Dressing for the Outdoors

Our favourite gear list!

Keep in mind that of course we can’t list all the brands of great gear out there and there are certainly solid substitutes for things on this list. But since you’re asking…..


The easiest place to shop for packs is MEC while they historically haven’t made great packs for kids themselves they do stock Deuter and Osprey packs.

I’ve never met a Deuter pack I didn’t love. We use the Junior in our house and many Kikki’s have been through the program.

Here are some other favs:

  • Osprey Jet 12
  • REI Sprig 12
  • MEC finally got it right with the EYAS
  • MEC Pika (ok)
A good pack has:

  1. A chest clip
  2. Side pockets for a water bottle
  3. A large main compartment with two zippers
  4. Is no wider or taller than your child’s torso.
    * If it hangs past their bum with the straps properly adjusted it’s too big for their body. 

Look for 12-18L packs

Base Layers

  1. Locally at Costco – Paradox are affordable and solid if you can hit the right season
  2. Stripes is a BC company based in Comox  – bonus 10% of your purchase supports our scholarship fund
  3. Mountain Warehouse – wool base layers for $25 a piece or sometimes less!
  4. Hands down the BEST of the BEST – Patagonia Capilene

Rain Gear

In a rain pant bibs are great. Second to that a leg with an elastic cuff on the ankle saves a lot of boot dumping.

Unfortunately rain gear is one area where brand names make a big difference. MEC, Patagonia, Columbia, Helly Hansen, outdoor gear brands are what you are looking for.

  1. Abeko – Tells Jesper
  2. MEC bib rain pants
  3. Helly Hansen K Shelter 2

*We do not recommend “muddy buddies” or “newt suits” for kids 3 and over. 


Mittens absolutely MUST have a long cuff that can go over top of their coats sleeves. NO EXCEPTIONS.

  1. MEC Toasty Mitts – little onesbigger little ones
  2. The North Face
  3. Columbia Chippewa long
  4. Mountain Warehouse long cuff – Fox

*No Stonz – they don’t fit well, Kombi wear out quickly so buyer beware. 

Winter Coats

Anything soft, light and packable “puff” – stay away from bulky kids winterwear. Bear in mind that down is useless once it gets wet so kids need to wear a rain shell on wet days.

  1. Paradox at Costco
  2. The North Face Puff
  3. Patagonia


We have a NO gum boots policy. Kids trip, get sore feet and blisters.

  1. The MUCK boot company – Arctic (try Big Boot Inn)
  2. Bogs Insulated at MEC or in town – MUST be well fitting
  3. The Northface Alpenglow


Kids ski socks are pretty easy to find in local gear stores.

  1. Best Wool – Smartwool kids – available at Atmosphere or Big Boot Inn
  2. Best non-wool – Kombi

Mountain warehouse makes kids wool socks, I’ve not tried them.
*Wigwam shrink and we DO NOT recommend them.

Shoes & Runners

Once the weather warms and dries almost any well fitting runner works well.
We recommend/request:

  • Curly laces for lace up shoes that need to be tied
  • No slip on shoes
  • No open toes
  • Yes – closed toe sandals such as Keens Seacamp are fine.

Local Kid Friendly Gear Stores to try:

  • Atmosphere or Sport Check
  • Big Boot Inn
  • Costco – very seasonal

Unfortunately that’s it.
I’d LOVE to open a retail store for kids gear….maybe one day.

Online Retailers of kids outdoor gear:

  1. MEC – Canadian
  2. Mountain Warehouse – British Co.
  3. Mountain Baby – Nelson
  4. Warm & Weather

Please please DO NOT send your child in CAMO ANYTHING to outdoor preschool!