It can be hard enough sometimes to motive ourselves and our kids out the door… but add freezing temperatures and snow gear into that mix and sometimes that’s enough to make even the most outdoorsy of us second guess our plans.
But, we all need to get outside… there’s so many fun things to do in the snow… so read on to grab some simple tips for staying warm in the cold weather outside come winter!
Whether you’re heading to the ski hill, the toboggan hill, or just the backyard, all these tips apply!
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How to stay warm in cold weather when outside:
- Dress in layers
- Use a good quality snow suit
- Don’t wear jeans
- Use thick warm socks or layer socks
- Accessorize with glove, mittens, toques, buffs, even goggles
- Try a balaclava
- Consider hot hands or hand warmers
- Splurge on heated socks, boots, or gloves
- Plan your outing with warm up breaks
Here’s a great demonstration of getting dressed to go outside on a cold weather day!
Yes, you should be wearing long underwear!
Dress in layers! To do it right, you should wear a wicking or quick-dry layer closest to your skin, then put your cozy fleecy layer over that. My husband and I really like our base layers made from Merino Wool. Merino Wool is a natural product (not a synthesized fiber). It is very warm, soft, breathable, and helps wick moisture away from the skin.
You should be able to find good quality base layers (long underwear) at outdoor stores, fitness stores, and on line.
Again, you want to make sure your outer layer is good quality. Look for something that will block the wind, insulate, and be windproof. You don’t have to purchase top of the line brand name pieces, but you should make sure there’s a mention of temperature ratings on these items.
For little kids and toddlers, a one-piece snowsuit is quick and easy. They won’t get snow up their back when they roll around in the snow and getting undressed for emergency bathroom breaks will be much easier! If you’re up for it, you too could sport a trendy, or retro, one-piece yourself!
Jeans are mean (to your legs)
When it is cold, jeans can seems even colder. Long johns under jeans or snow pants over jeans is much warmer. For some readers, this tip might seem obvious, but I am always surprised at how many people I see out on the ski hill or playing with their kids in the snow while wearing jeans!
Lots of socks
Purchasing a good pair of ski socks will really help keep feet stay warm and dry. While thick socks are good for retaining heat, they shouldn’t be so thick as to bunch up which can cause discomfort in a tight fitting ski or snowboard boot or skates.
Taking your boots off during a longer inside break can help dry out boots and socks too.
I like to pack an extra pair of socks. At the end of a long cold day on the ski hill or outside, just changing into a new pair of socks can be such a pleasure and help the feet warm up quicker.
These are my absolute favourite socks! Over the years I’ve purchased them at Costco, but I’ve just discovered that Amazon also stocks them. They’re merino wool, warm, they fit nicely, and they’re cute too.
Toques, mitts, scarves, and goggles
These extras are essential in the extreme cold. To be honest, I start wearing my toque and gloves even before the temperature drops below freezing.
You will want a toque that fits low over the ears. A thick fleece lined hat is great to help kids stay warm and one that ties under the chin will prevent it from falling (or getting pulled) off.
When choosing head wear consider how it will fit under a helmet. A balaclava works well. Not only is it safest to wear a helmet when skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, and skating, but helmets will also block the wind and help keep you and your kids warm.
For your hands: I like to wear a thin pair of mini gloves under my mittens. This way my hands are extra toasty, and if I need to do something requiring dexterity (like fixing kid’s zippers, blowing noses, or buckling up boots) my fingers won’t freeze.
Mittens are often warmer than gloves because the fingers are all together. If your snow tends to be a wet soggy snow, then find mittens that have a waterproof shell or bring along a few extra pairs.
Remember that any exposed skin is at risk of frostbite in extreme cold, so wearing a neck warmer (gaiter) or scarf is a must. These also help cover the gap around the neck where the jacket stops and the hat or helmet begins. Goggles help cover more of the exposed face skin. So while they improve visibility, they also help keep the face warmer.
One trick I’ve discovered for my toddlers is to wear an ear (head) band around their neck. It’s not as wide as a buff so is less bulky for them but still helps cover that gap around the neck.
The magic balaclava
Okay I will admit that I don’t wear a balaclava, but my kids do. In fact, our pink balaclava is my daughter’s first choice when it gets cold out. You get full coverage in one piece, ninja style. And yes, our balaclavas have been repurposed many many times for indoor Ninja play!
Balaclavas also fit nicely under helmets, hoods, and toques for extra warmth.
Pocket hot pads
If you plan to be outdoors for a few hours, you may want to consider having a few of these Hothands on hand. They do not heat up until opened and exposed to air, but once they are activated, the pads will give off heat for a good 4-5 hours.
My kids like to use these when skiing. They put the activated pads right into their mittens or leave them in their pockets for little warm-up breaks. I have even used these camping in the summer when my toes just won’t warm up. These Hothands can usually be purchased at sporting stores or online.
The fancy extras: Heated boots and socks
My husband, in an effort to make skiing more appealing for me, bought me ski boots with a battery-powered heating attachment. You can also purchase heated socks, insoles, and gloves.
The quality and cost vary quite a bit, but if it means the difference between going outdoors or staying in, they might be worth it for you!
Plan lots of warm-up breaks
When it’s really cold out, we just plan shorter outdoor adventures. We might choose activities close to indoor locations for warming up.
For example, we’ll go cross country skiing where we know there are warm-up huts. We’ll go skating where we know there is a campfire or cafe with hot chocolate near by. And when at the ski hill, we just plan to go inside the lodge after every few runs.
These anticipated indoor breaks helps them stay warm and motivated to go do the activity in the first place.
And, if all else fails, if you just can’t stay warm in the cold weather, then call it a day, sometimes it is just too cold to be outside long! So, stay inside, share some hot cocoa, and cuddle with a great family ski movie instead!
What should you do now?
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- Enjoying backyard birds in the wintertime