxeye Tech Shoes (women's and men’s) blend style, comfort and performance. The lugs on the outsoles provide sturdy traction across a range of terrain and the breathable uppers on both help keep your feet cool and comfortable on warm-weather hikes. Plus, at roughly 1.22 pounds (Hypnum Luxe) and 1.33 pounds (Oxeye Tech), these won’t weigh you down on a backpacking trip. Designed to be versatile, the two models can conveniently double as an everyday shoe for running errands around town or walking your dog.
This article was sponsored by The North Face
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