RugRat Winter Gear Buyers Guide

Our little testers have spent the winter months testing out some serious gear, and trust me when I say they needed it.  Here in MN we had the coldest winter on record in the last 35 years, with more than 40 days spent below zero so far, it's stupid cold here.  Not to let that trap us inside for months on end, the kiddos need proper gear too.  Whether it's snowboarding, skating or just playing in the show, here are a few items you can grab at end of season prices, even though we all know it isn't over yet for us.

Here is a great addition to any kids gear arsenal.  This helmet transitions seamlessly from winter to summer.  For the next few months, the knit lining and ear muffs will stay securely velcro-ed and snapped inside keeping little man's head and ears toasty warm.  5 hours on the hill in single digit temps and never once did I hear a complaint about his head being cold.  Once it does warm up, simply remove the insulation pieces and you have a pro-quality skate/bike helmet ready to go for all 3 months of warm weather.  MSRP: $89.99

Born and bred on the mountains, Obermeyer gear is loaded with ski/snowboard friendly features.  Fuzzy fleece lines any spot that might touch bare skin. There are Large zippered hand warmer pockets, a little snap pocket on the left sleeve for easy access to essentials and interior pockets to keep supplies secure.   The body, arms and even the hood are stuffed full of PrimaLoft insulation making it incredibly warm for it's weight, and when the kids inevitably get it wet it won't take forever to dry out like down will.  Now throw in the integrated glove clips and the "I-Grow" system that allows you to add length to the sleeves when they get too short, and you have an ideal active winter coat for your little princess.  MSRP: $129.50

Burton Boy's Fray Jacket and Exile Pants:
My boy is nearly 10 (4th grader) and he has lived in this gear from Burton for months now.  He is not easy on his gear, as anyone with a boy this age can attest to, and trashes snow pants after about 2 months usually.  From sliding on his knees on any surface imaginable, to somehow finding mud in sub-zero temperatures, his stuff takes a beating.  He snowboards, rides a 4-wheeler, plays football in the snow and all the while stays toasty warm in this kit. The Burton gear has held up AMAZINGLY well.  Sure it gets dirty, but a run through the washing machine and it's like new.  Water resistance of these pieces was good, but not great as a day in the slop eventually saturated them both.  Beyond performance though, it was style that made this set-up a real winner for my son.  No fights about wearing his stuff, and real pride when he got compliments on it.
MSRP: Jacket - $129.95  Pants - $114.95

Gordini Junior's Gore-Tex II Gloves:
When you are looking to keep the little ones outside, fingers and toes are the first things to get cold.  Enter these super warm and waterproof gloves from Gordini.  Sporting the Gore-Tex Megaloft insulation, these gloves were by far the most MN winter ready of any in my little gear tester.  From snowballs to shredding runs at the local hill, they were able to handle anything he threw at them.  MSRP: $42.00

When it comes to playing sports and other fast paced activities, metal water bottles can be a bit of a pain.  The AutoSpout line from Avex is a brilliant marriage between old school squeeze bottle and new school design.  The insulated bottle looks and feels much like your old bike water bottle (and it fits in your bike cage too) but it has a drinking valve unlike anything we had seen before.  A leak proof one way valve allows your drink of choice to squirt out with a gentle squeeze of the bottle, then folds down inside the cap for storage and to keep it clean.  From the basketball court to the afternoon at the park, this bottle takes little people honors.  MSRP: $12.99

Even the littlest of workers need to look the part.  Headed out to do some work in the yard?  Helping stack firewood at the cabin?  Set up your young one with a rugged, sherpa lined hoody like the Blueridge from Carhartt and he'll have no problem keeping up.  It's got sherpa lining throughout the body, in the hood, even in the front pockets for when their hands get cold. It easily blurs the lines between jacket and sweatshirt, and quickly became a go-to option for commuting in the cold.  For days when it's still chilly, but busting out the winter shell is overkill, they can grab this and be warm and ready to work.  MSRP: $72.00

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