When heading out to the slopes this season, you want to be sure you’re dressed appropriately for the weather. There is nothing worse than getting onto the chair lift only to discover that you have not properly dressed for conditions. You will want a great base layer and outer shell as part of your arsenal of clothing. However, your mid layer clothing is what really makes or breaks it when it comes to staying comfortable during a long day of skiing. Not sure how to pick out a good mid layer? No problem! We have done the work for you. Here’s our list and our top choices for the best mid layer for skiing.
What to look for in the best mid layer for skiing
The first and most important aspect of picking out the best mid layer for skiing is the material it is manufactured from. Mid layer options exist for both natural and man-made fibers. Man made fibers such as polyester are not as warm as natural fibers but will work well under damp conditions.
Synthetics are also great at wicking moisture outward away from the base layer. Natural fibers such as wool will offer added warmth but will hold on to moisture more than their synthetic counterparts. Down offers lightweight warmth but does not offer any wicking properties and can become a hazard when wet. Natural fibers are great choices for very cold days when warmth is important and the chances of overheating are low.
The fabric weight of the best mid layer for skiing will be one that is thick enough to keep you warm while riding on the chairlift but will not cause you to overheat while you are out on the hill ripping turns. Sometimes, it is advantageous to wear two different mid layers when the weather is looking unpredictable.
Layering is the best way to be prepared for anything mother nature can throw your way. A wicking base and mid layer paired with a natural fiber mid layer vest sealed by a waterproof shell is often the best combination for both warmth and range of movement.
Not all mid-layers are built the same when it comes to extras. Some of the additional features you may want to explore in the best mid-layer for skiing include full, half and no zip fronts, crew cut or an extended high neck cut, thumb loops on the sleeves and stash pockets for odds and ends.
The Best Mid Layer for Skiing
All of the mid layers we recommend on our list met the high expectations of their intended user groups. Since we are all on the search for something different, our review of the best mid layers for skiing encompasses garments from the high end to the mid-range of performance. Both experts and novice users will be happy to find a recommendation that fits both their budget and lifestyle. Here are the results of our search and our favorite mid layers for both men and women.
Men’s Best Mid-Layer for Skiing Over $200
Winner: Patagonia Nano Air Insulated Hooded Jacket (Retail:$299)
Coming out on top in the category of the best mid-layers for skiing in the over $200 range is the Patagonia Nano Air Insulated Hooded Jacket. This jacket is built for hard use in variable conditions; an unparalleled winner in the high end mid layer category.
Nano Hooded Jacket Highlights
- 100% lightweight and durable nylon ripstop shell and inner liner offers a generous stretch and superior breathability, with a durable water repellent finish
- 60 G insulation warms and stretches with you as you move
- Nano Puff brick quilting in the sides, ergonomic patterns in other areas improve fit and durability
- Stretchy hood pulls easily on or off your head… even when jacket is zipped
- Comes designed with two handwarmer pockets and two chest pockets that are zippered
- Stretch cuffs and an adjustable drawcord help to seal in warmth
The design team for this item thought of everything when they unveiled the Nano Air. The insulation in the Nano Air is built to stretch, creating a mid layer that is meant for active days out in the mountains. Lightly insulated, this mid layer is coated with a waterproof outer shell and is designed to both fit over a base-layer and under a shell.
The hood is large enough to fit over a helmet and the stretch cuffs and drawstring are useful for keeping body heat in and cold air out. If money is not an issue, the Patagonia Nano Air is a great choice for an all-around high performing mid layer.
Best Mid Layer Fleece – Men’s Under $200
Winner: Black Diamond Coefficient Hoody (Retail $159)
Not everyone needs as much insulation in their mid layer. For those looking for a well-designed thinner mid layer, the Black Diamond Coefficient stands out as one of the best mid layers for skiing in the Under $200 category.
The hood of the Coefficient is designed to fit underneath a helmet. The soft interior fleece is gridded for extra moisture wicking ability. The Coefficient Hoody comes with stretch cuffs and thumb loops to eliminate gaps where the glove meets the jacket.
Coefficient Hoody Highlights
- Warm, breathable and quick to dry, the CoEfficient Hoody is everything you want in the best midlayer fleece
- Under-the-helmet hood
- Zippered chest pocket
- Materials: 87% polyester, 13% elastane
The full front zip allows for thermal regulation during tours and long hikes. There’s even a small stash pocket for some little extras like a credit card or lip balm. Overall, this jacket received high marks and is a great addition to your mid layer collection.
Men’s Best Mid Layer for Skiing Under $100
Winner: REI Co-Op Down Jacket (Retail $99.50)
We aren’t all made of money and sometimes you’ve just gotta go with the least expensive option available. Fortunately, the REI Co-Op Down Jacket is still a great option for a reliable mid layer for a reasonable price.
Although the styling and fit are not as refined as some of the more expensive mid layers, the REI Co-Op Down Jacket still offers features that are sure to please including a nylon shell with a water repellent outer finish, a full front zipper, hand-warmer pockets and a 650-fill-power down insulation (Think warm, but not too warm!).
Co-Op Down Highlights
- Nylon shell fabric treated with a durable water repellent finish sheds light rain and snow, and provides wind resistance
- 650-fill-power down is lightweight and has an impressive warmth-to-weight ratio
- Highly compressible, packs into left-hand pocket
- Full-length front zipper; zip hand pockets
If saving pack space and shaving weight are important features this may also be a great choice for you since the jacket itself can compress down small enough to be stowed in a handy internal stuff sack. Overall, the REI Co-Op Down Jacket is considered the best mid layer for skiing for those who are shopping for quality and value.
Women’s Best Mid Layer for Skiing Over $200
Winner: Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody (Retail $259)
Arc’teryx is well known for their cutting edge design and high quality outdoor apparel. So it comes as no surprise that the Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody is the winner in the category of best mid layer for skiing in the Over $200 category. This jacket was designed for women and men who spend their days playing hard in challenging environments.
Atom LT Hoody Highlights
- 100% Polyester
- Lightweight wind resistant face fabric with DWR finish
- Warm and durable Coreloft insulation
- Low profile, stretchy side panels makes for great ventilation and a trim fit
- Insulated Scuba Hood adds warmth and fits under a helmet
- Two hand pockets with zippers and a internal chest pocket with zipper for storing essentials
Built with a wind-resistant taffeta shell and Arc’teryx’s special Coreloft insulation, this jacket can work as a stand-alone exterior layer on mild days or as a bomb-proof mid layer on cold days. The breathable side panel construction allows for moisture regulation during uphill climbs and the helmet-friendly hoody is designed to fit close to the head for additional warmth on the windiest of days.
Under-arm gussets and elbow reticulation allow for a full range of movement during rigorous touring. There are even a couple of pockets built in for warming your hands and storing those little extras that come in handy during a long day of shredding. All told, the Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody is truly a winner when it comes to finding the best mid layer for skiing.
Women’s Best Mid Layer for Skiing Under $200
Winner: Outdoor Research Women’s Whirlwind Hoody (Retail $115)
Versatility meets affordability in the OR Women’s Whirlwind Hoody. This top is wind resistant, water resistant, and layers well under a shell. The soft shell design of the OR Women’s Whirlwind Hoody features an adjustable hood, a zippered chest pocket for little goodies and a built in stuff-sack feature for easy stowage when not in use.
- Water & wind resistant so you can wear it as a solo piece
- Breathable, quick-drying and lightweight makes the Whirlwind a great travel top
- Movement mirroring stretch so you stay comfortable all day
- Adjustable hood, zippered chest pocket, chest pocket doubles as stuff sack, carabiner loop
- Fabric:86% Polyester/14% Spandex
The stretchy fabric allows for comfort during rigorous movement and the half-zip front makes temperature control a breeze. Thumb loops keep the arms in place and the wrists warm. Because of all of the these features for an incredibly reasonable price, we consider the Outdoor Research Women’s Whirlwind Hoody one of the best mid layers for skiing.
Best Lightweight Fleece – Women’s Under $100
Winner: Columbia Women’s Titan Pass 2.0 Fleece Jacket (Retail $75)
Although the overall cut and comfort of this jacket does not meet the standard of some of the more expensive models, the Columbia Women’s Titan Pass 2.0 Fleece Jacket is a great mid layer choice for women who are looking for a well performing article of clothing with some of the bells and whistles that accompany a more expensive model.
Titan Pass Features
- Fleece construction
- Zip-closed security pocket
- Zippered hand pockets
- Comfort stretch
This jacket is constructed of a stretchy Polartec 200 microfleece that adds warmth and some moisture wicking properties. Built in hand-warming pockets and a security pocket allow for stowage of extras such as keys or credit cards. The full zip design makes temperature regulation easy on days when the weather is having trouble making up its mind.
Overall, the Columbia Women’s Titan Pass 2.0 Fleece Jacket made it onto our list of the best mid layers for skiing for its relatively high number of features at a reasonable price.
So there you have it! Whether you are shopping for a high end luxury mid layer for your next mountaineering ski adventure or a reasonably priced modest mid layer for a family day on the slopes, this list has something for everyone. So get out there and ski. Winter will be over before you know it and now’s the time to enjoy the snow before it’s gone for another year. Have fun and stay warm!