Dress for Winter Weather

How to Stay Dry and Warm Outdoors this Winter

Winter is here! That means colder, wetter weather all across the country. But the change in weather doesn’t mean you and your kids need to stay indoors. Most of us are sick of being indoors already. You can still get outside to safely visit friends and family, and to continue outdoor adventuring with your family. You and your kids will be happier out there if you can stay warm and dry. The secret to staying comfortable in any conditions is layering the right clothes.

The perfect cold-weather outfit has all of these:

  • Base Layer 
  • Mid Layer 
  • Outer layer 
  • Foot layers

Base Layer

This layer is right next to your skin and should cover your whole body. Long johns made of Merino wool are best. They don’t itch like regular wool and they stay warm even if they get wet. 

Synthetic options will also work: 

Mid Layer

This layer provides the insulation you need to keep you warm in the cold. Fleece jacket and pants work wonderfully. Consider having two mid layers for extra warmth if your rain jacket and rain pants are uninsulated.

Outer Layer

This layer protects you from the elements—rain, snow, and wind. Hence, it should be waterproof and breathable. If your outer layer isn’t breathable, evaporating sweat will be trapped inside and will make your inner layers damp and cold.  

Frogg Toggs (excellent value and quality)

Foot Layers

Socks: Just like the base layer for your body, Merino wool socks are the best option for keeping your feet dry and toasty.

Boots: Just like the outer layer for your body, your boots should be fully waterproof and insulated. Rubber rain boots with no insulation will not keep your feet warm. 

Kick the Cotton!

Never wear cotton in winter! Cotton dries slowly and holds moisture against your skin rather than wicking it away. This makes you colder, not warmer. The best option for your base and mid layers is Merino wool or fleece/synthetic materials.

What about Down?

Down is great for the amount of warmth it provides compared to its weight. However, down insulation has no natural water resistance, and once it is saturated no longer provides insulation. Some companies get around this by “waterproofing” the down fill. Generally however, even then the pockets of down in clothing will hold water (it just won’t seep into the down itself), which weighs the garment down and prevents breathability.

Waterproof vs. Water Resistant

“Waterproof” means that water cannot penetrate the material unless it’s damaged. If clothing is “water-resistant” it might look like it will shed water, but eventually that water will get through and make you wet and cold. This goes for your boots as well. Boots should be fully waterproof, not just water resistant. You want an outer layer with a waterproof rating of 5000mm or higher (10,000mm is ideal), which tells how much pressure it takes to force water through the materials. Higher ratings mean higher water resistance.

More Tips & Tricks

  • If your gear gets soaked, pop them in the dryer for 20 minutes on medium heat.  
  • Boot dryers are great for wet, cold boots (and gloves!). 
  • Wash your outerwear occasionally. Do NOT use regular clothes detergent, which hurts their ability to repel water. Instead, use Nikwax Tech Wash or Nathan Sport Wash. After washing, dry in a dryer, which helps reactivate water-resistant coating.


Winter is an awesome time to get outside with your kids. You can still hike, camp, paddle and forage for wild edibles. Most importantly, you can still be with friends and family safely—outside! Follow these clothing strategies and ensure that you and your kids stay dry, warm and comfortable all through the coldest days of winter!