With some pretty great conditions forming and some nice stable cold weather plonked down over Scotland (at the time of writing), now is a great time to discuss layering and preparing for the what will probably be the worst weather you will ever experience, brilliant!
It’s easy to overlook baselayers in favor of a new brightly coloured Gore-Tex jacket. However you will most likely be wearing the same ones against your skin all weekend, so get good ones, top and bottom.
A long sleeve Baselayer like the Rab Merino Plus Zip neck top offers plenty of protection in really cold conditions, wicks well and made mostly of merino wool will not stink after a full weekís use. A zip neck is also handy on the warmer lower level walk-ins when you need to dump some heat.
Baselayer legwear is just as important as whatís on top. Wicking is important here as you are less likely to have an insulation layer on your legs, so any damp areas will get colder much faster. The Rab Power Stretch Pro and Arc’Teyx Rho LT bottoms are both synthetic material so wick very effectively. Both are also very comfortable if you just wear a baselayer under waterproof shell trousers, very effective on warmer wetter days.
Also donít forget some merino pants!
Over your baselayer you will want a layer that essentially acts as a buffer between your shell jacket, which the wind will be making very cold, and your base layer which will be kept warm by your own body heat. The midlayer needs to be very breathable and highly wicking. The Patagonia R1 Hoody is a thick gauge gridded fleece which traps plenty of air and wicks very rapidly thanks to capillary action. The Arc’Teryx Delta LT jacket is a similar construction and is just as effective.
Here at Facewest we have a massive range of Insulated jackets, both Down filled and Synthetic filled. In this article I will be focusing on Synthetic insulation as it performs better in wet conditions which are fairly common in Scotland. This yearís Patagonia Hyper Puff Hoody is an outstanding Scottish Winter jacket for cold belays and all round use. It contains synthetic HyperDAS insulation which is almost as compressible as equivalent weight down. Rab are also going down the loose fill down style synthetic insulation road, with their Nebula Jacket which is a little lighter than Patagoniaís Hyper Puff jacket but is still a great belay or lunch stop jacket.
Here it is, the main event. Your shell jacket is what will keep you alive on those wet snow days. When youíve all got your hoods up and your heads down its also how your friends will recognise you so get a bright one! The Mountain Equipment Changabang jacket is pretty much the benchmark Scottish winter jacket, made from Gore-Tex ProShell it remains highly breathable while waterproof, with reinforced shoulders and arms itís going to take some punishment. It has 4 pockets on the outside so there’s plenty of room for spare gloves and Haribo. The Arc’Teryx Beta AR is also a great option, made from the same Gore-Tex ProShell and reinforced shoulders but with a protective neck collar.
Here is where opinion can be divided, some people prefer durable Softshell trousers for better breathability and take Waterproof Over-trousers for emergencies only. While others prefer to just get some decent Waterproof trousers and stick with them all day. Iíll include one of each for completeness.
The Arc’Teryx Psiphon AR pants are a heavy duty softshell trouser designed for climbing. They have a trimmer fit in the lower leg which will help prevent crampon snagging and lace hooks in the hem to keep a nice seal between your boots and trousers. The Gamma AR, also from Arc’Teryx essentially the same material but with a slightly looser cut around the lower legs.
The Mountain Equipment Karakorum pants are super durable fully waterproof mountaineering bib pant. They feature reinforcement around the inside ankles in case you catch a crampon, and on the front for climbing in tough conditions.