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 hoodies and pullovers I’ve used and recommend for hiking.

Best Mid-layers for Hiking

Features to Look for in a Mid-layer

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.

  • Zippers: Half zippers on pullovers allow for venting when you get too warm, while full zippers are handy for being able to get them on and off easily.
  • Hoods: Instead of wearing a heavy hat or beanie that tends to make me sweat easily, I like to use the hoods on jackets when I need to keep my head warm. I can easily remove the hood without having to stow something in my pack, and I can wear a hat with a brim under a hood.
  • Length: I tend to like mid layers that are longer and cover my bum. This keeps me warmer and makes it easier to wear a hip belt on a day pack without having the hemline bunch up under it.
  • Thumbholes: A nice feature for being able to add a layer with having the sleeves get caught up inside each other. Depending on the design of the thumbhole, some allow you to wear it to keep your hand partially covered to stay warm without wearing gloves.
  • Insulation: Mid layers are available in varying weights – everything from a super light fleece to an insulated down jacket – so you can choose the type that works best based on the conditions you’ll encounter.

My Favorite Overall Mid-layer

Outdoor Vitals Ventus Hoodie gear review

Outdoor Vitals Ventus Hoodie

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.

View at Outdoor Vitals: $179.97

Women’s Ventus Hoodie    Men’s Ventus Hoodie

Most Versatile Mid-layer

Appalachian Gear All-Paca Fleece Hoodie

Appalachian Gear Company All-Paca 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 mid-layer is super versatile due to the style for casual use as well as for hiking. Manufactured in the U.S. with wool imported from Peru following fair trade and responsible wool standards. See my full review of the All-Paca Hoodie.

View at Appalachian Gear Company: $165

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

My Favorite Budget Mid-layer

Columbia Glacial Fleece Top

Columbia Glacial Half Zip Fleece Pullover

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.

View at Columbia: $65.00

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


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