Tips For Smart Layering

    Spencer Hill
    Apr 27, 2016
    Splash Time

The beauty and freedom of setting off on an all-conditions adventure comes with inherent unpredictability. But there is one condition you, as a human being, need to be highly aware of and prepared for—the weather.

As an animal (some of us more than others), humans are poorly adequate at maintaining bodily comfort across a range of temperatures and weather conditions by themselves. Our weak covering of body hair and relatively skimpy levels of fat stores mean it doesn’t take a big swing in degrees, wind speed or moisture to kick us out of our comfort zone, or worse, into dangerous territory. That’s why we created clothing.

To make every ride in every temperature as enjoyable as possible, and to ensure you maximize your comfort and safety when the conditions turn for the worse, follow the proven principles of intelligent layering with today’s advanced apparel materials and you’ll be a happier, healthier rider.

First, The Rules
- Say No To Cotton
Cotton, while comfortable, durable and versatile, is a terrible fabric choice for varying conditions or high-demand comfort situations. It soaks up a lot of moisture, holding it inside and taking a very long time to dry. This equates to wearing heavier, colder, smellier clothing on your ride. And, if you find yourself in a cold-weather situation, wearing cotton could put you at higher risk. Leave the cotton t-shirts and blue jeans at home when you ride.

- Leave Out The Zip-Ins
Zip-in liners are not as effective or convenient for controlling heat loss as independent Mid Layers (more below). While they may work perfect in a certain temperature and activity range, they will likely leave you wanting more, or less along the ride. Having the flexibility and fine-tuneability of independent layering ensures you’ll always have the right combination. And stopping to un-zip something out of your jacket is a hassle. Focus on the ride, and if you need to add or remove insulation. Quickly pull it on or off and get back to riding.

- Waterproofness Should Always Be There
Just as zip-in liners for insulation are out-of-date, so are zip-in waterproof systems. There are no situations where stopping to zip in a waterproof layer makes sense on an Adventure Ride. You’ll be wetter, more uncomfortable and in a worse mood every time. Choose a garment that incorporates durable waterproofness into its shell, instead.

- Layer Every Day, Every Ride
Advanced layering techniques have been used by mountaineering expeditions, sled dog racers and backcountry skiers for decades. The versatility of multiple layers to control moisture and heat in cold climates is obvious. But now more than ever, athletes and expeditions in higher temperatures are experiencing the positive effects of layering. Cooling base layer fabrics and sun-blocking materials are combining to keep users more comfortable, and the principles of keeping your skin relatively dry and protecting yourself from external elements work from cold to hot.

Know What You’re Trying To Control
Layering is all about control. Just like proper throttle, brake and clutch control can get you through a challenging situation on the bike safely, proper layering systems control the elements that keep you comfortable (even as they’re trying to make you uncomfortable). It’s important to use proper layering techniques and garments on every ride to maintain proper comfort.

There are three things a proper clothing system must do; manage moisture, control heat transfer and protect yourself from both external weather elements (such as rain, wind, snow and sun) and flying projectiles.

To handle these three tasks, use three simple layers to keep your body comfortable. If you’re excessively sweating without a solution to mitigate its effects, or if you’re shivering, you’re not doing it right.

Base Layer = Moisture management
Dry = Comfort. It’s that simple. Human bodies are giant radiators looking to maintain proper temperatures. Sweat is their coolant. When sweat stays on your skin in lower temperatures, it immediately begins to cool and so will you. Likewise, if it’s hot out and you’re soaking in a humid sweat suit, your body will not be able to cool itself efficiently and you’ll quickly overheat.

Moisture-wicking, breathable base layers keep you dry from the inside out by allowing excessive sweat moisture to evaporate. A base layer fits close to your skin so it can pick up and disperse water and water vapor away from the body quickly. It attracts moisture, transfers it away from your body and dries as fast as possible so it can do the entire process over again.

Mid Layer = Heat Balance
Being comfortable is a matter of balance. The amount of heat your body produces has to match the amount it loses or you’ll get too hot or too cold. Combining the right Base Layer with appropriate levels of insulation for your chosen activity is key to maintaining comfortable body temperatures. Mid Layers are all about insulation and this is where you adjust the loft, thickness or configuration (long-sleeve, vest, etc.) to match external conditions and activity levels with your ideal comfort. Adjust is the key word here, Mid Layers are often changed during a ride to at different parts of the day to keep you in your comfort zone. Your base layer and your outerwear generally stay put, but the flexibility of Mid Layers can react to conditions and activity levels quickly and effectively.

Continuing the easy escape of excessive moisture through the Mid Layer is equally important as controlling insulation levels. So, utilizing a mid-layer material that controls heat loss while still being highly moisture-wicking and fast drying is very important.

Outerwear = Protection
Outerwear is the general term for anything you wear that comes in direct contact with the elements. Not excluding gloves and boots or your helmet. For most riders, they think of Outerwear as their riding Jacket and Pants. Outerwear is the first line of defense against wind chill, rain, changing temperatures and flying debris. It has a lot to do and, to maintain all-day riding comfort, must be relatively light and mobile.

Outerwear is just as responsible for your body’s comfort as it is its defense. It has to be abrasion resistant. It should incorporate effective ventilation systems. It should also provide mobility and visibility and it generally incorporates convenience features such as storage. The highest-end garments incorporate all of this and total waterproofness into one piece, without additional over or under-jackets, zip-in layers, etc.

Not only must Outerwear block the elements from getting in, but it also has to continue the chain of moisture transfer away from the body. Expelling perspiration doesn’t stop, it has to escape completely.

Honda Powersports
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