How 3-in-1 Jackets Work

Layering is the best way to stay warm when the weather gets cold. See pictures of winter sports.

We all know that layering is the way to go when dressing for unpredictable outdoor weather. Start with a couple of layers for indoor wear, and top them with two or three more if cold and precipitation threaten while you're working or playing outside. That said, what are the best outer layers to use? For many active people, 3-in-1 jackets are the answer.

Many of these jackets consist of two pieces that can be snugly fastened together or worn separately. That's the "3" in the name: This two-piece jacket actually can be worn three ways.

Versatility, adaptability and convenience are the buzzwords in ads for 3-in-1 jackets. Because the various combinations can provide protection from damp, chilly weather; cold, dry weather; or extremely cold weather even with precipitation thrown in, the wearer is ready for whatever Mother Nature might serve up. With a 3-in-1 jacket, a person can be ready for a wide range of temperatures and levels of activity with a minimum of fuss. And because the pieces fit together, planning and packing are a snap.

The basic "3" in a 3-in-1 jacket are:

  • The outer shell is made of waterproof, breathable synthetic material, with a hood that may be detachable. It's worn alone in mild or wet weather.
  • The inner jacket is the insulating layer. It's made of something warm like down, fleece or a synthetic, polyester filling. There are a number of brand names, such as PolarThin ™ or Primaloft ™. This layer, which usually has pockets and style features, can be worn alone when the main objective is staying warm.
  • The two layers fit together snugly with zippers or three-point snaps. When the weather is really nasty, windy, wet and cold, the whole package provides protection without being bulky.

Anyone who faces unpredictable weather in everyday life might benefit from one of the more affordable standard 3-in-1 jackets. They can be found on sale and on Web sites for prices as low as $50 or $60.

The higher-tech models can cost hundreds of dollars. They're designed for serious athletes and others who are active outdoors in wintry weather. Many have underarm vents or "pit zips," which come in handy during aerobic activities.

Skiers, hikers, climbers, hunters and even motorcyclists are among those who find that 3-in-1 jackets work well for their needs.

Want to know more about the 3-in-1 choices? Click through to the next page.