Now that the Autumn is officially here and the cold is rolling in it is time for us to share our recommendations for outdoor gear! When buying gear for children always remember the most important factor is that it be fully waterproof. Not water resistant, water proof. The second, and this also ties in with the first, most important thing to look for is NO COTTON! This includes jeans! They are your enemy when playing outside. Cotton absorbs moisture and holds it, making you cold and making outdoor play hard. Zero cotton, if you can find non cotton undies even better! Ok now I will start from the head down!
Again with the no cotton here. any sort of warm hat is going to work. As long as it covers their ears. Balaclavas work as both a hat and a scarf. The best part of these handy hats is they do not slowly slip down in front of childrens faces causing them to be blind for a moment and have to constantly adjust their hats. HERE is the one that you will see Francis running around in.
When the weather starts dipping this is our first line of defense. The goal of this layer is to be close to the skin, but not tight. There has to be a layer of body temperature air in between to stay warm. The more eco friendly options for this layer are made of wool or silk. The more budget friendly are COTTON FREE long undies from Target. Personally I find the wool hard to take care of because I am vastly outnumbered by kids in my house and hand washing is not an option. This is all about what works for your family though. You can find a great wool pair HERE and THESE are the ones at Target my family likes. Again no cotton! Check ya tags!
Here is your fleece layer. You can find thicker wool pants to wear for this along with a wool sweater if natural is how you roll. Again I cannot handle the hand washing. What you wear here depends on how cold it is out. Check out used kids clothing at stores, Facebook Marketplace, tag sales. THIS website has a great selection if you would like to buy new. Or cruise the Target athletic section like I do.
Now here is the age old Autumn question, to jacket or not to jacket? It all depends on the day. Some days your base and mid are going to be enough, maybe throwing a raincoat over is going to add just enough waterproof protection. For a good waterproof jacket check out LLBean, Northface, Patagonia and Biddle & Bop for the good stuff from Europe. Once it gets colder a good winter coat will replace the raincoat. Just again make sure this is waterproof and not resistant. The above brands make great ones.
Rain pants. These are the ultimate Forest School accessory. Once the rain starts in and the nights get cold a child should wear their rain pants to every single class. Over the boots not tucked in of course. Cheap ones off of Amazon are not going to help your kiddo when they are climbing, running, sitting, and dancing in mud and on wet logs for hours at a time. Once winter hits we will wear them over our other layers so make sure to buy them with enough space. Our favorite pants are at the shop Biddle & Bop and feature suspenders that are easier for kids to unhook and are rugged enough to last at least 3 kids. Find them HERE. Some of our families have found good luck with the kids Columbia rain pants that you find in local sporting goods stores. HERE they are on Amazon.
Lately a ton of families have turned towards rain suits to get the job done. They create a neck to ankle safe zone of all of the muddy fun. Marley wears this Tuffo Muddy Buddy suit that you can find HERE. Francis and Ivan wear the Oakiwear suit you can find HERE. These are the only suits that we have tried that work so far!
Bogs. The ones that have -30 on the back of the heel. These are the only winter boots allowed at our Forest School. They are the only ones that manage to keep kiddos feet warm and dry in all weather. Sneakers are fine in the summer but once October hits Bogs are a must. You can find them everywhere now. Amazon, used stores and just ask us or your friends if they are selling some. Chances are you will find them.
The last item on our list is one of the most important once the snow starts rolling in. Kids need mittens (not gloves!!!) that they can take off and put back on over and over and over again during play. THESE Gordini mittens have a side zip that goes all the way up the glove. No more struggling to shove a kids hand into a glove. These take away all of that stress and they are the ONLY ones that we have found to be fully waterproof. Bonus points, I fit into the XL ones so you might as well.
No matter what your child wears make sure they are not getting wet, their feet and hands are warm and they have options to take layers off.
Remember there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.
SEE YOU OUTSIDE,