A new layering system for the winter….any recommendations?

I am toying with the idea of upgrading my walking+camping winter layering/shell system from the current one which comprises:

Berghaus Argentium long sleeve baselayer

Berghaus microfleece

Montane Prism (1.0!)

Montane Atomic DT Jacket

Its served me well for the past 5 years (although the Baselayer has changed from the original Paramo Cambia last year)

Not sure whether to beef up the outer shell, beef up the synthetic jacket or beef up the microfleece. I guess age is catching up with me and the cold seeps into my bones a bit more than it used to!

The outer shell does what its supposed to and the only criticism is that the the tail isnt overly long but maybe I can cope with that. The 2 things I am interested in perhaps “improving” is the synthetic jacket and the microfleece. As you can see I do like layering so people shouting out why not get an uber shell with insulation etc wont necessarily float my boat. When I am walking I tend to run hot but cool down rapidly at rest stops and in camp. Therefore I do like to be able to put on and take off minor layers to regulate my warmth.

I am open to suggestions but do like the look of the Marmot Vars hoody as well as the Patagonia R1 hoody. I also like the look of the Montane Flux jacket. I guess there is a blurring of the two layers potentially into one if I go for a soft shell with a hood or a heavier insulated jacket. If I picked one of the above, potentially I could drop a layer but pack the Montane litespeed windproof which is currently languishing in my cupboard? Any thoughts on any of the above or other suggestions gratefully received!

The other half is looking for ideas for Christmas so it seems an ideal time to start looking 🙂

About Saddlebags and Backpacks - a brewer's outdoor adventures

I am a keen hiker, camper, cyclist and general all round gear addict..... I also manage to be a professional brewer in my non-spare time :->
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12 Responses to A new layering system for the winter….any recommendations?

  1. Gosh, layering systems are so personal aren’t they? Like you I run hot, but cool down quickly when stopped. My system’s not that much different to yours:
    merino baselayer (often short sleeved)
    Mountain Equipment Shroud microfleece
    I also have a Montane Prism jacket
    My waterproof is a Paramo Vista jacket though.
    I do carry a very lightweight Rohan wind proof jacket aswell.

    If it’s very cold I swap the Montane Prism for a North Face Optimus jacket, and if it’s even colder, I might add an extra layer with a Berghaus Infinity Light.

    In winter, I like to be able to add my extra layers (eg Infinity Light and then Prism or Optimus) without having to take anything off first and risk feeling colder, so everything is sized accordingly.

    Also in winter, I tend to swap the Paramo Vista for a Paramo Aspira.

    Having said all that, I would never dare to suggest my system for anyone else, but it works for me! 🙂

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Hi Chrissie,

      yes its pretty similar to mine and yes layering systems are very personal! Still, it is useful to see what other people use. Not sure if I would go for Paramo again as an outer shell. I found them to be far too hot when walking so will probably stick with the Atomic DT. Had a look at the Montane website earlier and there are quite a few nice softshells and midlayer jackets that have caught my eye. Lets hope the better half has deep pockets 🙂

  2. Forgot to say that my favourite merino baselayers are the Patagonia ones, as they have a tiny bit of synthetic stuff in their make up, which improves the wicking…

    • backpackbrewer says:

      I have tried and tried to like Merino baselayers but they are just too darn (no pun intended) scratchy on me! Merino is like marmite! You either love it or hate it 🙂

      • David says:


        I normally HATE wool next to my skin but the Rohan merino baselayer tops, whislt not the cheapest are just brill and I highly recommend. am saving up for another.

  3. ed says:

    Arcteryx AR LS Zip base – with a Montane Litespeed over does for winter; if cold add a Montane Dynamic; though just changed this (as they stopped making it, the muppets, and it is on its last legs) to a Krypton – which looks OK on plasma….buffs, ballys help with temp adjustments..

  4. backpackbrewer says:

    thanks Ed, I’ve had a nose after your recommendation and I like the look of the Arcteryx base layer. It looks like a very well thought out bit of clothing (a grown up cambia if you like). The Krypton also looks good, especially for £60! My Prism is slowly dying (too many woodfire burn holes and shredded pockets) so maybe I might just replace that. The Prism has served me well but my only criticism with it is the hood isnt great

    cheers, Dave

  5. Matt C says:

    I’m a bit surprised you include a microfleece in your layers but then don’t include a windproof like the Litespeed. A windproof is often a key element in maintaining comfortable warmth without going overboard on the insulation. And in strong winds a second windproof can help a surprising amount even when your outer layer is already windproof (MoS has certainly found that with Paramo).
    Your system forces you into the Prizm or your shell to achieve windproofing. And if you just walk in the microfleece you’ll be leaking heat except in still conditions.
    I like mid-layers that incorporate windproofing, ever since the first Marmot Driclime stuff appeared. I’m less convinced by softshell for midlayers as I’ve found they lack breathability once they’re covered. I’ve used a Haglofs Lizard pullover made of their Flexable fabric -great when it’s the outer layer but once I cover it I feel like less moisture escapes than i would ideally like.
    I’ve found that less of a problem with Pertex Equilibrium fabric which I’ve used in an old Montane Dynamo jacket. and in the Rab VapourRise stuff. In fact the new VapourRise Lite range would be my recommendation for a really versatile and effective midlayer / softshell garment – the Alpine Jacket is superb, the standard jacket excellent if you want something more minimal, and there’s a pullover and a vest due for launch soon. Any of them might fit into your system, as either a replacement for, or an addition to, the microfleece.

  6. backpackbrewer says:

    Hi Matt,

    thanks for the reply. I use the microfleece mainly for stops/evening rather than whilst walking but the point you make re the litespeed is a good one and will give me something to ponder. I did use to use the litespeed a lot. i guess the microfleece makes me feel warmer than actually achieving. After all the microfleece needs a windproof layer on top as you say.
    I liked the Rab VR jacket but I had an old version that bobbled really badly and put me off a bit. I might have a little look at the lite stuff, it could be the halfway house I am looking for

    cheers, Dave

  7. Matt C says:

    Presumably you have to take other layers off to put the microfleece on at stops? Another aspect of the system I’ve developed over the years, especially with Norwegian winter trips in mind, is to try to make every layer versatile enough (and sized appropriately, which can take some doing) to add something to my warmth wherever in the layers I use it. Hence in part the liking for windproofed midlayers.
    The Vapour-Rise can be a mid layer, an outer layer before needing a shell, or still add warmth thrown on over a shell. (It can even operate as a base-layer.) Likewise with Primaloft (or down in cold enough conditions) – I’d expect to put it on over my shell at stops but could wear it underneath in really cold conditions (I don’t like to walk in down if I can help it because of the compression mixed with trapped moisture under a pack).
    These days I’m using a Paramo Velez Adventure Light as my winter shell, and that plus a baselayer is what I expect to be in 90% of the time (plenty of ventilation options for control). Then the VR, a primaloft top (Rab Generator) and/or down jacket (assorted PHD choices) give me lots more “under or over” options for foul condition, stops and evenings. (Sometimes a simple windproof comes along too but since every layer bar the baselayer is windproof anyway it’s not essential.)

  8. backpackbrewer says:

    Funnily enough I found the VR jacket warm enough as a baselayer when walking in the winter and even then sometimes being too warm!

    I got rid of my full fat Velez as it was too warm on the move even in winter (for me) so I might have a look at the Velez light as an option too.

    I suspect that I might have to spend a little on a few options before settling on the right system for me in the future

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