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(Image: Lisette Wolter-McKinley / Seattle Refined)
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Tips for outdoor PNW adventures with your little ones

The biggest stumbling block to getting outside with little ones is making certain they are comfortable. Especially if they are of the age where they still get carried or sit in a stroller, it is essential to make the investment to ensure their happiness. How many times has a beautiful walk or morning at the park ended early due to not having the correct gear on? By following a few simple rules, if you are lucky, this should rarely (if ever) happen again.

Layers, layers, and more layers: Layers are the easiest way to be prepared for a PNW day. It can easily go from cold and rainy to surprisingly warm and sunny at a moment's notice. First, select a good quality base layer. Merino wool is the perfect next-to-skin layer for every adventure. Merino wool is temperature regulating to keep your little one warm when it is cool and cool when it is warm. Merino wool wicks moisture away from the body and dries much quicker than synthetic fabrics.

Did you know: Merino wool is a natural fiber, so unlike polyester or other synthetics, it can be composted in six months.

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Iksplor is owned by a dynamic sister duo and fellow mamas. As they began their own families, they wanted to share their love for nature and their spirit of adventure with their children. The thing I love so much about their brightly colored merino wool sets is they run long in the sleeves, legs, and torso. If you have tall children, it is often hard to find pieces that do not creep up. Particularly when you are carrying your child through harsh weather conditions having their lower backs or ankles exposed is a frustrating problem to have.

TK Clothing, based out of Canada, is interested in extending your "play outside" season with its made-to-order merino wool base layer sets. When you invest in premium pieces like merino wool for your children, you want them to last more than one season and TK Clothing are experts in getting the most bang for your buck. TK Clothing is unique in that it has no elastic; rather a contrasting yoga-style waistband and long leg cuffs for your constantly growing kids. Roll them up when the set is on the large size and roll them down for continued use next season.

Pro Tip: The great thing about a base layer is, when you are not exploring, they can be used as a cozy pair of pajamas.

Remember those feet: It might seem obvious to invest in good boots, but what about socks?!

Smartwool is our go-to brand for keeping those little feet warm. If you have a child who likes to wear boots, might I suggest the Kids Wintersport socks. A light cushion on the shin, calf and foot provides extra warmth, protection and comfort. It also allows you to buy your child's shoes a half-size larger for getting maximum use out of them. Smartwool's ZQ-Certified Merino wool helps regulate temperature and helps keep them stinky-feet-free during even the most active activities. Smartwool also offers great merino wool base layers in basic neutral colors. Sold in separates which makes it easy if your child is one size in tops and another in bottoms.

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Don't forget yourself! Often when you are out exploring with your little ones, they have warm socks, cozy boots, and great base layers while you are wearing ripped jeans, an old windbreaker and tennis shoes. For fun adventures for the whole family, make certain to not forget yourself. Smartwool is a great option for both stylish and warm socks and great base layers you can use for years to come.

Dress them head to toe: You have probably spotted many children wearing the easy-to-pull-on BOGS rain boots. Did you know they also make stylish and pretty solid-colored boots for adults?! The Amanda II Lace Women's Insulated Rain boots will keep you looking stylish and comfy all spring long and for an added bonus, you can match your little ones should you be so inclined. BOGS are fully waterproof, slip-resistant, and some have plush lining with odor-resistant and wicking properties. Practical beauty at its finest!

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When it rains, it pours: Living in Seattle means many of our adventures include water, whether directly from the sky, leftover in puddles on the ground or actively found at the beach. If I have learned one thing in my years of outings, it's that soggy children are unhappy children. As a result, I always make sure to pack my Oaki Trail Rain Suit in my bag. If my daughter wants to stomp in puddles for an hour or just sit down in one I can feel confident she will be kept dry and happy during all her outdoor play. Oaki Trail Rain Suits are great because they are breathable, waterproof, come with a drawstring waist so your child can run and play without being held back by bunches of fabric. Reflective strips and velcroed cuffs make for a warm, and secure fit.

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Klean Kanteen makes a Kid Sippy Cap for younger kids and an insulated twist cap for older children. Their bottles come in fun, bright colors, are easy to clean, and encourage extra water consumption when we are out. As silly as it sounds; I find my children drink more water throughout the day if they think their water bottle is fun and cool to use. In addition, to their water bottles, they also sell a Food Box set which is great for snacks, and lunch, whether at work, school, or play. The food containers are stainless steel with food-grade silicone lids and come in three sizes. As an added bonus, their food containers are leakproof. Gone are the days of squashed sandwiches or smashed berries, which means less food waste and happier bellies all around.

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Bring the kitchen sink: I don't know if it is the fresh air or because children grow like weeds, but snacks and drinks are as essential to outdoor play as good gear. It does not matter when they just finished their last meal, children are always on the hunt for snacks. All those on-the-go treats often result in lots of packaging, so I try to limit our environmental impact by only using reusable containers. Mixed nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruits, veggies, cheese and crackers are amongst our favorite snacks, but sometimes you need something with a little longer shelf life. I finally have reached the point in motherhood where I keep a stash of water and snacks in my trunk at all times. For quick on-the-go snacks, we have been enjoying the mess-free Dino Bars. Dino Bars are organic fruit bars wrapped in edible paper. My two-year-old is currently obsessed with dinosaurs, which makes her excited by their brightly colored and adorable packaging. My older son is a big fan of the This Saves Lives bars, with playful packaging and flavors like S'mores Blast and Rockin' Straw-beary. With a full serving of fruits and veggies, 5g of sugar and only 100 calories, you can feel okay about handing them out to your kids.

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The key to successfully getting outside with your little ones is more about what you put them in than where you take them. Start out small with a walk to the mailbox or a visit to your local park and before long, you will have them traversing the beach or mountains regardless of the weather.

Lisette Wolter-McKinley is a freelance writer for Seattle Refined. See more of her work here.


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