Winter Gear for 1000 Hours Outside for the Whole Family

This is our third year attempting the 1000 hours outside challenge and I have learned a few things about the winter gear for 1000 hours outside…

a pin image that reads how to dress kids for winter weather on a solid dark purple background on the righthand side. The left hand side has three square images stacked; the top an infant in a purple snowsuit and white knit hat smiling and sitting in snow covered in a dusting of snow. The middle shows a toddler in a pink coat and purple hat sitting in a blue sled as it goes down a snow covered hill
the bottom image shows a girl in a pink balaclava, sliver coat and blue snow pants laying in snow and smiling up at the camera all wearing their winter gear for 1000 hours outside

Winter Gear for 1000 Hours Outside

1- there is TOTALLY such a thing as bad weather. No matter how you are dressed negative wind chills are nasty. That said. What you wear REALLY does matter and can make all the difference!

2- the old adage of just add water still applies to outdoor time. I can’t tell you the amount of extra time outdoors I’ve gotten by offering water to play with

3- it takes a mindset and it takes effort but ANYONE can take this challenge on and even if you don’t make it to 1000 hours I doubt you’ll regret the time you spent outdoors with your kids!

an pin image that reads kids winter gear guide in big bold black text over a faded out image of two kids sliding down a snow covered hill

What is the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge?

To put it simply it is a personal challenge to try and have your kids spend 1000 hours outside. It looks different for every family and every year. You can find out more about the challenge HERE

You can follow along with our challenge on my Instagram

Other Posts about Outdoor Play 

a rainbow of chalk arranged in a circle with a circle over the center that reads +50 must have outdoor toys

Let’s talk Winter Gear for 1000 hours outside

The basic rule of winter gear is to dress in layers.

  • Layer one – long sleeve such as long underwear ideal if it’s wool
  • Layer two – fleece top and pants if possible
  • Layer three – coat and snow pants
  • Layer four – hats mittens scarf
  • Layer five – boots and socks. Again ideally wool

We love being outside, but we aren’t the type to take our kids on a huge hike in the middle of winter. We don’t partake in any winter sports. (thought that would be a great way to snag some hours in the coldest months) and we definitely don’t have the most expertise with extreme levels of winter gear. I’m sure some folks up in Canada or Greenland or the like have way more to share on this topic honestly! 

Consider me your slightly above-average use winter user. I don’t generally partake when it gets below 10 and if the wind is blowing we severely limit our time. I like to think I make realistic and relatable recommendations for people who are just starting to dip their toes in winter gear but value their warmth! 

a toddler, baby and kid all dressed in winter gear for 1000 hours outside lined up sitting in the snow below that is a green banner that reads how to dress kids and below that in big lettering it says winter weather

We have slowly built up our winter gear for 1000 outside and we are definitely still learning and building our collection. 

Disclamer

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Some of this Winter Gear for 1000 Hours Outside is stuff we currently use and swear by and some of it is on our wish list!

Baby Winter Gear for 1000 Hours Outside

Babies I feel are the trickiest to dress for the cold. They can’t tell us if they are too warm or too cold and they tend to dislike the extra layers of their winter gear (at least in my case) that said there are a few things that I think you should at least start with for Baby Winter Gear for 1000 Hours Outside.

a pin image that reads baby gear for 1000 hours outside in the winter. This text is overlayed over an image of a baby in a purple snowsuit and white knit hat smiling up at the camera nd sitting in the snow

Fleece Bunting – this can be as simple as a fleece footie pajamas or romper

Waterproof Snowsuit 

Wool socks – This is a spendy thing to purchase for babe, but boy if you can I would. If not them just make sure you have some kind of sock on. The taller the better.

Booties – on basically all carriers the babes legs and feet are the most exposed part of them. I like to toss on tall socks and then a fleece bootie over that. If your babe is likely to get down and into the elements then I suggest a water-resistant bootie!

Snow boots – You really only need these if your babe is mobile and if so I would size up between the socks and a baby’s resistance to actually putting shoes on you’ll want that extra room.

Hat with Chin Strap – the chin strap is nonnegotiable in my books. It keeps the hat in place when they move their head and it prevents them from pulling it off!

Knit Mittensbabe likely isn’t going to be ‘playing’ in the snow. A simple set of knit mittens or better yet a fleece-lined mitten is all you’ll need

a pin image that reads baby on the go gear for 1000 hours outside in the winter. this text is over an image of a baby asleep in a sling carrier with a coat hood draped over her head. You can just see the smile of the woman she is strapped to and the womans hand rests on the baby's back

Bike Stroller – think of this as a multi-season item right now it is just a stroller and then later you can attach it to a bike for summer rides. This would be the solution for a baby that is able to sit up and be buckled safely. The reason I say bike stroller is that they tend to have a rain shield which would also shield them from snow and wind. not to mention how easy it would be to add a footmuff blanket situation!

If you are not bike-people you can find stroller covers for standard strollers that you likely already have and that will serve the same purpose, just make sure the cover is compatible with your stroller!

Stroller Muff if you’ve never heard of this is like a sleeping bag that can be strapped into the stroller to keep babe warm.

Adult stroller glovesthese are new to me and boy if we went for more stroller/wagon walks I would have this in a flash. It’s a glove that straps to the stroller to keep your hands warm but then when you have to deal with buckles or something you just slip your hands out easy peasy! Even better toss hot hand packs in there and you’ll be toasty!

Baby carrier coat or cover *do not put your babe in a snowsuit in a sling or carrier. Base and Mid layers are wonderful and then additional layers over the carrier, but a babe in a bulky snowsuit can’t get properly sinched into the carrier and could start to slump or slide around in the suit. This zip-up jacket with a removable panel is what I wish I had and this more drapey vest would work well with almost any carrier I can think of

Toddler and Kids Gear for 1000 Hours Outside

Okay, here we are at the real users of the winter gear. These are the kids that wake up to snow and have to go out at 7AM before they have had breakfast… I’ll harp on it again LAYERS. This is where you will find success with your winter gear for 1000 Hours Outside

a pin image that reads kid gear for 1000 hours outside in the winter. this text is over an image of a kid in a pink balaclava and mittens, silver coat, and bright blue show pants; laying in the snow, with snowflakes clinking to her bangs and balaclava and laughing up at the camera.

Base Layer- this is only really a true necessity if you’re going to be spending many hours outdoors or you live in a particularly cold climate. That said, I don’t think you’re ever going to regret a base layer, particularly if it’s wool. We haven’t purchased any yet but I am looking at these for my older girls fleece lined or wool

Mid layer. This is where you can kind of fudge things. If you’re just looking for a particularly warm insulated layer, fleece is ideal. We call this our jacket. It’s a zip-up lightweight coat that can be worn when the temperature is not so cold and the wind’s not blowing or we just need to get from a heated house to heated car to heated building. I also like to have a pair of fleece-lined leggings on hand as an additional mid-layer

Waterproof bib snow pantsI prefer these as they offer an additional layer of warmth and keeps the snow out if their coat rides up. Not to mention the adjustable straps are great for growth spurts

Waterproof coat  – I prefer the ones with an inner cuff in the sleeve and a longer torso to cover the butt

Waterproof Snow Boots – I like rubber sole for maximum waterproofness and adjustable straps to get the best fit

Wool socks

Hat – I like ear flap hats for toddlers. Just that much more coverage and less likely to shrink up off their head. At a certain point, we transitioned to just standard stocking caps

BalaclavaMy oldest hates the wind. Always has. These have been a wonderful addition to our collection

Wool beanieI have not actually purchased these yet but I have every intention to. I’ve been trying to find some kind of hat that they can wear under their helmets when we don’t have any snow but it’s cold. I think these are the ticket!

Knit mittens and knit gloves – these are our everyday options. Mittens for littles who can’t figure out how to do individual fingers and gloves for the older ones. We have many pairs. They are all filthy from coloring with chalk and digging in the dirt. I always have some on hand

Waterproof mittensthese are for actual snow play. I find at this age the gloves aren’t worth the struggle they’ll have just as much maneuverability in the mittens and the mittens are warmer. Other than the waterproofness, the most important feature is a LONG cuff.

Winter gear for 1000 hours outside entertainment

These are the things that keep us outside longer and still having fun. This would be highly hobby-specific for most people. If you partake in a winter sport or do a lot of hiking or something along those lines, you’re going to have other gear that gets you outside in the winter. We don’t do any of that. So this is purely gear that gets us out into our own yard and keeps us out there for a while. 

a pin image that reads fun gear for 1000 hours outside in the the winter. This text is over an image of a little kid in a navy blue coat and pink hat, gloves and snowpants, using a kid sized shovel to play in the snow

Squeeze bottles a little warm water and food dye have given me hours for the outdoor play

Kids size shovels

Sleds I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have a lot of experience here… But the few times we have gone sledding. I prefer these scooter sleds

Snowballer – younger kids often have trouble forming snowballs but want to partake in a snowball fight. This can be a good addition

Ice tools – a kids-sized hammer and chisel if you trust them with it are a great way to explore the ice

Scooters – here in CO we have a fair few winter days where the driveway/sidewalks are clear enough of snow that the kids are often found on their scooters, there may not be enough room to ride bikes much but there is plenty to scoot around!

Winter gear for 1000 hours outside – Parent edition

Part of the 1000 hours outside challenge is not only getting your kids outside more but getting yourself outside more…and trust me when I say dressing for the weather helps so much. 

I hate being cold. And my tolerance for the cold has only lessened as I’ve gotten older. As the parent, your winter gear for 1000 hours outside is more important than any other season. 

and I get it. You’ve just spent 30-plus minutes wrangling your kids into their snow gear. You don’t want to spend even another 5 minutes on yourself… It’s so much easier to just throw on your sweater and maybe a hat and call it good. 

Some days that might be enough. Most days you will thank yourself if you spend the 10 minutes and get yourself dressed in some real winter gear.

a pin image that reads grown-up gear for 1000 hours outside in the winter this text is over an image of a mom kissing a baby with the sun rim lighting them and a bright blue sky behind them. The baby is wearing a fleece jacket with the hood up. the jacket has a pattern with a pink, magenta and orange hearts. The Mom has vibrant purple hair, has a light purple coat on with a multicolor knit ear band

Base layer – I have yet to pull the trigger on base layer for myself but I am definitely looking

Mid layer – again, this is a layer that you can fudge. Whatever preferred sweatshirt that you are wearing right now is likely a perfectly good mid-layer. 

Water-resistant coattreat your winter coat as an investment. You will be so much happier with a quality coat. Also, let’s circle back to that ‘I hate being cold’ thing. Upgrading my coat to a longer trench style has been wonderful. It offers just that much more coverage for the days that I don’t wear my snow pants. 

Water-resistant snow pants -this is likely going to feel like an unnecessary purchase because you’re likely not out there rolling around in the snow. Think of them less as snow pants and more of them as a coat for your legs. The extra insulation is going to make your outside time. Feel so much more bearable

Wool socks I finally pulled the trigger and got myself some wool socks this winter and they have been a game-changer

Snow boots 

Hat or ear band I prefer an air band personally just because I tend to wear my hair up and a hat gets it’s in the way. This one is going to kind of be up to you whatever your preferred hat type is. 

Balaclava if you live anywhere that gets any amount of cold wind, these are worth it.

Knit gloves– these are what I keep stashed in my pocket for any time we’re out and about and my hands get cold and I didn’t bring my bigger gloves

Fingerless gloves these are my mom hack, because I hate trying to use my phone with gloves on even if it has the little sensor area that lets your finger work a little bit, but It never works well enough.  

Thicker gloves– as someone with small hands but long fingers, I have yet to find a pair of gloves that I actually like the fit of, so I’m all ears on some recommendations

Nice, but not necessary winter gear for 1000 hours outside

Some of these are highly specific to us. But if you have the space or the inclination we have used these a lot.

a pin image that reads bonus gear for 1000 hours outside in the winter over an image of two people wearing tan hiking boots sitting in in the snow and leaves. All you can see are the boots and legs, the woman is pouring hot chocolate out of a silver thermos into a mug

Camp chair – This a great multi-season item to have something that can come to the park or even just around your yard – in the summer I am chasing shade and in the winter I move it around to follow the sun!

Insulated Mugs – at this point, I imagine that almost everyone already has some kind of double-walled insulated mug but I will add it here as it is definitely a necessity for me in the winter at the park. We may be out in the cold but at least I have hot coffee with me! My extra note would be to have some smaller mugs or additional ones for your kids to use. The addition of some tea or hot cocoa to your winter hours can work wonders on them too!

Outdoor Blanket – This is a nice option to have when they want to stay out and I am chilled/want to sit down. Also good for baby cuddles when she is over the whole outside thing, but her sisters aren’t. Any blanket will technically work, but I like that this one is waterproof and easier to keep clean.

TrampolineWe have a nearly enclosed porch where we’ve set up a small trampoline and it has been a wonderful addition to our outdoor time. It allows us to get outdoors, they can be bundled up but we’re mostly sheltered which means wind and elements are not as big a factor.  We use insulated grippie socks as an extra layer on their feet while they jump.

Porch heateranother really nice addition to our mostly enclosed porch. We can turn this on and it does make a world of difference. I will say this is mostly for me, not so much for them! Haha

a pin image that reads kids winter gear how to dress your kids for 1000 hours outside in a purple text box at the top, below that is a large image that shows a toddler making snow angels on the driveway in 1 inch of snow

Recap on winter gear for 1000 hours outside

I’m going to get cheesy with you and say the most important winter gear for 1000 hours outside is your mindset and your attitude. Because you can still get outside without all of this gear. 

Do it safely. Please remember to wear layers. but you don’t need expensive wool base layers. You don’t need brand-new snow boots. You don’t need 9 million different styles of gloves. Though you likely already do have 9 million gloves, just none of them are pairs anymore…

You can do a lot of what you have. And you can learn over time what you need. Like I said this is our third year and I just got snow pants and none of us have base layers. 

Start slow. Wear what you have. Learn what parts of you get cold the quickest. And go from there. 

Leave your suggestions for winter gear for 1000 hours outside down below!

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