Gear Up for Outdoor Play with LAYERS!

(Whenever possible, our friends at have provided links to sample outdoor layering pieces--thanks BandB!)

Everyday Clothing


First, let’s start with the basics. This is what your child wears on a typical day—shorts/pants, dress/skirt with leggings, short-/long-sleeved shirt, etc. Cotton socks are a must every single day. For all other items, we recommend natural fibers like linen, wool, hemp, bamboo, cotton, etc.


Insulating Layer


Next comes the traditional outdoor gear that every kid has. These are the absolute must-haves throughout the seasons. Coupled with rain/snow gear, they can provide that much-needed extra thermal layer. Worn by themselves, they can keep kids warm in the chilly mornings or on brisk, windy days.

1.    Light jacket, sweater, or warm vest with zippers rather than pullovers or buttons is a must-have. This item must fit under a coat—wool or fleece are best to add warmth without adding excessive bulk.

2.    Lightweight hat that covers the ears (must fit inside of a hood, so no pompoms). Wool/silk blend offers warmth without much bulk and still covers the neck, ears, and cheeks (sometimes).

3.    Lightweight, waterproof mittens that reach over cuff and sleeve. This protects the child’s wrist from elements as well. Mitten clips or strings are also helpful for your child to keep track of his belongings.


Rain Gear


Remember, water-proof = weather-proof. This gear isn’t just for rainy days; it’s also essential after rainy days when it is still muddy and damp outdoors. This layer will save you innumerable loads of laundry! Be advised that laundering may compromise waterproof features like sealing on seams. In our humble experience, rain gear is usually best “cleaned” by hosing off outdoors. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s label carefully.

4.    Waterproof rain boots that fit well. Don’t try to buy a larger size to allow for growth—just make sure the boots have room for a thick pair of socks without squishing toes. Here are some more details on what to features to look for when shopping for rain boots.

5.    Waterproof rain coat (complete with hood) will keep water/mud out entirely. Look for covered zippers (better water seal) and lined necks for maximum comfort. 

6.    Waterproof rain pants are perfect year-round. Bib-style rain pants are a great solution too. No matter what garment you choose, tight-fitting cuffs on the pants leg are a must—elastic stirrup straps are even better!


Cold Weather Gear


Remember, water-proof = weather-proof. On those chilly days, it’s time to double up! By combining your regular insulating layer with waterproof rain gear, your child will remain cozy and dry.

COMBINE a light jacket, sweater, or warm vest worn inside a waterproof rain jacket. This is usually sufficient for cold weather play rather than purchasing a heavy-duty, waterproof, insulated snow/ski coat. Puffy coats from retailers are often filled with polyester and do very little for keeping warm.

COMBINE a light-weight hat with the hood of a waterproof rain coat. If the coat has no hood, the child may also wear a waterproof, warm hat and scarf/neck gaiter.

7.    A pair of cotton/fleece sweat pants worn in conjunction with waterproof rain pants are a great substitute for waterproof, insulated, snow pants. Must fit well over everyday clothing. These should have elastic cuffs or a stirrup strap to prevent things from getting up and into boots.

8.    A pair of thick, wool/fleece socks worn inside waterproof rain boots is a great alternative to insulated snow boots. In milder climates, these add a sufficient layer of insulation for cold weather play without the need for purchasing more pricey snow boots.

 9.    A pair of thin, thermal mittens worn underneath lightweight, waterproof mittens that reach over cuff and sleeve. Rather than buying waterproof, insulated snow mittens, this will protect the child’s wrist from elements just fine. 


Thermal Layer


And finally, for those times when temperatures dip below freezing . . . In mild winter conditions, layering your child’s outdoor gear with additional thermal items is usually fine. But in the event of freezing temperatures, your child will need to wear an extra layer under everyday clothing. Long johns or long underwear made of wool or wool/silk blend are best. This layer is next to your child’s skin, so it must be soft, breathable, and NOT trap moisture, like cotton does.


Huge thanks go out to for sharing this information and for providing outdoor gear for ALL of our students!