Active Gear Review is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
As the saying goes, “There is no such thing as bad weather….only bad clothing”. So how do you keep your temperature right on your adventure, ski outing, hike or run? By layering. When you head outdoors, the primitive concept of layering becomes your clever thermostat. This proven strategy lets you regulate comfort by slipping layers on and off as your activity level or the weather changes. And once you figure out your base and outer layers you are left with the all important middle layer, also known as the insulating layer that protects you from the cold. The mid-layer helps you retain the heat that’s radiated by your body and the more efficiently this layer traps that heat, the warmer you’ll be. With the broad range of options out there, we are sharing ten of our currently favored mid-layer choices that have excelled in everything from running to hiking to skiing and even taking the dog out on a cold and snowy walk.
Truewerk M2 Grid Pullover Hoodie
On those cold morning strolls with the pooch by our side, the Truewerk M2 Grid Pullover Hoodie keeps us comfortably warm while we walk the trails. Truewerk engineered this hoodie with performance fleece for an abrasion resistant outer surface and a soft gridded inner fleece that delivers plush warmth. In addition to feeling supple this 4-way stretch fleece pulls away moisture and offers just the right amount of breathability to keep us comfortable when our puppy picks up the pace.
- Abrasion and debris resistant HardFleece outer surface, this hoodie can handle any heavy physical activity and doesn’t bat an eye at overgrown trail intrusions when the hike turns into a jungle trek.
- Soft-gridded, brushed inner fleece makes for a supremely comfortable experience every time you’re sporting this hoodie
- Excellent moisture management and optimum breathability
Best Uses: Hiking, Walking, and General All Around Use
MSRP $69 www.amazon.com/truewerk
Nathan Sport Tempo 1/4 Zip Long Sleeve
When the air is crisp and cold and we are heading out for higher intensity activities, we turn to the Nathan Sport Tempo 1/4 Zip Long Sleeve. This performance layer is made with a stretchy fabric that helps manage moisture and provides midweight warmth that’s ideal for most Winter days. The quarter-zip design lets us ventilate or lock heat in as needed, and the slimmer fit improves our range of motion and lets us add more layers on the coldest days. This top delivers the techy warmth that we trust for those higher paced pursuits.
- Soft 4-way stretch knit
- Moisture wicking and quick drying fabric
- Discrete left hand zippered sleeve pocket for cash, ID or gels
Best Uses: Running, Skinning, Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
Odlo AXALP Ceramiwarm mid layer half zip
Winter running, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing all have the cold in common, and the Odlo AXALP Ceramiwarm mid layer half zip is here to help us combat that and keep us nice and warm while we recreate outdoors. The technical fabric wicks moisture away to leave us dry and comfortable while active Ceramiwarm enhances thermal regulation and breathability.
- Active Warming – The Ceramic-woven fibers reflect heat while letting moisture escape
- Uber Comfortable – Soft to the touch and brushed inside
- Handy Hip Side Pockets for ID, cash, gels, and even a smartphone
Best Uses: Running, Cross Country Skiing, and Snowshoeing
MSRP $115 odlo.com
Smartwool Sparwood Texture Hoodie Sweater
A regular cut and a sporty look make it easy for us to wear the Smartwool Sparwood Texture Hoodie Sweater for more than just outdoor activities. It works both as athleisure and as a comfortable layer when we’re facing cold days. A blend of recycled polyester and responsibly sourced Merino wool is soft to wear and a hood keeps in all of the warmth.
- Rib knit cuffs and hem
- Loose fitting hood with draw cord for adjustability
- Versatile – Active and Casual Use
Best Uses: Hiking, Skiing, Walking, Travel, and Casual
MSRP $120 smartwool.com
Kora Yardang Jersey
Kora’s Yardang Jersey is versatile enough for Winter skiing and hiking in the Springtime and fits perfectly over a base layer and is light enough to also have another sweater layered on top for cooler days. Yak wool blended with Merino wool builds this mid-layer with solid thermal regulation so we never feel too cold or too warm. It also wicks moisture when we work up a sweat booting up hard terrain. The Yardang Jersey serves up natural odor control and delivers a lightweight warmth that won’t get in your way.
- Soft, Comfortable, and Warm – Merino and Yak wool might just be the perfect partners.
- Longer sleeve length for comfortable layering
- Zipped neck allows for efficient venting
Best Uses: Skinning, Hiking, Cross Country Skiing, and Snowshoeing
MSRP $140 koraoutdoor.com
Ibex Indie Hoody
Whether we’re gearing up for our next ascent or packing our running vest for a long trail adventure, we’re sure to be wearing the Ibex Indie Hoody. Built with 100% Merino Wool, it’s naturally breathable and perfect for layering. Odor resistant qualities keep us fresh even when we’re sweating bullets, and the raglan seams add comfort for optimal movement. This lightweight multi-purpose hoodie is what we’re reaching for when we’re pursuing high octane adventures.
- Scuba hood can be worn under helmets
- Quarter zip allows for venting during strenuous activity
- Thumb holes offer easy layering
Best Uses: Running, Skinning, Cross Country Skiing, and Snowshoeing
MSRP $160 ibex.com
Outdoor Research Vigor Plus Fleece Hoodie
Outdoor Research’s Vigor Plus Fleece Hoodie is the result of combining performance oriented features with extremely comfy materials so you can wear it just about anywhere. The Stretch Woven Fleece blend provides thermal regulation, moisture management, and quick drying comfort that will keep you in this jacket for every occasion. The ultra comfy high-loft grid interior, thumbhole openings, and zippered pockets are creature comforts that make it even more difficult to take the jacket off at the end of the day.
- High Collar Hood with Low-Pro Binding
- Amazing stretch and mobility
- Zip Chest and Hand Pockets
Best Uses: Skiing, Hiking, Cross Country Skiing, and Snowshoeing
MSRP $169 outdoorresearch.com
Jack Wolfskin Jwp Atmos Jacket
If there’s one thing every avid outdoor enthusiast has hanging in their gear closet, it’s a dependable layering piece like the Jack Wolfskin Jwp Atmos Jacket. When chilly weather starts to hit we get the Jwp Atmos out of our closet and onto our shoulders. Lightweight insulation made of recycled synthetic fibers with stretch properties mimic down insulation and trap warmth, yet the jacket maintains a slimmer profile for a sleek aesthetic. Clean lines make a minimalist appearance if you’re simply wearing it around town, while the slimmer fit slides right under a shell if you’re out in stormy weather. In addition, the JWP ATMOS JKT can be stowed in its own pocket and will take up minimal space if you pack it for travel.
- FLEX SHIELD – stretchy, wind resistant, and water repellent softshell ripstop – Perfect for the times when you ditch your outer layer.
- One of the pockets doubles as a stow pouch for the jacket.
- Fixed hood with a high collar to keep the warmth in and the cold out
Best Uses: Hiking, Walking, Travel, and Casual
MSRP $199.95 jackwolfskin.com
Beyond Clothing Ultra Lochi L3 Jacket
Built with Beyond’s extensive knowledge of layering system development stretching back to 1996, the Ultra Lochi L3 Jacket will take your layering system to the next level. This full-zip jacket is an excellent insulating mid-layer and can serve as a stand alone piece in cool temperatures. Zip up the water and wind resistant jacket before embarking on a thru hike that has bad weather just over the horizon. The fully reversible design delivers two styles in one, with an adjustable hood and DWR finish on both sides that help fight off rain storms of varying degrees, while the durable and breathable attributes are sure to keep you comfortable after the storm blows through and the temperatures start to rise. In addition a self-stowing pocket ensures convenient, space-saving storage when not in use, as well as zippered hand pockets, a drop tail hem, and elastic wrist cuffs that will keep you prepared, covered, and comfortable on almost any outing.
- Fully reversible jacket with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish on both sides
- Streamlined, adjustable hood with a high collar and chin guard that can accommodate helmets
- Packable – Compresses down into a self-stowing pouch to ensure protection when and where you need it.
Best Uses: Hiking, Walking, Travel, and Casual
MSRP $225 beyondclothing.com
Helly Hansen Lifaloft Air Insulator Jacket
Demanding ascents and descents in backcountry ski touring calls for the Helly Hansen Lifaloft Air Insulator Jacket. Boasting the groundbreaking LIFALOFT™ Air insulation, this jacket delivers an exceptional warmth to weight ratio to combat cold temps on fast descents from the windswept peaks. And to ensure optimal performance, the LIFALOFT™ Air enables air to pass through easily to make a more breathable mid-layer that is lighter at the same level of warmth, perfect to avoid unnecessary bulk for the climbs, yet giving you the warmth you need without needlessly limiting your mobility. Add in the hood that fits under helmets and wind-blocking properties, water-resistant Pertex Quantum 20D Fabric and you’re set with a jacket that thrives as both a standalone outer layer and a protective mid-layer.
- LIFALOFT™ Air – breathable insulator that gives you the right amount of lightweight warmth for high-intensity activities in cold environments.
- Insulated hood that fits under helmets
- Two large inside pockets allow for storage of skins.
Best Uses: Ski Touring, Skinning, Cross Country Skiing, and Snowshoeing
MSRP $300 hellyhansen.com