Cold weather can make getting outside with kids in the winter a challenge! But wearing the right clothes will set you up for success and keep the little ones warm.
Winter clothing and gear can get very expensive, and if you’re anything like my family, you need to keep your kids warm while staying on a budget.
As an experienced outdoor guide and mother to two young boys who get fully engaged in winter snow play, I’d like to share my suggestions on what high quality items to buy, what items you can borrow, and items that are inexpensive or you can make yourself.
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You’ll want to invest in a good pair of wool socks and gloves:
- Purchase Wool. Wool fiber has great qualities that cotton and synthetic fibers don’t have – they’ll keep your kids hands and feet warm even when they’re wet. And we all know their hands and feet will get wet when playing in the snow! Consider good wool types (Merino) or wool brands (Smartwool) that are less itchy, more stretchy, and comfortable. Merino wool is going to be the softest (and most expensive). Most products come as a wool-blend, so consider products that are at least 50% wool. Warning! Many items claim they are wool when they are not. Be sure to read the description carefully and do not purchase the item unless it specifically tells you the ratio of wool to synthetic fibers. Sometimes, the description will say things like “100% wool” then go on to say they are made of acrylic yarn. Always look for specifics! Also, if the items is pretty cheap, you can almost bet it’s not wool. Wool items will be more expensive.
- Wool Socks. You will be spending your money wisely by purchasing a pair of good winter socks. The socks below are 73% merino wool and come in 4 different colors and multiple sizes. I am a loyal customer of Smartwool products – they’re good quality and made in the USA.
- Wool Mittens or Glove Liners. Wool mittens or gloves are an essential clothing item for winter play. These gloves are great for general outdoor play in the cold winter months, or you can use them as liners under waterproof mittens/gloves for playing in the snow and winter sports. The Smartwool liners below are made of a Merino blend, but they are very thin. I have the adult size of these gloves and love them for camping, but if you’re looking for a thicker wool glove, try the one below it. The Melton gloves below are 60% wool, machine washable and a bit thicker than the Smartwool liners. The baby mittens are 100% Merino wool.
These are necessary but you can probably borrow them from a friend or buy them used:
- Snowsuits or Snow Pants. These are waterproof pants or overalls that will help your kids to stay dry and warm while playing outside in winter. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on these – if they are thin, simply add more layers underneath to keep your kids warm. If you don’t have a pair of these, your neighbor will. Just ask.
- Snow Jacket. This is a waterproof jacket that will keep your kids warm by staying dry and protecting them from the wind. If you don’t have a heavy jacket, you can use a rain coat. Just be sure to add plenty of layers underneath.
- Snow Boots. If you’re going to be mountaineering with your kids, then you’ll want to invest in a nice pair of winter boots. But for the rest of us, we want to focus on shoes that are waterproof and completely cover the ankle – hence snow boots. If your kids go outside in tennis shoes, their feet will quickly get we and they’ll be miserable. Any winter shoe used in snow should be water proof. It’s best to use boots because the high top will protect your kids ankles when they slip and fall while playing.
Items that are inexpensive and will keep your kids extra cozy! Or you can make them yourself!
- Winter Hat. Considering that hats don’t get wet very often, you can get away with a cotton knit beanie or something similar. It’s important to have something on your kids head because it will help keep them warm, but it doesn’t have to be a high quality wool beanie. We love crocheting our own winter hats!
- Scarf or Neck Gaiter. A scarf or neck gaiter will help your kids stay extra warm outside, especially if there is a cold and sharp wind. You can use the scarf/gaiter to cover their mouths and nose (and maybe even ears). Gaiters are great for skiing or snowboarding.
Let me know if you have any questions on winter gear! If you’re a parent who is well versed in bundling-up kids, I’d love to hear your suggestions. Pop on over to the Facebook group Nature Challenge and share your ideas with other parents!
Get outside and explore nature! It matters!