Thursday, February 4, 2016

Our Favorite Snow Gear

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If you live somewhere where winter lasts, the winter months can get looooonnngggg. Cabin fever and feeling housebound are real things. Those can be greatly remedied if your child will play outside, and your child is more likely to play outside if your child has good gear to stay warm and dry. Playing in the snow can completely wipe you out, and being completely wiped out is definitely what you want from your kids playing outside. We want exercise and physical stimulation. We want a change of scenery and to burn some energy. 

If you don't typically have a snnowy climate but you are going to visit one (or you have a snowmagedon approaching), you might want to prepare but have no clue the best way to do so. 

The first step to proper dressing for playing in the snow is layers. If you want to safely spend a lot of time outside in the cold, you want some good layers underneath. I personally always like to start with some thermals, then another layer of warm and soft clothes. I  HATE to be cold and I very easily get cold (I am that person who likes a jacket when it is in the 70s outside). 

Now, you don't have to buy special for layering. I haven't purchased anything out of the realm of normal clothes for my kids. I encourage soft fabric that is long sleeved and long pants for wearing under the next step. I highly recommend no jeans for wearing outside to play in the cold. 

If you want something great, Under Armour is a great brand. It is lightweight, which is nice by the time you have the full layers going. It also wicks sweat and dries fast, which is nice for staying dry. A bonus of this is you can use it during something like soccer season if you are playing out in cold weather. Thermals are also a great under layer if you need something fantastic. 

Snow Pants
The next layer is snow pants. Snow pants keep you dry and warmer. You can do Snow Pants (this link takes you to a pair we own) or Snow Bibs. Snow pants are just pants and snow bibs are the ones that look like overalls. Which is better? It is up to preference. I like bibs and my husband likes pants. I like bibs for the extra layer of warmth around my trunk, and he dislikes them for the same reason. 

One tip if you are buying snow pants/bibs, I like to buy all black or gray when buying for Brayden. The reason for this is that then all of his sisters can wear it. Fun color, if you care, can be added through the child's coat. I like pants to be neutral. We have had to buy snow bibs for Kaitlyn once and did buy pink because she has all girls behind her, so colors might be economically fine for you looking down the line. Snow pants can be passed on from child to child, so just keep it as child swap-able as possible. 

Also, you don't have to go super expensive. Many of our toddler and preschooler bibs are from somwhere like Target. If you go way cheap, however, you will get what you pay for (and that means a wet child who wants to come inside after ten minutes). The more expensive brands do keep you warmer. We like brands like Columbia and Kamik. 

You will also want socks. You can layer socks if the boots are big enough. I usually just use normal socks, but Wool Socks can definitely add warmth.

Don't underestimate the benefit of a good pair of boots. We have had cheap boots and we have had expensive boots, and I will only buy nice boots for my kids now. I use the same idea for boots when buying for Brayden as I do snowpants; I get boots that are gender neutral so his sisters can wear them. A tricky thing is people's feet grow at different rates, so what his feet were one winter might not be the right size for what a sister's feet are when she is near that size. 

You can wear bigger boots, especially if you add sock layers. I buy boots a little bigger than I would buy everyday shoes in hopes of getting an extra year out of them. Just like with the snow pants, I like Columbia and Kamik brands. I own these Kamik boots and love them. Brinley currently owns an older pair of these Kamik boots that we bought when Kaitlyn was in that size (and we bought two sizes that winter so she could wear the same boots when she grew out of the one in the future). They have been fantastic for all of our girls. Kaitlyn currently wears these Kamik boots and raves about them. McKennea is wearing these Columbia boots that Kaitlyn used for two years before passing them on to McKenna. They are fantastic. Brayden is in these Totes boots. They are okay. Not fabulous, but not terrible. We accidentally stumbled into nicer boots for kids one winter when Kaitlyn was in a smaller size than we had boots for and we found a great sale on some Kamiks, then we realized how awesome they were. He won't need new boots until next winter. We will get him some nicer boots then.

Now, if you don't like in a land with snow on the ground straight from November-March, you might not care about as nice of boots. We do. If you are looking for some inexpensive boots for a weekend away or a big storm coming in, get something inexpensive and layer up on the socks. 

beanie hat is a rule I have for my kids playing outside unless they pull their coat hood up. Hats help keep the heat in your body and keep your warmer. I have never bought anything fancy. 

Cold hands lead to children coming inside. True fact. You want waterproof gloves--not knit. We usually buy gloves with Thinsulate. For kids three and younger, I always use mittens--but waterproof mittens (which are hard to find). Some four year olds will do better with mittens also. They are easier to get on and easier for the kids to still use their hands while still staying dry. As they get to four or five, an actual glove will likely be preferred. 

We just use whatever our winter coat is for playing out in the snow. I do save Brayden's old coats for extra snow coats for the girls. Often you play in the snow one day and the coat is still damp the next morning, so sometimes we play in one coat and wear the other. You can get away with a normal coat if you have enough layers on under it. If you want a great brand, Columbia and The North Face are my two favorites. For me, I wouldn't only buy really nice coats. For my kids, I usually just buy what looks good somewhere like Shopko, Khol's, or Smith's Marketplace (Kroger). BUT this time of year is a great time to find steals places like Amazon--like this Columbia Girls' Katelyn Crest Jacket. certain sizes are as cheap as any cheap coat you can get at a department store. 

scarf is a nice layer if it is super cold. It helps keep you warmer. If it isn't that cold, it isn't necessary. For my kids playing in the snow, I really prefer the fleece scarf. It dries out quickly after coming back inside. 

So what are your favorites for playing in the snow?

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Jessie said...

I would second the gloves/mittens with the extra wrist piece. My daughter has some made by Thinsulate. For my little boy I have a hard time finding waterproof mittens, so I bought a few pairs at the second hand store that are double layer fleece and I'll just change them out if he gets them wet. At a year and a half he's not outside too long anyway :) For hats, I always prefer the ones with velcro under the chin for the younger crowd so it actually stays on.

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