How to Dress for Outdoor Winter Activities
Saskatchewan has endless opportunities for adventure. While it can easily be found in all four of our beautiful seasons, winter is the one that hangs around the longest.
The Prairies have so much to offer in the winter – be it snowshoeing, tobogganing, skating, cross-country skiing or ice fishing. There are so many ways to enjoy the snowy season.
Being someone who loves to be outside with my three young kids, I’ve learned that the key to any successful outdoor adventure in the winter is the ability to stay warm and dry. Nothing will put an end to what could have been an amazing day than cold hands or wet feet.
After eight years and a lot of trial and error and research, I finally have the perfect system in place to get the whole family geared up and ready for an outdoor winter adventure, including the kids!
The greatest advice I can give on adventuring in the winter with kids is to be flexible. Not every day is going to be magical or memorable, but time spent outside is never wasted.
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Base Layer
The first thing you want to do is get a base layer. This is arguably the most important layer. What you are looking for here is a material that is lightweight, breathable and moisture-wicking. The gold standard for base layers is merino wool.
For the kids, we use merino base layers from Kombi Canada. It is reasonably priced and long-lasting, so you really get your money’s worth.
For the adults, we use Smartwool or Hot Chillys, which are two great base layer brands. If merino is out of your price range, there are great hybrid/synthetic options that will do the trick. In my experience, the investment into a good base layer is always worth it.
Step 2: Mid-Layer
Next, we are going to put on the mid-layer. This is the layer that you are going to need when temperatures dip down to the frigid levels we are so accustomed to here in Saskatchewan! You are going to want to use something thick and warm – fleece is our favourite. This is your insulation layer that is going to trap your body heat and protect you from the cold.
For the kids, we buy fleece sweatsuits from The Gap. They are nice and thick, can usually be found on sale and well-made!
For the adults, we use fleece-lined leggings or pants from Eddie Bauer and our favourite bunnyhug (Translation for anyone not from Saskatchewan: hoodie). Keep in mind, what works for someone may not work for others. Fleece comes in a wide variety of thickness, so a little trial and error could be the best way to find out what you like best.
Step 3: Outer Layer
The last and most obvious layer you need for a successful winter adventure is your outer layer – your winter jacket and snow pants. Luckily here, there are options for every price point and style. The top things you want to look for are weather rating, along with windproof and waterproof material.
Our top two favourite brands for the kids are The North Face and Helly Hansen. For the adults, we love Canada Goose and Eddie Bauer. The nice thing about all four of these brands is that they all come with a lifetime warranty. If things like zippers and seams start to give, you can have it replaced instead of having to buy new.
Walmart and Superstore also have very decent gear if your budget doesn’t allow for the former. Places like The Prairie Summit Shop in Regina and Saskatoon also have 50 per cent off sales on gear at the end of every season – prime time to get suited up for next year. For the kids, I always buy a size or two up, so that the pieces last longer than one season!
Step 4: Accessories
The final piece of the puzzle is good accessories. Boots are very important for warm and dry feet, but one thing you can do to help is wear wool socks! Costco has perfect wool socks for winter. We have always trusted Sorel for our winter footwear. The boots have grip, a -40 C weather rating and, most importantly, they are waterproof.
Mittens are essential. Look for something with good insulation. Kombi Canada has great-quality mittens for a reasonable price point. If the weather is really cold, we put on balaclavas with a toque on top! Toques are always a great way to express your unique winter style, so we let everyone choose their own.
Now that you’re dressed, you can go enjoy winter in Saskatchewan. Have fun!
Watch how Holly and her kids get ready for an outdoor winter adventure.
Author & Photographer: Holly Burgess
Holly Burgess is a full-time insurance professional at Hoffmann Kool in Saskatoon. When she is not in the office, you will find her adventuring with her husband and three young kids. She inspires other families to enjoy the outdoors with their kids through her Instagram, @burgessadventures. On her Saskatchewan bucket list is a visit to Nistowiak Falls!