It’s been a hot summer in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where my partner and I live. Temperatures hovered well above 90 degrees for months, and we both felt like cracking. Then, about two weeks ago, everything changed. Just as the sun started setting notably sooner, the mercury finally dipped, and we got some relief. We now need long sleeves during morning walks at the dog park, and thicker clothes go on by 4 P.M. when we’re camping. We’ve tested a lot of layers over the years, and these are seven of our favorites.
Wellen Men’s Stretch Chore Coat ($128)
A blend of cotton, hemp, and spandex makes this coat the most versatile layer I own. The soft cotton is comfy for lounging around the house or the campfire, while the hemp adds durability, so I’m not afraid to do yard work in it. And just a touch of spandex adds stretch, giving me full mobility for activities like chopping wood. The Chore is not the warmest shirt or jacket on this list, but it’s my first choice when I need more than just a T-shirt.
Patagonia Women’s Hooded Waffle Tunic ($89)
My partner and I love a good waffle knit. Our towels and fall blanket are made from that construction, and she likes this layer in particular because of how the knit feels on her skin: it traps heat but also breathes. It’s the first piece she grabs when temperatures dip into the sixties. She also loves the longer cut, which goes with everything from leggings to jeans.
Buy Now (Patagonia). Buy Now (Backcountry)
Black Diamond Women’s Approach Down Vest ($199)
Yes, $199 is a lot for a vest, but the Approach is worth it because it’s the only one you’ll need this winter. Enhanced by 800-fill down, it’s ridiculously warm and becomes the perfect second layer when a tunic (like the Patagonia one, above) isn’t enough. If my partner layers this with a thicker jacket, she’s comfy even on freezing outings. And when worn underneath a ski shell, it keeps her happy on the coldest days riding the lift. When it’s not in use, the vest packs into its own pocket and takes up almost no room in a purse or pack.
Buy Now (Black Diamond). Buy Now (Moosejaw)
Patagonia Men’s Pack In Pullover Hoody ($190)
Cozy. That’s the only word that sums up this new jacket from Patagonia. The kangaroo pocket keeps my hands warm on neighborhood walks, and the stretchy polyester outer makes it perfect around camp or in a sleeping bag if I need extra warmth at night. The 60-gram insulation is ideal for light aerobic fall adventures. The Pack In is also Fair Trade Certified sewn and constructed from partially recycled materials.
Buy Now (Patagonia) Buy Now (Backcountry)
Orvis Women’s Signature Merino Cardigan ($98)
This is one of those pieces that fits in just as well out to dinner as it does on the trail. That’s thanks in part to the knit merino wool, which creates a classy yet functional look. My partner likes the lighter fabric because it breathes, it’s über soft, and it layers well over a long-sleeved shirt. She’s a big fan of the gray, but it comes in a series of rich colors.
Triple Aught Design Men’s Ranger Hoodie LT ($235)
I gave up on fleeces a few years ago, because most brands made theirs too thin, so they weren’t very warm and eventually wore out. Then I found the Ranger. Sewn in the United States with an ample amount of Polartec Wind Pro fabric, this hoodie is made to last and has kept me warm even when temperatures drop into the thirties. Triple Aught Design is a favorite brand in the overlanding and tactical communities, and I’ve seen people abuse these jackets for years without any problems.
Flint and Tinder Men’s Flannel-Lined Waxed Trucker Jacket ($240)
Huckberry can barely keep these in stock, and for good reason. The Trucker is one of those jackets you’ll have for a lifetime, thanks to its incredibly durable waxed-cotton shell. And this version is all the more functional: a soft polyester lining acts as a second layer, so you can throw it over a T-shirt or button-down and be set for much of the winter. Like all waxed-cotton jackets, the Trucker only looks better with wear.