The Best Snow Clothes and Gear for Kids

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Find the best winter clothes for your kids. Know what gear is a must for playing in the snow and which brands are the very best for keeping you warm.

Kids playing in the snow

We have long winters at my house. We typically have snow on the ground most every day December-February. It is common to start the snow pack in November and say good-bye in March. The photo I used for this post was taken April 1.

We have at least one cold snap each winter where we have -20 F days for a week or two. Throughout most of the winter, we rarely get above freezing.

That doesn’t really sound like “play outside weather”, but you can’t stay indoors that long.

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 clothes and 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 them to get exercise and physical stimulation. We want a change of scenery and to burn some energy.

We need good gear so we can spend some time outside. Sanity dictates it. This post contains affiliate links.

If you don’t typically have a snowy 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.

Tips for Keeping Kids Warm Outside in the Winter

The first step to proper dressing for playing in the snow is layers. When you first go out, you will be cold. Layers enable you to start warm and to shed layers if needed as you warm up while you play.

If you want to safely spend a lot of time outside in the cold, you want some good layers underneath. This is your base layer.

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). 

You don’t have to buy special clothes 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 great for layering under clothes if you need something fantastic. 

Snow Gear Requirements

First, let’s discuss what I like to have for snow gear to keep kids warm when playing outside in the winter.

No matter what, we include these in our winter clothing:

  • boots
  • socks
  • snow pants (also called snow bibs)
  • coat
  • gloves
  • a beanie hat

As my kids play outside, they might strip the hat and the coat if they get warm. That is the beauty of the base layer.

If we will be far from home and outside for a long time, we must also add thermal underwear or Under Armour, sweats, and a scarf.

Snow Pants

Snow pants, or snow bibs, keep you dry and therefore warmer.

You can do Snow Pants (this link takes you to a pair we own) or Snow Bibs.

Snow pants are just like pants except waterproof.

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.

With kids, snow pants can make emergency bathroom breaks easier. 

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 somewhere 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 (more on brands below).

For snow pants, I have often gotten very nice ones for Brayden and just done black or gray and passed those down. Brayden had some Columbia Snow Pants that have been passed down. They are great.

Sams club has been a great find the last few years for snow pants. They get a bunch of snow pants in that are around $15ish dollars and work so very well.

I have gotten pants there the last couple of years as we have needed bigger sizes. I was wary since they were so cheap, but my kids say they are great, so it is a great find!

Boots

Don’t underestimate the benefit of a good pair of winter boots.

We have had cheap boots and we have had expensive boots, and I quickly learned to only buy nice boots for my kids.

I used the same idea for boots when buying for Brayden as I did snow pants when they were little; I got boots that were gender-neutral so his sisters could 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. 

Eventually, I did let Kaitlyn choose some cute boots since she had a couple of sisters coming along behind her.

You can size up with 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. I have had them for at least five years.

The Columbia Powderbug boot is fantastic. This is the boot Brinley is currently in. Kaitlyn and McKenna both went through the same pair. Kaitlyn used these for two years before passing them on to McKenna. They are fantastic.

Another one of our favorite boots is Columbia Minx Mid II. I really like these. Kaitlyn says they are the best boots she has ever worn. They are light and yet stay dry and keep her warm.

We got these Kamik boots that we bought when Kaitlyn was a toddler (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.

We also have these Kamik boots that have been used for all three girls.

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.

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. You can drink some hot chocolate when you come inside.

Beanie Hat

beanie hat is a rule I have for my kids playing outside unless they pull their coat hood up.

Hats help keep your body heat in and keep your warmer. I have never bought anything fancy. 

Gloves

Cold hands lead to children coming inside. True fact.

After spending 20 minutes getting kids dressed to play outside, you don’t want them coming in 10 minutes later because of cold hands. You want your kids warm.

Winter conditions require good gloves to keep hands warm. When you are playing in the snow, you are going for warm and dry hands.

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. Happily, Amazon exists).

They are easier to get on and easier for the kids to still use their hands while still staying dry.

Some four year olds will do better with mittens also.

As they get to four or five, an actual winter glove will likely be preferred. 

Do not overthink the gloves too much. You might be able to pass on gloves to one child, but they won’t last through several children. They get a lot of wear.

Winter Coat

We just use whatever our winter coat is for playing out in the snow. We like to get nice coats that are meant to keep you warm. A puffer jacket, but it migiht not do as well in the wet 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 to school.

You can get away with a normal winter coat if you have enough layers on under it. If you want a great brand, Columbia is always reliable as is The North Face.

For me, I didn’t worry about buying really nice coats for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, or young kids. For my kids, I usually just buy what looks good somewhere like Shopko, Khol’s, or Smith’s Marketplace (Kroger).

BUT it is always a good idea to watch for sales. Winter coats can go on good sales.

Scarf

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. 

The Best Snow Clothes for the Family | Snow Clothes | #snowclothes

Best Brands for Snow Gear

I have talked about some of our favorite brands above. Here is a more in-depth look at brands and why I love them.

Columbia

Columbia is my brand of choice year after year. I fell in love in high school. My trusty Columbia coat got me through bitter winters in college (I still have that coat and it is still warm).

I have tried a few things here and there just to see what else was out there, but I always come back to Columbia.

Columbia can be expensive, and when you are buying stuff for children, you don’t necessarily want to spend a lot of money on something they will wear for a few months of their lives.

Since I have three girls, I always go for Columbia or Kamik (discussed next) since all three girls can wear it. For Brayden, I sometimes go for a much less expensive option.

As my kids stop growing, I don’t mind spending more money on an item since it will last years.

I just really love this brand and have never been disappointed in anything I have gotten from them over the years (we also buy Columbia Rain Coats). The items are made well. They last forever. I never hesitate to purchase from them and never regret when I do.

Kamik

Kamik is a brand I heard a lot of people talk about and love. Because of that, I branched out and tried it over Columbia a few times.

It is a great brand, but I think I prefer Columbia in the end. It could be personal preference.

The quality of Kamik is great. I just think Columbia is better, and since the price point is similar, I would go there first.

If you found a screaming deal on a Kamik, you wouldn’t be sad getting those boots. It is the brand my girls wore through their toddler years–The Snowbug–I got a fantastic deal on a Black Friday many years ago.

I, myself, have the Kamik Women’s Momentum Snow Boot. They are very cute, I always get compliments when I wear them. They keep my feet warm and dry. They have excellent grip and I never slip on the ice.

They are, however, clunky. I feel like I am clomping around when I wear them, which seems normal for a snow boot, but since Kaitlyn discovered the Columbia boot that is light and keeps feet warm and dry, I don’t like the clunkiness.

I bought some very, very thick wool socks to help them feel like they fit better, but it doesn’t work (though I love the socks).

So my complaint about the boots is really only there because I know there are boots out there that are different with the same benefits.

North Face

We don’t own a lot of North Face here. Nate and I both have jackets and wind breakers. We bought them at an outlet when we visited Chicago many years ago.

They are great! When you live in cold weather, you don’t really wear heavy winter gear unless you will be outside for an extended period of time. The North Face Jacket I have is great for being light and keeping me warm enough to get from my car to the store to my car comfortably.

Canada Weather Gear

Canadians know winter. My mom recently purchased a Canada Weather Gearhttp coat. I borrowed it to go for a walk on Thanksgiving and it was SO WARM. Really, really warm. I liked it so much she ended up getting me a coat for Christmas.

This is what I wear when I will be outside when it is cold. I wear it on my winter walks. I am not even sure the best place to purchase it. Amazon has some options.

Thinsulate Gloves

When my kids play outside, they use Thinsulate gloves. We do Thinsulate mittens until they are 4 or 5, then move to gloves. Mittens are just easier to get on.

They must have waterproof gloves that keep their hands dry. Cold hands means kids come inside.

Thermals

If you are really going to be outside for a long time and away from home, say you are going skiing and will be hitting the slopes or you are going snowmbolining or snowshoeing all day, Thermals are a great addition to the snow gear.

I wear those under my snow gear when going sledding or snowmobiling. I get pretty cold, so I like thermals, sweats, snowpants, coat. Then of course gloves, boots, and beanie hat. Maybe a scarf.

Long-sleeved Under Armour is fantastic for activities where you can gt sweaty but need to stay warm since it wicks moisture from your body. We end up using Under Armour for under soccer jerseys on cold game days.

Conclusion

When looking for snow clothes for your kids and you, remember to focus on staying dry and using layers. I hope you have a very fun winter!

Related Posts

The best snow clothes for kids

This post originally appeared on this blog January 2018

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