Winter is here and it’s here to stay! You’ve done your research and now your toddler is geared up and ready for some winter adventures. But what about you?
We have gone on a number of cold family outings so far this season and each one of us can swear to the benefits of dressing smartly for the elements. Layering appropriately for the weather has allowed us to stay warm, comfortable, and happy on the trails. Adventure by adventure, we are slowly shifting our attitudes about winter and savoring the season as a family.
The key to enjoying outdoor adventures in the winter is keeping warm, dry, and comfortable. This is easiest to carry out by dressing in layers and wearing the right types of fabric.
In review from Hiking With A Toddler: Gearing Up For Winter, appropriate winter dress is achieved in three layers:
- Base layer, worn next to the skin to wick away sweat and keep the body dry
- Insulating mid-layer, worn over the base layer to keep the body warm
- Weather-proof outer layer, worn over everything else to protect the body from the elements
Merino wool or poly-blends are the best choices for base layers, as they wick away sweat and breathe well. Avoid cotton and cotton blends if you can, as wet cotton will leave you damp and cold.
For your mid-layer, fleece is great to add warmth without the additional bulk. A fleece jacket with fleece leggings worn over your base layer will keep you warm when it’s especially cold outside.
To protect yourself from the elements and keep everything dry, wear a waterproof and wind-proof shell over your mid- and base layers. Rain or wind jackets paired with rain pants will keep out the moisture and protect you from the wind.
Following these guidelines is normally pretty straightforward, but throw in a rapidly expanding waistline and you’ve got yourself an entirely new challenge! After a little bit of research and a whole lot of trial and error, here are my four tips for outfitting an active winter pregnancy:
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Get creative with what you already own. Poly-blend workout gear that still fits comfortably can be worn as a base layer. Jackets and coats can be layered or modified to fit over your belly. Borrow outdoor gear from your partner or your friends.
Depending on the temperature, I layer my husband’s stretchy soft-shell jacket under my rain jacket (zipped at the chest, open at the belly) or I wear an oversized military surplus coat that otherwise lives at the back of my husband’s closet.
I have been able to use all of my usual accessories through this pregnancy, to include snow boots, hiking boots, waterproof trail running shoes, wool socks, gaiters, hats, scarves, and gloves. With the exception of my hiking boots, which needed to be replaced this year anyway, I’ve owned and used all of these accessories for years.
Strike a balance between quality and price. You don’t have to break the bank buying layers you will only be able to wear for a season or two. By saving money on base and mid-layer fabrics, you can focus on higher-quality, weather-proof outer layers. For example, choosing poly-blend base layers over wool ones and basic fleece mid-layers over more technical options will help you save money. (Just avoid that cotton!)
It wasn’t long into this pregnancy before I needed activewear that would accommodate my growing belly and hips. With this baby being our last, I was hesitant to spend a lot of money on expensive gear I knew I would only wear through one season. Instead of heading to an outdoor or sports retailer, as I normally would for activewear, I went to Target. I bought a handful of Champion separates, a few sizes bigger than usual, and they have lasted through my entire second trimester and into the third. I fully expect most of my Champion gear to last through the end of this pregnancy and until I fit into my regular clothes again.
Try on as much as possible. It is difficult to know how a waistband will feel across your hips or how a shirt will drape over your belly, especially if the clothing in question is not specifically built for a pregnant woman. Although your body will continually change, trying things on will help you visually gauge which pieces will be versatile enough to last through the majority of your pregnancy and into postpartum.
My belly, hips, and thighs go through the most change in my pregnancies. To accommodate this growth over time, I pay attention to how much extra room a piece of clothing offers in these areas. Base layer leggings, bought a few sizes bigger than normal, typically do the trick for me. I also prefer base layer tops that are quite long, so my belly doesn’t hang out of the bottom by the end.
Go ahead and splurge a little bit. The right gear can make or break your winter experience. If all that is holding you back is a decent pair of waterproof pants, just get the dang pants!
One cold, snowy hike in jeans was all it took to convince me to buy a pair of fleece pants and a pair of weather-proof shell pants. Both of these items were a bit of a splurge for me, but after wearing them for the last few weeks, I can honestly say they were a good buy. Like the rest of my bottom pieces, I bought both pairs with enough give in the waist and hips to last until baby arrives.
Have you been able to remain active outdoors while pregnant over the winter? What tips or tricks do you have to share?
Stay tuned for my personal gear list for an active winter pregnancy!