We’ll be saying it until we’re blue in the face, but here’s the deal: nothing ends an outdoor adventure quicker than a cold, wet and uncomfortable kid. Not even M&Ms can save the day. We’ve tried.
But the solution to this universal dilemma is pretty simple, actually. It’s all about layers. And, if you layer yourself and your littles in the right gear, there’s no telling what kind of shenanigans you could get into – on the reg. We know because at iksplor, layering is kind of our raison d’être. Yes, we’re trying to be fancy, but that just means it’s why we’re here.
As iksplor co-founder Karissa Akin has said, “never ever underestimate the importance of the right layers.”
While generally there is some nuance into what layers you use and how and when, there is one absolute rule when layering for adventures: cotton is a no-no. All cotton does is absorb moisture, whether that’s snow or rain or sweat, leaving you and your kids wet and miserable. It’s just the wrong fabric for days when you’re going to be outside and active and you should avoid it at all costs.
Now, as we like to say at iksplor, we’re all about that base. Because of all the layers you and your children will need for an epic outing – the baselayer may well be the most important. It’s what you put on first and it does the heavy lifting of wicking moisture away from the skin and regulating your temperature, keeping you and your kids warm and dry or, in hotter temps, cool and dry, too.
Of course, of all the fabrics out there, this is where merino wool really shines. The structureof the merino fibers creates pockets of air that not only give moisture an escape route when it’s a vapor, but provide insulation as well. When it’s hot outside , merino still releases moisture (vapor), while those air pockets hang onto cool air preventing you from feeling too warm. And here’s a fun fact to take to your next trivia game: wool can even absorb up to 30 percent of its weight in water and still feel dry to the touch. This breathability, along with the fact that merino is soft, snuggly and lightweight, make our iksplorer sets the ideal base-layer for every adventure, big and small.
“Merino regulates your temperature and the environment next to your skin, which is so important,” Akin said. Even if you bring layers so you can add and remove them as needed, with merino you simply won’t have to do so as often.
After you’ve pulled on your magical merino base-layers from iksplor, and especially if it’s really cold outside, you may want a mid-layer for insulation. While people often like to use fleece or something heavy, merino is just as good here. In fact, layering wool on top of wool may be the most effective system of all. That’s because each merinolayer works the same way to move moisture away from your skin. If you have a synthetic layer in the middle somewhere, that transport system hits a blockade, trapping moisture and potentially making it more likely you’ll feel cold or sweaty under your outer layers.
“Having merino wool for a base-layer and a mid-layer allows you and your littles to maximize the breathability and temperature regulating aspects of the fabric,” Akin said. “That’s why we now offer the capsule collection of a base- and mid-layer with our adventure hoodies and adventure joggers.”
The combination tends to be ideal when the thermostat drops precipitously. When it’s especially frigid outside, mid-layers on the top and bottom can be great, keeping little tummies and tushies toasty warm. For babies a good rule of thumb is to use one more layer than you, the adult, would wear. Shameless plug: our adventure onesie is perfect over the baby iksplorer set.
The final layer you and your littles will need is an outer layer to protect from the elements – wind, rain, snow, and more. In the winter, this is your hard shell or puffy coat, the last item you put on. It should be breathable, windproof and waterproof and also big enough to fit the other layers underneath without being too snug. Remember, you want to be able to move and groove (and ski and hike and climb and skate and sled and play! Etc etc etc!) Of course, one of the benefits of our iksplor pieces is that they are a bulk-free layering system, making add-ons a no-biggie situation. Just the way we like it.
You may also need a hat and neckie (good thing we sell those too) or a balaclava. But you can always use the iksplorer neckie that way by pulling it over your head and ears and then up over your chin and mouth. We’ve found this to be a great system under our ski helmets. Pro tip: bring an extra if your kiddos are prone to sucking on the fabric! Remember, keeping dry is your golden ticket. Good gloves or mittens and wool socks (we sell those too! Even for grown ups!) are also a must.
And, then, “just don’t over complicate it,” Akin said. “I’ve seen people put 17 layers on their kids and its 20 degrees outside, which, you know, may be overdoing it a bit… Instead, just bring some options. You can add the fluff if you need it!”
When I became pregnant with my daughter in 2015 I decided to move back to Jackson permanently to raise her among the mountains and wild spaces. Previously, I had split time between Jackson and New York. We ski and hike, bike and camp and are serious travel buddies. “When are we going to the airport?” is her favorite question.