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A Base for Outdoor Happiness

Updated: Aug 25

“There’s no such thing as bad weather…” yes we know, we’ve heard it all before! And I have to say I absolutely agree with this (most of the time!). However, something that I have learnt recently is that you can have all the ‘good’ clothes, even the most suitable outdoor clothes, coats, hats, gloves, boots you name it, but the most important thing (in my opinion) is base layers! Now, I have to admit I’m a bit out of practice with the Scottish winters, this is only my second one in 30 years! But I do love it. I love the wrapping up, I love the snow, the anticipation of snow and the ski-ing and of course the warm hot chocolates and amazing sleeps afterwards. But there is nothing worse than a beautiful winter’s day being ruined by being cold.

For some of you this will come as no surprise, but I have recently discovered what a huge difference base layers can have on outdoor happiness. The biggest surprise for me though was that cotton base layers are a huge no-no! Cotton causes any moisture on the skin to remain leaving us colder and damper. Who knew!? Not me, until recently anyway. The base layer material needs to be either merino, a synthetic thermal material, or a blend. These materials 'wick' moisture away from the skin allowing it to remain warm and dry. Cotton doesn't wick. Thermal base layers can be super reasonably priced too either online or from somewhere like Mountain Warehouse, Trespass or H&M.


I thought I would put together a kit list to share.


Footwear

Please ensure that wellington boots are fleece or neoprene lined - essential for warm dry toes in the winter!


One or two pairs of thermal socks will help to keep toes warm. Welly boot socks over the top of thermal socks can also help ensure that ankles don't get exposed to winter chill. (Please note that cotton socks are not a good choice for winter – cotton takes heat away from the body! Thermals are essential in the cold weather).


Layers

In winter, good base layers are so important. And again, like with the socks, cotton is not a good material for a base layer as it takes heat away from the body and doesn’t ‘wick’ away the moisture leaving skin damp and cold. We need a material which provides ‘wicking’ and this means synthetic material, merino or a blend. Good base layers can be found at Mountain Warehouse, Trespass, M&S, Amazon, Decathlon and any ski shop and can be found at reasonable prices.




At least two more upper body layers with long sleeves. The last of these should be a warm fleece or wool jumper.


Cosy, comfortable trousers such as leggings or jogging style trousers which can be worn over the top of the thermal base layer.


Waterproof jacket. The final outer layer may be a ‘shell’ type jacket offering waterproofing but no insulation (picture below). Or, the final waterproof jacket layer is insulated in which case you might find you don’t need the fleece underneath. Not all ski-type/insulated jackets are fully waterproof so please check this if you’re looking for a fully waterproof outer layer (which we do require for the Kindergarten).




Waterproof bottoms. Waterproof dungarees or trousers. Dungarees are good for keeping warm as there is no risk of cold air getting to their tummy! However, it can make toileting a bit more difficult, so this is a personal parental choice. When buying waterproof over-layers it's better to have a size too big rather than a perfect fit, as once the under layers are all on there needs to be adequate room for easy movement!


Gloves and hat

We recommend a few pairs of cheap ‘magic’ gloves or mittens rather than one or two good quality and more expensive pairs. Children’s gloves can quickly become wet, and it is best if they can swap for a dry pair when required. Personally, I like the fleece mittens for my son who is 3 and still struggles with finger gloves. A cosy fleece or wool hat is also a necessity for the colder months. Again, a spare in the bag is a good idea. These items can usually be found in the charity shops, often brand new and very reasonably priced.


I hope this helps you enjoy more wonderful hours outside this winter!