“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”Alfred Wainwright
We’ve talked about the many benefits of getting out in the cold. After all, nature isn’t meant to only be enjoyed during 3/4 of the year! Winter exercise has its own special traits – from being peacefully quiet when it’s recently snowed, to the ice on the trees or the blueness of the sky.
Even so, what holds most people back from spending time outdoors in colder (or wetter) temps, is a lack of adequate clothing or accessories.
We hit the slopes every year to ski, so we’re lovers of winter by nature. As a result, we’ve learned a thing or two about keeping warm on the coldest of days, and we want to share those things with you!
If your goal is to get outside more in Winter, here’s what we use to stay warm:
- Base layer top and bottoms made from Merino wool. We love wool because it’s very effective at keeping you warm, while also remaining breathable, and it’s a natural fiber. We wear our base layers under our normal cold weather tops and pants when the temps are especially chilly. We love Smartwool products for their quality, as well as Minus33, but there are many different options out there you can check out!
- Athletic apparel made with spandex or Gore-Tex and marketed as intended for cold weather exercise (water repellant is a bonus if you’ll be in the rain or snow!)
- Merino wool socks – these keep our feet warmer and dryer than polyester or cotton.
- Mittens keep hands warmer than gloves because the fingers and palm can touch and help maintain body heat. We like to wear mittens when skiing, since warmth is crucial to staying on the slopes all day. For walks and other “lighter” winter activities, we love our Ugg sheepskin gloves.
- Balaclava or gaiter – A balaclava is like a hood and infinity scarf combined. Typically worn under a ski helmet, it does a good job of keeping your neck from being exposed to the elements, as well as trapping heat from your head. A gaiter is similar, just without the hood part. It’s a loop of warm fabric that you wear around your neck and can also be pulled up over the bottom of your face if needed. These aren’t just great for skiing – they’re great for any outdoor activity on very cold or windy days! Unless you’re wearing a helmet for your activity, you’ll likely prefer the gaiter over the balaclava, paired with a warm winter hat.
- Speaking of that warm winter hat – a thick hat made with wool, acrylic or fleece and that covers your ears is crucial for maintaining warmth on freezing days.
- Winter boots rated for temps below zero – we live in our winter boots in the cold months! Brianna’s pair of Merrell Sugarbush boots are no longer in production, but Irene’s Columbia winter boots are and they’re as functional and warm as they are stylish! You can view similar styles as hers on their website. According to this source, you’ll want to look for boots that have 200-400g insulation. Boots with 200g are better for short walks/hikes and playing outside on typical winter days. Boots with closer to 400g of insulation would be ideal for longer winter walks or hikes, especially if you’ll be sitting for periods of time. The nice thing about a pair of boots designed for the winter season is that they will have thicker, more grippy tread, too. This is helpful for walking on the occasionally snowy (or even icy) path!
Now that we’ve covered the adults, let’s talk about some great gear for babies and toddlers.
- Fleece-lined pants – great for mildly cold days outside and also paired with a base layer for very cold days (it’s better to have a little room in the pants for the base layer, so size up if you need to). I bought these fleece-lined pants from Target and these fleece-lined jeans from Gap for my son this season. I bought him a 3T in both items, but the Gap pants were HUGE and he mostly wears the Target ones right now. We’ll save the Gap ones for next season.
- Merino wool or wool/acrylic base layer pants and shirt – you’ll likely need to look at ski apparel to find these for toddlers but they’re well worth sourcing for the wonderful warmth they’ll provide your child (and assurance they’ll provide you!). I bought this top and these bottoms for my son this winter. They seem a little thinner than what I was expecting, but they still add a nice layer. These are a great option on sale, but weren’t the right size for him.
- Waterproof insulated mittens that zip open for easy access. I’ve learned from experience that trying to stuff a 1-year-old’s hand into some mittens can be the end of any great plan to go outside. Mittens that have a zipper down the side allow your child’s hand to easily slip inside with the thumb going in the right place. They’ll make getting ready to go out in the cold much more fun, and much less stressful! We have these ones and they’re great, but these are another nice option!
- Quality winter coat – Columbia and The North Face make wonderful coats for kids, but you can even find great options at places like Costco.
- Winter boots tested for very cold temps (will say in product description). Just like adults, look for ones that have 200-400g insulation. If you plan to carry your child on longer walks or hikes, find the higher insulation boots, since they won’t be actively walking or running around. Backcountry has a great selection of boots and we also love Stride Rite, too!
- Thick Winter hat that fully covers ears (the ones with the long ear flaps that have a chin strap are great!)
- A balaclava or gaiter can be helpful on especially cold days and are nice because they can’t fall off like a scarf can
- Wool socks for keeping those little toes warm!
- Snow bibs / snow pants / snowsuit – we have these from Target as well as some Obermeyer ski pants we bought on sale from 6pm.com. The ski pants are fantastic quality and keep him really warm, but the Target pants do a good job for short play sessions outside, too!
- Water-repellant, cold weather cover for soft baby carriers – this allows you to keep taking those walks with your little one in the carrier even when it’s cold outside. Just remember, you still need the carrier to sit close on your body, so it’s best to put a winter layer on yourself (i.e. a base layer underneath a warm top), then put on the baby carrier, followed by your coat or jacket left unzipped.
- A cold weather one-piece – this one and this one are great options for keeping your baby warm outside.
- Winter car seat cover and/or stroller cover – a car seat cover or stroller cover that’s “insulated” makes winter walks with the stroller easy to do with your little one. This car seat cover makes it possible to keep your baby’s face uncovered while you walk, while still keeping them plenty warm. Buy Buy Baby has lots of car seat and stroller covers to consider, which you can see here.
- Warm winter shoes – even though your baby may not be walking yet, they’ll still need a little help keeping those tiny toes warm. Stride rite has great baby boots like these and these, Ugg’s classic sheepskin is always high quality and this option from Amazon are also nice and quick to put on.
The price of some high quality Winter gear can shock those who have never shopped for it before. However, the price tag is worth the assurance for keeping you warm and dry, not to mention allowing you to get outside more often! If needed, pick and choose a few priority pieces (like base layers) and then scope out some investment pieces like a great pair of winter boots, mittens. The spring and summer are great times to buy high quality winter apparel on sale, too, so start watching for sales that will benefit you for next season.
Stay active and stay warm!
Irene & Brianna
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