There's No Bad Weather, Just Bad Clothes: Dressing Kids for Outdoor School & Play this Winter

Whether your child is enrolled in forest school, contending with unexpected outdoor classes due to the pandemic, or just bundling up for playtime in the park, proper gear is essential! PSP members have your little one covered (literally) with these recommendations.

 

Remember—there is no bad weather, just bad clothes!

 

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PSP may receive small amounts of compensation for purchases made through affiliate links in this post. We are a community-supported site, and we include these products because they've received positive reviews from our members.

 

Skip to recs:

Brand ideas

Wool layers

Coats

Rain and snow suits

Boots

Gloves

Balaclavas

Masks

Quick links to the best brands

Tips on Staying Warm for Parents

 

Also check out Brooklyn Forest’s tips on how to dress for cold weather!

 

One member asks…

 

“Our daughter is attending a 2s program this fall that will now be held largely outdoors due to the pandemic (in a playground/yard space). I'm curious for parents whose kids have attended nature-based programs in the park, etc. -- do you have gear recommendations for kids who are spending most of the day outside, particularly in inclement weather? Curious about favorite coats, boots, hats, rain gear, gloves etc. Would love to learn from you!”

 

 

Members recommend...

 

Polarn O. Pyret, a Swedish children’s company with a variety of outerwear options:

 

“Great outerwear and wool layers. Watch for sales... it is sort of pricey full price but very durable and is sized in such a way that my son wears each size for longer than other brands. Also, be aware that they have a relationship with ThredUP - if you sell clothes on ThredUP you can exchange your credit for Polarn credit with a 20% bump.”

 

“Also adding a note about Polarn O. Pyret - like another person said, the clothes run large - so your kid can wear them awhile and pass them on/resell them on PSP! 

They are kind of pricey but you don't need a lot - they last and last and the wool stuff doesn't need washing often - your kid could probably wear the same ones every day. 

Also they do special deals with outdoor schools, so ask your school if they have registered with them - you'll get a discount.”

 

“Polarn wool base layers for winter days”

 

“Polarn merino wool gloves ; then layer a waterproof glove over on rainy, cold days”

 

“Polarn O Pyret has a lot of great gear for little nature learners.”

 

“I have these [Polarn] rain pants for my kids. I like that I can either add a regular raincoat or leave them in short sleeves on top after the rain stops for continued muddy play.”

 

“I also bought super cute and functional rain hats from PoP.”

 


"Layers is the way to go. Our twins have been spending a lot of time outdoors (any weather/any season). They are very active and get hot even during cold winter months. We’ve been using Polarn outdoor combo since the children started walking: wool thermals (base layer) + fleece + shell jacket (water and wind proof). On colder days they also wear Polarn waterproof shell pants. (I felt that ski pants are too hot, and we never purchased them).

Polarn is not cheap, but their clothes are very well designed and high quality. Also, the sizes run big, so you might be able to use some items for more than 1 year. (We did). They usually have big sale events throughout the season."

 

Other brands:

 

“We did a mixture of Polarn O. Pyret (they have sales often and I love their merino wool collection especially for socks and balaclava), Uniqlo heattech, Columbia snow gear, Old Navy fleeces, and Kuling rain gear when our son was in an outdoor school. H&M also has some merino wool gear that sells out pretty quickly.”

 

“My daughter wears a fleece lined waterproof set from Kuling and she loves it. I wish they made adult sizes! I think we ordered from Babyshop but Alexandalexa also carry them. Only advice, don’t size up! They are already sized generously.”

 

“Other places to shop: Primary (the "cozy sweatpants" are great for fall), Alex and Alexa (for Nordic gear), REI, Decathlon (good value Euro brand, esp cheap fleeces. Runs small)”

 


"Costco also has awesome, super warm socks for all ages."

 

 

Wool layers:

 

“Wool: you can't beat it for insulation. This is when to scour thrift stores or suck up to bored relatives who know how to knit! A sturdy knit sweater makes a great mid layer and even though it's trickier to launder, you don't need to wash them that frequently. Also check out Ella's Wool for leg tubes - can be worn alone as pants, layered under rain/snow suit to get you cozily through fall and winter, and you can add a merino base layer on the really cold days

Base layers: Merino wool layers (eg PoP or Mountain Warehouse for cheaper options) or Uniqlo heattech.”

 

Wool base layer for winter. Yes, this merino wool set is pricey! I only have one set per kid. I wash it once a week, as long as it's not especially dirty or smelly. I also get a less expensive cotton long john set. The wool set keeps them super cozy warm on the coldest days so they can play and play!”

 

“Step one: has to be comfortable. I love wool but my younger is reactive to even the softest merino. So knowing your kid’s tolerance for wool helps a lot since it’s pricey and is a total no go for some people, but it is awesome if your kids will tolerate it.”

 

“We also got P a merino neck warmer and leggings. My friends who like to backpack in snowstorms insist base layers are what save the day.”

 


"I'd highly recommend the Uniqlo Heattech line for adults and kids, they make them in regular and ultrawarm styles. Costco also carries a 32degrees base layer set that includes a shirt and leggings for $9.99 for both! ... My boys love how soft these are and they keep them warm even when worn under shorts and a tshirt."

 


"We also layer with Capilene base layers, top and bottom. The top is a mock zip."

 

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Coats:

 

“Both kids do fine with a regular coat from H&M. Hatley rain coats have worked fine for us, but they are warm/don’t breathe so a windbreaker is sometimes better. Neither has ever found a hat or gloves or scarf or ear warmer they actually wear, but they do use their hoods. Some kids have their hats sewn into the hood, then it all stays together and on them. I might try that this winter.”

 


"We fell in love with the warm and waterproof jackets from REI. The price is reasonable and they hold up to a lot of abuse.... a lot! And you can easily wash them and they are lightweight. Can't recommend them enough!"

 


"My kids have always worn either the Patagonia Nano or Down sweater jackets. They are super warm and thin, non restrictive, sometimes maybe too warm. We have never purchased anything thicker than that. We have Gore Tex snowboarding jackets which we bring out when it snows heavily here, but most it the times it’s the Patagonia Nano or sweater. Running around my kids have taken they jackets off."

 

 

Rain and snow suits:

 

“Rain suit: Tuffo, Kuling, Oakiwear

 

“We also like Uniqlo heattech and the inexpensive "muddybuddy" rainsuits you can get on Amazon (or elsewhere) that zip right over everything else - if your school is not providing that.”

 

Kuling rain coat and rain pants (usually sold as a set); truly water proof even on super rainy days”

 

“My older runs warm so a single pair of rain pants from Hatley has served her in all seasons for years. My younger needs full on snow pants as soon as it’s slightly cold. We get hand me downs from a cousin who skis.”

 

“Check out Ducksday suits or Polarn Pyret

 

“I have bought these snow bib overalls for the past few years. They have worked out very well. Versatile.”

 

“In the past, I've gotten my kids the full body rain suits and snowsuits as well. But I've decided I prefer the overall style where you can add different jackets/hoodies on top. They last longer because you can adjust the straps as they grow taller. When they get warm, you can take off the top layer/jacket.”

 


"I ordered these Arctix snow suits for my kids on Amazon 3 years ago and they still fit because the shoulder straps lengthen!"

 

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Boots:

 

“Rain boots: we've always loved Crocs rain boots. They can be easily pulled on by the kid and the handle never breaks because it's integrated (similar to Bogs)”

 

“We currently have Croc rain boots with handles to pull on.”

 

“Snow boots: Tundra, Kamik

 

Keen’s waterproof hiking boots”

 

Bogs boots are THE BEST! we get them every time she outgrows. And the Tuffo rain suit (or some other brand like it). this is the type I'm talking about - and we wear on rainy days, in snow, and in muddy puddles and long grass during the summer.”

 


"I swear by Baby Bogs for my toddler. They’re easy for tots to pull on and off, and they’re fuzzy on the inside for warmth. They’re also waterproof(ish), but that feature is secondary to their warmth and light weight for me, since when I first bought my kid a pair, she couldn’t handle heavy boots and wasn’t able to tell me if her feet were cold. Be aware, though, that some of Bogs’ other boots for kids are really heavy, so look specifically for the “Baby Bogs” model."

 

These are snow boots that keep feet warm.”

 


"I decided to buy high top, waterproof “winter gym shoes” for my kids (age 4 and 7) this year instead of winter boots, which I always spend way too much on and they wear once or twice a season before growing out of. Windsor Shoes on 5th Ave between 11th and 12th had a great stock of warm, waterproof kids shoes like this. The shoes have been great so far through the rainy and blustery weather lately, and my kids can still run around on the playground in them."

 


"We love Bogs for boots, and I’ve found good functional European brands like Kuling and Reima on Babyshop.com."

 


"We like the See Kai Run boots. They have some that are waterproof, but they’re super soft and flexible soles. I’ve bought them the last few winters for my now four year old. One of the reasons we love them is that since they’re waterproof they work on an everyday basis when it’s a little wet or slushy out but not enough for snow boots."

 


"I love UGGs for my kids, but they really aren’t good for wet. I love them because we skip socks and just wear them barefoot, which makes getting ready really easy. They do look pretty beat up by the end of the season, especially if your kid likes to ride a scooter, but what else are a little kid shoes for? You can get a cheaper brand called Bearpaw which I’ve read falls apart more easily but would probably last you the season and isn’t so expensive. I have always gone for the UGGs for my kids, but I got myself a pair of bear paws and they seem the same to me."

 


"Bisgaard are great winter shoes for kids and they’re cute."

 

 

Gloves:

 

“Gloves: they get lost all the time so order a bunch of cheap ones from H&M or whatever, that will take you through most of the season, layered with a waterproof mitten when needed, and if you send a bunch with their spare clothes they can replace as and when they get wet/muddy.”

 


"My now 3.5 year old have small hands and fingers so I’ve tried A LOT of gloves when he was turning 2 (winter baby). He won’t wear it if he can’t use his fingers and if he can’t hold something. These Amazon ones fit really well. It is not water proof but it was better than wearing no gloves at all. They’re warm enough for nyc weather and most importantly, he loved wearing them. The quality isn’t the best but for the price, it was great. He was still able to climb in the playground and ride his scooter in the middle of winter."

 

 

Balaclavas:

 

“I'd suggest a balaclava for the cold days, too. We have these and these.”

 

 

Masks:

 


"Happy Masks hands down. They don’t get wet because of the space around the nose and it’s the only one that stays on my toddler. They are More expensive than the usual ones but considering you can actually double dip and use them two days in a row it’s worth a try. They have 5 layers of protection as well."

 

"Seconding Happy Masks!! We have a bunch and love them so much. They are tested to filter 99% of particles as well so we use it mostly when going indoors to shop but would work really well outdoors. The owner is lovely but it's a small operation so there may be a delay in the shipping."

 

"Another vote for Happy Masks! Bought them for my entire family and in laws due to its effectiveness. Breathable and comfortable, I’ve worn them for long periods of time and they are the most comfortable option."

 

"I would think a ski gator might be a good option for winter. They tend to be thicker so would block particles, provide warmth and are often wicking. Only concern is not always tight fit to the face.

Alt option might be a reg mask with a gator over."

 

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Quick links to all of the member-recommended brands…

 

Alex and Alexa

Bisgaard

Bogs

Columbia

Crocs

Decathlon

Ducksday

Ella's Wool

H&M

Happy Masks

Hatley

Kamik

Keen

Kuling

Mountain Warehouse

Oakiwear

Old Navy

Patagonia

Polarn O. Pyret

Primary

REI

Reima

See Kai Run

Tuffo

Tundra

UGG

Uniqlo Heattech

 


Tips on Staying Warm for Parents

 

"I'm out of the kid coat stage so I'll let others speak to that but as a hockey mom, here are some tricks for the parents who have to stand around outside:

Get a warm COAT. You'd be surprised by how cold your butt and thighs get. I have been happy with my lands end, goes to 40 below.
Wear a knitted hat. Yes, you will have hat head. You won't care. I sometimes ADD a balaclava to get neck and head coverage.
Get hand and feet warmers. The feet ones are great - they stick to the bottoms of you socks.
Wear warm boots - they will help keep your legs warm. unless you are willing to spend a fortune on la canadienne, you will have to forgo fashion. I wear knee high socks and I'm not shy about it.
petroleum jelly on you face will keep you warm and reduce chapping.
hot drink in a fully closable thermos that won't leak in your bag.
More than just knit gloves, something with a waterproof or at least weather resistant covering.
Many people love wool to keep them warm but I'm allergic so I go for silk long johns under clothes instead. Layer!"

 

"In my opinion, the best things for winter sports are layers. I rarely ski in more than a (waterproof) shell; not a down jacket because I get too hot. I just have layers underneath. Except on the really, really cold days, I am ok with a t-shirt, long underwear (Uniqulo has great affordable stuff), a fleece, and my shell. You can also use sweatshirts instead of fleece, but fleece is warmer. I do have snowpants which I wear with regular underwear and possibly long underwear depending on the weather."

 

"I can't live without my LIttle Hotties handwarmers during the winter! I usually buy a case of them at Costco at this time every year and it lasts me the whole winter."