According to a poll by the Nature Conservancy, only 10% of kids polled said they spent time outdoors everyday. But the reasons weren’t focused around “too busy gaming it up at home.” Instead, respondents said a lack of access to natural areas and discomfort with the outdoors were two leading factors.
That’s proof enough that kids would probably be up for a day in the great outdoors given the right opportunity. Otherwise, left to their own devices, kids will probably just stay on their plugged-in devices all day long. Inspire them to do more than stare at a screen all day. Get them to power down for a few hours and bundle up for a day of outdoor exploring in fall and winter.
Plan a day of hiking in a nearby state park, share a picnic at a favorite playground, or just explore a nearby wooded area. It doesn’t take long for kids to get into the swing of the beauty nature has to offer. They may still ask for their iPads when they get home, but they will also know there’s something out there in the world besides what they build on Minecraft.
Before you head out, make sure your family is dressed for a successful outdoor excursion. That includes proper insulation, waterproof gear, and a few fun and stylish options. After all, you have to look at these kids all day – you might as well make sure they look crazy cute.
1. Polyester Unmentionables
Any good mom knows that absolutely nothing can get accomplished without a clean, dry pair of underwear. This is solid sage advice we should all follow. Get this step wrong, and you might as well stay in your pajamas the rest of the day (probably not the best idea, however amazing that actually sounds).
Gear Junkie suggests skipping the cotton underwear altogether and opting for polyester or merino wool to stay dry and warm at the same time. Remember to get your kids to go to the bathroom before bundling them up in impenetrable layers. Next, throw an extra pair in your to-go bag in case of accidents or mishaps while out and about.
2. Warm and Snuggly Base Layer
Every outdoor excursion should include a warm and snuggly base layer that keeps moisture away from your skin without drawing away precious body heat. For example, Cabela’s has a fun selection of weatherproof hybrid mesh base layers in both parent and kid sizes. Its Heatlast technology traps in the heat and wicks moisture away with its polyester and spandex blend.
We give Cabela’s bonus points for its cute options like a pink and tan camouflage combo. You know, in case you want to blend in with the cotton candy woods you’ll discover on your next outing with the kids.
3. Ready-to-Go Rain Suit
You can always opt for rain jacket and pants if you’re going exploring along the trails during the rainy season, or just risk it and dare to get soggy while venturing out on the trails this year. But you’ll probably make your life easier if you bundle up the kids in a one-piece rainsuit.
Try a bright orange or red to keep tabs on your little one as they run through forests and snow. Your suits should also be waterproof and ready to zip up and go. Rainsuits can be super cute and adorable, and keep you covered, whether you get stuck in a downpour or just meet a puddle masquerading as a child’s plaything. To keep the outdoors fun even on a gloomy day, give your little one a sweet Blue Sky and White Clouds umbrella to bring back the sunny days, even if it’s raining.
4. Synthetic and Stylish Fleece
We love fleece as an outdoor essential because it’s completely versatile, and can also be paired with jeans for a casual dinner out once your outdoor journey is complete.
Pick up a Columbia Glacial Fleece Half Zip Pullover for that Elsa Ice Queen look your girls adore. Babies can get in on the fleece action too, and transform into a little furry bundle with a fleece pullover. Bonus if there’s a cute lion on the front. And for moms looking for a style that doesn’t scream, “My last hike involved a diaper blow-out at Mile Marker 3,” fleece is versatile and comes in so many colors and designs, you’re sure to find at least one hip Momma find.
We know your kids have no matching socks and they’re sure to venture out in one superhero and one princess sock. It’s also easy to blame your kids and say they dressed themselves.
For nature exploring, break your streak of mismatched and recycled socks and pick up a few new pairs to protect your family’s feet. Thick socks are out, and minimalistic comfort is in. Choose lightweight hiking or backpacking socks that are warm and versatile, no matter what you’re doing outdoors. There’s nothing terribly sexy or innovative when it comes to socks, so let’s keep it simple.
Look for options that keep your feet dry with synthetic blends. If your family has a serious thirst for adventure, try mountaineering socks for thick and cushioned comfort while still holding up against warm terrain.
6. Waterproof Gloves or Mittens
You must be a brand new parent if you think you can slide tiny gloves over your toddler’s hands. Opt for gloves with thumbs so kids can still dig into leaves and throw snowballs. Or, if you want to get really clever, choose mittens with fake bear claws to show off your baby’s signature style.
Waterproof mittens with Velcro can keep your kids’ hands dry and your mittens from escaping little hands. Most major department stores have relatively inexpensive waterproof mittens. Their selection comes insulated with warm fleece, and elastic ribbed cuffs to keep them in place. They’re also relatively inexpensive. Even with the Velcro and ribbed cuffs, your child is going to lose a mitten at least three times before the end of winter.
7. Waterproof Boots
Galoshes are cute and inspire the stuff family commercial montages are made of. Who doesn’t like seeing a kid splashing around in a puddle? But they just don’t hold up that well against the wet rocks and muddy hills that just beckon kids to come and destroy themselves on. Waterproof footwear should always be insulated and ready for an onslaught of outdoor abuse. It should also be able to survive being tossed into the toilet by a pack of roaming toddlers.
Instead, slide a pair of insulated, waterproof boots over your family’s lightweight socks and you’re ready to head outside on a gorgeous fall day and go exploring. Dicks Sporting Goods has a fun selection, including Kamik Kids’ waterproof winter boots that look like they belong on an arctic fashion runway.
8. Brimmed Hat
Keep the sun off your family all autumn long with brimmed hats. A hat can help deter sunburns and keep body heat in. During fall months, a cowboy hat is a fun look for kids ready to explore the hiking trails. When winter hits, your family needs hats with fleece or wool that cover the ears.
Velcro is a good option to attempt to keep hats on your kids without worrying about choking hazards. Snap a quick photo of your child wearing a hat, and plaster it all over social media to prove (to your in-laws) that you’re a good parent who bundles up their kids. We know Velcro is no match for kids and will be history in about two minutes.
Summer months aren’t the only time you should really be thinking about sun damage and eye strain from the sun. Too much sun in the eyes has also been connected to macular degeneration and other issues. A pair of sunglasses can help deflect the sun, all while protecting your family’s eyes from debris, snow, and harmful UV rays while you’re out exploring.
Alpha Mom recommends Real Kids Explorer sunglasses that promise to be bendy but unbreakable. We’re sure your kids are up for the challenge, so give them a pair and let them go to town. Keep in mind that an expensive pair of sunglasses may be fashion-forward and high-quality, but you can still find a quality pair of UV sunglasses with polarized lenses at retailers like WalMart for a fraction of the cost.
10. Cute Hiking Pack
Now that you’ve got your wardrobe covered from head to toe (and face), let’s think about essentials that go beyond what you’re wearing. A day pack to carry sunblock, water, and treasures found along the way is imperative for fall and winter exploration.
We love the fiery red CamelBak hydration pack with black flames that fits right over your child’s shoulders. It will make your little one look totally cool and is worth the splurge. Why? If the pack is stylish enough, your kids will actually want to wear it and keep you from having to lug their gear around by yourself.
What’s on your list for outdoor wardrobe essentials? Let us know by leaving a comment below: