I remember the first time I experienced snow. My parents drove up to Big Bear for the day with all four of us in the back seat. We pulled over on the side of the road and all for us walked into the snow with our thermals, jeans and sweaters. After a few of hours or so of freezing weather, we hopped back in the car and drove back home. We were wet, super cold and happy to have finally experienced snow. My parents had no idea how to properly gear up, but that is not to say we didn’t have fun. We had a blast with my parents. My dad built a snow man with his bare hands and us kids went down the sled over and over again on a hill we found. My parents didn’t know any better, we grew up in Oaxaca where snow is foreign to us. And as kids, we were just happy to see snow!
This past winter vacation, I took the initiative of booking my husband and I a 3-night stay in Mammoth, CA. A couple of days before the trip, it dawned on me that I was not at all prepared for the snow. Lucky for me, I was referred to REI, an awesome outdoor sporting store. I walked in there blind not knowing what I was going to buy. I met a wonderful associate by the name of Denisse who was extremely helpful. She guided me through what I should and should not buy. I will say that snow gear is not cheap, so if you are a planner, buy in the warmer months like March and April when most of the winter items are on sale. Although there is nothing wrong with thermals, jeans and sweaters, I wanted to make sure the three of us could experience the snow to the fullest and be comfy and warm. Hopefully this guide can help you in choosing your gear for your next snow trip!
LAYERS VS. SNOW PANTS
Denisse at REI told me there were two options: either layer or buy thick snow pants that would suffice in the snow. I weighed my options and decided for the layering. The three layer system consists of a thermal, fleece and a ‘waterproof soft-shell’ which is essentially a pair of rain pants, but better quality. I decided to buy each layer separately because the pieces can be used throughout the year. I also knew my son would make great use of the rain pants since the rainy season in LA is approaching. Here are a few of our favorite options for layering:
1. REI Co-op Teton Fleece Pants - Women's - Made to keep you warm, the women's REI Teton Fleece Pants are perfect for layering under a shell pant when it's cold and wet
2. Lifa Merino Pant - Perfect for layering when exploring in cold weather or enjoying a long day on the mountain.
3. Ekouaer Womens Thermal Underwear - Cozy cold weather base layer underwear.
4. Marmot Minimalist Rain Pants - Minimalist pants for wet-weather protection.
5. Mammut Wenaha Rain Pants - Lightweight Gore-Tex fabric keeps you dry.
6. The North Face Venture Half-Zip Pants - Styled for everyday and year-round use.
7. REI Co-Op Rainwall Rain Pants - Kids - These rain pants offer full-blown waterproof, breathable and windproof coverage for active kids in the outdoors.
I followed the same layering rule for my top. I used a thermal base layer, a basic sweater, and a thick waterproof snow jacket that I invested in. My son layered in a thermal, sweater, a down jacket we already owned, and a basic waterproof shell. I didn’t mind buying the extra waterproof shell because again, I figured he would use it on a rainy day here in LA. If your kiddo doesn’t own any jackets, I suggest buying a 3-in-1 jacket for them. It’s a great investment for colder weather and the winter season.
I will begin by stating that snow jackets are NOT cheap. However, I will say that I absolutely LOVE my new jacket. It was absolutely perfect and kept me warm in even the coldest weather. It’s super stylish and of incredible quality. If you are on a budget, try a discount store such as the Nordstrom Rack or Marshalls. Make sure that the jacket is waterproof - that is the most important feature of all. Also, all, if not most, of the jackets have hoodies to help keep your ears and head warm. A major plus! Some options we like are:
8. Obermeyer Tuscany II Insulated Jacket - This jacket offers sophisticated quilting lines and a removable faux fur trim.
9. The North Face Roxborough Hooded Jacket - We love this this stylish, waterproof hooded jacket.
10. Helly Hansen Loke Isa Jacket - Brave the elements in this chic waterproof jacket.
11. Columbia Bugaboo 3-in-1 Jacket - Boys - Warm, waterproof and protective.
SHOES AND SOCKS
You do not want to be walking around the snow with cold and wet sneakers or ruin your favorite boots just for the sake of fashion. I purchased Sorels for my husband, my son and myself. All of us loved our snow shoes. We were super warm and most importantly, DRY. I also recommend thick merino wool socks, so when you buy your shoes, take that into consideration when sizing for you and your little one. Some options we love here:
12. Sorel Tivoli II Suede Snow Boots - Women's | REI Co-op - Snow boots that offer warmth and waterproof protection.
13. Sorel Yoot Pac Nylon Winter Boots - Kids' | REI Co-op - These boots protect toes against the elements.
14. AIvada 80% Merino Wool Hiking Socks - These Merino wool hiking socks are built to provide you with total support and comfort.
I recommend you research the best deal in Gore-Tex mittens and gloves for your family. Gore-Tex isn’t a brand but a sort of waterproof technology. It is the best to ensure your hands keep warm and dry. I also 100% recommend hand warmer packets. These were life saving. It is crazy how much cold penetrated through my gloves (I didn’t buy Gore-Tex). But these packs were incredible. You shake them, stick them inside your gloves and they omit heat for up to 8 hours. They were incredible. They also sell toe warmers which I didn’t buy this time around but will for our next trip.
15. HotHands Hand & Toe Warmers - Single use heat packs that provide warmth and are ideal for keeping your body warm when the temperature drops.
16. SnowStoppers Kids Waterproof Stay On Winter Nylon Mitten - Patented extra-long cuff keeps snow out and keeps mittens on.
17. Rugged Waterproof Winter Gloves - Touchscreen fingertips, ultra waterproof and has storage pockets for keys and cash!
18. HotHands Hand Warmers - Easily fits inside your gloves or pocket to bring quick and gentle natural heat.
Now that we’ve covered all the bases, when will YOU go on a snow adventure! Hope this helps you plan accordingly!