Buyers guide: How layers keep out the chill

Winter warmer advice - use base layers

Bob Warters's picture
Wed, 12 Oct 2011
Buyers guide: How layers keep out the chill

With the yellow on those TV weather forecast charts giving way to permanent blue as winter approaches, it's time to consider our clothing options for the hardier among us planning to continue playing over the next few months. And that means perhaps switching to a relatively new phenomenon - layering.

It used to be that if we were planning to play golf from October to March we merely considered a thick jumper over a high neck polo with a waterproof jacket on top if rain was predicted.

It was bulky, it was restricting and rarely turned the game into anything more than a social outing with exercise as the main beneficiary.

Today, with a fraction of the weight in clothing to carry around, we can still be competitive and flexible, while keeping dry and warm.

Appropriate layers for the conditions you expect to encounter during a round offers far better control over your temperature and means you can be versatile should conditions change.

Three layers seems to be the optimum number when it’s really cold, with two ideal for slightly warmer days. With modern performance fabrics, each thin layer traps air between it and the next, keeping you warmer while these high quality wicking garments transport perspiration away from your skin for the next layer to deal with.

You can never be sure how much you need to wear as golf conditions can change frequently, so we suggest you try different clothing combinations until you find the right balance.

Layer one – next to the skin

Start with a base layer with short or long sleeves. Its job is to wick sweat away from your skin to keep you dry and warm. A bad base layer - for example a cotton or polyester tee-shirt - will get progressively more damp and gradually make you colder. All the major brands including FootJoy, Under Armour, Puma, Galvin Green, Mizuno, Nike and adidas manufacture good synthetic base layers which combine good performance and low prices, from as little as £30 per item.

Similarly for the real winter golf nuts, these companies also have full length figure hugging compression leggings or cycling-type shorts to reduce the wind chill around your nether regions.

Layer two – the filling in the layer sandwich

With the baselayer wicking sweat from your skin and keeping you dry, the mid-layer is going to provide much of the warmth. We recommend a performance polo shirt, short sleeve windshirt or one of the latest half-zip pull-overs with flexible spandex woven into it. If you plan to head out with just two layers look for a top with windproof properties.

Layer three – waterproof essentials

Perhaps the most essential in your golf clothing wardrobe, and probably the most expensive, will be a waterproof jacket. It can be a big investment but we suggest you don't skimp on it - even at £200 or more for the top brands, they are good value. They can get very warm, so look for ventilation under the arms or on the back.

Layer four – Feet, hands and head

It's beleived that 80 per-cent of heat escaping from your body exits from the head so in winter, a  woolly hat or cap will help retain warmth. And don' forget your feet and hands, always the first to feel the cold as the body diverts blood away from the extremities. A good pair of woollen socks is also a must.


There's no right or wrong way with layering but you’ll find the right combination after a couple of rounds. Everyone finds a different solution that works for them so we recommend you experiment.

Over the next few weeks we will be out there braving the expected chill reviewing some of the latest layering clothing. We're not fair-weather golfers and nor should you be!