Monday, November 5, 2012

Outside Play Everday and What to Wear, Part One Layers

Here at our house, we try and get Lil Guy outside everyday.  Yes folks, I said EVERYDAY, regardless of weather.  I love this article,  "10 Reasons Why Kids Should Play Outside", which gives reasons to spend more time outside. The raw materials that children find in a natural environment nourishes the whole person; intellect, personality, emotions, physical body health and spirit.  Also, have you ever noticed how well your child sleeps after playing outside for a good chunk of time?  That alone has me on the outside play bandwagon; that and my own memories of being a kid and my daily adventures outside.  I get to play too!

"Whether the weather be cold or
Whether the weather be hot
We'll weather together, whatever the weather
Whether we like it or not!"

If you're playing outside as much as we do, you need to be able to dress for the weather.  As the temperature starts to drop and the possibility of snow beckons, the layering begins!  I am kinda a dork for outdoor gear.. actually a serious dork.  So much a dork, that this is going to be a two-part post.  Talking about layers today and part two post will be about shoes, accessories and babywearing in the great outdoors in any weather.  Be sure to check out my Outside Play Everyday and What to Wear Pinterest board for more great gear.

It always starts with a base layer.  A person once told me, "cotton is rotten, man" and indeed he is correct when it comes to weathering the elements of mother nature, especially in colder weather.  This is where synthetics or wool become your best friend.  You want something that wicks the moisture away from your body so you can stay dry.  Sweat is our personal air conditioner and you don't want that effect happening when you are in the cold.

Base Layer 


Under Woollies
Last two winter seasons we used Patagonia Baby Capilene® set for Lil Guy's base layer. At $50.00 dollars you might think that is a bit expensive?  This set will cost you less than a nice Merino wool set and definitely easier to wash.  I also like to buy things a bit big and hope that I will get more use out of it next season.  When they outgrow them, you can always get some of your money back through consignment or listing for sell online. 

This season I decided to purchase 100% Merino wool jersey from Nature's Fabrics and make my own under woolie set.  This is by far the most economical way.  I bought a couple of yards of natural fabric and dyed it in a big ol' pot on the stove.  Cost was approximately $30.00 for a nice Merino set of under woolies.  THAT is a great deal AND they are one-of-a-kind.

Now don't forget your socks!  Keep your wee one's feet and little toes all cozy wrapped up in the warmth of Smartwool through fall and winter.  I've also recently discovered Darn Tough Vermont socks for myself and love them. I  haven't bought a pair for Lil Guy, but foresee that happening in the future. Luckily he has a BIG foot for a two year old and will fit into their kids small size.  Doesn't look like they have socks for babies or toddlers. 

Mid Layer 


So now we come to mid layers.  You usually see a lot of fleece in this catagory; fleece jackets and wool sweaters. You want something that is going to add a nice layer of warmth.  Polarn O. Pyret is one of my favorite places to get quality children's clothing that are made to be played in.  Their windfleece jacket is a  great mid layer because not only will it keep them warm, it is windproof and water resistant. Works great as an all around jacket during the fall weather when it isn't cold enough for all layers. Has nifty thumb holes in the arm cuffs, so hands stay warmer, gloves stay on and tucked underneath. You can also snap these jackets into their shell, which I don't have any experience with.  Maybe next year.  He is getting ready to outgrow his PO.P fleece and plan on making him his next jacket using some sort of Polartec® fleece; which is an option for all you craftastik folks out there who like to sew.

Usually for bottoms I put a pair of jeans or cords on him and if it is cold enough outside, he will have his woolies underneath.  PO.P's carpenter pants are rugged and made for children to move in; Lil Guy's most used pant.  FYI: Subscribing to the PO.P t mailing list is a great way to be notified of any sales they have going on.  You can save a lot of money this way and  even buy larger sizes for future use.  That's what I do anyways.  

Outer Layer

I always think of the outer layer as the skin, it's going to add a little more warmth, should be waterproof and windproof.  You are going to use this if it is REALLY cold outside or WET.  This is your first defense against the elements and you want it to keep you warm and dry.  You will find a lot of winter coats will have shells that will usually connect with the mid layer. Some outer shells work great as rain coats, just not as easy to stash in away for on the go kind of moments.  

For REALLY cold days outside and snowy days, we have a coverall for Lil Guy and it is both mid and out layer.  I find with children that are still in diapers, this is okay.  Next year, I will definitely be looking for separate pieces.  When it comes to children's outerwear, you cannot beat Didriksons.  I was lucky enough to find an extremely good deal on a kids coverall last year that will fit him again this year!  Heck, it might fit him next year too?  The large fit wasn't a big deal because the cuffs on the arms and legs have tabs that pull and velcro to make the cuff fit closely around limbs keeping it from sliding off.  The stirrups that loop around boot to keep the pants legs in place and water out.  On the sleeves it has inner cuffs with thumb holes so your glove or mitten cuff stays unexposed, tucked in nicely. I could go on and on about this coverall, really I could.  Check out the system guide for yourself here.  Now, only I wish they had a store in the USA.  Luckily, there is always P.OP and other unexplored options.  I live in the mountains and you never know what you will find at second-hand shops.  OR maybe I will get lucky again?

Mole Hill Rainsuit
If you live in a rainy area, you might want to explore rain gear.  Great for muddy walks, wet playgrounds and jumping in puddles of water. We sure get our fair share around here and is probably the most used outdoor gear throughout the year.  For when Lil Guy was just crawling and learning to walk, we loved the Mole Hill rainsuit.  Again, if they are in diapers I am going with a one piece. We got a lot of use out of that suit.

Once he outgrew that, I found an awesome fireman bib overall from PO.P, that they no longer seem to carry.  Lucky for me, I snagged couple on sale and bought one the next size up!  They are kelly green with reflective tape on the legs for low light visibility.  Adjustable straps that snap together and elasticized straps keep the pants over the boots.  A nice sized large pocket adorns the front of the bib.  A great place for wee one's to stash rocks and twigs, or carry a snack.

We have a discount outdoor store here and I found a packable XS Red Ledge's youth Thunderlight Jacket.  It is HUGE on Lil Guy, it is more like a dress.  It's quite comical actually.  Luckily for elasticized wrist bands, you can just bunch it up and it doesn't slip over the hands. Also, doesn't ever hurt to have more coverage when you are dealing with mud and water.  The hood curves to his head nicely and has a bill the juts out to keep the rain from dripping down his face.  When it comes to rain coats, its nice to make sure you have enough room to add a mid layer for colder days.  

A lot of what you go with will depend on your location and your particular needs.  Investing in good outdoor gear and getting to play outside with your kiddo is priceless.  It's those moments you will cherish in your heart for an eternity.  Help your child foster a relationship with nature, it's never too early or late to start.

Check back later this week for Part Two of this post; shoes, accessories and babywearing in the great outdoors.  Don't forget to SUBSCRIBE; which you will find options to do on the right hand side.  Everyone have a craftastik week!

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