Part 3 - Tops

What to Wear When Cold Colder Coldest

Welcome Back Fleet Feet Friends

Today we are onto Part 3 - Tops, specifically baselayers and midlayers. As noted in the prior 2 newsletters, this week we will be sending out mini education debriefings on what to wear when cold colder coldest. Each Fall we give this seminar in person, and it is one of our most popular talks. When living in Upstate NY, you need to find a way to remain active all year. This educational debrief will help teach you on what to wear so you can walk or run outdoors all cold weather season long. The Fleet Feet Team is always ready to help you in store to find the right gear for you.

Below you will find the links to the prior two articles on your feet and bottoms.

Read on for some more tips.

We have covered Your Feet and Bottoms. As we move up the body, today we discuss above the belt and the topic is


Specifically Baselayers & Midlayers

To Recap from prior articles, typically when seeking the correct cold weather apparel you do not want COTTON. In the run industry, we say Cotton in Rotten for exercise because it holds moisture, remains wet, gets heavy, can chafe and will not move moisture away from the body.

So, what should you look for?

Look for Wool or Polyester. Wool is organic and amazing for keeping you warm, wicking moisture and can last a long long time. Polyester is a man made fabric and is becoming more sustainable. Both fabrics are. Typically for tops, the ratio of polyester to other types of fabrics such as nylon or spandex, among other "polyester" type fabrics is higher. This is because polyester itself has an incredible moisture wicking property like wool does. It isn't uncommon to see a wool/poly blend either.


In our talk I find it important to explain that cold weather gear construction is not like making shorts, short sleeves or tanks for the warm months. The craftmanship that goes into making cold weather gear is tremendous, and as such it will last a long long time, especially if you make the proper investments in it. So, please do not fear what the price tag may say, because these pieces last years, thus it is money well spent on your health, your safety and your wardrobe. In addition, when you see the detailing of this gear, you can see how much effort goes into thinking about the pocketing, the fabric layering, the pattern, zippers, reflective touches etc... We hand pick every piece that is on our floor to serve your needs. Therefore we take everything into consideration when making sure we have the correct gear in our stores for you.

Now, let's start from the inside out......


We start the conversation from the inside out, thus we can not neglect the bra conversation for women. First, all women need a good fitting sports bra. We wanted to share the depicted picture as this is a Smartwool Sports Bra good for A Cup to C(ish) Cup. Being that it is wool, it will have slightly better warming properties in the cold weather. Regardless of bra style, each woman needs a good bra or two in her wardrobe.


The Baselayer is the most important piece of apparel you should have in your wardrobe for the Cold, Colder & Coldest of conditions. We repeat, the most important universal cold weather garment.


  • During cold conditions it is imperative to keep the core (you chest region) warm. The baselayer is the piece that is closest to skin and moves the moisture away to regulate body temperature and keep you warmer.

Other Baselayer Benefits/Features

  • The baselayer is also considered a three season piece. It's the garment in your workout wardrobe that can be used 3/4 of the year (Fall, Winter and Spring). Thus you get lots of "mileage" out of it.
  • The baselayer typically fits very closely to the skin and that is purposeful. The closer the garment is to the skin, the better it will wick moisture away from the body. In addition, often it is a longer garment, therefore it can help add extra warmth, coverage & protect your lower body from the elements.
  • The baselayer indeed can be polyester or wool, but please no cotton for a baselayer. It will simply make you colder.
  • The baselayer when layering is often the first piece you put on, then as the temps change you add a midlayer on top and/or a jacket for the colder temps or added elements of wind and precipitation.
  • The baselayer is a thinner garment, thus you might think, how will this help me. As noted above, it's purpose is to move the moisture away and regulate temperature therefore keeping your core warm.
  • In a nutshell, aside from great footwear, you need a great baselayer or two in your wardrobe.

Here are just some examples of baselayers you can find

at Fleet Feet.

Above are various women's style baselayers.

The right column are various men's style baselayers.

The staff can certainly assist in helping guide you through the options.


The Midlayer Top is the second garment that typically goes on top of a baselayer, however you can wear this solo as well. Often the Midlayer is a garment that can have varying weights from thinner to thicker with a brushed back.

What is brushed back? If you stick your hand inside the garment and feel a soft brushed like feeling this is brushed back. Its a specific process they use to make the fabric do that. The result is a fabric that will provide a little extra warmth. So when shopping for midlayers and you know you want something warmer feel the inside or have the Fleet Feet staff show you.

Midlayers come into play in the following conditions:

  • When it's 35-55 degrees with a slight chill. Some may wear a Midlayer solo, sans a baselayer
  • If you tend to run "cold" as described below, some may wear a baselayer with a midlayer when it's sunny, no wind, but the temp is 25-55 degrees with a chill in the air
  • When it becomes sub 20, especially with wind, the Midlayer can be an important layering piece as those temps are cold. Thus would be worn with a baselayer to move moisture then the midlayer for added warmth and potentially a jacket especially in the colder and coldest conditions. We will discuss jackets in Part 4.
  • The other characteristic of midlayers is they often have a front 1/4 or 1/2 zipper so you can lower it if you get warm. Midlayers can be sans a zipper as depicted below, but more often they do have one to regulate temperature.
  • Often considered more of a fashion piece in the cold weather wardrobe vs the baselayer being a very functional piece. Hence you can find various types of looks associated with the midlayer, but having a very functional property to it to keep you warmer.

Here are some examples of Women's Midlayers available at Fleet Feet

Here are some examples of

Men's Midlayers available at

Fleet Feet

Recap: What Works for Me?

First you need to determine if you run "hot" or "cold". What does this mean? When you go home on any regular day and get changed into something comfortable, do you put on shorts and short sleeve or do you put on your coziest, snuggliest sweat pants and sweat shirt? If you are the shorts and short sleeve person you typically run "hot", which means you can withstand colder temperatures than most people, thus you may not need to wear as thick of fabric or as much fabric or as many layers. If you are the sweat pants and sweat shirt wearer, you likely will need to go to the warmer fabrics and more layers once the temps dip towards the 40s and for some people 50s. And in the 20s and below, you wear baselayer and midlayer. In essence, you run "cold".

Now, if you are neither you're pretty lucky because you can acclimate a little better in all conditions. But may not need to layer and wear the heaviest farbrics until it gets 20s or below.

Admittedly, you do need to try it out and see what works best for you. But keep in mind the colder it is and if your skin is exposed the higher the risk of frost bite and hypothermia. This can even happen in 45 degrees and rain.

Thank you for reading Part 3, the debrief on the types of baselayers and midlayers, how to layer, the why of them and how important they are to keep your core warm. As mentioned, the Fleet Feet Team is ready to help! Stop in anytime. We want to help you remain outdoors all cold season long.

In Part 4 - we will discuss jackets and the various types to wear based on weather conditions.

If you missed Part 1 or 2 - see below for the link.

Regards, The Team at Fleet Feet

Part 1 - Your Feet (What to Wear when Cold, Colder, Coldest)

You can view Part 1 here:

Part 2 - Bottoms (What to Wear when Cold, Colder, Coldest)

You can view Part 2 here:

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