Dressing for the Weather – Outdoor Clothing
Our guest blogger Annette from FourAcorns shares her advice on the best outdoor clothing for children…
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”
Sir Rannulph Fiennes.
Living in Denmark for three years has influenced our family in many ways, but the most obvious may well be the Scandinavian love of the outdoors. It’s not that we were couch potatoes before. It is just that Denmark has taught us how to enjoy the great outdoors with children, come rain or shine.
For six months of the year, Danish children can’t be seen without their flyverdragt, or snowsuit – a fleece-lined, 100 percent waterproof overall, which can be worn over any regular clothes. Add a pair of sturdy, insulated boots, and children will happily play outside, warm and dry, whatever the weather.
When my first born was 3, he spent one year in a Danish forest kindergarten (skovbørnehave). To this day, his younger siblings still use the red Ticket to Heaven snowsuit and the Superfit boots he wore through that Danish ice winter, thus called because the sea froze. On moving to Ireland six years ago, we decided to stick with our outdoors habit, and explore the length and breadth of this beautiful island with our four children. After all, all it takes is a good dollop of curiosity, and waterproof clothing!
Luckily, shortly after our arrival in Co Wicklow, I met Swedish-born Anna, owner and founder of Rainbusters, an Irish online provider of waterproof clothing for children. Once the oldest outgrew the outdoor clothes we had brought over from Denmark, Rainbusters became my go-to brand for quality waterproof clothing. My 5-year-old, after two years in Park Academy’s Nature Kindergarten, put them through their toughest test yet. But they remain in excellent condition. PuddleDucks.ie is another online shop of outdoor clothing for children, based in Co Cork – most of their waterproof range is by Danish brand CeLaVi.
It’s all about the layers!
In the Irish climate, waterproof clothing is probably a smarter investment than nice summer clothes – for better or for worse, children in this country get to wear their rain gear all year round!
The secret to playing the weather away is layers. In my experience, a set of unlined waterproofs is more versatile than their fleece-lined counterparts. Easy to pull on and lighter in weight, they also dry much faster when wet.
The base layer manages moisture, wicking perspiration away from the skin where it can evaporate. Avoid cotton, which gets clammy and cold with sweat. Choose instead thermal underwear in either natural wool or polyester, both quick-drying fabrics.
Next, the insulating layer protects from the cold by trapping warm air close to the body. Fleece, both lightweight and breathable, keeps insulating even when wet.
Finally, the shell layer keeps wind and rain at bay. Top of the range here are Gore-tex® lined clothes, which are both waterproof and breathable… and pricey! Most of Rainbusters and PuddleDucks‘ ranges are made of PU sets; polyurethane is a rip-resistant and waterproof coating, that is not breathable. Beware of cheap showerproof clothing, or snow/skiwear, which will not withstand heavy rain.
Even with the most careful planning, there are occasions when the best waterproof gear will fail. For my kids simply can’t stay away from water, mud and sand. A mere walk on the beach, even in the dead of winter, invariably turns into a game of cat-and-mouse with the waves. A gentle stroll by a stream inevitably sees them attempting to step across the water, or wading in until their wellies overflow.
I have considered buying them waders (Norwegian-designed PlayWaders are available from Irish online shop We Do Safe and Dry), but it is more economical to keep a change of clothes and a towel for each of them in the car.
This way, nothing gets in the way of the life-affirming joy that free play brings them.
Annette is a blogger exploring Ireland with four children and a camera. She is French, married to an Irish man, and they live in beautiful county Wicklow.
Check out the Four Acorns blog here.
Follow Four Acorns on Facebook here.