When taking my children (ages 5 and 7) into nature, I make sure they have the appropriate clothing, which is to say I dress them the way I would dress myself, only in miniature. They have their own long underwear, both wool and synthetic; they have warm, waterproof boots, and rain gear (pants and jacket).
For cold, wet or snow play, it’s really important to put your kids in synthetic or wool. Cotton wicks heat away from the body when wet, and takes a long time to dry. Synthetic and wool clothing will keep your kids relatively warm while they are wet. When we are going out to play in the rain, or dry but with puddles, I don’t bother with jeans, leggings or t-shirts. My kids know (from making this a rule and a habit) that when we’re going to get wet, they just wear thermals, boots and raingear. When we go to the snow, they wear thermals and snowgear. Know that even when you dress your kids like this, they still get wet. They will always get wet!
I can hear it now: “Whoa, lady, that’s some expensive stuff for a 2 year old!” True, it is. I have a few tricks, though. I keep a pretty close eye on kids consignment stores, and when I find a good deal, I buy it, even if it won’t be worn for a couple years. I have a storage box of outdoor gear in the basement for the kids to grow into.
Long underwear is hard to find in a consignment store, however, especially as your children get older. To that I say, thank goodness for online outlet stores! I buy from Sierra Trading Post and REI Garage (what they’ve just renamed their outlet) once a year, to restock my kids outdoor wardrobe with pieces I can’t find used.
Below are items we can’t live without. I will be honest and say, I don’t tend to pay full price for these. And they can be hard to find in the outlets at certain times of the year, like right before winter. End of summer is a great time to start looking. Please know this: no-one is paying me to recommend these items. They are just the things that have worked really well for us.
REI Heavyweight Long Underwear-these are on supersale at REI right now, until 11/10/16. They are pretty indestructible.
Icebreaker Lightweight Bottoms-These are pretty thin, and my kids live in them. My daughter, who is hard on clothes, sometimes wears out the knees.
Icebreaker Midweight Bottoms-I’m hoping these last longer
Smartwool Midweight Bottoms-I’ve never bought these for the kids, but I love mine!
REI Heavyweight Top-also on supersale until 11/10/16
Icebreaker Oasis Crew-My kids also live in these.
Smartwool Midweight Crew-These are great for bigger kids (start at size XS). It’s a heavier weight wool than Icebreaker, so probably warmer.
REI Heavyweight Zip-Top-Great for children who have outgrown the adorably-chubby-don’t-have-a-neck-yet phase.
Boots-I look for an insulated rain boot. There are many made with neoprene. We love Bogs a lot, and I often find these at consignment stores. Bogs are rated to 5 degrees, and will keep little feet warm in the snow. If you do buy them new, know that you can sell these after you are done, and they will last through at least 3 kids. Probably more.
Mittens-I swear by Stonz Wear’s Mittz. They are long, and go over a rain or snow jacket sleeve. They have 2 drawstrings, and cinch down in 2 places, just like an adult snow mitt. My kids wear these in the snow, and on the back of my bike in the cold.