You’re headed somewhere warm but in order to get to the airport, you need your winter jacket … I’ve been there plenty of times and as much as you might be tempted to skip an outer layer entirely, now you don’t have to.
Layering Clothes for Travel Between Different Climates
Travel clothing has come a long way from bulky coats and snow boots (thank goodness for compression jackets); here’s the best way to layer when you’re headed to a warm climate from somewhere, well, not so warm.
What to Look for in Layering Clothes and Accessories for Travel
When you’re traveling between different climates, layering really is your best friend. Layering pieces tend to be less bulky and can be worn with multiple outfits. Stick to neutral colors to maximize versatility.
For packing, wear your bulkiest items on the plane and shed, shed, shed, at your destination. If you do need to pack bulkier boots in your suitcase, stuff them with your socks, undergarments, and smaller T-shirts.
For footwear there are plenty of stylish slip-on slides, pairs of packable boots, foldable shoes, and even stylish hiking boots that can help streamline your travel wardrobe.
Travel Layers: Fabrics
When purchasing layering clothes, it’s not the time to cheap out on quality. Invest in a few key pieces that will become your go-to layering pieces when packing.
Merino wool is a travel fabric hero. It comes in a variety of thicknesses and is used in everything from base layers to coats. This all-natural fiber has the superpower of keeping you cool when you’re hot and keeping you warm when you’re cold.
Quick-drying fabrics are an obvious option here, as you can hand-wash them during your trip and they’ll dry fast. They also don’t take up too much space since they’re lightweight. Many athleisure brands use this fabric in stylish, jogger-style pants that you can wear almost anywhere.
Beechwood is another great material to look for when purchasing travel layering pieces as it’s totally sustainable and warm, but also lightweight. Check out the brand Bleusalt, which uses this type of wood in its fabric for most items.
Cupro, a regenerated cellulose fiber, feels like silk but it’s breathable, quick-drying, and odor-controlling. Uniqlo has its own line of stylish travel-friendly clothes made from the material. Pieces made with cupro often can do double duty.
Best Brands for Travel Layering Pieces
ADAY is a travel-friendly capsule wardrobe concept that makes minimalist basics ranging from satin jumpsuits to sweat-wicking dress tops.
Allbirds’ shoes for men and women are available in a mesh or wool fabric, depending on your needs. Dress up the slip-on styles, or go the sneaker route for a more casual look.
Amour Vert makes incredibly stylish and versatile pieces sustainably. The dresses and skirts are perfect for travelers, and the smaller men’s line offers affordable basics.
Duluth Trading Co. features pants and shirts that do double duty, as well as sweat-wicking basics.
Frank And Oak is another eco-friendly line selling ideal pieces for layering. The smart-layering outerwear (men and women) section is a must for travelers going from cold to warm climates.
Mer Sea & Co. products are all made to be easily packed, and the exclusive line of wraps and sweaters is just that.
Mountain Khakis is another favorite of mine for layering pieces, especially for outer layers. Check out the best sellers here.
prAna’s clothing for men and women has stylish but functional features, and most pieces are sustainably made.
Smartwool, the pioneer of merino wool, sells high-quality travel layering pieces that range from socks to jackets.
Toad & Co. is my go-to for men’s travel pants and multi-functional dresses.
Best Pieces for Layering Clothes: Women
Women’s Layering Cold to Hot Climate
If you want to buy only one item to boost your travel wardrobe, it should be a scarf, wrap, or sarong of sorts. I love Mer Sea’s The Classic Travel Wrap. It is machine-washable, comes with its own travel bag, and even doubles as an airplane pillow. Check out the rest of the brand’s wraps for a range of other options, from cashmere to cotton.
The other key travel layering piece is a pair of leggings. prAna’s Transform 7/8 leggings are my go-to for travel days, and the black and nautical colors can be dressed up if needed.
Other key items: A multi-functional travel dress, slip-on shoes, and cupro basics.
Best Pieces for Layering Clothes: Men
Men’s Layering Cold to Hot Climate
For men, a dark blazer, like this one from Lululemon, is the perfect travel layering piece. It can be dressed up or down, and the fabric is wind- and water-resistant for all types of climates.
Another key item for going from cold to warm climates is a multi-purpose shoe. Cole Haan’s ZEROGRAND Wingtip Oxfords look stylish, are breathable, and provide full foot coverage.
Other key items: A lightweight vest, athleisure pants, and sweat-wicking shirts.
More from SmarterTravel:
- The Worst Winter Travel Gear (and What to Pack Instead)
- Bluffworks New Women’s Travel Clothing Line Review
- 9 Cozy Sweatpants You Won’t Be Ashamed to Wear in Public
Ashley Rossi is always ready for her next trip. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off the beaten path spots.
Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product.
Editors’ note: This article has been updated to fix an earlier error.
We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
Top Fares From
Today's Top Travel Deals
Brought to you by ShermansTravel
Peru: 6-Night Lima & Cusco Tour,...
All-Incl. Upstate New York Family Ranch...
Ecuador: 4-Night Quito & Galapagos Cruise...