Woodlandplay and mini woodlandplay (2 years) have been getting ready for winter fun and making sure our clothes will keep us warm. The scandinavians say "There is no such thing as bad weather - only bad clothing" (or similar!) and another wise person said "any fool can be cold in the outdoors"! Winter is a fantastic time to get out, chilly days and bright blue winter skies and sunshine are great for playing outdoors if you are toasty and warm - so what should you wear?
If it helps, I will give you an idea of what we will be wearing at Forest School over the winter!!
35 years worth of dressing to survive the outdoors on mountains, in the military and in the woods boils down to the old adage: layers. You can always take them off if you are hot or add more. You don't need to be a Michelin man, you just need enough layers of clothing which will trap the warm air created by your body to keep you warm. Natural fibres (such as wool, silk and down) do this well because their construction includes tiny air pockets. That is why you need less layers if you wear that type of clothing than if you were to wear all cotton.
Mini-woodlandplay (2 years) will be wearing:
- Wool & silk long johns & high neck long sleeved thermal top from Cambridge baby. At around £20 - £30 these are not cheap, but we are outside so much that on a cost per wear basis they are worth it to keep him toasty. We can always sell on through ebay (or pass on to siblings. A cheaper alternative would be cotton & polyester thermal top and bottoms (in any shop this time of year) or a second hand purchase from ebay, or a thermal top and tights.
- Thermal socks (we got ours on sale from M&S but they are everywhere). You could use two layers of socks, and go up a welly size if it's tricky to get their feet in.
- On really cold days he will wear a long sleeved top and trousers over this, (such as a tracksuit) but not usually, as too many layers will make it difficult for him to move!!!!
- Over the base layer goes a fleece all in one (£15) (Regatta, Jo Jo Maman Bebe, Amazon, ebay or any outdoor shop do lots). We also use these for camping and swimming throughout the year as they are so comfy and easy, so they get a lot of use.
- Over this goes his Regatta padded waterproof splashsuit. (£19) (A Go Outdoors purchase although Ebay and amazon are selling them for the same price too). Spotty Otter do a great version of this and they also do a duck-down filled snow suit if you wanted them to be really toasty. I opted for the regatta version due to the price, and the fact that I thought his wool underwear and fleece suit under this would keep him warm enough. I also wanted his outer layer to be waterproof so he could play with water and mud, and so I could fling it in the washing machine (which I thought might be trickier with the duck-down suit - although it does say you can wash it in soap flakes).
- (Alternatively, we used a fleece suit under waterproofs, which gives the same effect as a fleece lined waterproof suit and it means that in warmer weather you can just use the waterproofs on their own. I've gone for a padded splashsuit this year as I find it takes less time to get all those layers on)
- He wears wellies, as I can't find snow boots for his size, which would be warmer, but we will use a bigger size and two pairs of thermal socks if it is chilly.
- Dont forget a hat and gloves. Most of the heat loss from their body comes from their heads so try to keep their hats on! Cambridge baby, Little Trekkers and Muddy Puddles are great websites for outerwear and they also have stunning sales.
- When forest school is over, I strip off his outer suit and wellies, pop them in a plastic bag and he is all clean in the car in his fleece suit! Easy peasy.....
Big Woodland Play will be wearing:
While the kids are racing around in the woods or at the playground over the winter the adults are often standing still, so look after yourself! I am usually the first person to get chilled if I am inadequately dressed so I make sure I am prepared.
- A warm base-layer next to your skin. SmartWool (pricey) and TrekMates (reasonable) Merino Wool high necked long sleeved base layer top and thermal leggins. A Go Outdoors purchase, but obviously everywhere (Damart being the king of thermals) does thermal layers at the moment. Even a pair of woolly tights under your jeans will keep you warmer. Sportpursuit is a website worth checking out as they do flash sales of outdoor gear at low prices.
- Thermal socks (I got Graham Bell Heat Holders Ski socks 2.3 Tog rating from Go Outdoors, really long and the thickest socks ever!)
- Over this goes mens (I couldn't find any ladies versions) fleece trousers (£9) from Go Outdoors. Not flattering, but nobody will see!
- On really cold days I will put my craghopper walking trousers on over this (£20 - most outdoor stores), and I use these trousers all year round.
- Waterproof trousers keep the wind, mud and rain out (I have cheap £15 ones from Blacks which have lasted me for years, but I have tougher goretex ones available from any outdoor shop which are longer lasting and pricier). These are invaluable as I can strip them off back at the car and I am clean again to drive home, also when we are on muddy / wet walks the kids can jump in as many puddles as they like and my waterproof trousers protect my clothes.
- A fleece top (I have pricey ones - and £5 ones from Asda!!!) , and if cold, another layer.
- If it's really cold a slim down jacket under my waterproof coat, as it does not have any padding. I prefer to have non-padded waterproof coats as I can then use them all year round and add layers as needed, and they are less bulky.
- Waterproof coat. Hat and gloves. Most of the heat loss from your body will come from your head - so keep your hat on!!
- Wellies with thick socks and a fleece liner. Neoprene wellies are warmer and you can also get waterproof leather versions which are warm. Go Outdoors and other stores are doing cheap waterproof padded snow boots at the moment which look toasty. I will be using thick socks inside my walking boots for the winter as wellies don't always keep the cold out, although they are easier to rinse off.