How to Layer Merino Wool Clothing

October 31, 2022 3 min read

How to Layer Merino Wool Clothing

One of the most common questions we get here at Duckworth: “How do I properly layer Merino Wool clothing?” For some, it can feel overwhelming, given the wide variety of Merino Wool base layers, mid layers and outer layers available on the marketplace, but layering is actually quite simple and depends entirely on the environmental needs of a wearer and their temperature preference.

When achieved, a Merino Wool layering system works in harmony with the body to remove sweat and moisture and odor, while trapping in all the warmth needed to cut it out there in the backcountry (or, conversely, to cool down the body in high heat while keeping it protected from the sun and dry from any potential sweat).

Start with lightweight Merino Wool base layers

Whether you need a Merino Wool layer for summer or winter conditions, it generally starts the same way: pick something light and designed to wick away sweat and moisture. Our Vapor (150 gsm) line is the gold standard for quick-drying, odor-free lightweight Merino Wool layers, but is followed closely by Maverick (100% Merino Wool layers spanning 160-220 gsm). Maverick layers are nearly as practical as Vapor in warmish conditions but truly standout when warmth and thermoregulation are top priorities of your layering system. Our Polaris (175 gsm) fabric, a waffle-knit, is a do-it-all layer in that the miniature knit waffles trap warm air when it’s worn as a base layer or mid layer under, but becomes extremely breathable when worn solo.

Lightweight Merino Wool Layers

Move on the mid weight Merino Wool layers

Next, you need a proper Merino Wool mid layer. Mentioned earlier, the Polaris fabric can easily serve as a mid-layer depending on the conditions and wearer’s temp preferences. Similarly, the heavier end of the 100% Merino layers we offer, Maverick Peak (220 gsm), can be worn solo but has tremendous thermoregulating properties combined with other layers stacked on top. One such layer to toss over the base layers listed above is Comet (275 gsm), a proprietary bi-ply layer designed to pull sweat and moisture straight off the skin and into the outer layer, while trapping immense amounts of warm air in the space between the two bi-ply sheets.

Finish it off with the heavy weight Merino Wool layers

Finally, what you’ll want next is something heavier to really seal in the heat and complete the performance picture. Our bestselling Powder (300 gsm) fabric line is one such product offering, an impossibly cozy Merino fleece-like fabric designed with loft and comfort in mind. Like all of our Merino Wool layers, Powder is odor-resistant, wicks sweat and moisture, and thermoregulates well against the elements.

Midweight Merino Wool Layers

Merino Wool accessories

Some good Merino Wool accessories like 100% Merino knit hats, Merino Wool socks for hiking and skiing, or Merino Wool neck gaiters and balaclavas are always a good idea to complete the dynamic layering system.

(Not so) fun fact: People lose up to 45% of their body heat through their heads and necks alone. So it makes sense to dawn a Merino hat or face protector to lock in all that heat. Made with the aforementioned Comet (275 gsm) fabric, our Merino neck gaiters and balaclavas are simple pieces that can be stashed in a bag or pocket for that extra oomph. Top it all with a knit hat and your head just can’t get cold, especially if one of your base layers has a hood attachment. Similarly, people loose a lot of heat from their feet and hands, so a Merino Wool sock is a good idea to cover that base, along with a Merino Wool-lined glove to toss on the mitts.

Winter Running In Wool Layers

Final Thoughts on Merino Wool layering

As we mentioned earlier, much of how you put together a Merino Wool layering system is dependent on the temperature preferences of the wearer. Some people run hot, some people cold. Some people like to feel the wind on their legs and torso and face, others like to be snug as a bug in a rug. Some people sweat a ton, others not so much. So our best advice is to try out a few of our layers for your next outing and see what you like and don’t. Try combining your layers in various arrangements until you hit that Goldylocks spot where it all just feels comfortable, neither too hot nor too cold. But, if you can afford to carry the pack, it never hurts to have a few extra Merino Wool layer pieces stashed away just in case the weather decides to take you for a ride…

Merino Wool Layers For Skiers