Monday, November 7, 2011

Breaking Out the Cold Weather Gear!

 Ooops, it looks like I clicked on "Publish" before I even wrote the post. Gomenasai!

This one was inspired, obviously, by the freakishly sudden appearance of the Alaskan winter wonderland this year. The temps had already dipped and leaves had messed themselves all over my lawn prior to October, but the cold fluffy white stuff was still nowhere to be found. Heck, New England got buried in a storm before we did! BUT, this weekend, it started to fall...

...and for the first time in four days, it has finally taken a break.  All in the span of one weekend, the gray asphalt of roads and sidewalks are nowhere to be seen, a mighty heated discussion of the merits of school cancellation and dangers of bus transportation took place, and the snow shovels took five trips outside to prove their worth.  I suppose this is the Alaska way. She leads you on for weeks and when you've finally given up, BAM! it smacks you right in the face!

And so the frantic digging through the bins for anti-frostbite clothing began. As temps dip into the single digits (as the sun shone at 10am this morning, the thermometer still registered a mere 9 degrees), I am ever more thankful of the judicious investing the fam has made on cold-weather gear.

Back in Utah, (where it also gets mighty cold) a simple wallet-friendly purchase of kiddie winter boots before the hordes of late shoppers whisk them away was a viable solution to outfitting the children for the weather.  Here....well, I suppose there are those here who still do the same...but the smartest thing to do is to purchase a great insulated pair of winter boots officially RATED for negative degree temps. My girls have these:

I love these Kamiks. Waterproof with aggressive tread that will keep those little bums upright and not slamming onto the sidewalk in a slip are great for snowy and icy conditions.  They have a thick wool felt insulator sock (removable) and my little ones' piggies are toasty even when the mercury drops to     -35.  Yes, peeps, it can get that cold up here. 

Another important article is the winter coat. I am a loyal fan of the Land's End 4-in-1 Expedition Parka.  Here's why: It's all about the details. 

  • It has an outer water and wind-proof outer insulated shell.  

  1. The inside collar (that strip that hits the back of your kid's neck is a soft warm fleece (No more of that shudder when the cool satiny lining touches your skin). 
  2. The faux fur portion of the hood is removable (don't you hate those that aren't bc they get ruined when you have to throw it in the wash?).
  3. The hem hits below the hip, and there is a reflective logo (perfect for the darkness here in AK) at the bottom of the hem (even when they're wearing the backpack, it doesn't get covered.
  4. Lots of pockets! There are ones for hand-warmers, inside ones for MP3 players (yeah, my kid has one, don't judge).
  5. Grow-a-long Sleeves! YES, people, these things are pricey! BUT, you can guarantee your kid can wear them for at least two winters. Why? There's a nifty hidden seam inside the sleeves that you can rip off when it seems your kid's arms are sprouting out too much. With the seams ripped out, there is an extra inch and a half of sleeve.
  6. Wrist cuffs that hook onto their thumbs that keep snow from creeping up.
  • The inner jacket liner is a contrasting color with 600 fill down, which can be worn alone, or as a vest with the sleeves zipped off.

  • With all components of the jacket on, it is rated to -15 degrees.  If you suspect it may be colder, base layer, shirt, and fleece sweater should do the trick.

Best Bet: wait towards the end of the season and buy a size up. We purchased Sophie's in late February after discovering that her Old Navy puffy jacket was not cutting it for up to -10 degree recesses at school....and SCORE! only cost us $40 (from $160 at regular price).

I also swear by Land's End for snow pants because of the Grow-a-Long legs that add an extra 2 inches. ..and they have colors to match the parkas.  

Gloves must be waterproof, mittens are much warmer, but kids prefer more dexterity with their fingers. 

The hats we have hang down to cover their ears.

For any of you new Alaska newbies, these are definitely worth checking out. 

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