Having the right winter gear will make or break your outdoor experiences, especially in the cold. It is hard with kids because they grow so quickly, and quality gear is expensive. Heck, I even struggle to buy it for myself and I know I will wear it for 10 years!
That being said, I want my kids to love being outside no matter the weather. I've put together a gear guide with a suggested list of items, some info on layering, and finally, some resources that you can consult to find all the gear your family needs!
Key to Success #1: The Plan
Raise your hand if you always wait until the kids are asking to go out in the snow before you figure out if their snow clothes fit (I'm raising my hand)!
Starting earlier is the key to getting good gear and getting it at a good price.
Find all your stuff - and try it all on.
Make a list of what you need including sizes and color preferences...if they won't wear it, it isn't going to do them any good!
Get a donation pile going for all the stuff you don't need, or put it in storage if you have a younger sibling that would benefit from it in the future.
Key to success #2: The Brands
Quality matters when you are looking for gear. Warm, waterproof gear will keep everyone happy outside. The usual suspects are some of the brands that are more mainstream: Patagonia, L.L. Bean (great quality and less expensive!), Columbia, Smartwool, REI, EMS, Kamik, Bogs, Sorrel, The North Face, Mammut, Black Diamond, Lowe Alpine, Keen, Marmot, Spyder, Under Armour, and Polartec.
Specifically for kiddos, here are some additional brands to check out when you are sourcing your outdoor gear this winter:
Oakie: Amazing one piece rain/snow suits - https://oaki.com/
Muddy Buddy: Also makes a great rain suit: https://tuffo.com/muddy-buddy/
Ella's Wool: For wool baselayers - https://ellaswool.com/
MyMayu: The boots from this company are awesome - https://www.mymayu.com/
Stonz: Also a great brand for the wee ones - https://stonz.com/
Key to success #3: The Hunt
I'm not a shopper and I don't like paying full price for anything...but I do appreciate what good quality gear can do for an adventure. Here are my go-to resources for outdoor clothing and accessories.
Consider renting - Are you trying to gear up for a once-a-year trip to cold weather? Consider renting the cold weather clothing and gear that your family needs.
Reach out to local families - Do you have friends with older kids who might have gear? Is there a local parents Facebook group or NextDoor group in your neighborhood? Hand-me-downs are an amazing way to get good quality gear. Don't be afraid to ask - and promote the items you have available to donate to others!
Shop second-hand in person - Stop by your local thrift stores and look for some of those quality brands mentioned above. Better yet, if you live in an urban area that might not have the best gear...on your next trip to the mountains, check out their thrift stores. I've gotten great deals at our mountain thrift stores - and donated some great stuff too!
Shop second-hand online - REI and Patagonia both have websites dedicated to shopping for used gear online. Gear Trade is a great place to find all sorts of awesome deals on outdoor gear. I'd rather be outside playing instead of shopping so I love this option!
Buy Key Pieces New - If you aren't sold on the "used" route or are buying for an older sibling and don't mind splurging a little, by all means, buy new. It certainly takes less time to find what you need when you have a full inventory of items!
Do you have any other brands/resources for outdoor clothing that I haven't mentioned here?
Stay Wild and Free,