top of page

How To Make Outdoor Winter Adventures Magical And Fun

Tips to get outside and stay warm this winter

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. See my full earning disclosure here.

You might think you can’t go outside during winter, but I’m here to tell you that you can. Okay, maybe there are some extreme cases (extreme colds) where you probably shouldn’t go out, but even then, you probably could if you had the right gear. I’m a huge fan of getting outdoors during winter, and the following tips will help you achieve that goal.

Often, as caregivers, we get the best gear for the kids and then forget about ourselves.

It’s easy to focus on the kids when it comes to kids’ winter gear. We buy everyone new hats and gloves, hand warmers and mittens—but what about ourselves? Don't forget that you need good layers too! The more comfortable you are, the more magical memories your family can create together on their adventure.

Let's face it, as caregivers; we can get pretty busy. We're on the go constantly: taking kids to school and activities, running errands, and making meals. It can be easy to forget about ourselves when rushing around doing these things.

Before you know it, suddenly, you're freezing your butt off in a blizzard with children fully prepared because while you have the kids perfectly prepared, you forgot your own hat or scarf!

Luckily for all of us (and our families), there are ways to stay warm outside this winter so that we don't have to miss out on all of those fun outdoor activities (like hiking). And with a few simple rules, it's easy to prep the whole family for winter. Keep reading to find out how you can keep your family warm while out in the cold this winter!


There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.

There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.

This is what I've learned from my friend and brilliant author, Linda Åkeson McGurk.

Linda is a Swedish-American freelance writer and author who believes life is better outside. Her first book, There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secret for Raising Healthy, Resilient and Confident Children, was published by Touchstone/S&S in October 2017 to critical acclaim. She lives with her family in Sweden.

This is my number one recommended book for families and educators, especially those skeptical about the safety and benefits of outdoor play in winter. I had the pleasure of hosting Linda on Instagram Live in February. Check it out here.

Linda will be appearing on the podcast soon to tell us about her new book,

The Open-Air Life: Discover the Nordic Art of Friluftsliv and Embrace Nature Every Day by Linda Åkeson McGurk

Subscribe to the podcast, so you don't miss it, and pre-order your copy of Open Air Life today!


Conquer Anxieties with Knowledge

Maybe the Blizzard episode of Little House on the Prarie has you fearing frostbite and hypothermia. But I promise you that if you keep your body warm and dry, you can enjoy playing in the snow all winter.

It’s easy to see how this could go wrong. And your anxieties are valid and alert you to risk, but I invite you to read this post I wrote last year about Risk Assessment and consider mitigating the risk instead of avoiding it. You can also check out this post on Cold Weather-specific risk assessment.

You might think that being able to mitigate this means you have to buy expensive and bulky clothing that restricts any fun activities that may be had. But the truth is, there's a simple formula to layering that will keep you warm and cozy, and it isn't about how much you spend. Keep reading to learn the 3 things you need to stay warm.

Because it's not just about having enough clothing; if you dress in clothes that are too heavy or don’t breathe well enough, you run the risk of being uncomfortable and overheating quickly. And when we’re hot and sweaty in our winter gear, we lose our ability to regulate body temperature effectively—drastically affecting our mood and performance levels while outdoors. That's where "bad weather" affects us when we don't have the correct clothes. So here are some dos and don'ts:


Material matters: choose natural fibers for your layers when possible.

Wool, silk, and cotton are all good options for your layering. They're more breathable than synthetics such as nylon and polyester and can be much warmer than you might expect. Natural fiber materials also tend to be more durable, which is important when adventuring outdoors.

Natural fibers don't hold heat in quite the same way that some synthetic materials do—but they also don't trap moisture within them as much! That means they'll keep you cozy and dry even if you get damp from sweat or rain because they allow moisture to pass through them instead of trapping it inside the material like synthetics do (which can lead to clamminess). Another big plus about natural fibers is that most feel softer next to skin on your body's sensitive parts like underarms or thighs (whereas synthetics tend not only to chafe but also rub against those areas until red bumps form).


The key to staying warm and outdoors is three essential layers. A wicking layer, a warming layer, and an outer layer.

Okay, okay here we've made it to the good part. Here's the secret (or not-so-secret) formula to staying warm in cold weather.

The key to staying warm and outdoors is three essential layers. A wicking layer, a warming layer, and an outer layer.

  1. Wicking/base layer: Wool is the best option for this layer because it has natural moisture-wicking properties that will help you avoid getting clammy when you're active outside.

  2. Warmth/middle layer: Fleece is a great option for this layer in cold temperatures, but some fleece also works well as an outer layer (if wind resistance is not important). In extreme temps, this may be two layers—opt for two light middle layers over one heavier one. That way, you can layer down if needed.

  3. Outer/waterproof: Something that will keep you dry while blocking wind if needed. A Gore-Tex jacket would work well in such cases!


Don't forget the noggin.

There's nothing worse than having cold ears on a windy day. The best way to keep your ears warm is with a hat. The best hats are made of wool or fleece, which wick moisture away from your skin, so it doesn't get trapped in the material. If you're planning to be active outside, wear a hat that won't fall off when running or jumping around!

Other options for keeping your head warm:

Balaclavas cover your entire head and will keep your ears warm. Ear warmers are also an option if you don't want something on top of your head. These are great for small children who won't let you put anything over their heads!

Trapper-style winter hats are a good option if you plan to be outside for a long time. The ear flaps will keep your ears warm, and the hat will fit snugly around your head so it won't fall off when you're playing in the snow.

Ear Muffs are great if your head overheats easily and you don't want something on top of your head. These are also great for small children who won't let you put anything over their heads!


Add mittens or gloves to your layers for added warmth to your extremities. This will keep your fingers from freezing in cool temps.

Gloves or mittens?

If you need to keep your hands warm for activities where dexterity is important (like typing), gloves are the way to go. If you don’t need as much dexterity in your fingers and want something more versatile (you can use them to warm

up your hands while also keeping them covered), then opt for mittens. I'm also a fan of this type that are convertible -you can wear them as mittens or gloves, depending on the weather.

If you do want to keep your hands warm but need to be able to use your phone or camera's touchscreen, then I suggest these gloves that have a conductive material so you can still use your devices without taking them off!

Wool gloves are my favorite base layer for chilly days when I'm not worried about getting wet. The same principles apply to gloves to the rest of your clothing; layers are key when it's ultra-cold or there's moisture involved! I like to layer my wool base layer gloves under waterproof snow gloves for hours of fun without bitterly cold hands.

There are not a lot of functional options for touchscreens and snow gloves. But here's my advice on that, leave the phone behind and make memories instead. If there's snow on the ground, chances are your kids want you to be out with them and having fun! So ditch the phone and get to it!

If you really want to capture the memories you are making; I suggest getting a good tripod and setting it up as a time-lapse or just a video to capture memories and forget about it. But also remember, not every moment needs to be captured in film. Some of them only get captured in our hearts. And that's not a bad thing.


When outfitting infants or toddlers, layer appropriately for their smaller frames with a base layer, fleece or wool sweater, snow pants, and waterproof outer shell with a hood to protect the head, ears, and neck from wind or snow.

Infants and toddlers lose heat quicker than we do as adults and even older children. So it's important to take extra precautions to keep them warm and dry.

My favorite hack for hiking with babies is babywearing! I'm a Tula girl myself, but there are so many options on the market, from soft-sided carriers to structured hiking carriers. However, the hiking carriers don't keep babe close to your body, so you lose that benefit by using a hiking carrier, so I've found my soft-sided carriers to be adequate for the level of hiking I do with my kids.

Once you find a good carrier, get one of these baby-wearing jackets to help keep both you and your little one cozy and warm during winter hikes.

A good rule of thumb is, what you're comfortable in, plus one more layer for infants.

  • Base layer, fleece or wool sweater, snow pants, and waterproof outer shell: Just like for you, your child can easily get too hot when wearing too many layers. So make sure to dress them appropriately.

  • One more layer than you are wearing.

  • Waterproof snow pants: Don't buy water-resistant pants; they won't provide enough protection against the elements. And like we said before, wet=dangerous in extreme cold.

The most important part of dressing infants and toddlers for the cold is keeping them DRY. Check their gloves and socks frequently for moisture. And ALWAYS pack an extra pair of gloves and socks, especially for little ones.


Speaking of Keeping your Feet Dry, wool socks are essential. Always pack an extra pair. Never get caught without dry socks.

It's not just a rule for the kids; important to winter happiness is warm tootsies.

Adult puts on grey wool socks in front seat of car with green pants and black jacket
Wool Socks

Keeping your feet dry is essential to staying warm and happy in winter. Wool socks are great because they’re breathable, which keeps your feet dry and helps prevent chafing or blisters. They also work well to keep your toes warm on a cold day. If you live where it rains a lot, wool socks will not stay wet for long because they dry so quickly and wick moisture away from your skin!


It's important to get outside in winter, especially if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or Seasonal Depression.

The benefits of being outside in winter are numerous. Not only does it improve your mental health, but it also helps you stay physically active. With this in mind, we’ve put together some tips for getting yourself out of the house to enjoy a brisk walk or run:

Get outside first thing in the morning. Yeah, I know. That's when it's cold. But it's also when the UV rays are most beneficial and a great way to start your day.

Talk to your doctor. Yep. That's my only advice to get as much sunshine as a preventative as possible. But if you feel like you're experiencing SAD symptoms, I urge you to speak with a doctor or other support person and get the help you deserve. Here's more from the Mayo Clinic on SAD.


You don't have to spend a lot of money.

If you're going to spend some money on winter gear, it's important to buy quality stuff that will last. Buying cheap gear can end up costing you more in the long run if it doesn't keep you warm or dry enough. But cost doesn't need to be a barrier: There are plenty of ways to affordably stay active outside this winter without breaking the bank.

First, buy secondhand if possible. Thrift stores are great places for inexpensive snowsuits and accessories, as well as outdoor clothing from previous seasons (which is often half-price or less). You can also try posting an ad on Facebook Marketplace—or even asking friends and family if they have any old snowsuits lying around that they don't use anymore!

You'll also want good quality boots so your feet stay warm this winter—and luckily, there are lots of options out there at reasonable prices!

If possible, try them on before buying them, so they fit properly (you don't want blisters!). I like purchasing all-weather hiking boots and pairing them with thick socks for everything but playing in the snow/sledding with the kids. If we're out hiking, I prefer the comfort and support of my favorite hiking boots. . A pair of boots should last multiple seasons with proper care and upkeep; look out for sales online or coupons so you get them at their lowest prices possible!

I'll be posting the best deals I see on outdoor gear all holiday season, so be sure to follow me on social media wherever you hang out !


Make Sure to Stay Hydrated! Drink water and keep Chapstick/moisturized to avoid dry skin. Chapped lips are no fun.

For my last tip, one we often forget in winter because we're not hot and sweaty is staying hydrated.

Winter is a great time to get outdoors and explore new places, especially when it's cold outside! However, the cold air can cause you to become dehydrated and have dry skin, + cold wind is not a good combo; therefore, it's important that you drink lots of water before going out and while out.

SHAMELESS PLUG: Don't forget to check out the Shop @ Playful Acre to outfit your emotional support water bottle with nature-inspired stickers.

Also, Chapstick is essential for winters spent outdoors. Invest now! You don't want chapped lips!


Here's my master list of all my winter gear ideas. I'm constantly adding and updating, so check in whenever you need new gear and see what's new!

Winter Gear for Grown Ups

Winter Gear for Kids

I hope you feel more empowered and equipped to get outside this Fall and Winter! Enjoy the crisp air, crunchy leaves, and snow. I promise that you will not regret it!

79 views0 comments
bottom of page