You have a long day of outdoor work ahead and Old Man Winter is doing his worst with below-freezing temps and a windchill to boot. The more cold weather gear you layer on, the better to make sure you stay warm, right? No!

Surprisingly, it’s possible to wear too much insulated gear or too many layers, and it can actually put your health at risk. What happens when you go overboard and how can you be sure you choose the right gear? Read on to find out!

Why Is Dressing Too Warmly Harmful?

There are a few potential problems that can come from too much insulated clothing. If you’re moving around a lot and your body temperature goes up, wearing too much gear can make you start to sweat. That sweat has nowhere to go and will soak into your base layer. Damp fabric against your skin? That makes us cold just thinking about it!

Overheating can also cause more serious problems like dehydration, heat rash, fatigue and exhaustion, muscle cramps and low blood pressure.

All of these symptoms can hurt your health and productivity, so if you think you’re overheating, try taking a layer off or going inside to rest for a while—and make sure to drink some liquids.

Who’s at Risk?

When your daily routines involve multiple temperature changes—like commercial delivery drivers switching between their vehicles, the outdoors and indoor areas of businesses. Over-bundling is also common during those times of year between seasons when the weather can’t make up its mind between balmy and freezing.

People who do a lot of physical activity in the cold are usually at the highest risk of over-bundling because their bodies generate the most natural heat. That includes construction workers, landscapers, refrigerated warehouse workers, forestry workers, transportation workers and any other active workers in the cold.

How to Choose the Right Cold Weather Gear

There are some basic techniques that anyone going outside in the cold should use to make sure you're not bundled up too much:

Choose Layers Carefully

Dress in layers but consider carefully which ones you actually need. As a general rule, go for a lightweight base layer, insulating middle layer, weatherproof outer layer. However, people spending lots of time indoors (or somewhere that rain and snow aren’t a concern) might be better off choosing a warmer insulating layer and skipping the weatherproof outer.

Mix and Match Insulated Gear

Try experimenting with different types of insulated clothing that suit your specific needs. For example, if you struggle with keeping your upper body cool, try a lighter top paired with a pair of insulated pants or insulated bib overalls.

Choose Breathable Fabrics

More breathable gear can also help improve air circulation without sacrificing warmth. The RefrigiWear Extreme Softshell Jacket is a great example of RefrigiWear clothing built to breathe—the softshell fabric is lighter and gives you more ventilation, but the jacket is still rated to keep you warm all the way down to -60°F. The Extreme Softshell Jacket also includes a dual front zipper system so you can regulate your warmth level without taking the jacket off.

Maximize Adjustable Multi-Layer Garments

Some cold weather gear combines two or even three of the basic layer types into one garment. While this can be an efficient way to bundle up, it’s also less flexible—you can’t just shed layers until you get to the right level. So, if you’re looking at a multi-layer garment, look for one that has zip-out linings or other removable and adjustable features.

Too Much of a Good Thing

When it comes to warmth, make sure you don’t have too much of a good thing! By layering the right way and regularly checking in on how your body is responding to the temperature, you can avoid dressing too warmly and set yourself up to perform at your best.