Winter Outdoor Kid Clothing Essentials

Favorites, Kids

As New Englanders, our winters are long and cold with a fair number of snowy days (not enough for me – I LOVE snow). Mastering our winter outdoor kid clothing essentials encourages the kids to get outside, even on COLD days.

Child wearing winter outdoor kid clothing essentials

For their first several years, we stuffed the kids like sausages into multiple layers; they were warm but very restricted and basically miserable. After asking for recommendations from friends and ski shops, we’ve refined our winter outdoor clothing essentials. We invest in quality pieces, like base layers, balaclavas, and socks, that will span more than one year and search for deals on items that will fit only one season.

With this set-up, the kiddos stay warm and dry, yet comfortable and able to move freely. Here are our winter outdoor kid clothing essentials from bottom to top…


Our go-to boots are insulated with hook-and-loop closure. With my son’s wide feet, we need boots that open all the way down to the ankle. Cat & Jack double hook-and-loop boots are warm, dry, and comfortable. We wait for a sale and purchase this and next year’s sizes. This side velcro pair is another great option that lasted us two winters.

Wool Socks

Wool socks are an essential for winter outdoor kid clothing

Long wool socks are crucial for winter outdoor play, especially skiing and ice skating. Short socks tend to sag in boots, which is as annoying for kids as for adults. Wool is thin, warm, and breathable, so feet stay toasty, dry, and comfortable.

Base Layer

Child wearing base layer and balaclava

Our local ski shop recommended Hot Chillys base layer top and bottom under ski bibs. This base layer has been a game changer – it is soft, lightweight, thin, comfortable, and WARM. A little spendy, but we purchased one size up and are starting our third winter with our first pair. For us, Hot Chillys are well worth the investment.

Outdoor Fleece or Flannel Pants

Child wearing fleece outdoor pants

These DIY outdoor pants hang by our door to slip on over whatever pants the kids are wearing as they head outside. They not only keep the kids warm, they also save the kids’ everyday pants from dirt and tears. We make a flannel pair for chilly fall and spring days and a heavy fleece pair for dry, cold winter days.

Snow Bibs

Snow bibs

We are on our third size of Cat & Jack Toddler Snow Bibs from Target. They keep the kids warm and dry, yet aren’t too heavy or bulky. The bibs are fairly priced, even more so during one of Target’s frequent sales (at which we purchased several sizes so we were ready for years to come). Bibs are great for all sorts of snow fun – sledding, skiing, snow fort building, and ice skating.


Toddler snow jacket

We prefer jackets with hoods to keep the kids’ knit hats from getting wet and protect against wind. The 3-in-1 double layer jacket is the ultimate in options. Either layer by itself is great for a chilly day and combined gives great protection for COLD, windy days. The removable outer layer is perfect for winter drives; the inner layer isn’t too thick or puffy for car seats and we pop on the second layer when we arrive at our destination. Then reverse when we leave. Outer layer comes off and just wear inner layer in the car. Cat & Jack at Target and Wonder Nation at Walmart usually have one version each season – we purchased two sizes when on sale.

As an aside, my husband and I both love our outdoor winter jackets. Great for skiing or playing in the snow with the kiddos. I ordered a men’s size to get more length.


Pink mittens are a winter outdoor kid clothing essential

In four years, we’ve tried a shocking number of winter mittens and gloves. It felt like a Goldilocks misadventure – some impossible to put on, some instantly wet and some just wouldn’t stay on. These insulated and light-weight mittens are easy to put on and keep the kids’ hands warm and dry. The long cuff fits easily over the jacket to keep out snow.

I recently found a perfect pair of parent mittens with a wrist strap. When I inevitably have to remove my mittens eight thousand times to adjust something on the kids, these mittens hang conveniently off my wrists.

Balaclava Facemask

Winter outdoor kid clothing essential - balaclava face mask and neck gaiter

Yet another game changer recommended by our ski shop. At first uncomfortable, the kids got used to the balaclava very quickly. The Blackstrap facemask and neck gaiter covers all the bits that usually get cold first – ears, chin, and the back of the neck. We’ve dramatically extended our outdoor playtime with these balaclavas, for the kids and adults. Perfect under a helmet for skiing or ice skating or under a knit hat for playing in the snow.


Pink knit hat

A supply of knit hats lives by our front door from various sources, but the common element is ear flaps. Keeping little ears covered has been crucial for our kids’ outdoor play.

What are your winter outdoor kid clothing essentials?

This post contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Thanks for your support!