Better Outdoor Winter Clothing for Kids

Greener choices for cold weather essentials
kids boots mitts hand-me-down
© Can Stock Photo / shalamov

The most eco-friendly option when outfitting our children is to buy less. Yes, well, that can be more than a little tricky when you’ve got kids that grow like weeds!


The ideal scenario for dealing with growing kids and outerwear is to get yourself in the hand-me-down loop. If you can find another family to pair up with who have kids a couple of years older/younger than yours, you can set yourself up a reciprocating system of passing stuff back and forth. Another option is to get together with a group of families (through a community centre or school), and arrange a big clothing swap. For every article of clothing you donate, you can pick up some “new-to-you” stuff.

Buy Better

When shopping for new children’s outerwear, ask yourself the following questions: • Will this last a couple of seasons? Little details like reinforced elbows and knee-pads (especially for active kids) can make all the difference in having something last from one year to the next. • Is it gender neutral? Stay away from super gendered snowsuits with princesses and cartoon heroes and opt instead for solid neutrals that work for both boys and girls. • Am I buying quality? If you are buying less, you’ll be able to buy better brands that will last.

Kessa’s Top Picks for Practical Outerwear


Mountain Equipment Co-op makes high quality kids’ parkas with friendlier fabrics. Any of their “boy” colours are unisex so that they can be passed down from kid to kid, no matter what the gender. Patagonia’s 3-in-1 Jacket is a great option. One coat can take you through all of the seasons - got to love that! Both of these options come with sewn in hand-me-down labels with room enough to fill in the names of multiple wearers - a true testament to their lasting power!

Snow Pants

Land’s End are, hands down, the best in this category thanks to their “Grow-A-Long™” legs that extend up to 2 inches, meaning kids get more wear out of every pair! Nylon reinforcements at the knees and seat provide extra durability where it’s needed most, and help to ensure that these snow pants will be in good enough shape to pass down.


Bogs - not sure what the majority of kids wore before these were invented! They are waterproof, warm enough for up to -30 degrees F and easy to slip on - hallelujah! They are also crafted from a high quality, natural rubber. Kamik boots are a great “Made-in-Canada” option that are guaranteed to last and keep little feet toasty. They also have a fantastic boot recycling program.

Under Layers

The best material for layering pieces is natural wool. Icebreaker's merino tops and leggings help regulate temperature, resist odour and are soft against the skin.



The best options for active kids with growing noggins are knit hats that’ll stretch and fit for a couple of years. Smartwool makes hats that will last and last for boys and girls.


Neck warmers are a practical solution for active kids that don’t want to fuss with a scarf. This neck gaiter, again from Smartwool, is a good choice.


mimiTENS are a favourite. They make mitts for babies, toddlers and big kids too. All are made of water-repellant nylon, insulated with Thinsulate™ and lined with Oeko-Tex® certified bamboo/cotton fleece for extra warmth and softness. These are mittens that actually stay on, and they’re made in Canada to boot!


  1. To make hand-me-downs new again - especially if being passed from a sister to a brother or vice versa - sew on a little unique embellishment. I revived my son’s red MEC parka for my daughter by sewing a little vintage butterfly emblem on the sleeve.
  2. Don’t forget to label accessories with your kid’s name and phone number to guarantee they get through the winter with them.
  3. Try embroidering their initials on their apparel. You can either get this done at a local sewing/tailor shop or keep it DIY with fabric scraps and a little home sewing. Unique and personalized!