DIY Winter Gear

I live in the great state of Oklahoma. We get a lot of wind and cold temperatures but not much snow. We generally get a few inches a year that sticks for a day or two but no more. As a result I am hesitant to spend money on expensive winter gear we don't really need or use. I still take my kids outdoors to play during those few times it does snow but I have had to get a little creative with our outdoor gear.

I started experimenting last year and wasn't happy with all of the results so I am improving some of the ideas this year and adding a few hacks I found online. All of these ideas are very simple, most of the items used are very versatile (they can be used in multiple seasons), inexpensive and will allow you to continue your outdoor adventures this winter.

Rain boots + Styrofoam + Tall Warm Socks = SNOW BOOTS

I have to admit I didn't come up with the Styrofoam idea, I found that on Cool Dad, but I thought it was the perfect addition to the rain boots and warm socks I was already going to use. If you don't feel like cleaning up your old Styrofoam meat trays, just ask the butcher at your local grocery store. Mine gave me two trays for free. Just make sure and cut an extra 1/4 inch off the Styrofoam after you trace the outside of the boot so they fit inside the boots.

Disadvantages: Snow can easily get in from the top of the boot. Make sure to wear pants that can be pulled over the boots. Rain boots don't usually fit snugly. My kids boots fall of their feet somewhat easily. To help I add more pairs of sock.

Fleece + Knit Hat = Fleece-Lined Hat

Last year my ears were always aching on my runs because the wind went straight trough the knit hat. This year I knew there had to be a better way. So I bought a 8th of a yard of fabric at Walmart for $0.37 and made a simple ear warmer that fits underneath my knit hat. I made my own ear warmers for three reasons: it was a lot cheaper, it only had one layer of fleece so it is a lot less bulky and it doesn't matter what it looks like because it is underneath my knit hat. I ran this morning with temperatures in the thirties and windy and my ears were much happier.

Old Sweater = Mittens

I found this idea from creme de la craft and loved it. She even hand sewed them instead of using a machine; doesn't get much simpler than that. I love the idea of reusing something as opposed to throwing it away and buying something new. Win/win all the way around. Be sure and head over to watch her tutorial. These would also be perfect gloves for school. I hate sending expensive gloves to school. They get lost and I end up spending way more than I want. If one of these get lost you can make another or find another sweater.

Fleece Jacket + Rain Jacket = Winter Coat

I am from Florida and it really wasn't worth buying a nice coat for their winters. I was able to use the rain jacket year round, and I did because it rains a lot in Florida, and gave me a wind breaker if it was an especially windy winter day. Most days I just wore the fleece jacket.
Fleece jacket plus rain jacket kept me warm on our trip to the Petrified Forest National Park and gave me layers to take off as the day warmed up. 

Fleece Pants + Rain Pants = Snow Pants. 

Or just use the fleece pants for playing in the snow. They will eventually soak up the snow but it takes a while. We did this last year and were happy with the results. Just take a little time to keep the snow brushed off as much as you can.
When we are hiking fleece pants work perfectly. Just brush off the snow to keep them as dry as possible. 
Old Winter Vest = Insulated Skirt
This is a brilliant refashion from Backcountry With The Kids. You do need a sewing machine but it is totally worth it if you find one to borrow.

There are a few items we do invest in. To cut down on cost we generally buy them a size or two larger so they can wear them for more than one season and/or shop end-of-season clearance. Since we use coats and gloves regardless of whether there is snow, it is worth some investment.
  • Kids Coats - The fleece and rain jacket worked for Florida but I want real coats for my kids here in Oklahoma. I still use the fleece and rain jacket option. Easier for me to work with two layers than the kids. 
  • Gloves - These are nicer than the DIY gloves. I don't feel like the mittens will keep the kids' hands warm enough when they are outdoors for long periods of time. 
  • Base Layer - Generally buying wool or synthetic base layers is recommended but since we don't spend all day in the snow I feel like cotton long johns work fine. And they are much cheaper. I have used thicker tights for my daughter in the past too. 
Disclaimer: If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow I wouldn't suggest using these hacks. I cannot guarantee these will work as well for long periods of time. 


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