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Let me explain my second point here, and this one is HUGE! Kids don’t need the same type of gear as adults because kids do a million things that adults would just NEVER do. For example, when is the last time you sat in a puddle? Or took off your mittens and stuck your arm, elbow-deep in the mud? Or even ran through a blackberry bush without stopping even as your hear your jacket tearing?
Waterproof Outer Layer
Because kids will not make the same choices as adults, it’s important to shift priorities when choosing rain gear. For adults, we often chose breathable and comfortable over COMPLETELY waterproof. Rain gear for adults doesn’t need to be able to keep us dry while swimming, so we can prioritize breathability features.
For kids, jumping in puddles, sliding down wet slides, and sitting on wet grass or puddles are part of life. So they need an outer layer that is truly waterproof. Yes, breathability will suffer. But we think it’s well worth the compromise. Getting a little bit sweaty is no big deal compared to completely saturating bottom layers after sitting in a puddle.
Thankfully, there are TONS of great options for kids rain gear out there, for all different preferences or budgets. We’ll walk you through the options, and which items we LOVE.
Probably the EASIEST way to waterproof your child is a one-piece waterproof suit. Just zip your child into a single item and voila – rainproof! But before you click ‘buy it now’, there are a number of things to consider with this type of rain suit.
We love these suits for babies and toddlers. They are easy to put on over anything and keep the child dry and (mostly) clean even if they are climbing in the mud. And we find the fit works well for most babies and toddlers.
As your little person grows a little bit bigger, the coverall style might not work as well. The one piece just doesn’t seem to fit as well on older kids. Trying to get the rain suit off for every potty break can be frustrating as well (especially for kids who are having SO much fun playing that they forget to go potty until it’s an emergency).
Best Coverall-Style Rain Suit
So which one do you pick?
For super wet conditions, we LOVE the Tuffo Muddy Buddy Coveralls! They are thick and sturdy (so you will be able to pass them on to the next kid), TOTALLY waterproof, and budget-friendly. We love that the fabric is tough enough to handle abrasion so you won’t have to worry about the knees wearing through for a crawling baby, or tears for your tree climbing toddler.
Runner Up- Coverall-Style Rain Suit
The CeLaVi One Piece rainsuit is 100% waterproof, machine washable, and gives plenty of space for your child to grow (without compromising fit while your child is small). They come in tons of great colors, and have a cuff on the ankles and wrists to ensure water stays out, as well as a removable hood.
They are a little more expensive than the Muddy Buddy, and a little less abrasion resistant, but this is still a really great rain suit.
Rain Jackets and Rain Pants
Opting for a jacket and rain pants is the other option for staying dry and warm. Again, when choosing the best option for your kids, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons.
What We Were Looking for
When picking a rain jacket and rain pants for your kids, we recommend picking something with a roomier fit so that you can layer for very cold weather, or just wear it under regular clothing for wet but not so cold days.
We like polyurthane because it’s soft and totally waterproof. Make sure the seams are fully taped or welded. A waterproof rating of 5,000 mm of pressure or greater is fantastic and will easily keep your child dry.
In addition to the details we like for both pieces, we also really like pockets for a rain jacket. The rain jacket will always be the outer layer, and my kids are constantly wanting to keep little rocks or any kind of treasure they find out in the forest. If they don’t have a pocket (or a backpack), they end up looking for one in their interior layers, getting everything wet. For some reason, most rain jackets don’t have pockets, but we’ll keep wishing for them 🙂
We look for a roomy fit because the rain jacket will always be the outer layer, and it needs to work under a variety of layers comfortably, depending on the outside temperature.
Since rain hats aren’t really a thing, we check to make sure rain jackets come with a hood that is functional and will stay on even when your child is running around. However, we can usually get by without a hood, so it’s nice if the hood is removable.
For rain pants, we look for elastic to keep the bottoms of the pants snug over the top of your child’s rain boots to keep water out of boots and socks. BUT, elastic can cause the rain pants to ride up a bit, so we really like an elastic stirrup on the bottom. The elastic does wear out, but often they are super easy to replace (just cut a piece of elastic to size, and cut button holes for each side).
One other thing to remember is that you don’t need a matching set. If you find a deal on pants in one brand, or one color, and a deal on a jacket in another, go for it! 95% chance your kids won’t care, plus crazy color combinations usually end up being cute on kids!
BEST Rain Jacket and Rain Pants
The rain set we adore, and landed on for our kids is the Polarn O. Pyret Classic Rain Jacket and Polarn O Pyret Waterproof Suspender Rain Pants. Both are SO waterproof, we’ve never had a drop of water get through. They are thick enough to withstand climbing trees, sliding down hills, and whatever else your child decides to do. The fit is roomy, but adjustable enough to ensure you’ll get years of wear.
These are machine washable, line dry. But they really don’t need to be washed very often at all. They are designed to just wipe clean, making them totally low maintenance.
Though the prices on the Polarn O. Pyret are a bit high, be sure to do some searching. We have found some great deals on Amazon. And, if your child attends a nature school, ask about discounts. The company has a discount program for outdoor schools!
The rain jacket has a soft, fleece lined collar to make the jacket comfortable, even when worn without layers underneath. The hood is removable, and the wrists have elastic to keep the jacket snug on wrists or mittens (if your child will wear them!). This jacket is great to throw on top of any combination of warm layers underneath, or just wear on its own. When I originally purchased this jacket for my kids, it was HUGE on them. But the elastic wrists help keep the sleeves in the right place, so it was no issue whatsoever.
Unfortunately, the jacket has no pockets. We would certainly prefer that feature (even if it means pockets full of water), but we can live without.
I really do love these rain pants. The suspenders make these adjustable so you can buy them QUITE large and still get a good fit. Then continue to wear them as your child grows. Also, the suspender allows a bib-style design so pants won’t slip down allowing water in.
The suspenders are a LITTLE bit difficult to manage for potty breaks, but still totally doable. We recommend keeping the straps on top of all layers except the rain jacket, so you can easily unclip and reclip as needed.
We also love the elastic stirrup on the bottom of the pants. These keep the pants snug on the outside of the kids’ boots, and prevents pants from riding up on boots. The elastic stirrup can be easily replaced as well.
Budget Pick - Rain Jacket and Pants
The CeLaVi Rain Suit was designed with forest school in mind, making them perfect for kids who LOVE to be outside, even in the rain. For a totally reasonable price, you get a high quality, super waterproof rain jacket AND pants. This means you don’t get to mix and match colors or sizes, BUT with a roomy fit, these will likely work well for your child.
The jacket has a soft, fleece lined collar, and adjustable elastic wrist cuff so you can always get a perfect fit. The hood is elastic and removable. Plus it has a reflective stripe for nighttime safety.
The pants come in an overall/bib style for younger kids (4T and smaller), and just regular elastic pants for bigger sizes. They have elastic around the ankle for a snug fit on the outside of your child’s boots.
For rainy weather, rain boots are SOO important. If you buy no other rain gear, at least buy the boots. Wet feet are so uncomfortable, and drying wet shoes is a real pain. Boots are a huge lifesaver for rainy, wet days!
When buying rain boots, there are a few things to consider. The biggest is: do you need boots for cold, wet conditions, or just wet conditions?
Rubber rain boots that are unlined can feel super cold in lower temperatures. Even though your feet are dry, the boots seem to suck the warmth right out of your feet. But, if you live in a climate where rain doesn’t necessarily mean cold, unlined rubber boots might be just the thing you need.
If you live in a climate like the Pacific Northwest, rain is constant, and temperatures are low, but not QUITE low enough to freeze, great rain boots with lots of insulation is a necessity.
Uninsulated Rain Boots
Insulated Rain Boots
Our Rain Boot Picks
Best Insulated Rain Boots
The Bogs Classic Winter Boots are AMAZING. They are super warm- they claim to be good down to -30°F. We’ve never tested them THAT low, but they’ve been plenty warm for negative temperatures in Montana winters. They are completely waterproof, even if you are standing in water for extended periods.
And they seem to be comfortable- my kids are willing to wear them basically every day. Both my kids and I love how easy they are to pull on, so even younger toddlers can get these on without help.
Perhaps the BEST thing about these boots is how durable they are. They last season after season without any noticeable wear. Sure the price is high, but if you can keep passing these on, we think it’s well worth the price.
One downside is that the waterproofing only goes up to just above the ankle. If your kids insist on walking THROUGH lakes or whatever, they will eventually get wet.
Insulated Rain Boots- Budget Pick
The Oaki Neoprene Boots are almost identical to the Bogs, but for about half the price. They are warm, and waterproof, easy to pull on and super cute.
However, in our experience, you can expect to see significant wear on these boots by the end of the season. So if you want an affordable pair of rain and cold boots and don’t need to pass them on, go for the Oakis. But if durability is a necessity, go for the Bogs.
Best Uninsulated Rain boots
Crocs Handle It Rain Boots are truly amazing rain boots. While many rain boots are heavy and unmanageable, the Crocs are ultra lightweight. And just like the summer version, they are squishy, roomy, and totally comfortable. The handle makes them super easy to put on, and the bright colors will ensure your toddler, or even your older child, really love them.
Like all Crocs, these things will survive anything, and the simple design means you can just hose them off inside AND out, or wash them in the sink. And the price is totally reasonable as well!
Best Uninsulated Rain Boots- Budget Pick
We are going with Oaki again for the best budget rain boot. Their uninsulated rain boots are even more affordable than the insulated ones. We love that they make great kids outdoor gear for really great prices. And even though their quality isn’t QUITE as high as some of the premium brands, they are still a really great company with really great gear.
The rain boots are no exception. They are completely waterproof, all the way to the top, have handles to make pulling on boots easier for toddlers, and, well, all kids, and they have TONS of fun designs.
Rain Mittens and Gloves
When it comes to rain, almost no mittens or gloves will keep the water out. To further complicate the issue, kids, especially toddler and preschool-aged kids, are constantly taking mittens off to check out a cool rock, or feel an interesting stick. Putting their wet hands back IN the mitten means there is NO chance the mitten will last more than 15 minutes.
But we have found one secret weapon for keeping hands warm in the rain:
The Polarn O. Pyret Rain Mitten!
These polyurethane mittens are ACTULLY waterproof. Plus they are easy to slip on and off for those kids who don’t love the lack of dexterity when wearing gloves.
Because these mittens are just a waterproof covering, you’ll want some regular gloves or mittens underneath for warmth.
But because you have the waterproofing covered, we recommend just a cheap pair of knit gloves or mittens. We love these knit mittens, sold in a 15 pack. With 15 pairs, you can bring a ton with you for every rainy day outing, and just change them out each time a pair gets wet.
Cold AND Rainy Gear?
For Pacific Northwest families, or anyone else in a wet, cold climate, just rain gear won’t cut it. You’ll also need some quality gear to keep your child warm and comfortable.
Even for kids, a good base layer is important. A base layer makes layering easy, and keeps them toasty warm even if they get a bit wet (for example, kids who are running around like crazy and get sweaty, then want to sit down for an outdoor lunch and begin to cool off).
The BIGGEST thing to remember with a base layer is to avoid cotton. Cotton is not a great insulator, dries slowly, and performs terribly when wet.
When choosing a base layer, go for either merino wool or synthetic. Check out this helpful post to understand the pros and cons of each. Which is better? Neither- both are great choices, so it really just comes down to personal preference.
I really love the merino wool. They are soft and comfortable, and with many machine washable options now, the high maintenance stigma of wool is gone.
Our favorite kids thermals?
We recommend Wee Woolies because they are comfortable enough to sleep in (and then maybe wear the WHOLE next day), machine washable, super durable, and come in fun, bright colors (plus we LOVE the contrast butt color for toddlers and younger kids).
This Etsy shop also makes some amazingly high quality, totally warm, and super comfortable base layers for kids. Plus, the price is much better than most, when it comes to organic wool.
Warm and Durable Mid Layer
The last layer you need for cold and wet weather is a mid layer. What SORT of mid layer you need depends on temperatures, how long you plan to stay outside, what your child will be doing etc. And the BEST part about a mid layer, especially when you have a quality base layer and waterproof rain gear, is that you can basically use anything you already have!
Got a warm hoodie? That’ll work. A fleece jacket? Yes. A nice down coat. Perfect.
But if you still need a little inspiration, here are a few mid layers we have tried and love!
Columbia Fleece jackets are versatile and affordable.
Polarn O. Pyret Pull ON Pants are a great mid layer pant. They are wool and add a ton of warmth and slip easily over thermals. Plus they are machine washable!
With this amazing kids gear, your kids will be able to handle any weather! Bring on the year-round nature exploring!