Every year I like to pull together a round-up of the gear we are using and our thoughts on it. Winter gear for kids is so tough sometimes – it really is essential to have quality gear for happy kids and happy adventures.
While this post does include wet-weather gear, I have to include a note that the majority of our winter time is dry and coldish. So that is what we know best!
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Base layers really are SO important for warmth from the inside out. We’re big fans of wool thanks to their cooling/heating properties which make them ideal for year-round use.
We consider them a staple when we are highlighting the best winter gear for kids….because warmth starts from the inside OUT.
But, I also included our favorite poly-pro too (which are awesome when it’s super cold out!)
These are a lighter weight wool, but ideal for most conditions and super soft on the skin. Our kids wear them for base layers and pajamas too. In fact, sometimes we will go days before I realize they haven’t changed them – whoops!
Oh and they can be thrown in the washer AND dryer with no issues – laundry queen score!
Ella’s Wool base layers are slightly thicker than Wee Woollies, and incredibly soft. I especially love their baby hat – perfect for a tighter fit that won’t pop off. Available for kids aged 3 mo – 12 years.
They also wash very well and are more durable than Wee Woollies for long-term wear.
These are Poly-pro and awesome. They dry much quicker than wool (really almost instantly) and are soft too (though admittedly not as soft as the wool). I think they are slightly warmer too. See our full review here.
Waldo Thermal underwear are a lightweight base layer. Specially designed with no seams, they are comfy and do not cause rubbing or chaffing with movement. They are moisture wicking and quick drying so you can get back to play quickly!! Note, it does run slightly large. From Denmark, available at Biddle & Bop.
Don’t skimp on socks! They can seriously mean the difference between feet staying warm and frostbite. If temperatures are cold, your kids (and babies!) NEED wool socks.
My kids are wearing these for the first time this winter and so far I’ve been very impressed. They’re very soft, keep their shape and come in baby baby – age 12.
I have never been disappointed with anything from Polarn O. Pyret and the socks are no exception.
I love these socks for myself and think they are perfect for kids too. And the XS fits a preschooler (about a size toddler 6+). They hold up very very well and come with a lifetime guarantee! Available at Biddle & Bop.
Darn Tough makes incredible durable socks and their kids line is no exception. We love the fun designs and their guarantee!
I love these for the little ones especially. They stay on, are lightweight enough for all-winter wear and wash well. Available at Biddle & Bop.
Mid layers are the part of the layering that really can be “fudged” more than any other layer. Fleece or down is best, but it doesn’t need to be top of the line to be effective. That said, here are our favorite mid layers.
Of all the fleece jackets that have come through our home, this is hands-down the most bang for your buck. The inside is a high pile super soft fleece and the outside blocks the wind. My 10 year old has the jacket and literally wears it every day almost all day.
It’s also available in a full suit version for younger kids and is super warm and perfect for cold, dry days or as a thick mid layer. Sizing is generous.
These have been the perfect mid layer for the kids this winter. I love that this small companies literally sews their gear in-house too. These are a bit of a looser fit so work best for us as a mid layer, but they can be worn next to skin too (and are super soft on the inside.) Their hoods are perfect for layering too.
Our favorite wool pants for layering. The kids usually wear them over Wee Woollies on super cold days. They roll up easily and are super soft and comfortable! I just wish they came in bigger than a size 8 kids!
I love this fleece because it doesn’t pill, fits well and has great cuffs to keep the cold out. It also works great as an outer layer in milder weather.
REI’s new Groundbreaker jacket for kids is made of recycled materials both for the shell and the lining. It has zippered hand pockets, layers well under a waterproof shell and has a hood that stays on!
This jacket is really available for all sizes from infant to adult and is the perfect mid-layer when you just need a little extra boost of warmth.
I also love it because kids can wear it safely in car seats thanks to a low-loft design that still keeps them warm.
This jacket is one you could sleep in and be super cozy. In fact, I know some people that do (even better? Their down buntings as sleeping bags for wiggly kids!) The hood fits tight and well and it’s puffy and warm.
Downsides? No zippers on the pockets and a shorter length means it doesn’t work as well as an outer layer. However, it’s like wearing a cozy, warm sleeping bag!
Good jackets keep the wind and moisture at bay, breathe well and let kids move freely.
As far as insulated jackets go, Stio does it extremely well. We love this local brand and it’s super popular here for good reason.
The Rafferty is a great all-around warm winter jacket for kids. Note: the hood does NOT fit over a helmet.
We love the Shred Dog shell – it’s completely waterproof, is soft and pliable, has great pockets and THE best hood out there for fitting over helmets.
I continually am so impressed with Obermeyer, especially as a ski brand.
Their jackets are warm, have an “I-grow” feature to extend the wearability as your child grows and lots of ski extras like mitten clips built into the cuffs.
They’re durable too and come in bright colors to help your kids stand out on the ski slopes (all the better to find them!)
Columbia continues to not disappoint with their ski gear. This jacket is long enough to keep the snow out, especially coupled with the interior powder skirt.
I do believe the Omni-Heat reflective dots work and this jacket is another proof of that – J is never cold. This style available for toddlers, girls and men too!
It also has ski-specific features like a pass holder.
This is a new jacket to the snow scene – the company is based out of New Zealand (but you can buy them via Amazon in the states). They’re fantastic for keeping kids warm and dry. We love that it is not super puffy or stiff and allows for great movement for kids. It’s also fully fleece-lined for soft comfort!
This down jacket really and truly is an all-mountain jacket. Kids (including our kids) wear them to school, on the ski hill, for XC skiing, around town and playing outside.
It fits well, has a great hood and keeps kids warm. I am actually planning to get myself one this year too.
It’s down so requires a bit more care, but can always be fixed with Noso patches too….
The pants have a removable suspender, which we have found useful. The elastic waist has helped keep them secure without the hassle of the suspenders, but we will probably pull them back out once snow play status getting more serious.
I love the bright orange – it makes it easy to pick him out of a pack. Other colors are available. The pants are super warm, and the zippered pockets come in handy. These are waterproof and fit true to size.
I always think these are the perfect playground pants – super waterproof, super durable and the suspenders are removable if needed.
We have had a pair of Volt pants for a couple years now and they show no wear at all. They are super durable, fit over ski boots very well and are warm without being bulky. Adjustable straps and waist for a great fit.
They include Obermeyer’s “I grow” system which gives you an additional 2″ on the length when needed. Only downside is they do not have shoulder strap releases, which would make bathroom breaks easier.
The Nester bibs from Snow Dragons are the best budget-friendly snow pants. They are warm with a fleece bib, have velcro for easy on and off without having to take off the jacket and do well for a season or two. We find after that they aren’t as waterproof, but great playground pants.
These are a great and cheap basic bib that allows for growth by adjusting the seams (using their “Outgrown Grow System”) and the straps. They are slim, durable and can easily be passed down to a few kids. Plus the price is right!
Only downside? The shoulder straps don’t release which means for outdoor potty breaks, a lot more layers have to come off.
These are wind and waterproof and, like the Therm jacket (see above), allow for great movement and dry kids. The bibs are removable both by a zip in the back and a front release on the straps. My 6 year old can convert them easily and likes wearing them because they are easy on and off! We love these!
Snow/Rain Full Suits
As far as shell suits go, this is our favorite hands-down. It is just thick enough to allow for a bit of warmth, is extremely well made, has a great hood, works for layering under if needed but also has a cinched waist for easy movement.
It’s not super packable (for like backpacking) but our go-to for everything else.
Klement SkiSuit Coverall Air-Flo available at Biddle and Bop
We love this snowsuit from Biddle and Bop! Firstly, it is effective at keeping kids warm: I have put our three-year old in this over merino wool and mid-layers for longer stints outdoors and have also just thrown it on over his pajamas for a shorter romp in the snow. In both cases he was perfectly comfortable in sub-freezing temperatures.
Unlike some other one-piece suits we’ve tried, this one is able to accomplish warmth without creating the “Michelin-man effect,” allowing my son to have freedom of movement and be able to hike and play unrestricted.
You can tell this suit was created thoughtfully, with little details like a soft-lined collar, lift-card pocket, and replaceable foot straps (they even include some replacement straps since that is sure to be the quickest place for wear and tear!).
I have never been disappointed with Polarn O. Pyret and this one is no exception. Their gear is warm, waterproof and they pay particular attention to the details.
The Performace ski suit is fleece lined at the top, has adjustable cuffs and a great hood!
This is THE warmest and THE most durable suit for kids we have seen. It’s what we grab for long outdoor days in cold temperatures. TOBE makes suits for snowmobiling too, so they know cold.
The Parvus is their more budget-line of snowsuits, but excellent all the same.
Only downside? The fleece interior makes it heavy and if my kids know they will be XC skiing or hiking, they opt for something else. I also wish it had an adjustable waist to keep it in place when kids are growing into it.
For an outer layer to keep out the elements, this suit is bomb-proof. It has room for layering, excellent zippers, a great hood and is light.
Only issue? I wish there was a waist cinch to get a better fit, just like I mentioned for the Parvus.
My kids have worn DucKsday for years and years now and the Toddler/K is a new style that Ollie and Stella (the USA retailer) is carrying. It’s warm without being bulky, has reinforced bum and knees and a great hood for extra coverage if needed. I also love that it has stirrups to keep it down over boots.
As far as snowsuits are concerned, this one is very lightweight (but warm) and all DucKsday suits have really great hoods.
This super high-loft bunting is perfect for kids that need warmth when you don’t need to worry about them staying dry (it’s not super water proof, though water resistant).
It’s fleece lined and has fold over hand and foot cuffs. In fact, the arms are a little on the long side to allow for tucking those hands in! My only gripe is the zipper doesn’t go all the way down a leg so getting them in is a little harder….
We had a different version of this for J 8 years ago, and this one is even better. The hood stays on well, but allows for baby movement and it’s completely fleece-lined on the head and torso for happy babies! Plus, I love that it zips completely down a leg for easy in and out.
Also check out their new for 2019 Infant Powder Lite Reversible bunting if you prefer it to be a little less bulky and not fleece-lined.
The brand new Oaki one-piece snowsuit is perfect for kids who like to go all in when it comes to playing in the snow. The one-piece, waterproof design means you don’t have to worry a lot snow and wet sneaking into gaps.
It’s super easy to get on, so you can get outside with minimal fuss.
Best Winter Boots/Shoes for Kids
For neoprene boots, I have come to trust Muck first and foremost. The Hale is a favorite for year-round play with a comfort rating from sub-zero up to 65 degrees F (4 mm neoprene).
But for my son with bigger heels, the Rugged II is a much easier on and off boot and is a bit warmer (5 mm neoprene – comfort rated -20 – 50 degrees F). We also have found it has slightly better traction.
Bogs has really upped their boot game for 2019 and we are very impressed. Quite honestly I always used to direct people elsewhere in general for neoprene boots. No longer!
The Neo-Classics are now 30% lighter (yes, we’ve noticed!), are warmer and have better traction.
While there are a ton of fantastic boots for kids out there, we have had the best luck with Stonz Trek Winter bootz (for sizes toddler 10 – Youth 6). They are super lightweight and incredibly warm (comfort tested by the company to -58 degrees F, by us to -25 degrees F). Only downfall is that after about 3 seasons, the soles are slightly worn down and don’t have as good of traction. That said, the kids have never complained about them.
Note: Stonz also carries the “Scout” boot for smaller kids. It is a good boot, but the opening allows snow in more than I like and my daughters tend to slip in them more than the boys do in the Trek.
Lone Cone is a one-woman-show and has great affordable gear for families. Check out our full review here!
For new walkers, I have found the Baby Bogs to be the warmest (I always use a thick wool sock with them) and easiest to put on and walk in. See our full review here.
Need more traction? We recommend the Bogs B-Moc.
Best Winter Mittens and Gloves for Kids
Our entire family is huge fans of these 4-Season leather gloves (and mittens coming soon!) The XS size fits our 9 year old and they keep him very warm and dry. NOTE: They’re leather so they do need some working in to make them perfect.
Initials are burned into them to make sorting out the entire family’s pairs easy!
Mtn Papa has been fans of Kinco for years and years now for himself, but this year we are getting to try out their kid’s collection. The gloves/mittens range from lightweight work gloves to fully insulated mittens.
J (aged 8) says these ones are the warmest he owns (though the leather does get stiff in the cold/wet). They are great for skiing, working or just playing. Our boys love these for shoveling the driveway. Plus, they’re cheap and you’re not heartbroken if they get lost!
Warm, keep the snow out and are perfect for layering under on really cold days. Every kid in our family has multiple pairs and we depend on them for keeping their hands warm.
The infant mittz are thumb-less and good, though I do wish they were a little more supple for small hands and stuffing them in snowsuits 😉
Our top pick for toddlers. They are thumbless, but with a shape that allows for hand movement. We also love that they are soft on the outside which makes them more pliable in the cold too! Plus, the designs are super cute!
We choose Hestra especially for our bigger kids that start really needing gloves for skiing. They keep hands warm, stand up to a ton of winter abuse and let kids move. We have used and loved both the Heli Ski Jr and the All Mountain C-Zone.
What are your kids wearing this winter? Questions about how to keep warm? Feel free to leave us comments!
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