Ultimate Guide To Clothing Layers


Extreme weather conditions – like scorching or freezing temperatures and high humidity – affect how your body works and what it needs to function at its best. Clothing is your personal protection from the elements and needs to work for you, not against you. Unfortunately, she cannot do this on her own.


That’s why you need a way to reinforce your choice of performance clothing. You need a method because you are the one wearing the clothes – and without it you will have a hard time figuring out which clothes perform best in which seasonal and daily weather conditions.

Think GORE-TEX®, one of the best waterproof materials on the market today. But even if GORE-TEX® laminates are first class, they still have their limitations.

The performance of this waterproof membrane is determined by the outside temperature. It works best when it’s colder outside because the partial water pressure is different on either side of the laminate. Unfortunately, that’s a limitation you can’t get around. Therefore, in a tropical jungle with high humidity, the membrane will not perform as you expect.

Now you might be wondering what all this has to do with layering. The answer is everything.

The reason you need to dress in layers is that there is no such thing as “perfect clothing”. Even the highest quality clothing is sub-optimal under certain conditions unless worn as part of a layered look or worn under the right circumstances.

However, before you can start layering, you need to know what the different layers are and what they are supposed to do.

Layers Overview

The principle of layering can be defined in many ways, but it boils down to three main components:

  • base layer
  • middle layer
  • outer layer

Layers Overview

It’s important to realize that layering doesn’t just apply to the clothes you wear over your torso. It also applies to the following items of clothing:

  • headgear
  • gloves
  • socks (and boots)
  • legwear

The other pieces of clothing are often left out of discussions about layering because it’s always about jackets and vests. The fact of the matter is that the “layering system” works as a whole and can be applied to any apparel sub-system from head to toe.

Advantages Of The Right Layering

The main advantages of layering are its modularity and its adaptability to the environment or, more importantly, to the current conditions (be it the external environment or your own body).

Two important parameters that we need to mention are body temperature and moisture management. These are directly affected by the layers you wear. If you wear too much, you sweat. If you wear too little, you freeze. With the right choice of layers, you are always right, no matter the season or the weather.

Another important point is comfort. This is especially an issue in winter, when you typically wear more layers than in summer. If you overdo it and wear too many layers, you’ll get fat and cripple yourself – this is very important in tactics because the last thing you want is to lose your freedom of movement.

This is where the quality, cut and design of the individual garments come into play. By using quality garments for each layer, you can achieve adequate protection with minimal bulk.

Base Layer

This is the layer worn closest to your skin. Its primary task is to control the transport of moisture from your body to the outside. This happens mainly through an efficient capillary effect, but also through air, which transports away additional moisture.

Base Layer

What you should pay attention to:

  • Since this layer comes in direct contact with your body, you should choose basic clothing that is comfortable to wear.
  • This layer is also responsible for wicking sweat away, so choose garments with excellent moisture management
    moisture management properties.
  • This layer should be snug but still have some stretch. Loose-fitting underwear allows air to pass through and prevents moisture transport.
  • Odor management is important (especially when you go days without fresh clothes). Therefore, choose underwear made of materials that keep out bad smells.

A special feature of the base layer is that you can combine two layers that still count as one. For example, the Striker X Combat Shirt is a base layer (or, if you stretch the definition a bit, a mechanical outer layer), but when you wear a base layer underneath, you still have a single base layer. This shows that, contrary to our usual way of thinking, a layer is defined by its purpose and not by what it contains.

What To Wear As A Base Layer In Winter

One option for a winter base layer is merino wool. We recommend them under the clothes we make. Long-sleeved shirts and long johns made for winter have unique properties that provide optimal results in managing sweat and body temperature.

Over a merino shirt you can wear either a Striker Combat Shirt or an Urban Polo Shirt depending on your needs and the scenario in which you are deployed.

What To Wear As A Base Layer In Summer

Let’s start with the tops. For tactical or combat missions in warmer climates, the Striker X Combat Shirts and Striker XT Gen.2 Combat Shirts are our preferred base layers. Despite their appearance, they serve the same purpose as a functional shirt. If you want to know more about why this is, please read our lizard/skin material breakdown here.

For an urban or casual look in summer, we recommend urban polo and t-shirts. They are made of excellent moisture and odor regulating material and are therefore ideally suited for high temperatures.

Optionally, you can wear a short-sleeved functional or merino shirt underneath to improve moisture management.

Middle Layer

The middle layer provides thermal insulation. It keeps you warm by creating air pockets that effectively trap your body heat between multiple layers of clothing. These bags are able to trap heat, whether through their thermally insulating filling or by creating space between layers.

Middle Layer

What you should pay attention to:

  • Look for clothing with first-class fillings such as down, G-LOFT® or PrimaLoft® , because this layer should offer exceptional thermal insulation properties.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing with this layer to allow air gaps to form. These gaps trap your body’s warm air between the base layer and the outer layer.

What To Wear As A Middle Layer In Winter

You have several options for the tops. It all depends on your needs and the temperatures you are exposed to. The Hunter FZ Gen.2 Jacket is our lightest insulating layer and is perfect for the transitional months and the cooler temperatures that come with them.

For colder temperatures (especially in the winter months) we recommend upgrading to the Delta ML Gen.2 Jacket or (if you are looking for an easily packable jacket) the Delta ComPac Jacket. You can supplement this with a G-LOFT® thermal insulation layer for optimum warmth.

Outer Layer

The job of the outer layer is to protect you from the elements. It’s also sometimes referred to as an outer layer, but don’t let that confuse you – it’s still an outer layer. In terms of functionality, the outer layer can be water-repellent, waterproof, windproof and/or windproof.

Outer Layer

What you should pay attention to:

  • Since this layer protects you from the elements, you should choose garments with GORE-TEX® or similar reliable and high-performance laminates.
  • This layer can block moisture transport, so look for breathable materials if possible. This is a tightrope walk, because the material has to be breathable, but also be able to ward off rain and wind.

Don’t forget that the outer layer is the final barrier between your sweat and the outside world. This means your entire system’s ability to keep you relatively dry depends on the weakest layer – and that’s usually the outer layer. So you want to minimize perspiration on the inside of the outer layer at all costs. To achieve that, you need to invest in a garment made out of a high-quality (=high-performance) membrane.

Selecting The Outer Layer For The Somme

In summer you only have to worry about wind and rain. We recommend the Monsoon XT Gen.2 Jacket and the Monsoon XT Rain Pants as outer layers for the summer. Not only do they protect you from the elements, but they offer the best moisture wicking of any laminate available.

Selecting The Outer Layer For The Winte

In the winter months it is important that you wear a water-repellent and windproof layer. In extreme cold it is also optimal if your outer layer also functions as a middle layer.

That’s exactly why we designed the Delta OL 3.0 Jacket and Delta OL 3.0 Pants – clothing that will get you through extremely cold environments, where the key to success is staying warm to keep you fully operational. This is option A.

If you are very active, the Delta AcE Plus Gen.2 Jacket and AcE Winter Combat Shirt are another choice for the outer layer. Both serve the same purpose: keeping you warm and preventing you from overheating in wintry conditions. This is option B.

Uf Pro Recommended Compositions

Still not sure which gear to choose from our different lines? Here’s a list of gear curated by UF PRO that we think works best in the different climate and weather situations you’ll encounter throughout the year.

Gear build for cold environments when you’re not that active

  • Base layer: Long-sleeved merino underwear
  • Base layer: Urban Shirt
  • Middle Layer: Hunter FZ Gen.2 Jacket
  • Outer layer: Delta OL 3.0 jacket
  • Outer layer: Delta OL 3.0 pants
  • Headgear: Base Cap

Prepare for cold environments if you are very active:

  • Base layer: Long-sleeved merino underwear
  • Base layer: Striker pant or P-40 pant with Windstopper liner
  • Middle Layer: AcE Winter Combat Shirt
  • Outer Layer: Monsoon XT Gen.2 Jacket (*in heavy snow or freezing rain)
  • Outer layer: Monsoon XT pants (*in case of heavy snowfall or
    freezing rain)
  • Headgear: Base Cap


Layers play an important role in keeping you comfortable all year round and flexible in dealing with temperature, weather and environmental changes.

Choosing the right layers of clothing is important for people from all walks of life, but especially so for tactical operators who have to work non-stop for days and don’t have the luxury of returning to base or home to change clothes with every change in weather.

The right gear will keep you dry, warm and comfortable. Above all, it helps you to successfully carry out your mission and to protect yourself and others.

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