Winter can be cold and dark and wet, none of which sounds very inspiring for getting outside. But winter also offers tons of opportunities to have amazing outdoors adventures! Having the right gear for your family can make all the difference between miserable tears and lots of memories of winter fun.
We hope this outdoor winter fun gift guide makes shopping for gifts a little easier for your family who loves the outdoors!
Looking for other types of gifts? The TMM team wrote A LOT of different gift guides this season, including guides for moms, dads, teens, and toddlers. And we didn’t forget summer either, with guides for water sports and hiking.
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Head to Toe Winter Wear for Kids
Keeping little heads and toes warm is super important to keeping kids safe, comfortable, and happy while they’re out in their winter wonderlands. Here are some of our favorite products to make that happen!
Fleece is a great material because it keeps kids warm even if it gets damp. This hat features a fleece outer layer, along with ear flaps and a velcro closure to make sure ears and cheeks stay warm. And the pompom on top is super cute!
TMM Founder Amelia has tested A LOT of snow boots with her kids. In her opinion, these are some of the best snow boots for cold days. And they come in both kid and toddler sizes! They are warm, lightweight and hold up fairly well. In seven years of using them, she hasn’t ever had a kid with cold feet. She does notice that the tread seems to break down quicker than other boots we have used. Note: Amelia is currently testing the updated version and will report in our Best Snow Boots for Kids post ASAP!
Darn Tough socks are hands down our favorite socks for the active kid. They don’t get holes in them, and if they actually do, Darn Tough has an excellent warranty. These ski and snowboard socks are midweight, meaning they have light padding to help ski and snowboard boots stay comfortable for as long as the kids want to be in them. I particularly like the polar bear print, but there are tons of other cute ones!
Keep Kids Hands Warm
Having cold, wet hands is the fastest way to ruin winter fun for anyone, but it can really difficult to keep kids’ hands warm and dry when all they want to do is play in the snow! These products do the trick.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve dug around the bottom of my bag to unearth a crumpled-up package of handwarmers, only to shake them up and find duds. And I never liked throwing them away! Enter Aurora Heat, a company that makes reusable hand and feet warmers from ethically-sourced pelts in the Indigenous community of Thebacha. By wearing them fur side against your skin, the pelts absorb your own body heat and reflect it back to you, keeping you toasty warm. See our full Aurora Heat review here.
This glove is brand new, but it sure does look exciting! It has wrist leashes to keep it attached to your kid at all times (no more searching under chairlifts for dropped gloves!) and an adjustable cuff to keep the snow out no matter what layers it has to go over. The waterproofing and insulation also look top-notch and we can’t wait to test it out!
(5% off sale prices and 20% off any order at full price – not including Outlet and Renewed items that are already discounted.)
These super-long mittens come all the way up to the elbow on toddlers, which means there’s no snow getting down to the hands with these mitts! The bungee at the wrist ensures that they’re both easy to get on and that they stay on, which is not always an easy combination of traits to find in a pair of mittens.
Kids Snow Outerwear
Outerwear has three jobs: keep you dry, windproof, and insulated. Bonus points for breathability, good mobility, and fun colors! These kids outwear options do it all.
This super lightweight insulated jacket is great for a number of reasons. While it’s “only” water resistant, it can be zipped into the Elevated Hardshell to up it to wind- and waterproof. And on it’s own, it’s perfect for those early and late winter days that aren’t quite cold enough for the whole winter kid. Another perk? It’s safe to put kids in a car seat while wearing this jacket so long as it fits well and is properly zipped, which means less wrestling with layers!
(5% off sale prices and 20% off any order at full price – not including Outlet and Renewed items that are already discounted.)
The Wingon is fully water proof and very warm with a straight leg to fit over any boots, including ski boots. The suspenders are removable, which allows a lot of flexibility. I also like that the waist has an exterior adjustment so they fit perfectly no matter what layers they have under them.
The Stavanger snowsuit is an award winner, and with good reason. It’s beautifully warm (rated to -5 degrees F), waterproof to 12,000mm (which essentially means you’re good sitting in a puddle of water), and very high quality. The faux fur around the hood is removable, and the hood is adjustable to really keep the heat in.
Looking for a snowsuit for your toddler? Look no further than Reima’s Lappi snowsuit. It’s fully waterproof and has many of the same features as the Stavanger, plus extra insulation in the seat area! The colors and patterns are also sure to entrance your toddler. These snowsuits do run approximately one size larger than normal, so do check the size guide before ordering.
Baselayers and Midlayers For Kids
Layering is the best way to manage warmth in any weather but especially when it’s cold. We have a whole post on how to layer in the winter and the Best Kids Base Layers, but here are some of our top gifts to help kids layer up this season.
Based in Jackson, Wyoming, Iksplor makes merino wool base layers for kids and adults. Their sizes start at 0-3 months and go up to adult XLs, meaning the entire family can enjoy them! We love that the longer sleeves, torsos, and legs which means there’s no bare wrist, waist, or ankle hanging out to get chilled; the thumb holes in the sleeves also help with this. And they’re machine washable and dryable!
This jacket is great as a mid layer since it is cozy, has zippered hand pockets, and a substantial hood. It has a brushed outer too for easier layering, always a bonus with wiggly kids! The branding is also reflective, which is super important during after-dark winter play time.
More zippered pockets for whatever your kid picks up that you don’t want to carry! These are our favorite thick fleece pants for kids. They breathe well and keep kids safe if damp, as opposed to down, which loses its insulation once it’s wet, or cotton, which actually cools you down if you get wet. These are pants your kids can wear on their own or underneath snow or rain pants for the extra warmth.
Toys for Playing in the Snow
Now that everyone is bundled and will stay warm, it’s play time! Snow is absolutely crazy cool stuff and I find it just as fascinating today as I did when I was little. This is where the winter fun really starts.
Looking for more advice on playing in the snow? Check out our post on playing in the snow.
Last winter gave Utah (and many other places!) the most snow ever recorded; while my delight in the snow was high, I also had the best shoulder strength of my life from all the shoveling! Luckily my toddler also loved to shovel (snow into) the driveway. We dug holes and made hills to slide down and generally used his tiny sand shovel almost every day. I just wish I’d had this miniature shovel; it’s the right size for toddlers and preschoolers. And it’s a “real” snow shovel, which (hopefully) means he’ll stop trying to steal my nice avalanche shovel!
Snow is one of the coolest and weirdest substances on the planets, and people have always been fascinated by the beauty of snowflakes. The Carson LumiLoupe Plus allows you and your kids to explore the classic hexagonal flakes as they fall, as well as watch how snow crystals change over time as temperatures fluctuate.
While most of us could get our hands on a carrot and some sticks pretty easily, a corn-cob pipe and coal for eyes are a little more difficult! This kit has you covered. Send the kids out to make the three spheres and then break out this kit to give your snowman that classic look.
A wet bum is not a good way to have much winter fun. This sit pad from The Outdoor Learning School is both waterproof and insulated, allowing kids (or adults!) to take a snack break without getting soaked. It’s also made from recycled materials!
Moving in the Snow
Snow can be a giant pain to move through, especially since it comes up that much higher on little people! Having the right tools to stay on top of the snow (especially if there’s sliding involved) can turn a slog into a trip to be remembered.
Snowshoeing is the simplest and most accessible way to move easily through the snow. (Read more about beginning snowshowing for the whole family!) These kids snowshoes are an excellent choice because they’re slightly shorter and narrower than adult snowshoes, which makes them lighter for smaller legs, but they’re still made of the same high-quality materials as the adult snowshoes. They also come in six different fun colors!
The blurb on this sled says it’s usually used on arctic expeditions, but I often find that I need that level of durability for gear to survive my family! This sled is great for hauling lots of weight, which means kids plus everything else you need to keep kids happy on your own personal winter fun expeditions.
Ok, this is not a cheap item…and in fact, it’s two not-cheap items. But it’s possibly one of my favorite ways to get outside with my son in the winter. The ski attachment kit allows me to put skis on my bike trailer and pull it on snow all winter long!
I can have the trailer fully assembled in just under five minutes from complete disassembly to fit in my car. My two-year old loves riding in the back and it’s easy to bundle him in super well to keep him warm. While I usually use my backcountry skis on groomed cross country tracks, you could also pull it while snowshoeing, fat biking, or for the really ambitious, while actually skate skiing.
It is HARD to find good skis for little people, especially tiny people! These Elan skis come in the smallest size I’ve ever found a ski in, 70 cm, and range all the way up to 120 cm. This means they’re good for kid ranging from approximately two and a half feet tall to just over four feet tall, depending on how aggressive your little skier is. They are incredibly flexible, have real metal edges (a must for skiing at an actual resort) and come with bindings (though you’ll need to get them mounted by a ski tech when they arrive).
Lights for Winter Play
One major obstacle to playing outside in the winter is the lack of sunlight! Here are some fun winter gifts to shed some light on this challenge (oh yes, pun intended). Playing with light in the darkness can even increase the winter fun you can have with your kids.
This headlamp is a good choice for older kids and teenagers. It is simple, easy to use, and won’t break the bank while still being a quality lamp with good light power. This helps get everyone into the outdoors a little more affordably (and makes the inevitable lost headlamp a little less painful).
This headlamp from Black Diamond is a great choice for younger children because the battery compartment can only be opened with a screwdriver. This can be mildly annoying for adults, as you do need to have the right sized screwdriver handy. However, it makes it much safer for curious kids who want to play with everything!
TMM families loves this solar powered lantern. Leave it on the dash of your vehicle or out on the picnic table, and you will have plenty of charge for an evening. And kids are fascinated by the charging process! These lanterns provide great, soft illumination in the tent, good for story time, or at the dinner table.
Winter Snacks and Treats
All good outdoors adventures need good snacks, and this is especially true in the winter when being cold burns more energy. And who doesn’t love a good cozy treat when it’s cold out?
The day I got an insulated food jar rather than trying to drink soup out the side of my travel mug was a very, very good day, and one I can recommend! This Hydroflask food jar keeps food warm for hours and you can eat right out of it (just remember your spoon and fork). I use mine for soups, stews, noodles, curries…the list is endless.
Having a belly full of a hot drink when your nose and cheeks are frosty is a very satisfying, cozy feeling! This Purist water bottle keeps drinks warm for up to twelve hours and can up your winter fun game, whether you’re carrying hot chocolate, tea, cider, or other spiced juices.
Hot chocolate bombs are chocolate shells filled with hot chocolate mix and various other fun add-ins like mini marshmallows and sprinkles. Add them to a cup of hot milk, watch them melt, and voila! Hot chocolate. This DIY kit allows you to have the additional adventure of making your own before taking them outside to add more silliness and fun to your winter fun.
Campfires are not just for the summer! Roasting marshmallows is the classic example, but it is amazing how creative kids can be when it comes to finding things to hold over a fire. You don’t need a full campfire either; I’ve even toasted marshmallows over tea light candles in a pinch. Just make sure to check the fire restrictions in your area and put your fire source out completely before leaving it!
If It’s Not Below Freezing
Not everyone experiences snow during the winter; Florida’s average January temperature is still 76oF! But that doesn’t mean we can’t all enjoy a little winter fun.
Having a fire can make any night feel cozy, regardless of the temperature. This packable grill and firepit is awesome for actual grilling, or combine it with the roasting sticks above for all kinds of toasting adventures! Just make sure to check the fire restrictions in your area before lighting it up.
Unless you’re really close to the equator, winter does mean at least a little more darkness. Take advantage of this with National Geographic’s Night Sky Guide and check out the stars! The constellations are in different places in different seasons, so it can be fun to try to find new ones you don’t get to see during the summer.
Just because it’s not cold doesn’t mean that the skies are always clear; sometimes winter means a lot of rain. The Rainwall Jacket is a family favorite for its quality, packability and the fact that it is available in a wide range of sizes. Made of ripstop nylon, it’s fully waterproof, windproof, and breathable.
Winter Fun is Extra Special
Being outside is a wonderful way to generate amazing experiences and great memories with your family. But there’s something extra-special about outdoor adventures in the winter; the low-angle light is beautiful, the whole world looks different without leaves and potentially under a layer of snow and ice, and the opportunities for unique play are everywhere. I especially love the feeling of being cozy warm while you know it’s cold outside because it’s just very satisfying! We hope these gift ideas help you experience all the winter fun there is to be had this year!
Looking for More Gift Ideas for Outdoor Families?
- Layering Kids Up For Cold Weather
- Beginning Snowshoeing for the Whole Family
- 9 Tips for Enjoying a Winter with No Snow
- 11 Tips for Winter Hiking for Beginners
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