Now that the weather’s wetter, colder and snowier it certainly doesn’t have to mean the only option we have is to sit in front of a cosy fire with our thickest socks and snuggliest jumpers on. Sounds idyllic though right? I know for us that seems like something we may have considered back in the day before we had our son. Now though, a day doing nothing can only guarantee one thing: cabin fever which results in misery.
Sounds dramatic doesn’t it, but a bit of fresh air does the world of good. Small kids aren’t meant to sit still. Relax? Pah! They want to explore, run about and play. So remembering that their bedtime will come soon enough, and that a good book is always better with a glass of wine or a cheeky chocolate, let’s bundle them up and get out for their daily dose of outdoor play. Whether it’s a small neighbourhood walk or a trip out in the car to get to the trailhead, making sure that cold weather is the last thing on their mind can help kids spend longer outdoors, be more comfortable and more happier in that setting.
There are many different options out there on the market suiting every budget. You can however, get some really good options from the unlikeliest of places.
Here’s a few of our tips to layering and keeping kids warm as well as our gear list of what we’re currently using to keep our son warm:
Base layers: Base layers should ideally be wicking, so synthetic or merino wool are best. Avoid cotton. In cold conditions we will double up base layers to keep our son snug.
We use: A Merino wool thermal jumper and trousers from Mountain Warehouse. They RRP at £24.99 but they very often have deals going on, so you can get a set like this at a really good price. We recently managed to get another two sets of the trousers for less than £5 each instore – check the bargain rails!
Mid layer: Mid layers should be insulating and quick drying. Fleece is a good choice.
We use: A fleece zip up jacket from H&M of all places. The jacket has thumb holes, and the zip is great for when we’re back at the van and getting out of the layers as our son can deal with that himself easily. It’s also a bargain at £5.90 and does the job as well as any more expensive outdoor branded gear. For his mid-layer trousers, we usually use a pair of fleece lined joggers.
Outer layer: Waterproof, windproof gear, either insulated or not – but have an extra mid layer to hand if not.
We use: If you follow our blogs and Facebook page regularly, you’ll already know that we are huge fans of the Didriksons Boardmans set. Our son is using the set for his 3rd winter now, and it’s still got loads of use left in it. It is fleece lined and the dungaree has a fleece bib which adds another warm layer around his core. The dungarees also have straps that go around his boots, securing the trousers down too so that they don’t ride up when he’s up and down the hills sledging, or there’s no chance of water sploshing up through openings. It also has reinforced knees and bottom on the dungarees so they’re great for rough and tumble play. It’s not the cheapest on the market, but it has lasted winter after winter and will only be replaced soon due to our sons growth spurt. Highly recommended!
Footwear: Depending on the age of your child, sturdy boots or bootees work if your child is a pre-walker.
We use: We’ve used Viking Extreme boots for a couple of years now. They’re sturdy but flexible, the sole is ‘chunky’ and grippy. There is a snow cuff that can tighten around the leg, so again water and or snow can’t make its way down to get socks soggy. They’re wool lined adding extra insulation, go from forest play to mountain tracks easily and much comfier than other kids wellies…apparently. Our son is now reaching an age (and walking distance) where more fitted boots, similar to adult walking boots would be ideal, however these are proving hard to find in his size!
Hats, gloves, scarves, socks: Keeping extremities warm is really important for comfort, safety and to keep the moaning away.
Hats: Our son has a collection of hats so we let him pick out whichever one takes his fancy on most trips out. Most of them are fleece lined, however, if it is very cold we will make sure he wears his balaclava which he can put up and over his nose, keeping his lower face warm and protected from the elements. It also comes down low enough that we can tuck it in his other layers and make sure cold air can’t find any skin. You can get very similar online. We always make sure we have a spare; a thick hat if our son has chosen a thin one and vice versa.
Gloves: He wears his Didriksons Biggles gloves which are great because they have a zip which goes along the length of the hand meaning you can make sure their hands and especially those little thumbs are exactly where they’re meant to be in the gloves. They’re also fleece lined which adds to warmth. Mittens are the better option for keeping little hands warm, and you can always layer up gloves too if it’s super chilly. We always make sure we have spare gloves with us too – two spares if its forecast to be wet or there is snow. It is amazing how fast wet hands get cold.
Scarves: At the moment, we use a fleecy Buff given to us as a pressie that works a treat. There aren’t any lose ends to worry about and there is space for him to snuggle his face down. Remember normal scarves can get caught so make sure lose ends are safely tucked away.
Socks: We use simple supermarket bought socks, but have thin ones and thick ones which we will chose (or sometimes both) depending on temperature. Again, we will normally take a spare set. Wet feet are just no fun.
A few extra tips:
High energy snacks and drinks to help fuel their play and making sure they keep active and moving are important to keeping warm. Have extra layers ready for rest breaks or lunch breaks, unless you have shelter to get out of the weather.
Don’t forget to get your layers right too! Walking at child pace means you produce a lot less heat than normal (unless you are forever racing or pulling your children back up the sledging hill). We always make sure we have at least one layer more when we head out as a family than we would have if just ourselves.
Keep a dry change of clothes in the car just in case any of the gear gets wet. This means little ones can get dry and warm, which keeps them happier and safer!
We’ve talked about lots of layers but making sure they don’t overheat is just as important. Having lots of layers makes this easier as it’s straightforward to remove a layer or more as needed.
Getting the right gear for kids doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Making sure it’s the right gear for your kid is definitely worth investing a bit of time in to though. Our son’s always ran a bit warm, so what works for him might not work for your kid. Remember the right gear could make the difference between a good day out with fun memories, or a day you’d rather all forget. It’s the same with us bigger kids too! We have some cheaper alternatives that work just as well as more expensive brands, but there are some bits of gear definitely worth the expense, meaning that if we’re all warm and dry, we can all spend more time outdoors having fun and only having to worry about where the biscuits are!
What are your tips for keeping kids warm during autumn / winter outdoors play? Do you have any favourite games that you all play outdoors, regardless of weather? Share your tips with us below!