One of the coolest baby gifts we got when Mason was born was a full body fleece bunting that Mark’s friend, who worked at Patagonia, got for us at a discounted rate. It was amazing and it was expensive. I remember thinking, “There’s no way I would buy this!”
Then a few months later when we were in Denali National Park and there was frost on the ground and cold winds whipping through the air and we were able to hike with our few month old baby in that cold, I was stoked we had that suit. That changed my mind and made me realize that with quality gear you can go outside more, no matter what the weather is. I was forever a baby gear convert.
I know that not everyone can afford some of the crazy gear out there so this isn’t a push to get you all to buy, but just a suggestion to look at what you are getting and buy smart. If your little one has freezing toes on the trail because you have cotton socks on, it might be worth thinking about spending the $20 on wool socks and if you can’t do the $70 leggings, look for used or discounted! Wool can last through multiple children wearing hard!
Here’s another suggestion: When family and friends ask what you want for gifts, send them to your fancier gear items. Have those links book marked! Books, toys, household items you can get any time and probably already have. Good kids gear that will keep your baby from wailing on trail, now that’s a gift that can be appreciated by the whole family! So add these more expensive items to Santa’s list.
To help you weed through all that you can buy, here are things I have found in the last two years that really stand out to me because they are high quality items and can be worn daily by your children for a year or two. Then they can be re-sold for a pretty penny to the next family and still be in good shape. I picked these items because they were made with quality in mind and not bottom line, so don’t be shocked by the price tag; pick and choose what works for you. Also, these items proved to be irreplaceable for me in rain and snowy conditions. Again, these may not be needed in Florida, but if you are in Montana during a cold snap or Portland during a brutal down pour, you will be happy you have these items!
Little Itty Bitty Footwear
KEEN Rover ($38)
Finding a low profile, warm, every day pair of shoes for little babies that can go from car to trail to coffee shop is tough. A lot of the little leather options are cute, but in the case of my fat footed baby, they were a no go. Mason did this weird thing with his foot where when I went to put shoes on him, he made what I can only call a “foot fist” and I couldn’t get anything on his feet. So we had a lot of days in socks.
Just the other day I stopped by KEEN and they whipped out these sweet little shoes. I was headed over to see a HIB mama who just had a baby last week so I begged these off of KEEN. Now Baby Wally is going to be one stylish and warm little buddy in these shoes when he hits the trail. They are super easy to slide on to a baby’s feet and you can layer like crazy underneath. A pair of Smartwool socks or two and you are looking at style and comfort for many lower 48 states. Alaska mid-winter I might say no go, but that’s why I have listed out more hearty options for those of you with more serious weather conditions. I feel like these booties would be an awesome 3-season option for most parents just wanting one perfect pair of shoes for their little kiddo. Good for indoors and out. KEEN TIP: Look for sales at REI and on the KEEN website!
Snow and Rain Footwear
Stonz Baby Booties ($39.99)
One of the biggest challenges we had when Mason was a little one was how to keep his feet warm. When he was super small it was no problem because he was all tucked inside the carrier up against me. But then he grew and grew and grew. Once he was on my back, keeping him all covered and cozy when his feet were popping out was a challenge. Then we discovered Stonz Booties. These are an awesome solution for pre and early walking stages for kiddos getting out into the cold (Stonz has options for bigger kids too, but I am focusing on the baby and toddler foot here). Being that they are a Canadian company, Stonz knows cold and since early 2000 has been focused on creating super warm gloves, booties and now rain boots for kids. What’s nice about these booties is they are easy to slide on and are both waterproof and warm. There’s also a bonus thick fleece liner to add to all of their shoe options in for extra cold places like South Dakota and Alaska. It’s worth looking into these booties if you are struggling with footwear and hearing a lot of crying on the trail. You might not realize that the 3 pairs of socks on your babies feet just aren’t cutting it. Do a quick check at the end of your hike of babies feet and see where they are at with the set up you have on them. Cold feet can totally bum out a hearty hike. Hike it Baby partner discount code: HIKEIT10
My Mayu ($44.95)
We often see posts across the country from families trying to figure out a footwear option for rainy mucky days that is easy to get on. Another great Canadian invention, My Mayu have awesome super pliable and easy to pull on and keep on boots for little ones. We got a pair of these when Mason was just about to start walking and they were perfect. We could put a lot of layers under them and keep his feet dry and then once he started walking they were easy to slide on and off and cinch down over pants and rain clothes. There is a 10% discount for Hike it Baby families through February CODE: 10HIKEITBABYWINTERFUN
Now I am very skeptical when things say “waterproof” for kids. I feel like saying back “have you seen my kid walk through a mud puddle?” Mason doesn’t just walk through, he walks in to them and then stands there. Sound familiar? A few weeks ago we put the KEEN Koven waterproof to the test and went out to a park in a full rain storm. Then we actually encouraged Mason to walk through puddles and not just the surface kind, real pond-like puddles. Half an hour later back at the car I pulled off his shoes (his preferred way of sitting in a car seat) and his socks were shockingly dry. With these shoes I never have to scold Mason for having a field day in puddles! Yay! Discount tip: Keep an eye for sales on kids shoes on the KEEN site. They seem to happen frequently. Just now when I looked 8-9 were on sale for the mid top Koven.
Warm and Dry When Wearing Baby
Ellas Wool ($59-89)
One thing I noticed about myself and a lot of parents around me was that we were concerned with how much synthetic we were putting up against out little babies. I personally love how moisture wicking synthetics are, but they can’t be all that good for a baby right? We know that babies are more sensitive to toxins and we are so surrounded by synthetics. If you are concerned about this then it’s worth it to invest in 1-2 soft wool layers for your little one. And if your not worried about that but just want some super bomber long underwear that will hold up, think wool. But where do you find them? Having a website that screams outdoorsy baby means those brands often come to us. When Ella’s Wool came our way I was jazzed. I liked how simple their line was and the quality of the product is obvious. Whether looking for toddler or kiddo up to 7 years old. Ella’s Wool has some nice tops, bottoms and full suits. Get $20 off on your next order with CODE: HIKEITBABY through the new year.
Boba Vest ($55)
When Mason was just a wee one and we just started to really get our hike on in the fall of 2013 and early winter 2014, it was a struggle to figure out what clothes to put on him. Mark and I aren’t far apart in height but he has much broader upper body, so when we found the Boba fleece vest that could fit on both of us and slip over Mason it was a great find. This vest is big enough to fit over a carrier and allow a baby’s head to pop out. It’s the perfect thing for little ones and as kids age you can actually flip the vest around and wear it over baby on your back. This is perfect for that in between phase when a lot of toddler clothes are too big and baby clothes just aren’t warm enough or you want to get out for a quick hike and don’t want to layer up heavily. I won’t go on and on about it, but I definitely think it’s a total must have for the first 12 months for a baby in the outdoors when they are on your front and sleeping a lot.
Together Gear Poncho ($189)
When Mason was 3 months old we went to Alaska. It was a great trip and I struggled with dressing him! I couldn’t figure out how to keep him warm and dry so my solution was wearing one of Mark’s huge jackets and then putting another jacket over him and tying it on myself. Not an ideal solution by any stretch of the imagination.
When I came back from Alaska I went on a hike and one of my new hiking mama buddies had this awesome Together Gear poncho. Made by a Mama in Portland (we know rain in these parts), this awesome poncho covers both parent and baby. The baby hood is removable too so when baby is no longer baby wearing size, you can wear the poncho out and about still. Great for expecting moms, new parents, swapping jackets quickly on a hike (hubby and I often used this when Mason was littler and we were swapping back and forth on carrying him. Easy to pop this over baby and parent on a windy, rainy trail!) While it’s a super innovative poncho, the price tag sometimes scares people away and that’s unfortunate because we definitely got our wear out of it. It was great to throw on grandparents when they were carrying too! Fits most shapes and sizes. CODE: HIKEITBABY10
12 Months on Up Rain and Snow Wearing and Walking
As your kiddo starts walking, crawling, falling and simply going crazy in mud puddles, it’s time to start thinking about how you can keep them dry and warm which = happy. Here are my favorites.
Oakiwear Dry Tyke and Trail Suit
Oakiwear ($64.99-74.99 but look for discount code below)
The key to getting out and staying out is the one piece. Luckily, we discovered these early on with Mason. There are definitely times when it’s nice to have a two piece (a lot of in and outside action is better with a two piece so you can pull off muddy pants and keep jacket on) but for Oregon when you are headed out and you want to pretty much put your child in rainproof armor, my suggestion is the Oakiwear Dry Tyke suit or the Trail One piece. These are both super phenomenal full rain and even snow options (you can layer heavily under for snow if you purchase bigger size!) While there are a lot of cheap rain suits out there that run in the $18-30 range on sale, this suit is by far more superior. It’s seam sealed which is critical in Oregon rain, the materials used are high quality and pliable, the super bright easy to spot colors and the bomber zipper that will never break! As our child grows into the suit the Velcro cuffs will keep mud and muck out of whatever clothing is underneath. Also, one thing I am noticing about my toddler is that he is hard on clothing. He rips at zippers, chews on cuffs and slides on concrete. I am pretty confident that this suit will take a beating over the next year and we’ll be able to pass on to another kid when we are done. We opted for size 3T even though Mason could have fit in a 2T so we can get a lot of life out of it. We’re rolling up the sleeves this week but my guess is by next month we’ll be sleeves down. Don’t be afraid to go bigger with clothes and let them grow into them and layer underneath. Discount code for the next month if you are a Hike it Baby family 20% off CODE: HIKEITBABY
Cozey 7 Trail hopper ($65)
I came across Cozey 7 when I was at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake last August. The first thing that caught my eye was their full zip sunsuits. We were really apprehensive about putting sunscreen on Mason when he was born, so I would have loved a sun suit. But that was just one of the cool innovative products this small company was making. Founded by a now Grandma, she said as an active parent she was always looking at how she could keep her own kiddos warm in the winter and burn free in the summer and never found a solution. So, she designed and developed these great items that now have come into fruition. She has a Kickstarter going on right now if you want to help her get her dream flowing and growing. The bunting she has is great because one of the problems we have with Mason is the Michelin Man syndrome. The suit has fleece covering legs and core, but no arms, which is great for putting other layers underneath and your kiddo being able to move around. Put a warm layer under like a Carter’s fleece top and then an Oakiwear suit over and you have a snow suit, that is two useable parts. I also really like this suit for camping. Mason is ALWAYS kicking off his blankets so with this suit on at night I don’t have to worry about his core getting cold. I would suggest not buying too big with this one. Mason could still fit in the 18 month one at 2 1/2 years old.
REI Base Layers ($22)
So far REI base layers have been my favorite go to layer for affordability and durability. The other great thing about REI is there are always sales. I hesitated on buying these at $20 a pop, but when I found them a few months later at $5 plus shipping I went nuts and bought 18 month, 2T and 3T in a few colors, both tops and bottoms. You can’t beat a great base layer. They have a full body zip suit too which is great for infants and crawlers too. Consider this under the Trailhopper with another fleece pull over or sweatshirt and Oakiwear on top and you have your fall and even winter wear covered for some regions.
When Mason was 6 months old we bit the bullet about bought Mason a Patagonia sweater jacket. While there are other options out there that are also amazing from brands like Columbia and North Face, we really liked the look and feel of the Patagonia. This jacket became our go to and we used almost like a sweatshirt because we opted for the thinner option which allowed us to layer other jackets over it and sweaters under it for maximum warmth. On a super cold 30 degree rainy sleety hike last winter I bundled Mason into this jacket and put a fleece full zip suit over it and then a rain suit over that. Extreme? Maybe, but remember you are the one hiking and staying warm. Baby is just sitting there hanging out for the ride. In this case I was using a frame carrier because I wanted to keep him super covered up from the weather under a rain protector, so he was away from my body. When the baby is up against your body in a soft carrier they stay a lot warmer, so think about what carrier is best for the outdoor activity our are doing and the weather conditions.
<<<<<< Winter Puffy ($49.99)
If the Patagonia is just feeling too steep, Oakiwear has an excellent, more price conscious option. It’s not down, but the synthetic loft mimics down warmth. This one starts at 2T though so you are definitely looking more at toddlers and little kids for this one. Oakiwear discount code: HIKEITBABY for 20% off!
Shanti Hodges is the founder of Hike it Baby and has logged a heck of a lot of miles since having her son Mason in June 2013. She knew absolutely nothing about keeping a baby warm and dry when she first became a mama and now feels pretty confident in heading out in most conditions. Her current struggle is how to get her toddler to wear a hat in 30 degree weather. All suggestions welcome.
NOTE: Some of the products represented in this article are from sponsors of Hike it Baby. Hike it Baby was not paid to post this article or these products and are tried, tested and suggested items from our community. Hike it Baby only accepts sponsorship from companies we feel are high quality and committed to getting families into the outdoors year round.