Two winters ago, our family of five took up skiing. We all had lessons and before we knew it, we were regulars on the chair lifts and the blue/green runs. (My boys can ski black diamond runs, but they have better ability and no fear.) We made due with the winter clothes that we had, which meant that when the temperature dipped below freezing, our ski days were cut short. Being chilled to the bone does not make for a fun day in the snow.
The winters here, in the Okanagan area of BC, are milder than what people see in the Prairies or out East (we usually hover around or above the freezing mark), but we had a crazy cold snap two months ago, and are having one right now. It was -15C this morning (Prairie people are laughing at me calling that cold), but I went up to the ski hill with a girlfriend while our kids were in school, and it was -27C with the windchill. Normally we would bail (a benefit of having a seasons pass), but we'd been trying to do this for weeks now and we powered through. We were dressed for the weather, and it made it much more bearable.
As for my kids, we geared them (and us) up last year to brace everyone for the cold so we could last out there much longer. Here's how to make playing outside (or skiing, or walking to school, etc.) a more enjoyable experience—you simply need the right gear.
1. Begin with a base layer made out of moisture-wicking material. Dry skin is much warmer than wet skin. We bought everyone a top and a bottom, to make them easier to get on and off.
2. A fleece middle layer. Everyone in our family has a fleece sweatshirt and fleece sweatpants dedicated for layering against the cold.
3. A good-quality outer layer. We hit the ski swap every fall and buy excellent quality jackets and ski pants at much lower prices to keep everyone warm.
4. Balaclavas. We all wear these on the super cold days while skiing (they aren't necessary for spring skiing), and my kids will sometimes wear them to school when we have a cold snap.
5. Hats or toques. We lose 50% of our heat out of the top of our heads. Cap it off!
6. Ski socks. These keep your feet WAY warmer than regular socks, due to the blend of wool and polyester. They're worth every penny.
7. A good pair of boots. Waterproof boots that are rated for colder temperatures keep their toes nice and warm.
8. Mittens. Mittens are warmer than gloves, because your fingers are together instead of separated. As even the water-resistant mittens get wet, we each have a few pairs to change into dry ones when necessary.
9. Scarves or a neck warmer. I prefer a neck warmer, because there's less fuss and they stay in place easier.
10. Extra sets where you can. While we buy the expensive gear for the ski hill, we buy less-expensive snow pants and jackets and gloves for the kids to wear to school. That way the better-quality stuff gets less wear and tear, and doesn't end up in the Lost and Found over the weekend when you need it for longer times outside.
Did I miss anything? How do you keep your kids—and you—warm while being out in the cold?
If you liked this article, you might also like "Dr. Says Kids Need To Get Outside, Even During Extreme Cold" and "What To Do (And Not To Do) During The Polar Vortex."