The Best Children's Snowsuits, Jackets, and Snow Pants

by - Thursday, November 06, 2014

Living in Calgary, a part of the world where it can be 20C above one day and 10C below the next thanks to these things called chinooks (foehns or mistrals in other parts of the world), we have to be prepared for snow, wind, and slush in the same day from October until May. The right winter gear for this climate must be warm and highly water resistant. 

In the quest for the best winter snowsuits, jackets, and snowpants for our kids, we have tried out several and prefer the Patagonia Snow Pile and MEC Toaster lines. Reviews of most brands we have owned (for kids) follow in two categories: 1) Snow Suits & Bunting Suits and 2) Jackets and Snow Pants.

SNOW SUITS & BUNTING SUITS

1. MEC Toaster Bunting Suit

  • What We Liked: kids stayed warm even when -20C outside, kids stayed dry playing in wet snow for 1 hour, zippers rarely catch, fold out mittens, great hood construction keeps cold air out, dual zippers make it easy to take off, although you have to remove the suit for diaper changes, the design is thoughtful in that there is no zipper to make baby uncomfortable when in a baby carrier/backpack
  • What We Didn't Like:no boot zippers (not an issue for most toddlers; our oldest walked and skied early)
  • Recommended for: all kinds of winter activities in variable weather conditions
  • Where to Buy: Mountain Equipment Co-op
  • Cost: $95 (infants' size)



Toaster Suit in Action
Sleeve cuff
Folds over to cover fingers
Dual zippers make it quicker to take snowsuit off
2. MEC Ursus Bunting Suit
  • What We Liked: warm, comfy layer to put over a sleeper or under a snowsuit for extra warmth; dual zippers make it easy to take off; although you have to remove the suit for diaper changes, the design is thoughtful in that there is no zipper to make baby uncomfortable when in a baby carrier/backpack
  • What We Didn't Like: n/a
  • Recommended for: wearing underneath snow suit, in shoulder season on dry days, or at night when camping (wear around camp and to bed over PJs). You will get a lot of use out of it if you are in any way outdoorsy. BUY IT!!! 
  • Where to Buy: Mountain Equipment Co-op
  • Cost: $49

3. Gap Warmest Puffer Snow Suit

  • What We Liked: looked cute, fairly warm duck down fill, fleece lining was soft against baby's skin, removable mittens and booties
  • What We Didn't Like: only one zipper, zipper often got stuck, not very water resistant (soaked through in minutes in wet snow), not very warm
  • Recommended for: mild winter days (up to 0C) if warm clothes underneath
  • Where to Buy: Gap Kids
  • Cost: $85 regular (we got ours on clearance for $25)
Gap Snowsuit with (green) MEC Ursus Bunting Suit in 0C

JACKET & SNOW PANTS

1. MEC Toaster Parka 

  • What We Liked: kids stayed warm even when -20C outside, kids stayed dry playing in wet snow for 1 hour, great hood construction keeps cold air out, zippers that rarely catch, thoughtful details like reflective strips and mesh inner pocket, beautiful colour choices
  • What We Didn't Like: n/a
  • Recommended for: all kinds of winter activities in variable weather conditions
  • Where to Buy: Mountain Equipment Co-op
  • Cost: $99
    MEC Toaster Parka and Bib Snow Pants
Excellent hood construction keeps cold air out (see the elasticized striped part?)

2. MEC Toaster Bib Snow Pants

  • What We Liked: kids stayed warm even when -20C outside, kids stayed dry playing in wet snow for 1 hour, full side zips for easy changing of clothes or footwear (snow boots to ski boots)
  • What We Didn't Like: n/a
  • Recommended for: all kinds of winter activities in variable weather conditions
  • Where to Buy: Mountain Equipment Co-op
  • Cost: $85
Pants unzip from the bottom or top making it easy to put ski boots on or remove snow pants
3. Patagonia Baby Snow Pile 2 Bib Pants

  • What We Liked: warm yet not bulky, waterproof, inner leg zipper made diaper changes / potty trips easier
  • What We Didn't Like: the cost, but the pants are definitely worth the money
  • Recommended for: all kinds of winter activities in variable weather conditions
  • Where to Buy: Patagonia, Mountain Equipment Co-op
  • Cost:$135-$149
Patagonia Puff Ball pants in 0C

4. Helly Hansen Shell Jacket and Snow Pants (older style K Raven)

  • What We Liked: good shell,waterproof and windproof, good 3-season jacket (or 4 if you take it camping in the summer!)
  • What We Didn't Like: not very warm on its own (but they are shells so meant to be layered)
  • Recommended for: mild winter days (up to 0C) with warm layers underneath; ok in slushy snow
  • Where to Buy: Helly Hansen
  • Cost: $130
Helly Hansen shell

5. Gap Warmest Down Puffer Jacket / Warmest Down Long Puffer Jacket

  • What We Liked: attractive jacket, cute faux fur trim on hood, warm down fill
  • What We Didn't Like: zipper always got stuck, not very water resistant (soaked through in minutes in wet snow)
  • Recommended for: fall/spring, mild winter days (up to -5 C) with dry snow
  • Where to Buy: Gap Kids
  • Cost: $104 ($114 for long)
Gap Warmest Down Puffer Jacket (left) & Warmest Down Long Puffer Jacket (right)

6. Gap PrimaLoft Printed Bib Snow Pants

  • What We Liked: nice pattern, price was reasonable, fairly warm duck down fill, lower side zips for changing footwear (snow boots to ski boots)
  • What We Didn't Like: not very water resistant (soaked through in minutes in wet snow), zippers often get stuck. (I noticed that this year's pants look different so hopefully they have improved the material and zippers.)
  • Recommended for: mild winter days with dry snow
  • Where to Buy: Gap Kids
  • Cost: $55
Above zero snowshoeing, Little One making stink face for the camera
Handy boot zippers
Pay attention to details for comfort and convenience:
  • Storm flaps are a given on winter wear to keep cold air from seeping in around the zipper; ensure that the storm flap is covers the zipper (plus some) and does not get stuck in the zipper.
  • Covered zipper: When the snowsuit or jacket is zipped to the top, the zipper should not contact your child's face (cold metal = ouch). 
  • Jacket/hood linings: Thin linings on a jacket will cause zippers to get stuck every time. A fleecy lining around the face is important so delicate skin does not get scratched. 
For best value, I would buy MEC's Toaster suits or parkas and bib pants. If money is not an issue and you would like a little less bulk, go for the Patagonia. Helly Hansen also makes some good quality waterproof winter wear, but I haven't had the chance to check out their latest insulated jackets (the jacket and pants I reviewed were older shells).

What brands do you trust to keep your kids warm and dry?

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