The breathability of clothing ensures that you feel dry and comfortable during outdoor activities. It is therefore an essential feature for winter sports and outdoor clothing.

What is breathability?

Clothing with high breathability is capable of transporting moisture through the fabric layer to the outside. When you exert yourself physically and start to sweat to cool down, clothing with high breathability transports the sweat through the fabric to the outside, keeping you dry. This contributes to comfort during physical activity, as you remain fresh and dry.

The comfort of breathability

If you wear clothing that does not breathe well and you start sweating, your clothing becomes damp and moist. This not only feels uncomfortable but also causes you to feel cold when you stop after a physical exertion. Therefore, breathability also helps to maintain your body temperature at a comfortable level.

Breathability of hardshells

The amount of breathability varies per garment. The more open the structure, the greater the breathability. Typically, garments with higher breathability are made of lighter material that is less durable.

For example, hardshells for ski touring are generally highly breathable because touring uphill is a demanding physical activity that will most likely make you sweat. Hardshells for freeriding are usually slightly less breathable but more robust and stiff. These shells are better able to withstand external damage from branches or rocks.

Breathability and the three-layer system

If you have a hardshell with high breathability, keep in mind that the open structure also makes it easier to lose heat. This can be easily compensated for by using the three-layer system.

For example, if you purchase a hardshell for ski touring, you choose a shell with high breathability. It's great for uphill touring! But won't you get cold when you reach the top and stop for a moment? This is easy to fix with a midlayer. The midlayer is carried in your backpack, allowing you to easily add an extra layer when you reach the top. If you tend to get cold quickly, choose a midlayer with high insulation, such as one with down filling. If you want something extra but don't get cold quickly, you may be fine with a midlayer with low or medium insulation, such as a vest. Of course, the choice of midlayer also depends on the temperature and weather conditions.

Breathability in all layers

It is important that all layers you wear have a certain level of breathability. Suppose you have a midlayer and hardshell with high breathability, but you choose a baselayer with limited breathability. In that case, your midlayer and hardshell may breathe well, but if you sweat more than the baselayer can handle, it becomes damp and clammy.

Breathability and water column

Now you may be wondering what the difference is between breathability and water column? Let us explain. Breathability refers to the moisture transport from the inside to the outside. The term applies to all layers of clothing you wear.

Water column refers to the waterproofness of clothing and therefore the resistance to water from the outside. This term only applies to the outer layer of clothing: jackets and trousers. Water column is expressed in millimeters. If the product description of our hardshells does not mention the water column, you can assume that it is higher than 20,000 mm. This means that the shell is completely waterproof.

But what clothing do I need?

What clothing you need varies from person to person, but we are here to make it as easy as possible for you. In essence, it is important to have a hardshell that suits the activity you are going to do. For this reason you can filter by 'intended use' in our webshop. In the product description, you will find more information about breathability and waterproofness per product.

Furthermore, make sure you have a good baselayer. For effective moisture wicking, it is important that thermal underwear fits snugly against the skin. This is especially important during heavy physical exertion.

The midlayer is a flexible thermal layer that you put on or take off as needed. If you are touring uphill in sunny weather, you may not need a midlayer at all. But if the weather changes or you reach the top and need to stop for a moment, it's nice to add an extra layer. How thick this layer should be varies from person to person and depends on the weather conditions. If in doubt, it's handy to bring two midlayers of different insulation, so you can choose depending on the conditions at that time.