Performance layering, a guest post by Mark Westcombe who attended our Sep 2022t cpd


Beading only happens if you care for your garments.

A GUEST BLOG by Mark Westcombe, an ML trainee who attended the Sept course.

(NB next cpd course will be held Monday, Nov 21st 2022 (day after Kendal MF see booking form link)_

Report on the PERFORMANCE LAYERING CPD Sept 2022 for mountain leaders


A key thing I experienced during my ML training is how difficult it is to keep warm and dry. So I signed up quickly after seeing this course advertised on MTA. It exceeded my expectations and shifted my whole approach. 

Key things I learned.

wicking is
is capillary flow graphic © diagram illustrate wicking

I finally understood the difference between eVENT, Goretex and Paramo and what works best for what. 

The differences in the 5 Goretex fabrics became apparent (the graph shown was fundamental to this)

The example of birds constantly ‘servicing’ their feathers provoked a realisation of the need to service my layers frequently and correctly. This also exposed the contradictions of what we should and should not expect from our gear and that there is no perfect system.

Best washing practices and waterproofing treatment, especially spray on rather than wash in, and possible ironing afterwards. 

Only using pure soap for waterproofs and base wash on base layers. 

*directional wicking* inc mid-layer

it’s not just the outer layer that keeps you dry

Summer layering it’s getting hotter, so we need to adjust.  

The environmental horrors of Fluoro/DWR finish.

The science of sweating and heat loss

tailoring for function example.

Tase layer knowledge inc needs to be close fitting. 

About mvtr ratings and measure.  

Establish the windproof rating measured in cfm by blowing through several different fabrics.  

The wool doesn’t wick. 

Polyester is better for the environment than cotton. 

Top outcomes that will improve my on-hill performance layering skills

I came away with the knowledge I needed to use my current kit better.

Confidence to draw on my experience rather than what others/masses do.

I was validated in some of the things I do that go against the grain/hype, e.g. defaulting to windproof, i.e. windproof as 2nd layer, starting slow to avoid sweating, fleeces on top of windproof and even waterproof, waterproof on top of windproof, choosing single layer pieces rather than the kit that combines functions, save waterproof for when you need it, Goretex/eVENT on top of paramo in awful weather, 

Layering for easy movement 

The importance of venting

Wicking works in ALL directions, so keep base layers away from the end of outer jkt sleeves and boots to avoid inward or upwards water wicking. 

The high level of water loss in dry air conditions, warm or cold and the need for good hydration.

British gear for British conditions

Sizing and the need to take/wear other parts of your system to the shop when making my next purchase.

I was motivated by the day to read your Keeping Dry &Staying Warm book, and it is included in the course cost made it easy.

The need for directional wicking layers under the Paramo outer layer for the system to work 

I identified the improvements I can make to my kit and what to buy, and I’ll save money long-term by not making mistakes.

Buy a garment as a part of my layering system, not a piece of shiny new gear. 

Think in terms of the 7-layer system proposed. 

The final feedback session around the room was significant. Quotes; 

‘I now realise I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Some aspects of wicking, including ‘directional’, were entirely new for some. ‘I’ve been waiting for this course before making further purchases. Water being 24 times more conductive than air was a surprise. ‘The 3 layer system is dead’. ( we explained a 7-layer system. 

Suggestions going forward.

Can we produce a short training programme that mountain leaders like myself can deliver to lesser experienced people? I would like to help with that as a volunteer as a mountain walks leader. 

Mike. Your vast wealth of knowledge needs to be passed on in a way that ensures continuity. When you want to take a back seat, just update and keep an eye on our progress.  

What a newbie should buy, e.g. 14 year old with limited cash. You could do something  on this as it is a massive barrier, and outdoors has become too much about “the kit “. 

It was the right length of the day, and Waternmillock village hall is a suitable venue ( there is a camping field attached which I used foc, thanks.It was the right length of the day, and Waternmillock village hall is a suitable venue ( there is a camping field attached which I used foc, thanks. 



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