Layering for New England Hikes

New England has a running joke amongst hikers and residents… “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute.”

It’s a funny and odd saying, but it’s completely true.

New England’s weather is ever changing and constantly evolving. In one day, it’s not uncommon to see sunny blue skies, gloomy rainy clouds, and then back to blue skies again — all within a few hours of each other.

It’s for this reason, layering is extremely important when hiking in New England, especially in the spring when it’s more common to see rain, downpours, or even some snow flurries.

Layering is as easy as 1-2-3.

Base Layer: Moisture Management

The base layer is the one that is closest to your skin. Its job is to manage the moisture from your sweat and move it away from your body to help keep you dry.

Also this layer regulates temperature that would otherwise be effected by the wetness. In the warmer seasons it helps keep you cool, and in the cooler seasons helps avoid hypothermia.

The base layer should be made of a synthetic or wool material that is designed to take the moisture of your body and move it away. In the springtime, depending on the temperature we’d recommend some type of short sleeve or long sleeve t-shirt.

Mid Layer: Warmth

This second layer is one that is extremely important in New England. We’ve been known to have some incredibly cold days followed by some incredibly warm days. When packing for an extended trip, It’s important to plan for all four seasons.

The mid layers job is to directly aid in regulating your bodies temperature. This layer can be made out of many different materials from fleece, wool, goose down, synthetic, and more. I find that with this important layer there are some major trade offs when it comes to keeping you warm but also keeping the weight and packability down.

We personally love the new Thermball Jackets from The North Face, they provide the best trio of packability, warmth, and weight.

Shell Layer: Weather Protection

The Shell is the outer most layer you wear. Its sole purpose is to keep the elements in the wild and not on you. New England has some pretty harsh weather when it comes to wind, rain, snow, etc. Keeping you dry and warm during the most challenging weather is an important task when in the backcountry.

There are many types of Shell Layers including:

  • Waterproof and Breathable
  • Water-Resistant and Breathable
  • Soft Shells
  • Waterproof and Non-Breathable
  • Insulated
  • Each type has its pluses and minus. We’ve found that for New England, Waterproof and Breathable Shells are best suited for layering, packability, and weather protection.

    In the comments below, let us know how you like to layer and with what items!

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