“There’s no bad weather as long as you’ve got the right gear.”
For the most part, this is true. But with snow flying in much of the northern U.S., what is the “right” gear? Even for some of the most seasoned outdoor people, getting outside in the winter with your babies and toddlers can present a challenge.
Some of the age old advice ring true. Wear layers. Avoid cotton as a base layer. But the gear you consider essential to a safe, fun adventure will likely change when your little ones are along for the ride. And even more so if you’re newer to hiking, let alone adventuring in winter weather.
So let’s break it down. Here’s essential gear for getting outside with your littles this winter.
First – a note on layers. The rule of thumb for layering is that you want three main layers: a non-cotton base layer, a warmer insulating layer, and a wind- or water-proof layer. The makeup of these is up to you, and largely contingent on the severity of your winter weather.
If you’re a nursing mama, you’ll want to factor this into your adventuring layers. Lots of moms like to have a stretchy or nursing tank, a great wool or fleece layer and an oversized coat to wear over their carrier. If you’re wearing your little one in a carrier like the Onya, keep in mind that the carrier will provide quite a bit of insulation/heat.
Layers for your kiddos follow the same basic rule of thumb as for adults. However, fleece sleepers make a great base layer for those not doing a lot of walking just yet. Consider wool as a great insulating layer. Luv Mother has some awesome wool clothing layers for kids that you’ll definitely want to check out. (Want to know why wool is so awesome? Read more here!) Or if you prefer to avoid wool, Boody Eco Wear has some fantastic options for you and your kids alike.
Layering ideas for infants include those fabulous fleece-footed sleeper pajamas as a base layer, old wool socks with the feet cut off (after you’ve worn through them) as leg and arm warmers (or, of course, Luv Mother or Boody Eco Wear) and a nice fleece bunting. (The carrier will often serve as the top layer, here.)
What you need will depend largely on your winter weather severity, but a great winter jacket that has side vents to help release excess heat will come in handy, especially if you’re wearing your child in front. Lots of retailers carry these in a variety of sizes. Remember as you shop, you’ll want to size up if you plan to zip your child and carrier inside your coat or if you have a baby bump to cover.
Not wearing your kiddo inside your coat? Get one that fits well and allows for a few layers underneath without being too tight.
Snow pants come in handy too, whether dropping to your knees to help build a snowman or finding a lost treat in the snow. A great alternative is a snow skirt like the Skhoop – they provide insulation, but offer a different look and fit.
Great winter boots with awesome traction like Keen are an absolute must. If snow and ice are a consideration, consider ice grippers like Yaktrax, which fit over your boots and provide additional traction in less than optimal conditions.
As with adults, great footwear is essential for kids. And again, Oaki wins here with some awesome winter options. For those who need a great snow or winter boot, you’ll want to check out their selection! However, if you live somewhere where winter isn’t as long or as harsh, or where there’s a longer shoulder season, you’ll also love their neoprene snow/rain boots, which, as a bonus, come in fabulous patterns your kids will love!
A bunting may suffice, but some soft booties to help block the wind may also come in handy!
HEAD AND HAND WEAR
A warm hat that covers your ears and a nice pair of gloves are key. Mittens may be easy-on/easy-off, but gloves will allow you to avoid fumbling with buckles and zippers. Plus, for the adults, some gloves have a special pad on the index finger to allow smart phone use, critical for those spontaneous photos and selfies! Hand warmers can also be a great help!
Adults on trail will want to have some additional gear. A soft-structured carrier like the Onya is great for a variety of body types. But if you prefer the fit of a hard-frame pack or want something with a bit more room to fit your kiddo’s layers in, Deuter makes some much-loved hard-frame carriers and covers.
You may also prefer to use a stroller, and we love BOB. They have several models of all-terrain strollers, which offer kiddos a great ride whether on pavement (be it ice-covered or not) or off. One of the bonuses of BOB strollers is the variety of pockets where you can stash your kid’s – and your own – snacks, drinks and other essential items.
Anyone carrying their child will also want to consider hiking poles. Even if you’re not planning any significant winter climbs, a set of hiking poles will come in handy to provide extra support and help prevent falls while your little one is on board.
Additional gear essentials may include snowshoes and sleds to make the most of the snowy season!
Stay warm with those self-heating hand warmers! (Hint: Crack them open before you get to the trailhead to ensure they warm up in time!) These also come in handy to drop inside the bottom of your infant’s bunting to help generate heat for their small toes.
If it’s especially chilly and you’re wanting to get out, stave off chapped cheeks by applying a layer of cold cream to create a barrier between sensitive skin and the cold air!
And don’t forget your snacks and drinks for on trail!
- Winter layering options for moms
- Winter hiking – How to layer for infants
- Easy baby snacks for the trail
Have any great winter hiking gear we haven’t shared here? Please tell us what you love in the comments!