Friluftsliv: Tips for Embracing the Detroit Winter | Part 1

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Friluftsliv (pronounced free-loofts-liv): “A natural part of Norwegians’ holidays and spare time that is deeply ingrained in the country’s heritage. It’s about embracing the outdoors, even in winter with its chilly temperatures. Taking time to connect with nature, to breathe in fresh air, and to appreciate the simplicity of the outdoors.” —Lonely Planet

If you do any research on happiness, you will eventually find yourself learning that the happiest places on earth embrace a culture that gets outside often…no matter the weather. Fresh air, nature, and exercise are some of the best antidepressants you can get, and we could all use a little help in that department this year!  

Many Detroiters have a tendency to hibernate during our long Michigan winters, and we want to change that! Especially for parents of littles! But how do you get your kids outside, keep them warm, keep them interested, and keep track of all that stuff? Well, we asked our community as well as many of our international friends what their best tips and tricks are and we are bringing them to you.

This will be the first of two posts, and this one will cover the where and what of gear. Our next post in this two-part series will be all about techniques when getting your kids dressed and outside as well as storage.

Question #1: What gear do I need and where do I buy it?

An overwhelming response in our poll of moms from all over the world was “you get what you pay for” when we asked about winter gear for kids. This holiday season, you may want to consider putting some of the below brands and items on your kid’s wishlist. Keep in mind, secondhand gear is a fantastic way to save money on winter items for growing littles. Facebook Marketplace, secondhand stores, and mom-to-mom groups are fantastic for this.

Winter Clothing Brands

  • Lands’ End
    Lands’ End snow pants and winter jackets hold up very well and they make a variety of different thicknesses/insulations. Their “Stormer” series is lighter weight with thinner insulation and was perfect for my son who tends to be warmer-blooded. Their “Squall” series is thicker with heavier weight insulation, and very durable with reinforced knees and soft, fleecy, lined hoods. Also, they have expanders in their coats and pants and a policy where they will replace a single lost mitten.
  • Costco & Sam’s Club
    Don’t discount Costco and Sam’s Club for winter clothing!  Both of these superstores have great winter brands that are easy on the budget.  Our moms quote getting lots of great pieces from coats to snow pants here!  
  • Jan and Jul
    With great prices and really kid-focused design, Jan and Jul is a great brand for all season adventuring.
  • Columbia
    Our moms love Columbia! Cost is right around mid range here, but they don’t skimp on quality.  Personally, this is my favorite brand for me. My Columbia jacket and boots are the warmest winter items I have ever owned.
  • Helly Hanson
    Recommended by Holly Graham, our Canadian friend from the Great White North: 
    We LOVE Helly Hansen! We have been buying it for our boys since the beginning. It is pricey but huge quality. Especially in the cold. It holds up well and now my younger son is wearing my older son’s old stuff and it still looks brand new. I love it because they make one-piece snow suits and rain suits even for the bigger kids, which is a struggle to find!”
  • Burton, Patagonia, and The NorthFace
    “We like Burton. We ski and snowboard, so we like Spyder, Burton, Patagonia and NorthFace. Boots are the most important. A good low temp boot, wool sock—not scratchy, trust me—you can do anything.” —Courtney Hamilton Vanloo

Boots

“Dry feet are key. My kids would literally run around in the snow in work out shorts and no shirt, but if their socks get wet you can forget about it. Investing in quality boots is a must!” —Lacey Stone Salerno

  • Sorel Boots
    One of our mom friends that loves Sorel says, “I tend to go for a style that is on the higher side so I can tuck their pants into them then pull the snowpants down over them to keep the snow out.”
  • Columbia
    Multiple mamas love Columbia’s kids boots and taut that, “
    Columbia have the removable liners so they can wear them in different seasons.”
  • Keen
    I would say these get the least amount of complaints in terms of getting them on solo (like at school).” —Detroit Mom Reader
  • Bogs Boots
    “Kids can put these on themselves!” —Detroit Mom Reader
  • VivoBarefoot
    “This year the boys will be wearing VivoBarefoot boots. They aren’t cheap by any means, but foot development is something we put a lot of research and investment in in our home. Considering these are the only shoes our boys will wear for upwards of 6 months, we are okay with spending more. Last year they wore Stonz West boots which were well loved.” —
    Sara Demick

Gloves

Overwhelmingly, moms recommend mittens over gloves for kids. Even though gloves promote more dexterity, they are impossible to get on little hands. You will surely find yourself spending more time getting their fingers in the gloves than they will spend playing outside. I can confirm this after yesterday’s attempt at putting winter gloves on my four-year-old resulted in more tears and frustration than fun in the snow…ugh.

  • “For gloves, no matter what brand, try to find them with a longer cuff, and make sure they are waterproof (no cotton!).” —Detroit Mom Reader
  • SnowStoppers Mittens
    These mittens are long, warm, and hard to get off! Multiple Detroit Mom readers stated that these are the only mittens they will buy their littles.

Scarves

Kids hate scarves. They never stay on! Instead, get a cuff that goes around their neck and stays put.  Bonus is they can pull it up over their face if the wind picks up! 

  • This set off Amazon is my personal favorite for the scarf/cuff. Both my seven-year-old with special needs and my four-year-old love them!

Well there you have it! Find your favorite brand and order up some snow pants, a coat, boots, hats, mittens, and a cuff scarf! Once you get it all, stay tuned for part two in this series where we give you all the mama tips on layering, storage, and more!

This year, more than any other, we have to face winter head-on and really embrace it since we are still living this pandemic life. How about joining the 1000 Hours Outside movement with Whitney? What creative ways are you getting your winter hours outside?

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