3-Layer vs 2-Layer

Outerwear brands flaunt three-layer (3L) collections as the ultimate for skiing outerwear. But what is three-layer? And why is three better than two? Is three-layer overkill for most skiers?  

We’ll do our best to answer those questions and more below. And if you still have questions drop us an email. Let’s get started… 

What’s the difference between 2L and 3L waterproof fabrics? 

Every piece of outerwear has an outer shell fabric and a waterproof membrane, these are layers one and two. Outerwear that features layers one and two and that has insulation or a polyester lining between you and the membrane layer is 2L.  

A 3L fabric substitutes the lining material for a lightweight polyester scrim which is bonded to the backside of the membrane.  

Sounds fancy. What are the key advantages of a 3L fabric Vs a 2L fabric? 

Glad you asked. In terms of the outerwear’s waterproof rating there is no benefit to having a 20K/20K* 3L fabric vs a 20K/20K 2L fabric.  

However, water ingress through the fabric is only one of the ways you’ll get damp on the mountain. Perspiration is an unfortunate, but inevitable, side effect of vigorous exercise.  

Removing a liner and bonding a synthetic scrim to the back of the membrane allows outerwear to breath more effectively and offers better airflow for optimal venting performance. In warmer weather you can strip down to a T-shirt without the liner clinging to your skin, getting you all hot and bothered. And, the absence of a lining means there’s a little extra space to fit your layers.  

*20K/20K denotes the waterproof and breathability ratings (20,000mm waterproof | 20,000 g/m2 in 24 hours) 

Is there a downside to 3L? 

Yes, that’ll be the price. 3L outerwear is typically more expensive.  

But, if outerwear performance is a top priority, because your skiing style is aggressive or you’re touring and hiking lots, then it’s money well spent. And, 3L fabrics are more durable - removing the friction between the liner and the membrane means your apparel will perform better for longer. 

Why doesn’t Planks use Gore-Tex 3L fabrics? 

Gore-Tex is great, but these days it’s not the only solution. Planks 3L RIDEdry20 fabric offers the level of performance that professional freeride athletes demand, with a less astronomical price tag and a less severe environmental impact.  

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