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Our 5-Layer System


Embrace the elements with our 5-layer clothing system, designed to prepare you for every weather outcome. Maximise your warmth-to-weight ratio while remaining adaptable to changing environmental conditions by following the fundamentals of our clothing system. Base layer, mid-layer, insulation, softshell, hardshell.

Depending on the weather and the type of activity you have planned you may need all 5 layers, or just one – but by following our systematic approach to building your clothing layers, you can ensure you’re prepared for every adventure. 


Here’s how to create your perfect 5-layer system with examples from The Rohan range:

Base Layer


The base layer provides the foundation for every outfit. Your base layer should be breathable, comfortable, and help to keep you warm on colder days. It’s really important that you choose a base layer with moisture wicking properties as this will help keep you dry and comfortable while you move. If moisture is allowed to stay against your skin, you’ll quickly start to cool down, which will negate the thermal effect of your base layer.


For a wicking base layer, we recommend the Merino Cool T. To ensure your base layer stays fresh for longer when you’re embarking on multi-day expeditions, it’s a good idea to choose a base layer with Silvadur™ anti-microbial technology. For an anti-microbial base layer, we recommend The Global T. 


The Base Layer

Mid Layer


The main function of your mid-layer is to trap air and reduce heat loss through your clothes. It must be breathable to allow for efficient ventilation and moisture management during higher paced walking but insulating enough to provide an additional layer of warmth to help regulate your body temperature in colder conditions. It’s a good idea to choose a versatile mid-layer that works as a standalone outer layer and as part of a layering system. The type of mid-layer you wear will depend on the type of activity you have planned.


For fast paced hikes where you’re likely to build up a sweat, we’d recommend the Gridline Fleece Jacket. For colder days wandering in the hills, we’d recommend The Vale Fleece Jacket. 




Your insulation layer is your main protection from the cold. It works to trap the heat radiated by your body inside your layering system to keep you feeling warm and comfortable. It should be lightweight and comfortable so that you can explore freely without being weighed down and offer some resistance to light showers in case the weather unexpectedly turns. The type of activity you have planned and the weather you might encounter will determine if you should choose a synthetic insulation layer or a down one.


If rain is a possibility, it’s advisable to use synthetic insulation as it can retain its thermal properties while wet, we recommend our Helios Jacket. If you’re expecting cold and dry conditions, then our Eos Jacket with 700 fill power down insulation will provide the best warmth for weight.




A softshell layer should be stretchy, wind resistant, water-repellent, and lightweight. It works to improve the insulating effects of the layers underneath by reducing wind chill and offering some protection from the elements. Designed to bridge the gap between a fleece and a waterproof, this versatile layer is ideal for active pursuits where you need protection from the elements but don’t need quite as much warmth.


Softshell jackets like our Fjell Jacket are also perfect for storing your on-the-go essentials thanks to its four secure zipped pockets. And because they sit near the top of your layering system, your belongings will remain easily accessible during your adventures. 




The protective layer, working to shield you from the elements. Your hardshell should be durable, completely waterproof, and breathable enough to keep you comfortable on active pursuits. Its main function is to prevent water from infiltrating your layering system and compromising your thermal regulation and comfort. You can choose between a 2, 2.5, and 3 layer Barricade membrane in your hardshell jacket.


For lower level or more casual activities, the 2-layer Barricade in our Farne and Brecon Jackets is perfect. For the most robust technical performance in a waterproof, the a 3-layer Barricade found in our Ventus Jacket is the best choice.



Building your layering system

The Rohan 5-layer System is a comprehensive method of layering that when used correctly, will protect you in all weather conditions, all year round.  

In cold winter conditions, such as a February backpacking trip in the Scottish Highlands, you'll certainly want all five with you - even if one or two of the layers spend most of the time in your rucksack. 

In warm summer weather (with a reasonably dry forecast), you might opt for just a Base Layer and a Soft Shell. With a Mid Layer in your rucksack for when you stop for lunch. As a general rule - it's always worth having at least one additional layer with you, just for emergencies.  



For the newest additions to your Layering System browse New Season: