2015 Gift Guide for Outdoor Families

I don’t often hold back on buying good winter gear because I think being warm and comfortable is the best way to enjoy winter.  BUT the holidays always seem like a good reason to replace an aging item or invest in something new.  Since I always enjoy reading what other families recommend as outdoorsy gifts, here are some winter themed items that we’ve enjoyed so much I’d recommend!

1. Kombi Moose Mitts

If you’re a parent of a young toddler and your kid likes wearing mitts…wait, does that even exist?! Surely it must but I’m guessing many can relate to the difficulty of keeping mitts on.  These moose mitts have been a huge help in getting Little Bear to keep mittens on.  They’re most effective when talked up (“Do you want to take your moose hiking?”) and I love that they’re warm and water repellent.


2. Good quality toddler winter boots.

In my experience, good footwear is key for outdoor toddler play.  While there is a large variety of winter boots for older toddlers or preschoolers, it can be difficult to find a warm, waterproof and lightweight boot for a young toddler.  Our favourite boot is the Ecco Snowride which has a gore-tex lining and is insulated.  While we love the boot, what I would really recommend is going to a specialty kid’s shoe store.  A good store will listen to what you’d like to use the boots for, how much you’d like to spend and measure your toddler’s foot and assess the boot fit. My favourite Calgary store is Little Footprints.


3. Patagonia base layers

These might be my favourite and most recommended item.  They’re warm and wick moisture away, and while they run big, they fit a large range of sizes properly.  We bought Little Bear a set in size 12 when she was 13 months and they still fit at 22 months.  I imagine they would have fit her prior to 13 months as well.  I love that the top is a onesie so her back is never exposed when she wears a jacket.  There are also extra snaps in the crotch you can open up for more length.


4. Patagonia down sweater

My husband and I wear our down sweaters year round in Calgary (as do many of our friends) so we thought Little Bear could use one too.  We bought a 2T for her at 18 months and while large, it was still wearable.  It’s thin, warm, not too puffy for car seats, and you can layer under it for colder weather.  To save money, look for last season’s models (we did this) or try to buy it secondhand.


5. MEC Cocoon insulated pants

We bought these in 2T for Little Bear at 20 months and while large, the cuffs roll up well and stay up.  They are great to slip on over leggings for a quick walk or over base layers for a longer hike.  They’re inexpensive and easier to slip on/off for dry, cold weather.



6. Thermos Bottle

A post-ski hot chocolate on the way home has always been my thing but now I make sure I bring some, along with mini marshmallows for the whole family.  If you want hot chocolate and not warm or cold chocolate, make sure you look for a thermos with a screw on lid.  If the thermos will be out in the cold (ie not indoors) a good tip is to pour hot water in it, let it sit for 2-3 min, pour the water out and then make your hot chocolate in it.


7. Tula toddler carrier

I love that this carrier is made for toddlers and packs down into a backpack.  Also, because the carrier is up against your body, it’s warm for your child.  We’ve found that with the cooler weather, we use this more often than our backpack carrier since Little Bear doesn’t like to be carried much and this provides a warm break.


8. Kahtoola microspikes

We use our spikes so much in the winter that they are now permanent residents of our car trunk.  Many of the trails you’d take a baby or toddler on are at lower elevations or are well travelled, both of which make them prone to getting packed and slippery. A good set up spikes makes carrying babies/toddlers that much easier with no fear of slipping. These spikes seem to hold up to the most wear and tear, don’t slip off and are comfortable.


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Gift Ideas for Outdoor Women, Mamas & Babies

I’ve always enjoyed reading gift guides around the holidays.  Sometimes I find items that I’d like to add my wish list (or my shopping list for someone else), but mostly, I just enjoy checking out all the neat products/books out there! It’s fun to see what others with the same interests would list as their favourite items.  Here are some of my favourite items that I’d recommend for outdoor women/mamas & babies!

1. Books

I recently discovered Erin McKittrick’s writing this year.  Her first book “A Long Trek Home” is about her journey walking from Seattle to the Aleutian Islands of Alaska with her husband.  I love wilderness adventure books so this was right up my alley and reminded me how much I’m looking forward to backcountry camping again someday :)

Her second book, “Small Feet, Big Land”, documents her adventures walking on the Alaska coast and on a glacier (a glacier!) with her husband and two small children.  While this type of trip is way out of my little family’s league right now, I still found it inspirational.  Highly recommend this one!

On the theme of adult books, I’m halfway through “The Calling:A Life Rocked By Mountains” by Barry Blanchard and would recommend this if you’re into books about rock/alpine/ice climbing and how it’s evolved over time.  Barry is a local guide and it’s the story of how he started climbing and the expeditions he went on.  It’s a particularly fun read if you’ve climbed locally as you’ll recognize so many of the places/routes!

2. Make My Belly Fit

I reviewed this in a previous post but this is one item I’ve used a ton from pregnancy to carrying around a 10 month old baby.  If you’re an outdoor women like me, you have an impressive collection of technical jackets and would prefer to wear them rather than stash them away when you have a baby.  The MMBF panel will allow you to continue wearing yours before & after baby by adding some extra room to your jacket.

Enjoying the jacket panel on a cold day while snowshoeing at Bragg Creek

Enjoying the jacket panel on a cold day while snowshoeing

3. Wee Woolies Hat

My husband and I both love our merino wool hats for outdoor adventures big & small so we figured, why wouldn’t we treat little E to the same thing?  Some perks of this hat: it’s reasonably priced ($17.99) , it’s made by a Canadian company, it’s soft, and it layers well under hoods or thicker hats for extra warmth!

4. Down Blanket

For the longest time, I’ve kept my trusty Eddie Bauer down blankets (yes, I have several) in the car for emergencies: warming up in the car, chilly nights by the campfire, emergency picnic blanket, car pillow for tired passengers, etc.  When E came along we found a new use, stroller warmer!  In her Chariot it’s kept her warm on fall days without a snowsuit, and on cold snowy days we add it on top of her snowsuit to keep her extra warm. The blankets are very sturdy and I’ve washed ours with regular laundry and not noticed any effect on performance.  The price is also very good for down ($60 though it it looks to be on sale right now for $30!).

5. Stonz Booties

Ever had the problem of going out in the winter and needing a pair of shoes to walk to/from the car and a separate pair to wear indoors? Well, if you’re an adult you’re out of luck.  If you’re a baby or toddler, you’re covered!  I put E’s shoes on and slip the booties on top which make it easy to transition from walks outside to play gyms.  If we’re just heading outside I skip the indoor shoes and layer 2 pairs of socks (one of hers and one of my wool pairs) for extra warmth.  If you find the pricetag is a bit high, try checking out kid’s consignment stores.

6. Patagonia Down Sweater

This is hands down my favourite jacket and is so versatile that I wear it year round.  I’ve had mine for several years and I think it’s well worth the price tag (I’d buy it again in a heartbeat!).  Hubby has one as well and shares my opinion.  I wear it around town during all four seasons and I’ve also taken it hiking, snowshoeing, downhill skiing, ice climbing, alpine climbing and rock climbing.  After baby, I’ve found it extremely practical in that it washes well, and packs into a small ball that’s easy to throw in a purse or diaper bag.  It’s also useful as a warm emergency baby blanket!

 7. Insulated straw thermos

After going through a few baby travel cups, I was browsing the selection at MEC when another mom came up to me to rave about how much she loved this thermos.  It was enough to convince me to buy it and I have to agree, it’s awesome!  It actually keeps water inside without leaking, it’s easy to take apart and clean, and everything is dishwasher safe!

Photo from www.mec.ca

Photo from www.mec.ca

For some more family-related gift guides, check out the following!