What to Pack for a Winter Adventure

Now that the Winter Solstice has come and gone, the days are getting longer but the temperatures are still hovering around freezing. There’s at least a few more months of cold weather and potential snowstorms ahead of us so there’s no sense in staying indoors. But anyone who has children in their lives knows that getting kids outside can be a real chore during this season. It might even make you question whether you should head out into the wintry wonderland. 

But I’m here to tell you to DO IT. You won’t regret it. You just need the right gear to make it a truly magical adventure. 


First Things First

Don't Forget to Layer Up!

You have to read the post about how to layer your kids for a cold adventure. No matter what else you bring on your excursion, if your kiddo isn’t comfortable, they won’t last long outside. As a reminder, have a wicking base layer (i.e., merino wool, etc.), an insulating mid layer, and a water-/windproof outer layer at the bare minimum. 


The TEN Essentials

If you’re a novice hiker/adventurer, you might not have heard of the Ten Essentials. Basically, the Ten Essentials are the ten “things” that you should carry with you anytime you are out in the wilderness. They include:

Ten Essentials for Winter Adventures

  1. First Aid Kit: it can be a complex for a multi-night backpacking adventure or as simple as this mini Wilderness First Aid Kit.
  2. Navigation: an easy solution for this one is to download the AllTrails app on your phone (the Pro version has an annual fee but is worth it since you can download maps for offline use). You can also use the compass app on your phone or snag one here.
  3. Knife/Multitool like the First Pocket Knife from Huckleberry.
  4. Light: whether it’s the flashlight on your phone, a headlamp, or this mini lantern, make sure you have some sort of light in case you find yourself unexpectedly navigating through the dark.
  5. Sun Protection: yes, even in the winter (if not more so) it’s important to have sun protection. Always wear sunscreen and bring sunglasses and/or goggles and a hat/beanie. This Hemp Knit Beanie is a favorite for the winter time while the Kit 5-Panel Hat is a must-have for the summer.
  6. Water: this might seem like a given but always bring enough water and then some extra water. You should actually drink MORE water when you adventure in the winter since it staves off dehydration. Use a vacuum insulated bottle like this one so you’re water won’t freeze easily.
  7. Food: bring enough food to last for the entire adventure and then bring extra. Always bring some sort of “treat” for your kid too in case they aren’t having the best time. Treats always make kids feel better. Grab this Snack and Food Jar from Grech & Co.
  8. Layers: like I said earlier, make sure you have the right layers. Even if you don’t think you’ll need all of them, bring them just in case.
  9. Fire: grab a few matches or a lighter to make sure you can light a campfire if you need to stay warm.
  10. Shelter: it doesn’t have to be a 4-person tent but you should at least carry around an emergency bivy (like this one).


A Good Pack

Regular and Mini Rover

You’ll need a good pack to put all of your essentials in. I like packs that have multiple compartments for easy access to things. The Classic Rover Pack is the ideal backpack for any adventure. It even comes in a mini size so that your kiddo can help carry the weight (literally).

 Topo Mini Quick Pack

If you are, like me, potentially carrying your kid in a soft carrier and can’t wear a typical backpack, you can always opt for the Mini Quick Pack. Only use this one when you have a partner carrying other things though since not everything will fit in the Quick Pack. Also, if you are going out in wetter weather (yes, you can most definitely adventure in freezing rain!), grab yourself a Dry Bag to protect your electronics and other sensitive items.


A Little Knowledge

I always like to bring a guidebook for me and my kid whenever we go on adventures. We usually make a game out of it. There are some great apps (like the Seek app by iNaturalist) to help identify things out in the wild. You can also purchase this book about what to see in the night sky or things to do in the wild. Forewarning, though, that this adds weight to your pack so if you’re already carrying a lot, you might want to forgo the bulky items.

Snowy Adventure

And a Whole Bunch of Fun

There is so much that nature provides that you don’t actually have to bring a lot out with you. But there are a few items that I bring on almost all adventures to enhance the experience.

  1. A sketchbook and some colored pencils: we stop a lot on the trail and sometimes my kid just wants to create while he’s taking a break. So I always bring a sketchbook and a few colored pencils in case this happens. He’s only 4 so he’s no Picasso but he loves being creative in his own way. Grab this Waterproof Sketchbook so no matter the weather, you can draw to your heart’s content.
  2. Binoculars: sure, my kid definitely doesn’t know how to use his binos yet but he loves to put them on his neck and bring nature closer to him. These kid-sized binoculars are the perfect addition to your adventure day.
  3. Bubbles: seriously, I bring bubbles everywhere. No matter what age you are, bubbles always turn things around. Toddler having a tantrum… bubbles. Mama about to have a nervous breakdown…. Bubbles. Preteen throwing some serious ‘tude… bubbles. And grab this gorgeous DIY Bubble Wand Kit and make your own bubbles for a seriously fun time.


Now that you’re geared up, you’re ready for any adventure that’s thrown at you! Go make some wintery wonderland memories!

Written by Sarah Lamagna

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