Stick to basic colors for outdoor clothes. Black snowpants can be passed down from one kid to the next, regardless of gender. | ERIC CHANDLER
Children's Winter Wear: Tips & Tricks By Eric Chandler
2 inches of material into the hem of jackets and pants. This allows the garment to be extended by letting out the grow seams. Some even have the grow seams built into the waist to allow the garment to stretch there. She said this should allow more than one season’s worth of wear in a garment.
Do you have kids? Me, too. Do you live up here in the Northern Wilds? Yeah, I hear you. Sometimes it feels like you’re equipping an army. Winter poses unique gear challenges. We’ve been outfitting our little crew for a decade. They’re not that little anymore. I just took hand-me-down ski boots from my son, so we might be on the other side of the hill. Did we learn anything from outfitting our kids for Duluth winters? When I say “we,” I am including my wife Shelley. Together we came up with some tips. Winter clothes for kids are heavy duty. Your kids will outgrow them, not wear them out. If you have multiple children, the clothes are going to get handed down. So, one of Shelley’s tips was to buy clothes with neutral colors. Thing One is a boy and Thing Two is a girl. We bought snow pants that were black. No camo or pink to get passed on to the wrong target audience. If not black, then primary solid colors like blue or red work. Shelley told me that she tries to buy clothes and gear at the end of the season. Clearance sales at the end of the winter can mean good deals. But use caution: You have to predict how big your growing urchins will be next winter. Good luck. Lately, I buy my boy new longer pants at each full moon. That’s two tips. Shelley shrugged her shoulders and went on to more important
During the next 18 years, Dad may outgrow one size. His daughter on the other hand… | ERIC CHANDLER tasks than helping this writer. I struggled to add a third item to my Top Three Tips list. I called for reinforcements. I asked Alane Davis of Ski Hut what her tips were. She’s the clothing manager for this well-known Duluth shop. Her first tip was to find clothes that have a good waterproof/breathability score. She said the waterproof rating is more important for kids than breathability. Davis suggested at least an 8,000 mm or 8K rated item since kids “tend to sit in the snow.” I have to agree since my kids tend to roll in the snow like happy dogs. Davis also said some winter garments for children have grow seams. Good manufacturers will often build an extra 1.5 to
Lastly, Davis recommended buying children’s clothing from a manufacturer that also makes winter gear for adults. She listed several advantages to doing this. Reputable manufacturers of adult gear are apt to make good stuff for kids. If there are problems, these manufacturers have good warranty coverage. And technical advances that are made for adults will flow to the kid products. I also got help from Heather Maruska, the buyer and visual merchandiser for Trailfitters, “Duluth’s Outdoor Store.” She immediately mentioned a product called the Patagonia Baby Synchilla Cardigan. It’s available in sizes from infant to 4T. It has spandex in the cuffs and hood openings to keep out the draft from Old Man Winter. It even has a hand-me-down label so the new owner can make it their own. It works as an outer layer in the spring and fall and works as a good synthetic inner layer in the heart of winter. But synthetics aren’t everything in the world of layering. Smartwool socks for kids bring the old school material into the 21st century. Maruska says that Trailfitters
has a variety of these in stock for children. Wool insulates when wet, which is good since kids are bound to get some snow in their boots at some point. And she said they work as hand-me-downs as well. I hadn’t thought of that, even though I’m sure we handed down some burly winter socks in our family. Add wool socks to the list of things you can recycle. The last thing in Maruska’s Top Three was to get a kid carrier. She mentioned that Trailfitters has models from Deuter and Osprey. This will unlock the winter season for you and your kids. And it’s plenty useful all year round while the kids are small. I’ve carried kids cross country skiing with our kid carrier. I even watched the start of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Race with my daughter on my back. Little ones appreciate the lift and the view, even in winter. I struggled hard to find my own third tip. After talking to Davis and Maruska, I figured out what it is: Get help from the experts at your local shops. Davis said, “A good retailer has an educated staff who treats their clothing lines with the same level of expertise as they do the hard goods they sell.” Do me one favor: If you get help from the folks at your local shop, give the shop your business. Put your bucks into the local store and watch those dollars bounce around your neighborhood. Everybody wins. Especially your comfy kids rolling around in the snow of the Northern Wilds.
Northern Wilds January 2014