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Best Mid Layers for Skiing and Snowboarding in 2023

Woman wearing mid layer in snow

Not getting your layering system right can ruin a day on the slopes. Too hot and you’ll sweat buckets, causing chafing and then a rapid lowering of your body temperature when you stop moving. Too cold, and you’ll run the risk of becoming slowly hypothermic. Both situations are less than ideal and potentially life-threatening. So choosing the best mid layers for skiing and snowboarding is actually a lot more important than you may realise!

The best mid layers for skiing and snowboarding in 2023

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Helly Hansen Power Air Heat Grid JacketFleecePolartec Power Air, (89% recycled)$$$
Isobaa Merino 320 Long Sleeve Half ZipFleece100% merino wool$$$
Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece JacketFleece100% Recycled polyester$$$
Montane Women's Lyra HoodieFleecePolartec Thermal$$
Columbia Steens Mountain Fleece 2.0FleecePolyester MTR filament$
Patagonia R1 Fleece Pullover HoodieFleecePolartec Power Grid$$$$
Smartwool Smartloft VestInsulatedMerino wool$$$$
Ibex Wool Aire HoodyInsulatedMerino wool$$$$$
Berghaus Nula JacketHybrid fleece with insulationHydroloft Polyball and fleece$$
Rab Alpha Flux jacketSynthetic insulatedPolartec Alpha$$$
Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid JacketSynthetic insulated40g Full Range$$$$
Black Diamond First Light HoodySynthetic insulatedPrimaLoft Silver Insulation Active$$$$$

Fleece mid layers for skiing and snowboarding

Helly Hansen Power Air Heat Grid Jacket
Helly Hansen close ups

Helly Hansen Power Air Heat Grid Jacket

Eco-conscious: Made from 89% recycled polyester and sheds up to 5 times less microfibers than regular fleece

Constructed with the new and revolutionary Polartec Power Air, this technical mid layer is an excellent choice for active adventures both on and off the slopes. Building on the principles of Polartec Power Grid – featured in many of the other mid layers we’ve tried – Power Air is both more thermally efficient and more environmentally friendly. Each square that makes up the fleece is encased in a thin layer of fabric which encapsulates air to retain warmth. But even better, this construction also reduces the amount of microfibers that are shed, by up to 5 times. It’s clever stuff that is the future for the next generation of fleeces.

In terms of design, this hoodless, zippered mid layer has a fairly boxy fit that allows for plenty of movement and space to wear extra base layers in really cold weather. It has two zippered hand pockets as well as internal stuff-it pockets. Plus, the long sleeves have well-fitting thumb holes.

It’s quick drying, and at around 475g / 16.7oz is a relatively lightweight option for the amount of warmth it offers.


  • Warm for its weight
  • Sheds less microfiber than regular fleece
  • Thumb loops are comfortable and well-fitting
  • High neck keeps out the draft


  • No hood, but this could be a plus for some
  • No especially packable

Find the latest price at:
Helly Hansen | Amazon

Isobaa Mid Layer
Isobaa mid layer close up

Isobaa Merino 320 Long Sleeve Half Zip

Eco-conscious: Made from 100% non-mulesed merino wool

Though not made of microfleece, the 320 Long Sleeve by Isobaa performs in a similar way in terms of design and insulation. It’s the only 100% merino mid layer on our list. As such, it gains some serious brownie points in terms of micro-plastic pollution as well as offering some highly desirable features for the wearer. As with all merino clothing, this half zip mid layer is antimicrobial – takes days of wear before it gets stinky!, it’s thermoregulating – keeps you at a comfortable temperature in hot and cold conditions, and it’s also moisture wicking – great to prevent sweat build up and cooling.

On top of all that, this stylish and fitted mid layer has extra length at the back (a big plus for me to keep out the drafts), thumb loops and seamless pits for unrestricted movement.

The neck zip isn’t as deep as other options on our list, but a great addition all the same for venting or hunkering in, as needed.

It’s one of the more lightweight mid layers we’ve tried making it ideal for warmer days on the mountain or for layering up when the conditions are changeable.


  • Super soft and comfortable
  • Long back hem
  • Thumb loops
  • Moisture wicking
  • Odour-resistant
  • Temperature regulating


  • Not as warm as other options
  • Neck zip could be longer

Find the latest price at:

Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece JacketPatagonia Better Sweater details

Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket

Eco-conscious: Fabric is Bluesign approved, made of 100% recycled polyester and dyed with a low-impact process that significantly reduces the use of dyestuffs, energy and water compared to conventional dyeing methods.

Made from 100% recycled polyester, the Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket is a superb option for eco-conscious skiers who favour versatility over several scenario-specific items. Though not as technical as some options on our list, it’s the ideal mid layer for casual skiers and snowboarders to wear on and off the slopes. Its classic style and cosy mid-weight warmth also makes it a winter essential for winter hikers and pub-goers alike. The high collar does an excellent job at keeping the draft out and the extra soft brushed tricot trims prevent abrasion in this sensitive area. Continuing on the cosiness theme, chilly-fingered folk will love the luxury of the large zippered hand pockets. These are best enjoyed without gloves on, which is convenient as there are large internal drop-in pockets to store said gloves!


  • Zippered arm pocket for ski pass
  • Versatile for everyday wear as well as on the slopes
  • Warm with luxurious details
  • Internal drop-in pockets
  • High collar


  • Zipper pulls are tough to use with gloves on
  • The outer fabric is susceptible to pilling over time
  • A little on the short side

Find the latest price on:
Snow and Rock | Patagonia | REI

Montane Women's Lyra HoodieMontane Lyra Hoodie details

Montane Women’s Lyra Hoodie

New in 2020, the a Montane Women’s Lyra Hoodie is constructed of Polartec Thermal Pro – a 200 weight fleece which is super warm for its weight (375g for women’s size S). With some well thought through technical features, the Lyra is an excellent mid layer choice for chilly days in the backcountry or big days cruising the groomers. Like the Patagonia Better Sweater, there are internal drop-in pockets for storing snacks, gloves, goggles etc. Plus, the hand pockets boast good sized zipper pulls that are easily grasped with gloved hands. Unlike the Better Sweater, the Lyra has a form-fitting hood, that fits comfortably underneath a helmet, and a high collar that zips right up the chin. Additionally, the well-fitting thumb loops complement the long cuffs, and the extra length on the rear hem further adds to the draft-proof fit of the hoodie.


  • Helmet compatible hood
  • Thumb loops
  • Good sized zipper pulls
  • Internal drop-in pockets
  • Long rear hem
  • Lightweight for its warmth


  • Not as packable as other similar weight options

Find the latest price at:
Montane | Amazon

Columbia Steens Mountain Fleece 2.0

Columbia Steens Mountain Fleece 2.0

The Columbia Steens Mountain Fleece 2.0 is a good-old-fashioned frill-free fleece. Made from 100% polyester MTR filament fleece, this full zip jacket is more bulky than the Rab, Norrona and Mountain Hardwear options in this category. It is loose-fitting and there are no thinner panels to streamline the design, making it heavier, too.

The few features include zippered hand pockets, a drawcord at the hem and elasticated cuffs. And although it is a decently warm fleece that is ideal for cold days on the mountain worn under a hard shell jacket, it certainly won’t win any prizes for innovative design or technical features. However, it is by far the most affordable option on our list, providing soft, cosy, light to mid weight warmth that really is hard to resist!


  • Excellent value
  • Comfortable
  • Good warmth for moderately cool conditions


  • Heavy
  • Not a slim fit

Find the latest price on:
REI | Amazon | Backcountry

Patagonia R1 Fleece Pullover Hoodie
R1 Hoodie details

Patagonia R1 Fleece Pullover Hoodie

Eco-conscious: Made from 93% recycled polyester

Though hooded mid layers aren’t for everyone, the hood of the Patagonia R1 Fleece Pullover Hoodie is ideal for those super chilly days when wearing an extra layer underneath a ski and snowboard helmet is essential. It fits snuggly over your head and is complemented by a high neck to further increase the cosiness and draft exclusion provided by the hood design. Other highly appealing design features include long sleeves with well-fitting thumb loops, a zippered chest pocket and a long zip at the neck for deep venting.

After 20 years of tweaking, this most recent version of the R1 boasts two fabric thicknesses, like the Berghaus. The core and arms of this lightweight hoodie are made from 6.9oz Polartec Power Grid fleece, which is soft and moisture wicking on the inside. The hood, side panels and lower body are constructed with a lightweighter weight 3.8oz grid that is slightly more stretchy and breathable than the core areas. The result is added comfort when wearing a hardness or backpack, increased mobility and temperature regulation, and overall excellent comfort levels.

It’s versatile and hardwearing. And though a little on the pricey side, we think it’s well worth the investment.


  • Helmet compatible hood
  • Lightweight (312g / 11oz)
  • Good temperature control
  • Deep venting neck zip
  • Nicely long at the hem


  • A little on the pricey side!

Find the latest price at:
REI | Patagonia | Alpine Trek

The best insulated mid layers for skiing and snowboarding

Smartwool Smartloft Vest

Smartwool Smartloft Vest

Eco-conscious: Insulation includes recycled/reclaimed wool, sides made from 54% recycled polyester.

Vest mid layers may not be for everyone, however, they are an excellent alternative to a traditional long sleeved mid layer for spring skiing when the temperature is a little higher. Vests are also highly appealing for those who like lots of movement around the arms with complete freedom from both overheating and restricted movement.

Like the Ibex Hoodie (below), the Smartwool Smartloft Vest is insulated mostly with wool (88%), 50% of which is recycled/reclaimed. The other 12% of the fill is polyester. Additionally, the side panel fabric combines wool and polyester. The result is an extremely lightweight and airy-feeling vest that offers excellent temperature regulation and odour control in the most challenging and varied conditions.

The high neck keeps out the cold whilst the hand, chest and internal stash pockets provide plenty of options for storing snacks, money, phone and spare goggle lenses.


  • Lightweight
  • Excellent freedom of movement
  • Good odour control
  • Good temperature regulation
  • High neck


  • No arms! Not for everyone
  • No hood, but can be a plus for some

Find the latest price at:

Ibex Wool Aire Hoodie
Close up of ibex jacket

Ibex Wool Aire Hoody

Eco-conscious: Contains Bluesign approved fabrics, PFC-free DWR coating and renewable merino wool

The Ibex Wool Aire Hoody is a midweight insulated jacket that is as at home as an outer layer as it is as a mid layer underneath a hardshell. Uniquely, it owes its excellent insulating properties to 80 gram ethically sourced merino wool that fills the jacket. This gives it an impressive warmth to weight ratio for stuffing in your pack on those changeable mountain days or even for ski touring and splitboarding. But it also feels incredibly lightweight and comfortable when wearing it.

Despite its casual styling, it performs very well in more adverse conditions, boasting a water-resistant and windproof outer. The merino wool offers good breathability and moisture wicking with antimicrobial properties for odour control. Plus, elasticated cuffs fit over gloves snuggly and the whole jacket stuffs down into its own chest pocket.


  • Excellent warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Super lightweight
  • Stylish
  • Good as an outer layer too


  • A little pricey
  • Nood not adjustable

Find the latest price on:

Berghaus Women's Nula Jacket
Berghaus Mid Layer details

Berghaus Nula Hybrid Jacket

Eco-conscious: Contains Bluesign approved fabrics and PFC-free DWR coating.

The new Berghaus Nula Hybrid Jacket provides exceptional warmth around the core of your body thanks to the Hydroloft Polyball insulation panels on the front and back of the jacket. The synthetic insulation feels incredibly lightweight on and also contains water resistant fibers to provide greater levels of weatherproofing. The rest of the jacket (hood, shoulders, arms and underarms) are constructed of a thin and lightweight knitted fleece that is soft to the skin and super breathable in all the right places. It also features a high collar and streamlined hood that works well underneath a helmet. The Nula really comes into its own, however, during high intensity activities in cold weather, like ski touring and splitboarding, when the body temperature fluctuates often. Plus, if it gets too warm to wear if packs down well into a pack and weights only 370g (13oz).


  • Helmet compatible hood
  • Good sized zipper pulls
  • Fleece-lined, zippered hand pockets
  • Long rear hem
  • Lightweight for its warmth


  • No thumb loops
  • Fleece section is susceptible to pilling over time

Find the latest price at:
Berghaus | Cotswold Outdoor | Amazon

Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Jacket

Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Jacket

The Nano-Air Light Hybrid Jacket is an inexplicably lightweight Patagonia mid layer that is made for skiers and snowboarders who value versatility, high performance, and the feeling of wearing nothing for warmth! The front panel and arms are filled with 40g Full Range synthetic insulation which is protected by a ripstop nylon shell that is also DWR coated. The back, sides and underarms, however, adopt a different fabric style altogether: Polygiene treated polyester waffle knit that is highly moisture wicking and controls odour. This hybrid design makes the Nano-Air an ideal mid layer underneath an outer shell on cold mountain days, as well as a standalone jacket for ski touring, spring skiing and year-round adventures in cool conditions.


  • Moisture wicking
  • Very lightweight
  • Good weather resistance
  • Versatile
  • Has thumb loops


  • Not as warm as the fleece options
  • No hood

Find the latest price at:

Black Diamond First Light Hoody

Black Diamond First Light Hoody

Eco-conscious: Contains Bluesign approved fabric

For those that struggle with the idea of wearing down insulation in potentially wet conditions, the Black Diamond First Light Hoody is an excellent alternative. This mid weight mid layer features PrimaLoft Silver Insulation Active, which lets the jacket breathe during even the toughest days on the slopes. It boasts a stretch-woven nylon outer that is lightweight and durable, and NanoSphere durable water repellent (DWR) coating, making it ideal as a standalone layer for ski touring or charging hard in the backcountry. Other features include zippered hand pockets, an internal chest pocket that the jacket stows into, an insulated hood and elasticated cuffs.


  • Very warm
  • Good weather resistance
  • Durable
  • Versatile
  • Breathable


  • Not as moisture wicking as Polartec mid layers

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry

baselayers gear guide

What is a mid layer?

A mid layer, believe it or not, is the layer that you wear over the top of a base layer, and underneath an outer layer. Simples! It is usually slim fitting, comfortable, moisture wicking and breathable. But first and foremost the best mid layers for skiing and snowboarding are designed to provide warmth and insulation.

While an outer layer will help keep out the rain, snow and wind, and a base layer will wick moisture away from your body, a mid layer provides warmth.

The properties of mid layers for skiing a snowboarding

  • Insulation and warmth

    This is the most important property of mid layers for skiing and snowboarding. Insulation is provided by varying fabrics that cleverly trap air within their fibers. The tiny pockets of air trapped between the fibers create a cosy layer of insulation.

  • Fit

    Most mid layers are usually slim fitting so as not to create too much bulk beneath an outer layer. That’s not to say that they are restricting in any way. Quite the opposite. They provide high levels of movement by using flexible or stretchy fabrics that move with the body.

  • Breathability and moisture wicking

    Another important property of mid layers is the ability for moisture build up to be moved away from the body and clothing. Good base layers, that sit directly on the skin, will wick away the moisture from the body. This moisture then needs to be transferred out of the layering system altogether. Mid layers made with breathable fabrics enable this to happen. Synthetic fabrics are especially good at this, and the whole process speeds up the drying process, preventing fabrics from becoming saturated and uncomfortable.

  • Packability

    Although not a deal breaker, a mid layer that is lightweight and packable is a definite plus. On days when you’re not sure how the conditions will turn out you don’t want to be lugging around a bulky and heavy mid layer in your pack, should you need to shed a layer. This is especially important when ski touring. Down mid layers are the most compressible and packable of all the options.

  • Weather resistance

    On warmer, drier days in the mountains, it can be a big bonus if your mid layer can also provide enough protection to be worn as an outer layer. Many mid layers have outer shells that are made from durable fabrics and are treated with a DWR (durable water resistant) coating. This makes them wind and water resistant and adds more versatility to layering systems.

What are the different types of mid layers for skiing?

Fleece mid layer

Features: Moisture wicking, breathable, warm, quick drying, durable, inexpensive, holds onto odour, can be bulky.

    • Fleece mid layer
      Probably the most common type of mid layer for skiing and snowboarding is a synthetic fleece. Usually made from polyester, fleece mid layers are a durable and relatively inexpensive option. They are available in different weights/thicknesses for a variety of conditions. There are also technical versions of synthetic fleece, like Polartec Alpha, that perform better than regular fleece fabrics.

Down insulation

Features: Very warm, highly compressible, lightweight, durable if cared for well, expensive, lose insulation when wet.

    • Down insulation
      Down insulated mid layers are hands down the warmest type of mid layer on offer. They are also the most expensive and don’t provide warmth when wet. Ideal for those super chilly bluebird days. The level of warmth is measured by the weight of the down (how much down is in the jacket), and the fill power (how lofty/dense the down is). For more information on this, read our down vs synthetic article.

Synthetic insulation

Features: Warm, breathable, quick drying, stays warm when wet, highly durable, lightweight.

  • Synthetic mid layer
    Mid layers with synthetic insulation offer more warmth than fleeces, but can never compete with the warmth offered by down jackets, relative to their weight. They also sit between the two when it comes to price. However, they do offer excellent insulation when wet, and impressive warmth, breathability and protection against the elements. Filled with fibers that mimic the properties of down, technical synthetic insulation like Primaloft also offer superb durability and are an excellent option in wet/moist conditions.

Whether you charge hard in the backcountry or enjoy cruising the groomed runs, there’s certainly something that is perfect for you on our list of the best mid layers for skiing and snowboarding.

About the author


Joey Holmes is based in Cornwall, UK, and runs Cool of the Wild. She can’t get enough of being outdoors – whether that’s lounging around the campfire cooking up a feast, hitting the trail in her running shoes, or attempting to conquer the waves on her surfboard – she lives for it. Camping is what she loves to do the most, but has also spent many hours clinging to the side of a rock face, cycling about the place, cruising the ski-slopes on her snowboard, and hiking small mountains and big hills.

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