December 1, 2005

Warm winter clothes - MN style

I started to write this as a comment and then realized more people may want to read about it. The key to our pleasant MN winters is to stay warm. I found my kids still needed to be outside - even when below 30) and the key was to buy them good warm clothing. I thought I would share some wisdom from Minnesota with you.

We buy most of our supplies from LL Bean and it has made all the difference. Be especially vigilant about boots, snowpants and above all winter coat. It is worth the extra money. We buy neutral colors and pass them down from child to child and bean has a wonderful warranty - return it period and they will exchange it or refund you if it did live up to expectations of normal wear and tear. You can also buy things on clearance. I don't work for bean or invest in bean (though I probably should), I just find them to be hands down the best company for our winter supplies.

Here is what we use:

For kids and adults - Rugged Ridge Parka for a coat - warm, hood that can retract into coat, good pockets, lightweight and stands up to Minnesota cold (even the deep negatives). These usually get clearanced at the end of the season for almost half off - that is when we bought ours - we bought the kids two sizes two big the first year, rolled the sleeves and they just had added length. Ciaran and Rhiannon are both in their third year with their coat (this year it is their actual size) and next year it passes down - still in great condition. Serona and mine still look new after four years with a little staining.

Kids and parents - boots - Sorel packing boots. We again got ours at LL Bean's warehouse in Maine but even Target carries them. They don't look like they will be the warmest but they are. They are worth the money. For adults we also like the LL Bean Wildcat boots (available in slip on or tie like a hiking boot).

Snowpants - If you want your kids rolling in the snow, sledding without getting cold and so on spend the extra money and buy them good water resistant and lined snowpants. Also available at bean. We have the Katahdin Pants (I prefer the bib but they were not on sale at the time) and Glacier Summit Pants - they also have rugged ridge that would be good. Watch the clearance page in Jan or Feb, sometimes as late as March. They even have some on clearance now. Use Bean's comparison chart to see how cold it is recommended for, what it is lined with and more details.

For adults only (I do not recommend this for kids as believe it or not they get too hot and start complaining and wanting to take layers off).

Purchase a pair or two of llbean's silk long underwear. Don't cringe away - it is not the long underwear you remember. It is wonderfully comfortable, soft (as silk) and even though it appears paper thin keeps you warmer than anything.

The winter we moved here form Georgia I bought a pair (5 years ago) and I will never go back. It was the key to my warmth that year and many years to come. Often I just wear the pants underneath my regular pants and that is sufficient.

And don't forget mittens are warmer than gloves and scarves (if you can get kids to wear them) make a huge difference in how warm you stay.

You may not need to bundle up this much in warmer climates but it is a great way to stay warm. The difference a good winter coat makes goes a really long way - as do the long underwear - for adults those are my two first recommendations for kids a good coat and boots would be first on the list.

Get out there and enjoy winter again!


  1. I might have to look into the long underwear, and I know I need a real winter coat. Someone stole my old coat, so I've spent the last 2 years just using a fleece pullover layered with sweaters. It's not too bad most of the time. We haven't had snow since 2001, and even then it didn't stick for more than a whole day.

  2. Thanks for the recommendations! A couple years ago, we moved to colder (though dryer) country where snow sticks frequently. I realized last year I couldn't just give our family more layers - they needed better quality layers. It's good to know where to look.