It’s a foreign concept in America - to be outside, playing, simply playing. So when you look at the gear we label “outdoor gear” or “outerwear” for kids, it’s no wonder so many parents come back saying it doesn’t really work.

Once you’ve said yes to outdoor play, you soon realize that waterproof and water resistant don’t always mean as much as you’d hoped they did. You also realize that you’re not going to really enjoy this outdoor thing much if you don’t have better gear.

Typical “waterproof” winter gloves for example, tend to be short and open on the wrist. They have a low waterproof rating - enough to allow them to claim waterproofness but a few minutes of play in a frozen puddle, and they are soaked and little fingers are cold. Rainboots tend to be the same way - too short, with open tops, and bulky beefed up soles that, while fun to stomp in, don’t stay on active, mud loving feet and let water, rocks, sand, burrs, ticks, and more right in the top. Many lightweight, flexible rain jackets are likewise rated - great for a quick trip into the store or a walk around the block, not for fishing rocks out of the creek or playing in the downpour. Traditional snow pants have varying degrees of effectiveness, and if you’ve got a good pair, they’ll do great in snow - but they are not designed for mud and water play.

Sometimes we play in jeans and get wet. Sometimes our girls don't want to wear gloves. Sometimes a fancy dancing skirt in the forest is just necessary. But mostly, our girls really love their adventure gear - why? Because it helps them stay at play.

The Scandinavian saying is not “(there is) no bad weather,” but “(there is) no bad weather, just bad gear.”

The right gear will help your kids (and you!) stay at play. It will help you say yes to whatever play brings: all year long. And there’s one more thing about the right gear: it means way less laundry and way less ruined clothing. I’m down for that anyday.

So what do you really need?

Of course every region differs, and even the path you choose or the area you play in make a difference - is there a river? The kids will be in it. Is it an open field? You’ll need extra sun protection - year round. Some areas are notably hotter or colder, of course, so while our seasonal gear guide will give you a great start, make sure you prepare daily based on your current weather.

(Still confused or need help finding a good fit? Please contact us with any questions or requests!)

Types of weather situations likely encountered:

  • Sunny and hot, spring and stream water is cold.

  • Sunny and warm, but with ice/snow present

  • Rain or Snow (cold)

  • After the rain, thick mud, cool to warm

Gear recommendations:

  • wool or synthetic base layers

  • fleece or wool insulating layer, sometimes even a light winter jacket

  • waterproof pants and jacket

  • waterproof rain mitts

  • wool or fleece hat

  • wool socks

  • waterproof boots or highly water resistant boots with liners

Types of weather situations likely encountered:

  • Sunny and hot, spring and stream water is no longer cold.

  • Rain (warm)

  • After the rain, dry mud, warm to hot

Gear recommendations:

  • short sleeve wool or synthetic base layers for wooded/covered areas

  • uv protective tops for open areas/beach play

  • waterproof pants

  • lightweight boots or close toed, water friendly shoes with rubber soles

  • sunglasses (uva/uvb resistant and able to stand up to play)

  • brimmed hat for open areas or hiking - even when overcast! 

Types of weather situations likely encountered:

  • Sunny and warm, but with ice/snow present

  • Rain or Snow (cold)

  • After the rain, muddy, cool to warm

  • Snow/Ice present, cold but above 32

  • Temperate and dry

Gear recommendations:

  • waterproof rain mitts, occasionally insulated mittens or snow gloves under rain mitts

  • wool or synthetic base layer (long pants and sleeves)

  • insulating layer (fleece jacket or light winter jacket or wool sweater)

  • waterproof outer layer (pants and jacket)

  • wool socks and often fleece liners or second pair of socks

  • waterproof boots

Types of weather situations likely encountered:

  • Sunny but cool, with ice/snow present

  • Rain or Snow (cold)

  • Freezin’ Out - Windchill

  • Snow/Ice present, cold but above 32

  • Temperate and dry

Gear recommendations:
(Plus see our tips and handy printable on winter dress here!)

  • waterproof, insulated mittens (or gloves for older kids) or snow gloves with waterproof mittens over top

  • base layer of wool or synthetic material (tops and bottoms, long pants and sleeves)

  • insulating layer of fleece or wool

  • outer wind and waterproof layer or for dry/snow play only, water-resistant (snow pants and snow jacket, or waterproof snow pants and waterproof snow jacket)

  • wool or fleece insulated hat - a hat with room at the top will keep you warmer than a hat that is snug fitting.

  • wool socks, fleece boot liners

  • balaclava (headpiece that goes under your hat and provides coverage for neck and ears) or a scarf tucked into a jacket (not quite as easy!)

  • waterproof or highly water resistant snow boots or in more temperate areas (like a typical NJ winter), all weather / rain boots may suffice when properly worn over multiple layers of socks/liners.

And it’s not just the seasons you’ll want to consider depending on your location:

  • April through October is considered high tick season.

  • June through October is fair game for loads of mosquitos.

  • Summer is snake season.

  • There may be burrs and prickers and thorns in our play areas.

  • Sometimes, we don’t see poison ivy or poison sumac in time.

A good set of waterproof outerwear will be the best investment you make towards all weather play. Add to that a waterproof jacket, rain mitts, and some woolies, and you’re really ready to adventure! If you need further help gearing up, don’t hesitate to contact us here.


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* Read all about why wool is perfect for almost all weather (up to 80*!)