August 27, 2020

Back to School Gear for Outdoor Play

Let's be honest, school is going to look A LOT different this year. With more outdoor time planned, it's important we send our kids to school with the appropriate gear for the activities AND the weather. As September approaches, and you begin to create your back to school shopping lists, be sure to check out our favourite back to school gear for outdoor play!

Back to School Gear for Outdoor Play MEC Toaster Suit

I've always been a big advocate for outdoor education. As an environmental education professional for the past decade plus, I see the benefits of getting kids outside and connecting them with nature. Whether the intent is to learn about our environment, or just spend time outdoors for fun, being outside has a positive benefits on mental health. Extending the classroom to the outdoors, even if being forced to do so for public health and safety and the ease of social distancing, is beneficial for everyone - teachers, students AND parents. 

A recent report by the Children and Nature Network documents how getting students outside more enhances learning and academic performance and is good for physical and emotional well-being. The report found that more outdoor learning contributed to lower rates of diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases, reduces anxiety and depression and engages students in their schoolwork. And at a time where mental health may be at an all time low thanks to COVID, anything that takes my daughter's mind off of the anxieties of that come with "the big bad germs" and improve her physical and emotional well-being, is welcome in my books. 

Back to School Gear for Outdoor Play MEC Toaster Suit

One key to creating an enjoyable outdoor experience is ensuring children have the proper outdoor gear. Staying warm, dry and comfortable is definitely key. And it doesn't hurt to be over-prepared for the weather. As a friend in Alaska, where you can blink and the weather has changed, once told me, "It's easier to take off the layer you have, than to put on the one you don't have." Simply put, layering is key because you can always take them off. Wise words I live by, and now enforce with my girls.

With the amount of time we spent outside in all seasons, we've learned a thing or two over the years about what being dressed for the weather and outdoor play means. And now, we're sharing that info with you! Check out our list of favourite back to school gear for outdoor play below.
Back to School Gear for Outdoor Play

Back to School Gear for Outdoor Play

Outdoor Clothing & Gear

1. MEC Toaster SuitFull coverage and warmth for small skiers and riders who want to play outside in wind or wet snow (because wet snow is the best building snow). This classic one-piece suit offers warmth and weather protection when there's fun to be had in fall and winter. Redesigned for 2018 based on member feedback, the Toaster Suit is now waterproof and tougher than ever. Durable waterproof fabric helps them stay warm and dry through hours in the snow, and it's abrasion-resistant to stand up to the demands of serious play. The suit has room for layers and a hem that can be let down to accommodate growth, then (if you need it) tacked up again to ready it for the next kid in line. Also comes in infant sizes. *Easily our favourite clothing item from MEC for our children.

2. MEC Toaster Bib PantsThese waterproof insulated pants offer weather protection when there's fun to be had in foul conditions. Redesigned for 2018 based on member feedback, these snowpants are tougher than ever. New durable waterproof fabric helps them stay warm and dry through hours in the snow, and it's abrasion-resistant to stand up to the demands of serious outdoor play. Room for layers lets you dress for the weather, and an adjustable hem accommodates growth, then (if you need it) readies them for the next kid. Variable-thickness insulation allows ease of movement while retaining warmth. And a center zip makes them easy to get on and off.

3. MEC Long Toaster ParkaFor those days where the cold comes at you from every angle, a little extra parka goes a long way. The Long Toaster Parka keeps the youngest members of the family warm and comfortable, and that is in everyone’s best interest. Thoughtful details include soft trim around the neck and pockets, reflective piping, zipper pulls that can be grabbed with mittened hands, and insulation that's tapered in the arms, so movement isn't limited.

4. MEC Newt SuitAn outdoor classic for wet days. Redesigned based on member feedback, the updated Newt Suit returns to the durable, tried-and-true fabric of previous years. Taped seams and waterproof fabric stand up to wet playgrounds and rainy hikes, so kids stay dry and comfortable no matter where their explorations take them. Long zippers make for easier outfit changes when it's finally time to head inside. Also comes in infant sizes.

5. MEC Aquanator JacketThe fully waterproof-breathable fabric on this jacket ensures dryness through wet and windy conditions.The relaxed silhouette easily fits over several warm layers and can be worn just a light jacket as conditions require. Comes in the pictured pink pattern and blue. Also comes in youth sizes.

6. MEC Heritage Rain Pants: These rain pants are built for the wettest weather and the splashiest activities imaginable. The seams are fully taped and the fabric has a DWR finish. Ideal in extremely wet conditions when the goal is to stay completely dry. Comes in blue, grey and black. Also comes in infant sizes.

7. MEC Campfire Fleece Jacket: This mid-weight polyester fleece jacket works perfectly as a mid-layer to wear under a rain jacket or ski shell. On its own it takes the chill off outdoor play. It has classic style and even a bit of a retro nod, but the brushed polyester is entirely warmth-without-weight modern. Comes in a handful of colours, including purple and orange.

8. MEC Sunnyday Joggers: These joggers are perfect for campsite exploring and recess adventures. With a UPF rating of 50+, the Sunnyday joggers are ready for fun in the sun.The lightweight fabric is treated to repel water and resist dirt, keeping kids looking cleaner longer. 

9. Sunday Afternoons Play Hat: This sunhat gives the perfect sun coverage for small heads. The cape provides neck protection and compresses easily for leaning back in a car or stroller. A buoyant foam core in the brim keeps the hat afloat if it falls out of the canoe. The lightweight fabric allows it to dry quickly, and also resist water and dirt. Breakaway chin strap provides security and safety, which is extremely important on the playground. Comes in a variety of different colours. 

Outdoor Footwear

10. Kamik Riptide Rain BootsThese Canadian-made rain boots are 100% waterproof for foul weather protection. Kamik's lightweight rubber protects you from the elements without weighing you down, while the insole has an antimicrobial treatment to keep things fresh. Comes in a variety of colours. 

11. Kamik Snowbug 4 Boots: These winter boots are perfect for the littlest members of your family. They'll keep your little ones wonderfully warm, and the easy-fit, extra wide openings and adjustable elastic Velcro® strap provides a snug, stay-on fit.

12. Smartwool Toddler Trio Socks: This 3-pack of Smartwool socks are made from 70% merino wool, and their medium thickness makes them perfect to pair with winter boots and high-volume footwear.

13. Smartwool Merino Hike Stripe Light Crew Socks - Children: These mid-calf height Smartwool socks are made from 48% merino wool, making them perfect for hiking, camping, winter and even daytime at school. 

Additional Gear

14. Hydro Flask 354mL Wide Mouth Kids Bottle: Made from 18/8 food-grade stainless steel, this TempShield™ double-wall insulated keeps drinks cold for up to 24 hours and won’t sweat in their backpack - perfect for making sure your child has access to cold water to stay hydrated all day long.

15. MEC Process BookbagThe much-loved MEC Book Bag has a fresh look and an updated name. Dedicated spots for your laptop, books and academic supplies are still in the equation, but we've added a new heritage-inspired logo and better organization for electronics. There's a low profile side pocket to hold a water bottle or a slim vacuum flask of caffeinated motivation, and the fabric is more durable than ever. This unisex bag comes in a variety of colours. 

16. Light My Fire SporkIt's a knife, it's a fork, it's a spoon. It's the perfect addition to any kiddos lunch bag. This durable utensil is made of a corn-based co-polyester that won't scratch non-stick coatings and is dishwasher safe. Comes in a variety of colours, and as a single or 2-pack. 

17. SkipHop Kids Insulated Lunch BoxThis roomy, insulated lunch bag keeps food and drinks cold, including when outside for longer periods of time. They are easy to clean, machine washable. An interior mesh pocket can hold utensils, and a handle clip to allow attach to any backpack. Comes in a variety of fun characters including unicorn, butterfly, owl, monkey and more. 

18. Bentgo Kids Brights – Leak-Proof, 5-Compartment Bento-Style Kids Lunch Box: This bento lunch box has five practical compartments, portioned perfectly for a child’s appetite (recommended for ages 3-7). It is made with BPA-free materials and is drop-proof, with rubber-coated edges and sturdy design - ideal for active kids on the go.

19. Mabel's Labels Ultimate Back to School Label ComboMake sure your kiddos never loose their outdoor (or indoor) gear again with these durable, waterproof name labels.  Perfect for backpacks, lunch containers, clothes, water bottles, pencil cases and so much more. Sign up for their newsletter and receive 20% off your purchase. 

What's on your back to school shopping list for your kiddos? Needing to purchase any additional gear in anticipation of longer outdoor time? I'd love to hear!

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links at no additional cost to you.


Back to School Gear for Outdoor Play
Back to School Gear for Outdoor Play MEC Toaster Suit

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