Tricks from a gearhead father
As winter approaches, I’ve found myself obsessing over how to keep my one-year-old as cozy as possible in the snow and cold. So I hit up Jakob Schiller, the chief marketing officer for Taos Mountain Energy Bar, a former editor at Outside, and an avid skier who doesn’t let chilly temperatures keep him from getting out to the hill with his five-year-old daughter, Lucia, and three-year-old son, Marcos. (You can follow their exploits on Schiller’s Instagram.) “I’ve never had a kid complain about being cold,” Schiller says. His approach comes down to minimizing discomfort so they can focus on having fun—kids aren’t into sufferfests. Here are his tried-and-true winter layering tips.
Start with Comfy Base Layers
Schiller dresses his kids in their base layers at home so there’s one less thing to do when they arrive at the ski resort. And the more comfortable those shirts and leggings are, the less the children will fuss on the car ride there. The material you choose is key to making sure they’re both safe and happy. “You don’t want them wearing cotton sweatpants,” he says. “Invest in Capilene or wool,” because those fabrics move moisture exceptionally well. Ridge Merino’s Inversion base-layer pieces ($40) are standout wool options. He acknowledges that it seems ridiculous to splurge on a garment they might outgrow in a few months but insists on their importance: “You need that on their little bodies, because if they get wet, they’ll still be able to stay warm, and they’ll dry faster.”
Don’t Skimp on Outerwear
“You do not want the Walmart versions. You want the North Face version, the Patagonia version, or the REI version,” Schiller says. Quality insulated bibs and jackets and a solid shell will ensure your child stays toasty, dry, and actually enjoys the snow instead of being miserable. “Keeping your kid warm using good gear is going to be the difference between ten minutes outside and two hours outside,” he says. Lucia skis in the girls’ version of the North Face Boundary Triclimate jacket ($130) and Patagonia’s Baby Snow Pile bibs ($83), while Marcos rocks the onesie version ($159) of the Baby Snow Pile.
Before the family heads out, Schiller places his kids’ boots near a heater. And on the ride to the sledding hill or ski mountain, he’ll put them by one of the car vents and crank it. “If the kids start out with warm feet, that gives you a lot more time out there,” he says. “If they start with cold feet, you’re in trouble from the beginning.”
Choose Mittens, Not Gloves
“Mittens have a better chance of keeping their little hands warm,” Schiller says. “And I look for a mitten model with extended cuffs so I can wrap the kids’ jacket sleeves up around them, so there’s zero chance of snow creeping in.” He also makes sure he has hand warmers as backup. Downtime like chairlift rides can quickly sap the warmth from the kiddos’ little digits.
Bring a Hat or a Buff
“On the coldest days, dress your baby the way you would dress yourself—that includes a Buff under their helmet or hat,” Schiller says. “My kids are picky when it comes to hats. They want something that isn’t itchy, has a fleece lining, and isn’t too tight,” or they’ll pull it right off. Skida’s Punch Buggy ($32) has been a hit.
Mind Their Eyes
“You’ve got to take care of their eyes in the snow, which reflects light powerfully enough to damage your vision,” Schiller says. “I have gone out a couple of times with my kids on my back and been afraid they’d go snow-blind, so I took my own sunglasses and duct-taped them to their heads.” But now he outfits his kids with something from Julbo’s line because of their superior lenses and fit.