Layering 101 with the Burton AK Collection

A primer on how to stay warm, dry, and comfortable in the mountains.

As with nachos, lasagna, and the plots of Christopher Nolan movies, layers are a key element to some of the most enjoyable things. The same is true when it comes to snowboarding; wearing a strategic selection of layers keeps us comfortable, dry, and able to stay outside longer, no matter the conditions, increasing our park laps, powder turns, and overall good times.

While it may seem second nature to throw on a t-shirt and hoodie and hit the bricks, subtle adjustments in the pieces you wear beneath your jacket and pants can make all the difference when you’re spending time in the mountains. Obviously, a warm core is key to staying happy when it’s freezing outside—ask any New Englander who spends their winters braving negative windchill numbers what their favorite base layer is, and you’re sure to get an earful about the benefits of merino wool. Layering is just as important when the weather is warmer, too. Spring mornings in Tahoe often start out chilly before heating up and being able to easily ditch layers to adjust your internal temperature is the best way to avoid overheating. 

While layering isn’t an altogether unfamiliar concept for anyone, perhaps you haven’t gone down the rabbit hole of options quite yet, because there are many, and they’re far sharper than they used to be. Base and mid-layers easily perform shoulder season double duty and have aesthetics that allow them to be worn on their own. As we head into the winter season, here’s a primer on how to hone in on your own layering system and a few of our favorite selections from Burton. – Mary T. Walsh

Base Layer

This is the layer that sits closest to your skin. It’s the foundation of your cold weather comfort. Breathability and moisture management are the most important features of a good base layer, as this layer’s job is to wick away moisture, keeping you dry and allowing you to stay warm when the temperature is cold and avoid overheating when it’s hot out. Base layers are made in both natural fibers like merino wool and silk, and synthetic fabrics, and come in a variety of weights designed for different conditions. 

For the layer that sits closest to your skin, breathability and moisture management are the priorities. Staying dry equals staying comfortable, whether it’s the middle of January in the White Mountains or late spring in the Sierra. There’s a myriad of options when it comes to base layer; they’re made from both natural fibers like wool, as well as synthetic fabrics (no, cotton is not on the list), and come in a variety of weights designed for different conditions.

Editor’s choice: The Burton AK Helium Powergrid base layers for men and women.

Mid Layer

The mid layer provides breathable insulation to retain heat at your core. It’s the most exciting layer, if we had to pick, because there are so many options in both material and style: lightweight puffers (both down and synthetic), colorblocked fleece, technical sweatshirt, performance wool sweater. These are the layers that are mainstays during winter, but also perfect for fall camping trips, early spring bike riders—while dropping in on the gear to build out your layering kit may be a bit more money upfront on multiple pieces, this is where you get so much bang for your buck, being able to utilize quality layers year-round.

Editor’s choice: Burton Men’s AK Helium Grid Half-Zip and Burton Women’s AK Helium Grid Pullover.

Outer Layer

The outer layer, aka the shell, provides protection from the elements. Waterproofing, and breathability are paramount, as you want the shell to repel precipitation and wetness, but still allow internal moisture to escape. The more waterproof and breathable a shell jacket is, the pricier it will be, but if you are outdoors often in inclement weather, top-of-the-line performance is worth its weight in Gore-Tex (or any other reputable membrane). Nowadays, many fabrics also include stretch to allow for easy movement, further increasing comfort.

Editor’s picks: Burton Women’s AK Gore-Tex Kimmy 3L Stretch Jacket and Men’s Burton AK 3L Stretch Hover Jacket.


Up Next

June 28, 2022

Clocking In: Lora Bodmer – Owner/Publicist of Deep Communications and Senior Director of Media and PR for Protect Our Winters

Since its inception two years ago, the Natural Selection Tour has appeared multiple times on SportsCenter’s Top 10. It’s...

June 20, 2022

The Ever-Evolving Archetype: An Interview with Hana Beaman

A conversation between Robin Van Gyn and Hana about Mt. Baker, finding fulfillment, Natural Selection, and also, speed suits.

June 16, 2022

Clocking In: Jordan Hall – Western Canada Sales for 686, Salomon, SPY, and Globe

So you want to work in the industry? Snowboarding luminaries share their experience and perspective, and how they combine...

June 9, 2022

evo Opens Campus Salt Lake: Community Space, Retail, Hotel, and Gallery in the Granary District

evo's new Campus in SLC is a hub for everyone who loves the outdoors.

June 3, 2022

Pitch Sessions Returns to Wy’East Academy to Open up the Off-Hill Week at IT’S TITS!

A connection and conversation starter for the riders at IT'S TITS!.

June 2, 2022

10 x 10: A Season Through the Lens of Andrew Miller

10 photographers share 10 photos from the past year. First up, Andrew Miller.

May 26, 2022

Wood Fired-Up: Frank April’s Pizzeria des Battures

Pizzeria de Battures is open for the season in Notre-Dame-du-Portage.

May 18, 2022

Stefi Luxton Visits Home For The First Time Since The Pandemic

A transplant staple in the Mammoth scene for the past decade, Arbor’s Stefi Luxton finally visited her  home country...

May 15, 2022

Monster Hell Week, Dream or Nightmare?

Who are we kidding. It is a dream team. Tess, Zoi, Ryo, Judd, Stale, Sage, Jamie, Ayumu, Halldor, Rene,...