Cold-weather protective clothing adds a metabolic cost from the extra weight, independent of thermal effects, and with state-of-the-art options you may not need bulk to optimize comfort and warmth, according to a study published in Applied Ergonomics (2020; 82, 102956).

Researchers found that wearing three layers of clothing increases metabolic rate and muscle activation compared with wearing a base layer alone during level and incline walking. The investigators suggest wearing a wind- and waterproof top layer, with an additional middle layer when temperatures go below freezing.

Fitted clothing does not hinder range of motion, according to the study. The authors recommend wearing correctly sized garments to reduce bulk and looking for thin, smooth clothing with multiple size adjustments and flexible, articulated knees and elbows to optimize free movement and reduce friction.