Clothing and Gear
“There is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing!”
***Helping your child dress comfortably for the weather and role modeling a positive attitude about the weather are the two things you can do to set your child up for success in our programs.
- LABEL your child’s hats, gloves and mittens and coats!
Make sure any and all clothing and shoes can get wet or dirty.
Have an extra layer, top to bottom, including socks & gloves (when applicable) inside your child’s backpack. Please check your child’s backpack regularly.
- Put all your child’s clothes inside a plastic bag, inside their backpack and include an extra plastic bag for dirty clothes to go into when necessary. This will also keep the clothes dry if it is raining or their backpacks get muddy.
- Layers, layers, layers! Many thin layers can be more comfortable than one thick layer and is more flexible for heat regulation.
Boots must be waterproof and insulated. We highly recommend “Oakiwear,” or “Bogs.” Having warm and dry toes is CRITICAL for a successful day in the forest, so please acquire the best boots you can for your child.
When the weather is fair and boots are not needed, we recommend comfortable, flexible shoes that will stay on and not hinder a child’s play while running, balancing, etc. Athletic shoes like tennis shoes, or water sandals with heel straps work well. PLEASE NO flip flops, clunky shoes, heels, or ballet flats.
We highly recommend byf thin soled “water shoes” for water play and even for general use. They provide excellent flexibility and grip for playing outside, and have the added benefit of being easily washed in the washing machine. Combine them with wool blend socks when the weather is dry for extra warmth.
When it is cold we recommend wool or wool-blend thermal socks. We highly recommend SmartWool. Don’t forget extras in the backpack!
HEAD & NECK
A well-fitting wool or fleece hat is best. Preferably with ear flaps. Please do not rely on hoods. A neck warmer is preferable to a scarf so they don’t get tangled while playing. Consider using a wool or wool/silk blend balaclava during extra cold weather.
MITTENS & GLOVES
We recommend you own multiple pairs (3-4) of gloves/mittens for your child, and pack extras (2-3 pairs of different types) in their winter backpack each day. This ensures that they have the right pair of gloves for the temperature, their comfort level, and have extras in case some get wet. Mittens that have a zipper up the back of the hand (like from the brands Gordini or Outdoor Research) are much easier for getting little cold or wet fingers in and out of. If your child prefers gloves with fingers, then Oakiwear neoprene gloves work well.
*Pro tip: on the coldest days, send your child with both fingered cloth mittens inside waterproof mits!
It is helpful to have a range of under layers to keep your child warm and comfortable in various temperatures.
↟ Base layer: a thin layer of silk, wool, or Capilene long underwear. (NO cotton.)
↟ Mid-weight: a middle layer of wool, or Capilene
↟ Heavy-weight: a thick layer of wool or fleece
***When it is fairly warm you will find a base layer under rain paints and a fleece or rain coat is sufficient. During really cold months, using all three layers under rain pants is necessary to keep your child warm and dry. On top, a base layer and mid-layer are helpful under a fleece or rain coat.
Waterproof pants are a crucial layer and are required for the months of October through April. They keep your child comfortable even when it’s not raining because the ground will be cool and damp. During very rainy weather, rain pants are better than snow pants because snow pants can absorb water and rarely have ankle cinches. It is crucial that the pants have a closure (Velcro, elastic, cord and toggle) at the ankle to cinch the pants tight over boots to keep water out. We highly recommend Oakiwear or REI. For other rain gear or gear that has been out in the rain for a season or more you may want to spray it with a water repellent spray such as Atsko’s Silicon Water guard.
Layers are important. A good fleece coat with a sturdy, proven rain jacket on top are ideal. This keeps the warmth in and rain and wind out. It is crucial that the waterproof coat have a system for cinching at the wrist to keep water out. We highly recommend Oakiwear, REI, Columbia, Polarn O. Pyret, or Hatley brands.
TREATING RAIN GEAR
Rain pants or waterproof jackets must NOT be dried in dryers otherwise they will lose their waterproofing ability. Wash in the washing machine on cold and gentle and hang dry. You can also rinse rain pants/jackets in the sink and hang to dry. If waterproofing ability begins to fade or to ensure extra strength waterproof ability, you may treat rain gear with a Durable Water Repellent.
During warmer weather, children may come to school with bathing suits under their regular clothing for water play.
For more information on what we recommend for gear please see our Clothing & Gear page.