With all the fabric innovations taking place in hard shell and soft shell clothing, it’s not surprising that climbers often overlook the advancements happening in the critical warmth-trapping mid-layers. While mid-layers may not have the seductive water-shedding qualities found in outer layers, they serve a critical role of keeping climbers warm and comfortable when the temperatures drop. Here are some of this season’s top mid-layers for staying warm this winter.

Atom LT $225

This sophisticated insulated mid-layer is perfectly suited for wearing under a hard-shell or on its own in milder conditions. Arc’teryx utilizes a smooth, wind-resistant shell fabric on the body and arms, which provides increased weather protection and prevents the Velcro-effect when layering. Under the arms, the Atom LT sports stretchy and hightly breathable fleece panels, which allow for easy movement and excellent venting.  For warmth even in damp conditions, Arc’teryx uses its own highly durable and compressible synthetic insulation. Throw in one of the sleekest wrist closures on the market and a cosy heat-trapping hood and climbers have an excellent mid-layer for a variety of climbing situations. Recommended

Baseline Hoody $165

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Constructed with a fast-wicking Power Dry fabric, the Baseline Hoody is a great base or mid-layer for cold weather climbing. A close-fitting hood adds extra weather protection while the thumb-loop sleeves protect wrists from heat-robbing drafts. Rab includes a generous front zip for venting in warmer conditions while the small chest pocket provides storage for small essentials. Stripped of all superfluous details, the Baseline Hoody is a perfect layer for difficult climbing.

Centrifuge $125
Outdoor Research

The Centrifuge again reaffirms that Outdoor Research (OR) is currently building some of the best technical climbing clothing. Using a hybrid-fabric construction, the Centrifuge features a wind-shedding hard-face fleece on the front and a highly breathable stretch fleece on the back and sides. The result is a mid-layer that provides excellent warmth and breathability when worn on its own or under a shell. The close-fitting hood, thumb-loop wrists and offset front zipper show that OR is paying attention to the details. This is an exceptional garment for winter climbing.

Eiswand Jacket $250

As one of the most expensive and sophisticated mid-layer fleece jackets on the market, the Eiswand Jacket delivers exceptional performance in cold weather. Mammut uses Thermal Pro fleece which it sews with flat-lock seams that minimize bulk and prevent friction when layering. The outer fabric surface has a Hardface treatment which adds durability, prevents pilling and minimizes the Velcro-effect when layering under other garments. Thumb-loop wrists, sophisticated patterning and an obsessive attention to finishing details puts the Eiswand Jacket on the short-list for top climbing mid-layers.

Khamsin Hoody $89

This wonderfully tailored mid-layer jacket delivers just the right level of warmth for active winter climbing. MEC uses a lightweight low-loft fleece with a smooth exterior for low-bulk warmth while minimizing the Velcro-effect commonly encountered with conventional dual-face fleece fabrics. The outer fabric surface is also treated with a polyurethane and ceramic finish which increases abrasion resistance while further enhancing the Khamsin Hoody’s ability to slide under other layers. A very functional low-profile hood and a zippered chest pocket round out this excellent winter mid-layer.