Outdoor Gear for Kids: Playing and Learning in Any Weather
When you’re a hybrid school with a heavy emphasis on nature study and outdoor play, one of the common questions we get from schoolhouse families is “what outdoor gear should I buy?”
Our new families, especially those coming from a public school background, quickly learn that, yeah, we really do go out in all kinds of weather! Our motto is: “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” We also encourage our families to take the 1,000 Hours Outside challenge each year.
If you’re a schoolhouse family, a homeschooling family that spends lots of time outside or if you just want to make sure your kids stay warm during recess, here are our top picks for outside gear that will keep your child warm, dry and happy no matter the weather.
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Outdoor Gear Pick #1: Kids Boots for All Weather
What to look for: Boot soles that promote good traction, insides that keep kids’ feet warm (without being sweaty) and outside materials that live up to their promise of being waterproof no matter the weather.
Many of our schoolhouse families choose to buy Neoprene boots for use year-round. No need to purchase both rain boots and snow boots that way. Easy!
Although the brands may vary, Neoprene boots are the most important outdoor item that kids need in order to have a great year outdoors.
Here are a few of our favorite brands:
BOGS Boots: These boots have a longstanding reputation of being the warmest, most waterproof option for outdoor use. In recent years, though, more competitor brands have popped up with similar quality boots at a cheaper price. BOGS are still a great, trusted option, though. Consider getting the solid-colored boot option to save and pass down to younger siblings.
Lonecone All-Weather Mud Boots: One of our schoolhouse moms swears by these boots. She has three boys under 8 at home, and in her experience, these boots have held up better than higher-priced BOGS. And we love how unique and cute their designs are!
Oaki All-Weather Boots: Great quality for the price! Biggest plus is the high-quality outer fabric layer. Oaki is the way to go if your child loves bright colors.
Lower-cost Option: Dick’s Sporting Goods Kids’ Snowbound Winter Boots. Similar in style to BOGS and other Neoprene brands, this DSG option is great for those with a limited budget. Several of our schoolhouse families have used these with great success.
P.S. I highly recommend purchasing a boot/glove drier. Kids come home with all sorts of wet gear, and if you only purchase one pair of boots, you’ll want to make sure they are dry and ready to go for the next day. This boot and glove dryer on Amazon is a great option.
Outdoor Gear Pick #2: Rain Gear – 1 piece or 2?
Our schoolhouse families are split on rain gear. Some prefer the one piece zip-up suits and others say the two-piece sets are easier for their kiddos to manage. Here are great rain suit options both ways. Do what works best for your family!
Oaki One-Piece Rain Suits. Classic one-piece waterproof rain suit option. Love the bright colors!
CeLaVi Two-Piece Rain Suits. Super durable two-piece rain suit. And it’s easy to add warmer layers underneath to keep kids toasty on cool fall days.
Outdoor Gear Pick #3: Winter Gear for Kids
Layering for Warmth
Your grandma probably told you this a thousand times, but she was right. It’s all about layers and warm socks. Read more about the three-layer system we recommend to keep kids warm outside in the winter months.
Although it’s a little pricy, we recommend a merino wool base layer. Trust me, it makes a huge difference in freezing temperatures.
Lower-Cost Option: Costco carries thermal base layers (think Under Armour) at great prices. If you have a membership, be on the lookout for these sets and snag them as soon as they hit the floor. They sell out fast! And don’t forget the wool socks. Although any of the boot options listed above should do the job, these socks are nice for extra cold days.
Basic Snow Gear: Waterproof, waterproof, waterproof! This is the most important consideration when choosing the best winter clothing. At the schoolhouse, recess means sledding, snow fort building and snowman creations. It also means wet winter gear that comes home at the end of the day.
We recommend waterproof gloves that you have your child try on prior to sending them to the schoolhouse. It’s critical that kids can get these things on by themselves or with limited support. We love these gloves because they slide on easily and the tightening strap can be adjusted to best fit each child. We don’t love that color options are limited, though. Our lost and found bin has been overrun with random black gloves, making it hard for kids to tell which gloves are theirs.
It’s also important to find a comfortable winter hat that your child likes. If it’s falling down over their eyes or scratchy, they won’t wear it outside; trust us on this.
There are also many great winter coat and snow pant sets out there at reasonable prices, so shop around to find the one your child likes the best. (One of our moms swears by Once Upon A Child and has found expensive name brand outdoor gear at a fraction of the price.) Remember, it’s helpful to teachers if the coats/snow pants are unique or colorful so your child can quickly pick out where their items are located.
Outdoor Gear Pick #4: Other Outdoor Necessities for Kids
Kleen Kanteen Twist-Cap Stainless Steel Water Bottle: Love the stainless steel straw and unique twist cap feature. Have you ever had the lid of a kids stainless water cup break off and then it’s always lying on the floor dripping water all over? Ugh. Not this one! The twist-cap lid allows the straw to pop out when needed; makes it easy to clean; and best of all, difficult to break!
Iron Flask Stainless Steel Water Bottle: Super durable dual use bottle that can keep beverages warm or cold. Comes with different lids for each purpose.
Tick Remover Spoon: I will never remove a tick again without a tick spoon. It can easily lift off the tiniest tick without leaving infectious mouth parts behind. You’ll never want to go back to tweezers again!
Poofy Organics Boo Boo Stick: Easy to carry and works well for bug bites and hives.
Poofy Organics Everything Salve: Great for cuts, splinters, bee stings and poison ivy rashes.
Extra: Outdoor Books & Curriculum Recommendations
Want more outdoor adventure in your homeschool schedule? Here is some suggested reading that we’ve tested out at the schoolhouse. Highly recommend!
Pocket Guide to the Outdoors: Based on My Side of the Mountain and companion book My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
Have a great year outside! What are your outdoor gear must-haves? Let us know in the comments!