My Favorite Mid-Layers for Hiking

Mid layers are an insulating layer that work by retaining your body heat to keep you warm. These are the pieces I’ve used and recommend for hiking.

Hoodies & Pullovers

mid layers for hiking

Hoodies and pullovers are good mid layers for shoulder season hiking. They are lightweight and work well with outer layers without adding too much bulk. Fleece is a common mid layer, but there are also light insulated options that provide good wind protection.

Appalachian Gear Company All-Paca Hoodie

Appalachian Gear All-Paca Fleece Hoodie

This alpaca fleece hoodie is a super warm layer with high level of breathability. Alpaca fiber clothing is warmer by weight than other types of fabrics, including sheep’s wool and polyester fleece. Since alpaca fiber tends to be itchy, I always wear a lightweight layer under it. This hoodie is manufactured in the U.S. with wool imported from Peru following fair trade and responsible wool standards.

Purchase from Appalachian Gear Company: $158

Women’s All-Paca Hoodie    Men’s All-Paca Hoodie

Outdoor Vitals Ventus Hoodie

Outdoor Vitals Ventus Hoodie gear review

The Ventus is an ultralight insulated mid-layer that provides a lot of warmth for the weight. This is my go-to mid-layer for hiking and has replaced the fleece layers I used to wear due to being more comfortable, weather-resistant, and the ability to be worn as a mid or outer layer depending on conditions. See my full review of the Ventus Hoodie.

Purchase from Outdoor Vitals: $179.97

Women’s Ventus Hoodie    Men’s Ventus Hoodie

Columbia Glacial Half Zip Fleece Pullover

Columbia Glacial Fleece Top

The least expensive option in this list, this is a lightweight mid layer made from polyester microfleece. Fleece is a great option for wicking and breathability. Features include a half zip for ventilation and elasticized cuffs.

Purchase from Columbia: $65.00 (clearance price $29.99)

Women’s Half Zip Fleece Pullover    Men’s Half Zip Fleece Pullover

Insulated Jackets

mid layers for hiking

Insulated mid layers are useful in colder conditions and include synthetic or down-fill options with full zippers.

Outdoor Vitals Vario Jacket

Outdoor Vitals Vario jacket review

The Vario is an ultralight outer layer tailored for active pursuits with bodymapped synthetic insulation and underarm perforations for ventilation. This jacket is made to go over a base layer or mid-layer, and works especially well with the Ventus Hoodie for the ultimate in flexible warmth. At only 8.3 oz. for a women’s small, this is a super warm jacket at an ultralight weight and that replaces the insulated jackets I used to take on hiking and backpacking trips. I especially like the soft fabric that has a weather-resistant finish, the raglan-sleeve design for comfort, and the sleek look of this jacket. See my full review of the Vario Jacket.

Purchase from Outdoor Vitals: $209.97 

Women’s Vario Jacket    Men’s Vario Jacket

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Jacket

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Jacket

This hooded down jacket with 800-fill-power down is extremely lightweight (7.8 ounces for women’s small), provides a lot of warmth, and layers well with an outer shell due it’s trim shape. This jacket goes with me on every backpacking trip.

Purchase from REI Co-op: $350.00 

Women’s Ghost Whisperer    Men’s Ghost Whisperer

Outdoor Vitals LoftTek Synthetic Jacket

Outdoor Vitals Ultralight LoftTek Jacket

This synthetic jacket is feature-packed at a low price: it has an adjustable hood, pit zips, hand pockets, thumbholes, and a DWR finish to resist rain. And it’s roomy enough to allow for wearing multiple layers underneath. See my full review of the LoftTek Jacket.

Purchase from Outdoor Vitals: $114.97 (on clearance)

Unisex LoftTek Jacket

REI Flash Hybrid Insulated Jacket

REI Co-op Flash Hybrid Hoodie

This lightweight hooded jacket includes stretchy fleece panels on the sides for ease in movement, thumbholes, and a hood with an elastic brim. Heavier than the ultralight options listed here and not as warm, I like this jacket for hiking or going on walks in my neighborhood. I especially like having multiple pockets, including two hand pockets, a chest pocket, and two inside drop pockets. Made from recycled materials in a Fair Trade Certified factory.

Purchase from REI Co-op: $179 (clearance price $107.29)

Women’s Flash Hybrid Jacket    Men’s Flash Hybrid Jacket

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