Essential Winter Gear for Trail Families

You don’t need piles of fancy, expensive gear to cultivate the TRAIL FAMILY lifestyle. One of the best things about enjoying the outdoors together is that it is a free or nearly free activity for any family. Although, winter does present the challenge of outfitting each family member with sufficient gear to stay warm and dry.

Base layers

Whether you are into the latest from UnderArmor or you like the good ol’ waffle long johns, you should always start with a base layer. A base layer is important for controlling how much you sweat. You can find shirts and leggings that wick moisture away from the skin so that it doesn’t cool you too much as it dries. You can also control your temperature by adding or subtracting layers as you hike. I personally like Cuddle Duds the best for myself. The girls usually just wear a pair of their regular leggings under snow pants. 

Shell layers

You should make sure that you have a shell layer that keeps out the wind and moisture. Do your reserach, and make sure these two things are a part of your shell. These include down coats, parkas, and snow pants. If you are going for a walk on a Rail-Trail, you may probably skip the snow pants. But if you are going to play in the snow, definitely outfit everyone with snow pants in addition to your other outer layers.

Calvin’s coat has two layers that are detachable from each other. Made by Wonder Nation; purchased at Sam’s Club.


This is one area where I’d recommend paying for quality. I have had the same pair of Cabela’s boots for about a decade! I’ve for sure gotten my money’s worth out of them. When it comes to kids, you don’t want the cheapest thing from the big box store. However, you also don’t need the most expensive thing either. Look for warm, waterproof, and room to grow. My girls have always hated wearing any shoes that are tight. Having some room is no problem for them. If you want to get two seasons out of a pair of boots, buy a size up and layer their socks. 


I have written about socks before! But I’ll repeat myself here briefly. You won’t likely regret a good quality pair of wool socks. If you go for an extended hike, bring extra and change socks half way through. Your goal is to keep you feet warm and dry. Your own sweat drying on your feet can make them cold.

Out for a winter walk on the D&H Rail-Trail


What you put on your hands depends on your preferences and activity. I personally prefer mittens because they keep fingers warmer than gloves. However, if there is potential for a snowball fight with the kids it’s gloves off… I mean gloves ON… mittens off!  Seriously though, go with what makes you comfortable. Look for quality; not too cheap, but not top of the line either. 

You don’t need piles of fancy, expensive gear to cultivate the TRAIL FAMILY lifestyle.

What about the baby?

One of the toughest aspects of outfitting a family is when you have a baby or toddler. Our little guy is almost three. He loves to play in the snow, but having gear for him that is functional and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg can be tricky. 

We are thankful to receive hand-me-downs from friends. This year his snow boots came from this source. They are in excellent condition. They zip instead of tie which I love because they are so easy to get on and he can get them off by himself. 

Hand coverings are another story when it comes to toddlers. We have a pair of water resistant mittens, but they are not very functional. Because they are thick they are too stiff for Cal to be able to move his hands to grip anything. He ends up taking them off in frustration. He also has a thin knit pair of mittens that allow him to move his hands, but they do not stay warm and dry for very long. We usually are out in the snow for about an hour to an hour and a half, if temperatures are not too low. So far the little mittens have been sufficient. If we wanted to be out longer, we would likely have a problem. This may be one of those problems that we all just muddle through the best we can.

Little knit mittens vs. bulky water resistant mittens

We hope this brief synopsis of gear is helpful to you. What are your favorite products for outfitting your TRAIL FAMILY? What would you add to our list of essential gear? Is there something you can’t go outdoors without?  

Thanks for taking the time to read our post. To make following this blog easier, sign up to receive TRAIL FAMILY blog posts in your email (be sure to mark emails from “not junk”) You can follow us on Instagram at trailffamilylife. Check out our videos on our YouTube channel TrailFamilyLife. Like us on Facebook at TrailFamily.

Categories WinterTags , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Social Share Buttons and Icons powered by Ultimatelysocial
%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close