The 16 Best Midlayers of 2022 Reviewed & Compared

Midlayers are an arguably important layer, though there's so much to consider when shopping for them. The best midlayer for you depends on your adventure.
The 16 Best Midlayers Reviewed and Compared

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You all know about the importance of layering when it comes to dressing for chillier days. And you’ve probably all heard about how crucial it is to have proper, non-cotton base layers and solid outer layers when planning your adventuring outfit. But you still may not know the importance of having the best midlayer.

Worn between your base and outer layer, your midlayer has a huge impact on the comfort you feel while doing your favorite outdoor activity, be it skiing, hiking, snow-shoeing or just hanging out.

This said, there is such a large range of options out there—varying in material, price, durability, breathability, warmth and more—that deciding which one to buy can be pretty tricky.

The truth is, as is the case with most travel gear, it is not possible to name one single midlayer as the “best” as there are so many different things to consider, depending on the primary activity you have in mind.

Because of all these variables, we made this buying guide to help you sort through a bunch of the most popular midlayers, ultimately helping you decide which item is the best for you and your needs in 2019.

Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody
Best Overall Midlayer
Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody
  • Warm even when wet
  • Quick drying time
  • Lightweight
  • Option to have with a drawstring-hood
Patagonia R2 Fleece Jacket
Best Midlayer for Cold Weather
Patagonia R2 Fleece Jacket
  • Two zippered hand pockets
  • Zippered chest pocket
  • Polygiene odor control
  • Good balance of warmth and breathability
Cotopaxi Teca Cálido Hooded Jacket
Best Midlayer for Skiing
Cotopaxi Teca Cálido Hooded Jacket
  • Retains body heat really well
  • “Do good” product
  • DWR finish for water-resistance
  • Extremely breathable
Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan
Most Stylish Midlayer
Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan
  • Wool-sweater styling
  • Laminated-zip sleeve pocket and laminated-zip hand pockets
  • Stylish
Patagonia R1 Full-Zip Fleece Jacket
Best Midlayer for Backpacking
Patagonia R1 Full-Zip Fleece Jacket
  • Polygiene odor control material
  • Lightweight
  • Highly compressible for packing
  • Exceptional breathability
Cotopaxi Abrazo Hooded Full-Zip Fleece Jacket
Best Midlayer Jacket
Cotopaxi Abrazo Hooded Full-Zip Fleece Jacket
  • Contrasting colored zipper pocket
  • Wind and water-resistant polyester shell
  • True to size
  • Unique color options
Mammut Runbold Midlayer Hoody
Best Midlayer Hoody
Mammut Runbold Midlayer Hoody
  • UPF 50+ protection
  • Hidden internal pocket
  • Moisture wicking
  • Zipper + hoody combo for temperature regulation
Arc'teryx Cerium LT
Best Midlayer Down Jacket
Arc'teryx Cerium LT
  • Insulated hand warmer pockets
  • Super warm for its light weight
  • Functional in light moisture
  • Waterproof synthetic insulation in areas of down most prone to moisture
Columbia Steens Mountain Full Zip Fleece
Best Budget Midlayer
Columbia Steens Mountain Full Zip Fleece
  • Very comfortable
  • Super affordable
  • Good for mild temperatures
North Face Ventrix Hoodie
Best Midlayer for Hiking
North Face Ventrix Hoodie
  • Designed for climbing and other high-intensity activities
  • Concealed chest and hand pockets
  • Good price for the quality
  • Can work as a standalone jacket as well as a midlayer
Columbia Mountainside Heavyweight Fleece
Best Midlayer Fleece
Columbia Mountainside Heavyweight Fleece
  • Zippered chest pocket
  • Buttons instead of zipper
  • Women’s and men’s option
  • Roomy enough to fit other layers underneath
The North Face Women’s Wander ¼ Zip Midlayer
Best Women’s Midlayer
The North Face Women’s Wander ¼ Zip Midlayer
  • Quarter front zip
  • Lightweight and easily packable
  • Ultra-breathable
  • FlashDry technology for faster cool-down
ODLO's FLI LIGHT Midlayer Full-Zip Jacket
Best Midlayer for Summer
ODLO's FLI LIGHT Midlayer Full-Zip Jacket
  • Provides great freedom of movement due to its athletic fit
  • High wicking properties
  • Lightweight
  • Perfect garment for spring and summer outings
Kari Traa Rothe Mid-Layer Fleece Jacket
Best Casual Midlayer
Kari Traa Rothe Mid-Layer Fleece Jacket
  • Zipper garage
  • Chest pocket
  • Bright, stylish colors
  • Designed by and for women
ODLO Essential Half-Zip Running Midlayer
Best Active Midlayer
ODLO Essential Half-Zip Running Midlayer
  • Keeps you cool and dry
  • ‘Fair Wear Foundation’ construction
  • Good stretch for adventuring
  • Excellent moisture management
Coalatree Baseline Midlayer
Best Environmentally Friendly Midlayer
Coalatree Baseline Midlayer
  • Organically and environmentally produced 
  • Made with recycled coffee grounds
  • Breathable fabric
  • Honeycomb fabric for extra warmth and softness

1. Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody: Best Overall Midlayer

Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody Black

Remaining true to its high-end standard of producing clothing that is not only well-made and technically on point, but also beautiful, Arc’teryx is easily the first on our list.

The Atom LT Hoody (also available in women’s) is a wonderful piece of clothing and a great choice for anyone looking for a versatile layer that does just the trick for a midlayer.

Synthetically insulated with 60g/m2 Coreloft filling, the hoody provides perfect warmth for cold days when combined with a shell. It is also solid enough to be a stand-alone layer on mild spring or fall days.

The hoody features two zippered hand pockets, comes in many different colors for both women and men, and has the option of coming with a drawstring-hood.

As far as weight goes, this clocks in at only 11 ounces and is easily packable, and yet it’s incredibly durable considering its light-weight.

My main criticism is just that the synthetic insulation is slightly less breathable than other newer materials out there. But the high warmth it provides is a reasonable trade-off for the moderately lower breathability.

This Arc’teryx midlayer fits quite slim so we recommend getting one size larger than normal if you plan on combining it with other layers. The hoody comes with a reasonably hefty price tag but is worth just about every dollar.

Overall, Arc’teryx’s Atom LT Hoody provides a great mix of mobility, warmth, comfort and style and, based on the extensive research put into this article, is our choice for the best overall midlayer, period.

Pros

  • Man-made insulation – quick drying time and will provide warmth even when wet
  • Lightweight with a great warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Option to have with a drawstring-hood

Cons

  • Not as breathable as newer more synthetic options
  • Pricey

Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody Specs:

Material100% Polyester Insulation, 100% Nylon Shell
HoodYes
ThumbholesNo
GenderMen and Women
Price$$$

2. Patagonia R2 Fleece Jacket: Best Midlayer for Cold Weather

Patagonia R2 Fleece Jacket

Patagonia is the ‘go-to’ for many outdoor enthusiasts out there, and for very good reason. They are world-renowned for their high quality, extremely solid gear designed by adventurers for adventurers, and their R-series jackets (of which there are three models, R1, R2 & R3) are no exceptions.

But it’s the R2 Fleece Jacket that has caught my eye, and is the best for cold weather in my opinion. It’s debatably the warmest midlayer on this list.

The most noticeable difference between the R2 Fleece and its peers is its lack of a hood – anyone looking specifically for a hooded middle layer should stop right now and jump to other products on the list!

The R2 model combines two of Patagonia’s fleece types – their warmest on the chest/core area and a lighter style under the arms and along the sides. This has created a well-balanced sense of warmth while preventing you from totally overheating if using this jacket for cardio-intense activities. It’s available in women’s too.

While more expensive than other items on our list, the R2 fleece is still very reasonable compared to other Patagonia products and well priced considering its high quality and breathability. Of course, as with all fleeces, its ability to stand up to strong wind is not the best. Nor is it warm enough to also be used as an outer layer on milder days, as is the case with others on our list.

It is, however, described by many as the “ultimate athletic fleece” due to its straight-forward design, warmth, and breathability that is extremely well-suited for people on the move. For those among you who agree that fleece is the best type of middle layer, and are happy to use a midlayer without a hood, Patagonia’s R2 Fleece jacket is a solid contender.

Pros

  • Two zippered hand pockets
  • Zippered breast pocket
  • Polygiene odor control
  • Good balance of warmth and breathability
  • Significantly cheaper than Patagonia’s other synthetic jackets

Cons

  • Limited water resistance
  • Doesn’t hold up well to strong wind
  • No hood

Patagonia R2 Fleece Jackets Specs:

Material Polyester and Spandex
HoodNo
ThumbholesNo
GenderMen and Women
Price$$

3. Cotopaxi Teca Cálido Hooded Jacket: Best Midlayer for Skiing

Cotopaxi Teca Calido Hooded Jacket

Cotopaxi’s motto “Gear for Good” is an admirable one that translates into all aspects of its business. They pride themselves on good design, good supply, good deeds, good guarantee, and are involved in numerous projects promoting social good around the world.

Its Cotopaxi Teca Cálido Hooded Jacket is no exception to this overall goodness and is certainly our top pick for the best skiing midlayer!

It’s clear from the moment you put on the Teca Cálido that it has been designed with movement in mind. No part of the jacket feels constricting, and the elastic on the hood, hem, and cuffs keeps all the heat in no matter how active you are.

The whole thing is so lightweight, it even packs down into its own chest pocket. You hardly even notice that you’re wearing it! You can easily whip it out when the temperature drops, and it’s reversible too. This jacket also has a hood and a wonderful high collar that protects your neck from the elements while allowing it to easily fit under a ski-shell.

For weather resistance, this item features repurposed polyester taffeta treated with a DWR finish for standing up well to light moisture. It can’t, however, withstand much rain and definitely needs to be combined with a waterproof shell if there’s any chance of actual precipitation. This said, it is extremely breathable and a good layer to sweat in without discomfort.

Its interior zippered chest pocket provides a great place to hide your valuables while out on the slopes. The zippered hand pockets furthermore guarantee essential warmth for your extremities. On the Cotopaxi website, this jacket is described as “an all-around great adventure jacket” and this really is the case.

With a men’s and a women’s version, the Teca Cálido is without a doubt the best ski midlayer on the market!

Pros

  • Elastic around hood, hem, and cuffs to retain heat
  • “Do good” product
  • DWR finish for water-resistance
  • Highly breathable
  • Good number of pockets

Cons

  • Can’t withstand extreme rain

Cotopaxi Teca Cálido Hooded Jacket Specs:

Material Repurposed Polyester Taffeta w/ DWR Finish
HoodNo
ThumbholesNo
GenderMen and Women
Price$$

4. Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan: Most Stylish Midlayer

Arc'teryx Covert Cardigan

The Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan is unlike any of the other midlayers on this list. It doesn’t look anything like what we would imagine when thinking of a midlayer—despite its clean lines and laid-back, casual style, the Covert Cardigan is also sneakily techy. All this, therefore, works together to earn the title of most stylish midlayer.

Arc’teryx claims that it was engineered to provide the “versatility, warmth and comfort of a technical fleece, with the elegant look of wool” and they certainly managed to do just this.

There is a reason that three of our top-thirteen midlayers are from Arc’teryx: they make such awesome gear and this cardigan is no exception.

While of course not well-suited for minimalist hiking, climbing adventures, high-intensity activities or extreme cold/wind, this piece certainly fits the bill for those looking for a jacket for mild-weather hiking, getting around town, commuting or car-camping.

The Alpenex Heathered 100% polyester does an incredible job of appearing like wool, but being much more lightweight, breathable, and better able to regulate temperature than real wool.

It has neither a hood nor thumb loops, but if used for what it is intended (less technical/intense adventures), you likely won’t be missing these features and instead will appreciate the clean look, zip-close pockets and stylish fit of the Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan (available for women, too).

Pros

  • Wool-sweater styling
  • Laminated-zip sleeve pocket and laminated-zip hand pockets
  • Stylish

Cons

  • More stylish than technical
  • No hanger loop
  • Pretty thin

Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan Specs:

Material Alpenex Heathered 100% Polyester
HoodNo
ThumbholesNo
GenderMen and Women
Price$$

5. Patagonia R1 Full-Zip Fleece Jacket: Best Midlayer for Backpacking

Patagonia R1 Full Zip Hoody

While the differences between the R1 and Patagonia’s R2 Fleece Jackets described above might seem slight, they do result in significantly different products.

Perhaps most importantly, we should note that while the R2 jacket features Patagonia’s warmest fleece, the R1 (also available in women’s) uses a lighter version that makes it much more of a classic midlayer than a jacket.

Lighter and more of a snug, slim-fit than the R2, the R1 is a layer that you would likely put on before a day of adventuring and not need to take off at any point. Its recycled and recyclable polyester makes it a layer with wonderful wicking-abilities, breathability, and warmth. This furthermore makes it versatile enough to be used both as a lightweight insulator or as a thermal base layer.

The clean-cut fit is true to its description as “athletic,” meaning no added bulk but, instead, a good design that hugs your body when you’re still and stretches when you’re moving for ski touring, climbing, hiking or more!

The Patagonia R1 stands up very well for cardio-intense activities where you want a product that provides warmth combined with extreme breathability.

Finally, its use of “permanent odor control” material is another reason to make this your go-to product for high-intensity adventuring.

Pros

  • Fair trade certified sewn
  • Polygiene odor control material
  • Left breast pocket with zipper
  • Lightweight with a solid warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Highly compressible for packing
  • Exceptional breathability

Cons

  • Pockets don’t have zippers
  • No thumb holes

Patagonia R1 Full-Zip Specs:

Material93% Polyester, 7% Elastane
HoodNo
ThumbholesNo
GenderMen and Women
Price$$

6. Cotopaxi Abrazo Hooded Full-Zip Fleece Jacket: Best Midlayer Jacket

Cotopaxi Abrazo Hooded Jacket

Although the Cotopaxi Abrazo Hooded Full-Zip Fleece Jacket is perhaps less compact and “techy” than other mid layers featured on this list, I still love it!

This fleece comes in women’s and men’s models, both of which have a hood, deep side pockets, a zip-chest pocket, and come in various colors.

Despite my inclination to suggest it more for casual wear than for high-tech needs, it is extremely warm and stands up well to the elements. This weather resistance is courtesy of the wind and water resistant polyester shell along with a scuba-style hood.

What’s more, this jacket is true to size, stylish, soft, warm without being too bulky and flexible enough to allow for more layers both under and over it if needed. I feel confident saying that the Cotopaxi Abrazo Hooded Full-Zip Fleece Jacket merits the title of top midlayer jacket.

My only wish is that it packed down a little smaller to make it more portable. In the long run, however, the long list of benefits far outweighs this little gripe.

Cotopaxi became known in the outdoor gear world for its unique Del Día packs that were always “crafted with purpose and passion.” Lucky for midlayer shoppers out there, Cotopaxi has since branched out into clothing design. These designs have resulted in this wonderful Abrazo Hooded Full-Zip Fleece Jacket (available for women as well), which has clearly been made with equal purpose and passion.

Pros

  • Contrasting colored zipper pocket
  • Women’s and men’s models available
  • Wind and water-resistant polyester shell
  • True to size
  • Unique color options

Cons

  • Doesn’t pack as small as other similar priced fleeces on the market

Cotopaxi Abrazo Hooded Full-Zip Fleece Jacket Specs:

Material Recycled Fleece
HoodYes
ThumbholesNo
GenderMen and Women
Price$$

7. Mammut Runbold Midlayer Hoody: Best Midlayer Hoodie

Mammut Runbold ML Hoodie

If you’re the type who, no matter the weather or activity, always likes to have a hoody somewhere in your layering system, then the Runbold is the one for you. Mammut has a long history of quality products that hold up to just about anything, and this item is no exception!

The waffle structure hoody works wonders to help you stay warm when needed and cool when not. This is thanks to its lightweight build and excellent quick-drying properties that are continually working to wick moisture away from you.

This will help keep the chill away when working hard in the cold by wicking that sweat and excess moisture away from your body. When you’re out in warmer days, however, the light construction won’t roast you.

The result? A very versatile hoody that can be taken just about anywhere for anything!

I’m also particularly fond of the hidden pocket inside the front kangaroo pouch. It’s the perfect place to store valuables or anything you don’t want slipping out when you’re out completing your activity of choice. The hoody furthermore includes UPF 50+ protection for those extra sunny days.

Please note that this hoody has a very athletic cut, which is excellent for intense adventuring or activities, but it does lead to a snugger fit than you may be accustomed to. If you’re on the fence about sizing, I recommend you go up one just to be on the safe side.

Sizing aside, the Mammut Runbold is definitely the best hoody out there, in my opinion. It’s light, athletic, and the perfect addition to any layering system!

Pros

  • UPF 50+ protection
  • Hidden internal pocket
  • Moisture wicking
  • Zipper + hoody combo for temperature regulation

Cons

  • Tight fit

Mammut Runbold Midlayer Hoody Specs:

Material 92% Polyester 8% Spandex
HoodYes
ThumbholesNo
GenderMen and Women
Price$$

8. Arc’teryx Cerium LT: Best Midlayer Down Jacket

Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoodie

Arc’teryx’s Cerium LT Hoody is yet another incredibly impressive example of the thorough attention to detail that Arc’teryx gives its products. It is clear that every inch of this 10-ounce down jacket has been thought through, which easily makes it a killer choice for nearly all circumstances.

Arc’teryx uses nothing but premium materials, including lightweight but durable zippers for both the main zip and the two hand zips. It also features an easily-adjustable StormHood and a combination of insulation types (down and synthetic, depending on location on the jacket).

These work with the jacket’s clean-line construction and design, lack of loose threads and well-kept 850-fill-power white goose down stuffing.

Amazingly light, remarkably warm and tastefully elegant, this jacket is an impressive piece of construction that will help you stay warm on any but the absolute coldest or wettest days. Arc’teryx knows that the downfall of most down insulated jackets is their low ability to withstand moisture, and has responded to that with this gem.

Goose-down is used in the areas where insulation is most important (torso and core), while synthetic insulation that stands up better to moisture is used in the areas most likely to collect moisture (underarms, sleeves and along the shoulders). All of these features add up to make this item arguably the best down midlayer on the market.

The whole jacket appears seamless though and overall provides an extremely efficient combination of warmth, water-resistance, packability and elegance. With its hefty price tag, it is perhaps a bit steep to use purely as a midlayer, although relative to other down insulated midlayers on the market it is not an obscene price.

For anyone seeking a higher-end middle layer that provides versatility for use as a stand-alone down jacket as well as a very warm midlayer, the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody has you covered. There’s a women’s version as well!

Pros

  • Insulated hand warmer pockets
  • Super warm for its light weight
  • Functional in light moisture
  • Waterproof synthetic insulation in areas of down most prone to moisture

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Doesn’t breathe as well as 100% synthetic layers
  • Overkill for use purely as a midlayer

Arc’teryx Cerium LT Specs:

Material850 Fill White Goose-Down and Synthetic insulation, 100% Nylon Shell
HoodYes
ThumbholesNo
GenderMen and Women
Price$$$

9. Columbia Steens Mountain Full Zip Fleece: Best Budget Midlayer

Columbia Steens Mountain Jacket

Anyone looking for an inexpensive and classic looking fleece that will give you a decent amount of protection from the elements should definitely check out Columbia’s Steens Mountain Full Zip Fleece.

It is without a doubt the cheapest midlayer on our list, but still packs a punch, and we easily consider it to be the best budget midlayer out there. Soft, comfortable, and perfect to throw on after a day out skiing, snow-boarding or doing any other fun, and cold, outdoor activity!

In terms of technicality and extra features, saying “you get what you pay for” is certainly relevant here. As a low-budget layer, the Steens Mountain Full Zip isn’t packed with extra features like other, more expensive options. That said, for its price, it’s a very solid “no-frills” layer that will do the job of keeping you warm.

I think this layer is best suited as a sweater to wear inside rather than as a go-to layer for outdoors activities. Those of you who are therefore looking for something more technical/guaranteed to keep you warm on a really cold day outdoors should probably consider splurging a bit more cash on one of the other more substantial layers we have coming up.

Nevertheless, the Steen’s Mountain Full Zip Fleece is still your best option if you don’t want to break the bank!

Pros

  • Very soft
  • Super accessible price point
  • Good for mild temperatures

Cons

  • Limited warmth
  • Questionable durability
  • Cheap fleece is prone to pilling

Columbia Steens Mountain Full Zip Fleece Specs:

Material100% Polyester MTR Filament Fleece
HoodNo
ThumbholesNo
GenderMen
Price$

10. North Face Ventrix Hoodie: Best Midlayer for Hiking

North Face Ventrix Insulated Hoodie

The North Face Ventrix Hoodie was designed with climbers in mind, and many of its characteristics directly reflect this. It has a reasonably durable outer layer which is coated with DWR and is made to withstand light wear-and-tear.

The hoodie is furthermore protected with extra material in areas that tend to wear out the fastest when climbing, like the forearms.

It features high-tech perforations in key areas that are designed to respond to your movements by expanding/releasing heat when you move and contracting/retaining heat when still. I know you’re probably thinking that it seems far-fetched, but it works the breathability/warmth combination in this piece is impressive!

Of course, these characteristics also make it a great choice for other activities, so the Ventrix Hoodie isn’t just the best hiking midlayer. It’s also the go-to layer for many mountain biking enthusiasts, skiers and cold-weather hikers, as well as climbers.

The Ventrix Hoodie is comparable to a down jacket, except that it does much better when faced with precipitation thanks to its synthetic insulation.

What down has over synthetically insulated jackets, however, is of course, its packability and the Ventrix Hoodie is no exception. It can actually stuff into its hand warmer pocket down to the size of a football! If your main priority is to find a midlayer that packs small, a down layer definitely takes the cake over a synthetic layer like the Ventrix Hoodie any day.

There’s a reason the North Face Ventrix earned the 2017 Editors’ Choice award from Backpacker Magazine with its considerably accessible price point, versatility in variable weather conditions, and super impressive overall comfort.

Pros

  • Designed for climbing and other high-intensity activities
  • Concealed chest and hand pockets
  • Unique perforations in key areas to help both retain and release body heat when needed
  • Good price for the quality
  • Can work as a standalone jacket as well as a midlayer

Cons

  • Pills & shows wear after relatively little use
  • Hood fits loose unless you’re wearing a climbing helmet

North Face Ventrix Hoodie Specs:

MaterialNylon, Polyester, Elastane, Synthetic Insulation
HoodYes
ThumbholesNo
GenderMen
Price$$$

11. Columbia Mountainside Heavyweight Fleece: Best Fleece Midlayer

Columbia Mountainside Heavyweight Fleece

Since 1938, Columbia has gained a solid reputation for having reasonably high quality gear at accessible prices, as well as for having great customer service. The Mountainside Heavyweight Fleece is a classic article of clothing that works really well as far as budget-midlayers go.

Its contrasting colors, available for both men and women, make it more of a flashy choice than some of the other options here. So if you’re looking for a bit of pizzazz in your midlayer, this is a great option for you!

It runs pretty roomy and can easily fit two or more layers underneath it. Functionally, it works wonderfully as a standalone outer layer for a day of adventuring, or as a midlayer when used with a solid outer shell.

While somewhat basic of a layer in comparison with some of the more expensive midlayers we’ve talked about, it is clear that Columbia paid attention to both the important things.

The fleece is very warm, soft and cozy—and it has very attractive small details such as a subtle and useful zippered breast pocket, along with awesome contrasting color highlights on the hems and seams.

It’s very much a “wear anywhere” fleece and allows you to effortlessly switch between hiking on a trail, to having a snow-ball fight, to drinking craft beers in your local brewery!

Note, however, that it’s noticeably bulkier than other more athletic cut midlayers. But all around, this is a clear choice for the best midlayer fleece on the market!

Pros

  • Zippered breast pocket Buttons instead of zipper
  • Women’s and men’s option
  • Good price
  • Roomy enough to fit other layers underneath

Cons

  • Bulkier than some other more expensive fleeces

Columbia Mountainside Heavyweight Fleece Specs:

Material 100% Polyester Fleece
HoodNo
ThumbholesNo
GenderMen and Women
Price$

12. The North Face Women’s Wander ¼ Zip Midlayer: Best Women’s Midlayer

The North Face Women's Wander Midlayer

This standard-fit midlayer from The North Face is ultra-breathable, lightweight and perfect for the outdoor-adventure-loving woman.

It features a design that is eye-catching and elegant as well as technically sufficient for serious backcountry travel. You can use it as a midlayer or wear it on its own.

A one-fourth length zipper works well on this piece both to increase ventilation and ease the process of taking it on and off.

Its athletic cut and high-quality recycled polyester work in tandem for a non-bulky, easily packable item with a great warmth-to-weight ratio. This lightweight design does not compromise warmth, which is an ideal feature to look out for when shopping for a midlayer!

I’m also very pleased that the Wander has features such as a high neck, thumbholes, and FlashDry technology to keep you cool and dry.

This cut isn’t the most slim-fitting and may result in a more boxy look than a more fitted, flattering alternative, depending on body type.

This said, as far as mid-range priced midlayers go, this is definitely the best option for women that I’ve looked at, and is an awesome choice for any woman seeking a layer that is designed specifically for females.

Pros

  • Quarter front zip
  • Lightweight and easily packable
  • Ultra-breathable
  • FlashDry technology for faster cool-down
  • Raglan sleeves for improved mobility

Cons

  • Doesn’t have a hood
  • Not water-resistant

The North Face Women’s Wander ¼ Zip Midlayer Specs:

Material47% Recycled Polyester, 47% Polyester, 6% Elastane-Knit Jersey With FlashDry-XD™
HoodNo
ThumbholesYes
GenderWomen
Price$

13. ODLO’s FLI LIGHT Midlayer Full-Zip Jacket: Best Summer Midlayer

ODLO Men's Fli Light Full Zip Midlayer

ODLO’s FLI LIGHT Midlayer Full-Zip Jacket is suitable for relatively warm days, or, when combined with another thinner base layer, for cooler days. Which, together, make it the ideal midlayer for summer.

It is great for those spring or summer mornings to keep the sun off your skin, and is especially protective in windy conditions. This layering piece loves company, too, and is great with a thinner base layer in colder conditions.

As with all of ODLO’s products, the FLI LIGHT Midlayer is Fair-Wear certified (guaranteeing that it is made by people working under fair labor conditions).

It is extremely light, making it packable and breathable. The midlayer also has good moisture management for sweating and considerable wicking properties for light dampness.

With its athletic cut and extremely light weight material, it is a good option for everyday layering. However, its thinness makes us admit that we don’t recommend relying on this one as your most reliable go-to midlayer for each and every occasion.

Pros

  • Provides great freedom of movement due to its athletic fit
  • High wicking properties
  • Lightweight
  • Perfect garment for spring and summer outings

Cons

  • Not very warm
  • Doesn’t stand up well to extreme cold
  • Not water-resistant

ODLO FLI LIGHT Midlayer Full-Zip Jacket Specs:

Material 100% Polyester
HoodNo
ThumbholesNo
GenderWomen and Men
Price$

14. Kari Traa Rothe Mid-Layer Fleece Jacket: Best Casual Midlayer

Kari Traa Rothe Fleece Jacket

For those of you who haven’t heard of Kari Traa, it is the fastest-growing sports brand in Europe, started by the Norwegian champion freestyle skier of the same name.

Kari’s goal with her clothing company was to create sports clothes “for girls, by girls” and she has managed to do just that, with huge success.

Her Rothe Midlayer Fleece Jacket is a wonderful example of the cute, funky style she brings to her designs, as well as the ability her team has to combine usefulness with unique fashion.

This is certainly a wonderful layering piece designed to provide cozy comfort and warmth when worn underneath a ski jacket on a chilly day. But its usefulness doesn’t stop there as it also has a serious potential to turn heads after skiing when you’re enjoying your post-run drinks.

Although it doesn’t have a hood (likely because it was designed to be worn along with a hooded ski-jacket), it still has some very useful features.

This fleece boasts a high collar with a chin guard, and has three generous sized zip-pockets: two for the hands and one for the chest.

While it doesn’t hold up well as a rain jacket or to strong wind, it does work extremely well when combined with a good shell.

It fits true to size, has funky sleeve cuffs and comes in several great color combinations.

Pros

  • Zipper garage
  • Chest pocket
  • Bright, stylish colors
  • Designed by and for women so its stylish and well-suited to women’s needs

Cons

  • Neither wind-proof or water repellent

Kari Traa Rothe Mid-Layer Fleece Jacket Specs:

Material 100% Polyester
HoodNo
ThumbholesNo
GenderWomen
Price$

15. ODLO Essential Half-Zip Running Midlayer: Best Active Midlayer

ODLO Men's Essential Half Zip Midlayer

ODLO once again makes this list with their Essential Half-Zip Midlayer. Light but polyester fabric combined with excellent wicking properties and a guaranteed ‘Fair Wear Foundation’ construction, and you have an ideal active midlayer.

The lightweight material used here is flexible to keep you on the move, and its moisture-wicking properties keep you cool and dry during your activities.

And if you’re working so hard that body heat starts to build up, you can easily dump some of that warmth with the half-zip design. An added bonus, its ZeroScent tech neutralizes body odor by limiting bacteria build up, keeping you fresh even during your most rigorous activities.

Now I do wish that this came with a hood to seal the deal for colder weather use, but as a more lightweight construction than other items on our list, I have to recommend it as the best standalone three-season active option.

But, as with any midlayer, they’re designed for layering. So, when those colder temperatures roll in, put this layering piece under a solid outer shell, and you’ll be good to go!

For those of you always on the move, adventuring, or exercising, this can undoubtedly be your new go-to midlayer! Light, warm, stretchy, and stylish to boot, it is a natural choice for active use.

Pros

  • Keeps you cool and dry
  • ‘Fair Wear Foundation’ construction
  • Good stretch for adventuring
  • Excellent moisture management
  • ZeroScent tech neutralizes odor

Cons

  • No hood
  • Not a great standalone piece in winter

ODLO Essential Half-Zip Running Midlayer Specs:

Material67% Recycled polyester, 33% Polyester
HoodNo
ThumbholesNo
GenderMen and Women
Price$

16. Coalatree Baseline Midlayer: Best Environmentally Friendly Midlayer

Coaltree Baseline Midlayer Yellow

When you’re on the move, need excellent moisture wicking, want your skin to breathe, and prefer to limit your environmental footprint – then the Coalatree Baseline Midlayer is made especially for you!

This garment is designed and constructed with the environment in mind, and is literally made with used coffee grounds (yes, you read that right). Unlike most performance wear, the Baseline does not shed micro plastics when it’s washed, keeping your water system free of waste. However, don’t let that trick you into thinking that this can’t hold its own against other items on the list! 

The Coalatree Baseline’s construction and durability are absolutely top-notch! Excellent moisture wicking and breathability are the name of the game, making this midlayer your best friend for high intensity activities. Ski touring, hiking or climbing, it’ll have your back – and its anti-microbial properties keep you fresher longer. 

While its insulation powers are limited, the Coalatree Baseline‘s unique honeycomb fabric keeps your midlayer soft for years to come. The temperature regulation, moisture wicking, and breathable DWR-coating therefore all work together to bring together a solid performance oriented midlayer, that’s environmentally friendly to boot! Certainly one of the best on the market for you green minded adventurers out there! 

Pros

  • Organically and environmentally produced
  • Doesn’t shed micro plastics
  • Anti-microbial properties
  • Honeycomb fabric to keep your midlayer soft for years to come

Cons

  • Low insulation

Coalatree Baseline Midlayer Specs:

Material Fleece, Recycled plastic and coffee
HoodYes
ThumbholesYes
GenderUnisex
Price$$$

Midlayer Buying Guide

So, you’ve read through our recommendations, but I know you’re still thinking of one big question. Just how do I pick the right midlayer for me? The answer to this question rests solely one what you need out of the midlayer.

Are you looking for a super lightweight layer that is easy to pack with little added weight to your bag? Are you adventuring into the super cold and need something that will keep you warm no matter how low the temperatures go? Is your main priority to look stylish once your adventuring comes to an end?

Depending on your needs, here’s what you need to look out for:

Material

The majority of the midlayers we’ve written about here are either fleece or down. The main things to consider when making the decision regarding your midlayer’s material are packability and water-resistance.

Real down packs super small and offers incredible warmth, but doesn’t stand up well at all when faced with moisture or precipitation.

Fleece, while usually bulkier and harder to pack than down, can have a relatively good level of water-resistance/wicking, especially when boosted by a DWR treatment.

Breathability/Warmth

As is the case with any adventure gear, there is always a fine balance between breathability and warmth. In a very simplified sense, the more breathable an article of clothing is, the less ability it will have to keep you warm.

And then, of course, the opposite also tends to be true: the warmer an article is, the less breathable it will be.

Luckily, gear technology is always evolving and many companies out there have found ways to create materials that can adapt well to both conditions, managing to keep you warm when still but also allowing you to breathe while sweating.

Hiker enjoying the view and a cup of coffee at his campsite in the mountains
Depending on the type of trip you’re taking, your midlayer may need to be extra warm

All this said, when reading the review of a product, keep in mind whether you personally prioritize breathability (probably the case if you plan on doing cardio-intense activities in your midlayer) or warmth (likely the case if you foresee using your midlayer in cold conditions). And look out for which one the product is better at providing, because it is usually tipped towards one side of the warmth-breathability scale.

If you’re curious on how to probably balance your warmth and breathability for an entire layering system, check out this post on what to wear hiking.

Price

This one probably goes without saying, since any of us looking to buy a new product will almost certainly be keeping their bank account in mind. That said, do remember that when buying gear, it is almost always worth spending at least a little bit more than the absolute minimum.

While spending over $100 on a midlayer may seem excessive, all of the brands we have reviewed here are very well reputed for quality and most have life-time guarantees should something go wrong with your item.

Obviously, we are all buying within our means, but don’t automatically disregard anything that has more than a “$” rating, even if you are traveling on a shoestring! We’re strong believers in buying gear for life.

The way we see it, whatever gear you buy should last ten years or more. So, when you break down a $200 purchase, that’s only $20 per year—or less!

Weight

To be honest, all of the products reviewed here are impressively light, especially when you think about the gear that was available 10 to 25 years ago! Depending on your needs, though, those extra ounces can add up—and it’s certainly worth keeping the weight of your product in mind if your main priority is to travel light.

Of course, weight usually needs to be balanced against warmth in the same way that breathability does, so, once again, keep in mind when you’re browsing products whether you want to prioritize weight or warmth when making your purchase.

There you go, folks! We’ve covered it all, from down to fleece, hooded to collared and practical to fancy so you can find the right one for your adventures!

So pick out your midlayer, gear up and go adventure!

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Jeremy Scott Foster
Jeremy Scott Foster
Jeremy Scott Foster is an adventure-junkie, gear expert and travel photographer based in Southern California. Previously nomadic, he’s been to ~50 countries and loves spending time outdoors. You can usually find him on the trail, on the road, jumping from bridges or hustling on his laptop working to produce the best travel and outdoors content today.

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