Friday, February 12, 2016

100 Kilometres on Skis so far this Winter

My seven year old has just logged his 100th kilometre on cross country skis this winter (November through February) and I couldn't be prouder. It hasn't always been easy but like most things, the best stuff is worth fighting for. Learning a new sport is often challenging and there will always be a few tears, moments of frustration, and days when you just want to throw in the towel and give up. (many of those days in fact!)

Cross Country Ski Day #19 - Bow Lake in Banff National Park

Many of you have been following our family ski photos on Instagram and Facebook so I wanted to talk about the "experiences" behind the photos because I believe in transparency. God forbid you'd look at my photos and think we are this magical family that has it all together without struggle! It has not been all "roses" and for each awesome moment, there has probably been one (or ten) that did not feel so awesome at the time. Below are a few things you would have encountered if you had skied with us so far this winter:

Trail Experience #1 - My son screaming and wailing because one of his friends passed him on the trail, made it up or down a hill without falling - while Noah was lying on the ground struggling to stand up, or because one of his friends just skied better than him. (the first group ski trip was so horrific I nearly sold Noah's skis the next day.)

My son (in orange) is happy here because he's in the middle of the pack and everybody is skiing together

Trail Experience #2 - My son happily flying down hills, screaming, laughing, yelling "weeeee," and having the absolute time of his life. Noah no longer lets me choose flat trails and has been known to complain in complete misery when he sees a green trail marker indicating that the trail is suitable for beginners. The video below shows him happily skiing down the hill to Watridge Lake at Mount Shark in Kananaskis.

Trail Experience #3 - My son whining, complaining, and totally dragging his butt down the trail because it's "BORING!!"   - usually because we aren't going downhill or because the trail has been flat for too long. (and don't get me started on what happens when we go up hill for too long!!!)

Incidentally, yes, Noah loves downhill skiing and is a complete adrenaline junkie at the age of 7.

A trail my son will tolerate for small sections of time. (too flat, too easy, no challenge)

Trail Experience #4 - My son happily skiing alongside me, like the ideal ski companion I always dreamed he could be. We are in perfect sync, gliding down an easy trail, and we are both blissfully happy. And despite all the challenging moments, there were many moments like this too. (thank goodness.)

Skiing on one of our favourite trails at Lake Louise

Why Push so Hard?

I'm sure there are a lot of people now wondering why we push so hard. Why not just go out for a short little ski, stop to build a snowman, head for hot chocolate and call it a day?

Do kids have to be pushed to ski 100 km in 3 months?

Do kids have to ski long 7-9 km days? Wouldn't a shorter 5 km day be much more fun?

Was it worth it? The tears, the screaming, the frustration... - was it worth it in the long run?

Having fun on a very hilly trail at Panorama Mountain Resort

My answer to the last question above is that yes, for us, it has been worth it. We really haven't pushed that hard and the only reason we've skied so much this winter is because Noah actually LIKES it this year. Last winter he hated cross country skiing and so we spent the winter on snowshoes. And that was fine. There's no way I'm going to push a child to learn a sport that he hates. This winter however, Noah's become quite competent on skis and so we try to get out every chance we get.

Our first ski day of the season back in November - barely enough snow to ski on but we still got out

I also try really hard to choose trails that my son will enjoy. We do car shuttles when possible (starting higher and ending lower,) we choose trails with fun hills to fly down, and we often ski alone without friends so that Noah doesn't get intimidated by other kids who might be faster or stronger at skiing. We also use a tow rope when necessary. In the photo below, my husband towed Noah 6km up the Cascade Fire Road in Banff to the bridge we're standing on. It was uphill the whole time and we knew Noah would never make it on his own. He had a blast skiing down though and that's what it's all about - finding a way to make each trip fun and doable.

This was the day in November where I KNEW I had a kid who finally loved cross country skiing

Finally, we are big believers in "mixing it up" each weekend. If we go cross country skiing one weekend, we'll try to go downhill skiing the next weekend. We add a hike here and there, we go skating and we enjoy simple outdoor activities like sledding. The reason Noah has already logged 100 kilometres is purely because we get out a LOT. We are outside every weekend, on every PD day from school, on every half Friday when the kids get out early... - we're just always outside. And eventually the distance on skis adds up.

In December we skied into a backcountry cabin in Waterton Lakes National Park

Where We've Skied (so far) This Winter

Kananaskis Village - We love the Terrace, Kovach, Aspen Loop. It's roughly 5km in length and has some good introductory hills. For a shorter day we just ski the Terrace Loop which is only a few kilometres long.
West Bragg Creek

West Bragg Creek - Half an hour from my house give or take a few minutes, and there's been awesome snow here this winter (until recently when we lost all of our snow and now have to drive 2+ hours to find any.)

We have tried a few different loops but my proud moment was when Noah managed to ski the Sun Dog Trail (in the uphill direction most people ski down) to reach his favourite trail, East Crystal Line. East Crystal Line is a lovely trail in the downhill direction with tons of double poling and gentle hills. There's only one big hill near the bottom that Noah has yet to make it down without falling.

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Kananaskis - Since Noah likes skiing down hills so much, we decided to park at the highest parking lot in this park and ski down to one of the lower parking lots. We started at the Elk Pass Trailhead and climbed up to the junction with Boulton Creek. We then skied the "new" Boulton Creek Trail, which has some crazy hills on it since it's restoration post-flood, to the Boulton Creek Parking lot. From there we skied Wheeler and Meadow to reach the Visitor Centre.

This was a tough day (a very tough day) and the 9km felt like 20!! The Boulton Creek Trail went up as much as it went down (and the hills were very tricky,) Wheeler bored Noah to tears (literally) because it was so flat, and then Meadow had a lot of climbing before we got to ski down to the Visitor Centre. It wasn't the easy peasy day we had envisioned and I'm sure we skied up as much as we skied down (despite ending at a lower elevation.)

Skiing one of the easier sections of "Meadow" in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Cascade Fire Road, Banff - 12.8 km round trip and somehow we thought this was an appropriate ski trip for the end of November. To date it is still Noah's longest ski outing and he was towed for half of it. However, he LOVED skiing down this trail and it was the trip where I knew something had finally clicked and that we'd be doing a lot of cross country skiing this winter.

Skiing across the Cascade River in Banff

Lake Minnewanka Road to Upper Bankhead, Banff - This was one of those days where we should have turned around 5 minutes in to our ski. It was icy and the trail was not good for skiing at all! Lesson learned. No shame in turning around and heading off to do something else instead. (Skating would have been a good option on this particular day)

Castle Mountain Ski Trails, Banff - We skied approximately 10km from the Protection Mountain Campground on the Highway 1A back to the Castle Mountain Hostel where we were staying at Castle Junction. This was an awesome day and the scenery was unbelievably beautiful. The first section from Protection Mountain to Castle Mountain Lookout is now one of our favourite trails. The second part of the trail gave Noah a great workout and he really built confidence going down steep hills on this trail.

To read more on this one, read my story Winter at the HI Castle Mountain Hostel with Kids

Beautiful skiing near Castle Junction, Banff National Park

Calgary City Golf Courses - We haven't had a lot of snow in the city but we did get out a couple of times to ski at Confederation Park and at the Shaganappi Golf Course. These are great for after-school outings.

After school skiing in Calgary

Backcountry Skiing in Waterton Lakes National Park to the Cameron Lake Cabin - This was our first family backcountry ski trip where we all skied into a cabin on our own steam. Noah wasn't towed, he didn't ride in a sled, and we didn't have to snowshoe. We ALL skied. It was so glorious!!!

To read more on this trip, go to my story Winter at the Cameron Lakes Cabin, Waterton Lakes National Park. 

Skiing out of the Cameron Lake Cabin, Waterton Lakes National Park

Nipika Mountain Resort, BC - We spent New Year's in Radium Hot Springs and couldn't resist the short drive out to Nipika for a couple hours of skiing on their amazing trails. Noah made it all the way to the Natural Bridge and skied some impressive hills this day.

Nipika Mountain Resort

Panorama Mountain Resort, BC - While staying in Radium Hot Springs over New Years we also took a trip out to Panorama for a day to try out the trails. We particularly enjoyed the Valley Trail that took us from the golf course down to the main ski base area. It had some pretty sweet downhill sections (even if it was -20!!)

Skiing across the Golf Course at Panorama Mountain Resort

Mount Shark, Kananaskis - In an effort to find snow, we recently drove out to Mount Shark in Spray Valley Provincial Park, and skied to Watridge Lake. It was an easy 7.4 km round trip ski with a fun descent down to the lake. We normally bike this trail so it was Noah's first time skiing it. Unfortunately, I think he prefers biking it. I guess it's faster on a bike.

Watridge Lake, Mount Shark, Kananaskis

Lake Louise, Banff - We love skiing at Lake Louise and finally got to ski our favourite trail, the Tramline Trail, last week. We added to the trip this year though and skied the Fairview Loop (4.6 km) from the Chateau parking lot down to the Moraine Lake Road. We then skied 1.6 km on the Moraine Lake Road down to the junction with the Tramline Trail. From here it was an easy 3.1 ski down to the Village below. All in all it was a great 9.3km outing and we definitely ended lower than we started (always our goal when possible)

My boys Skiing down the Tramline Trail at Lake Louise

Bow Lake, Banff - Another awesome ski outing we did last weekend, we skied across scenic Bow Lake to the back of the lake. We had goals of making it to Bow Falls but turned around when we came to an avalanche slope. Without proper gear on us (and with three children) we didn't feel safe continuing. Regardless, it was a lovely ski across the lake (after a sketchy start wallowing in deep snow when we got stuck on a snowshoe trail out of the parking lot.) The lake itself was easy to ski across and we followed the tracks that backcountry skiers had made ahead of us.

Ski Day Number 19 - Skiing across Bow Lake last weekend

I realize that I ended on an odd number (19 days rather than 20) but we will hopefully hit days #20 and #21 as a family this weekend. #23 if lucky.  Myself meanwhile, I am at day 26 this winter which astonishes me!!

It's been a good winter so far, I have a child who genuinely loves skiing now, and we get outside a lot to play in the snow. Life is good and we are active. Now we just need the temperature to drop so that we can get more snow and continue skiing until April.

There's no bad day in the mountains. Add skis and they're even better

Friday, February 05, 2016

Family Guide to Fernie Alpine Resort

Fernie Alpine Resort used to be our favourite ski hill back in the day before we became parents and had to "tone down" our adventurous weekends. My husband and I would leave Calgary after work Friday, check into an affordable hotel room downtown Fernie, and then spend two days skiing the intermediate/advanced terrain on the upper mountain before driving home Sunday night in the dark. The lower mountain didn't exist (in our minds) and the "Elk Quad" was just something you loaded en route to bigger and better things above. Meanwhile, I am positive I never once rode the "Deer Chair" and I honestly don't recall the resort grooming anything on the hill.  Fernie was not the hill you visited for groomed corduroy (we had Kimberley or Nakiska for that) and it wasn't exactly what I would call a "beginner hill." (70% of the ski terrain is still intermediate or advanced)

Fast forward 7 years (yes, our child is now 7 and time has definitely flown) and we finally made it back to Fernie Alpine Resort as a family. We braved the long drive from Calgary, we rode lifts we honestly didn't know existed before, and we discovered glorious beginner-friendly terrain that was perfectly groomed and easy to learn on. Fernie gave us a very pleasant surprise and we might have a new favourite hill on our hands.

Skiing the lower mountain at Fernie Alpine Resort

First Impressions of Fernie Alpine Resort as a Family

The drive really wasn't that long from Calgary. It took us roughly 3.5 hours to reach Fernie via  the Crowsnest Pass into British Columbia and we even made it home Sunday in daylight! (totally doable if you leave early afternoon)

While the hill might only have 30% of its terrain dedicated to beginners learning to ski, we never ran out of runs to do as a family. We were pleasantly surprised at how many chair lifts we could go up together, how many different runs we could do as a family, and how much fun we had! We needed another two days added on to our weekend to fully appreciate everything this hill has to offer families.

There is tons of groomed corduroy at Fernie Alpine Resort! (and I'm a huge fan of groomers I can race down without a mogul or bump in site.) You'll even find intermediate terrain that's groomed.

End of the first day and we were ready to tackle intermediate runs together

The longest run that I skied (Falling Star) was 5 km long!! And it was a pleasant intermediate run that my son even skied it by the end of the first day. It was also perfectly groomed with fresh corduroy when I skied it Sunday morning first thing.

Ready to ski down from the Timber Chair together on our second day at Fernie

Ski In / Ski Out Accommodations at Fernie Alpine Resort

My fireplace in the Lizard Creek Lodge
We stayed at Lizard Creek Lodge at the base of the Elk Quad and I don't know if I can ever go back to staying in town and sharing a crowded day lodge again. It was so decadent being able to return to our condo during the day for lunch, and the fireplace in the lobby of the Lizard Creek Lodge quickly became my favourite place on the entire hill.

We enjoyed having breakfast at the newly renovated "Cirque" restaurant at Lizard Creek one day and also chose to eat out at the Kelsey's Family Restaurant on the hill for dinner Saturday night. Our condo had a full kitchen though and we made use of it for lunches and for Sunday's breakfast. Families on a budget would definitely appreciate being able to make their own meals right from the comfort of their own kitchen.

The other thing we loved  about Lizard Creek was the outdoor swimming pool and hot tub, located right beside the ski hill. We could watch people ski by us from our cozy warm oasis at the end of the day. - and trust me, I could get used to a lifestyle like this!

Lizard Creek Lodge, Fernie Alpine Resort
Swimming in the slope-side pool at Lizard Creek
Hot tub anyone?
And a final note on Lizard Creek, make sure you check out the new ice bar if you visit Fernie this winter. We were pleased that they let us bring our son into the ice bar with us for our vodka tasting and they even let us split a tasting between my husband and I so that we could enjoy the experience without spending a fortune.

The Ice Bar Experience at Lizard Creek


Fernie Alpine Resort - A Winter Destination for the Whole Family

I really wanted to wrap up this review by mentioning that Fernie Alpine Resort is so much more than just a downhill ski resort! The resort maintains 14 km of cross country ski trails along with other trails dedicated to snowshoeing and fat biking. A family could spend a week at Fernie and never run out of things to do.

I went on a short snowshoe tour Sunday morning to get a feel for the trails near the resort and was very glad I did. The trail system was easy to follow and the trails were well packed down for easy hiking and biking. I saw several families out for a short morning walk with young children and I also saw many people out walking dogs on the trails. Having these extra trails right on the doorstep of your condo definitely adds to the resort experience and gives you more value for your money.

Both snowshoes and fat bikes can be rented at the resort as well so if you've been longing to try out this new "Fat bike" trend, Fernie will give you the opportunity.

Snowshoeing at Fernie Alpine Resort on the Multi-use Hiking and Biking Trails

We will definitely be back to Fernie next winter and we will have to stay longer than two nights! Next time I want to get up to Island Lake Lodge for some cat-accessed snowshoeing or cross country skiing. I also never did get the opportunity to try out the cross country ski trails at Fernie Alpine Resort. Just not enough time to do everything.

Family-friendly skiing at Fernie Alpine Resort (photo: C. Truman)

10 More Reasons for Families to Visit Fernie

Family-friendly Fernie Alpine Resort

The Fernie Alpine Resort website has a great list of reasons families should check out their resort this winter. Reasons include free night skiing for kids included with their day pass, $5 meals for the kids at Kelsey's, a kids' carnival in March, and a secret kids' ski area off the deer chair where the little ones can learn to ski trees just like mom and dad.

To read the full list, follow this list to 10 Kid Friendly Activities to Try this Season.

Exploring the Kids' Trails off the Deer Chair (photo: C. Truman)

For More Information...

For information on accommodations at Fernie Alpine Resort, please visit the Fernie Lodging Company website.

For information on the Ski Resort, please visit the Fernie Alpine Resort website.

For information on other activities and things to do in the Fernie area, please visit the Tourism Fernie website.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Moms Have to Stay Warm too - Clothing and Footwear Spotlight

I tend to focus on the best children's clothing and footwear on this website but I've learned that if I'm cold, it doesn't matter how warm my child is because we're all heading back inside if one of us is unhappy.

I walk my son to school every day regardless of the temperature and we spend a lot of time outside hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing in temperatures that get down to -30 C. Warmth is therefore something that I take pretty seriously and I test a lot of new products each winter.

Below are some of the products currently keeping me warm:


Mountain Hardwear Women's Thermostatic Jacket  

I received this mid-layer jacket before Christmas and it has become my new favourite jacket for wearing around the city. I can't stand wearing bulky clothing when I'm driving, running errands, or shopping. The Women's Thermostatic Jacket is the perfect lightweight option to keep me warm without the bulkiness.

Skiing in my Mountain Hardwear Women's Thermostatic  Jacket

Designed as a mid-layer climbing jacket to be worn under a technical shell, I actually like wearing the jacket by itself on warm days and have worn it while cross country skiing a lot this winter. When I'm wearing a warmer jacket, my Thermostatic jacket always gets added to my day pack in case I need another layer at any point during the day. It weighs next to nothing and compresses down into the smallest little bundle.

In the photo below, I had actually forgotten my down jacket that I intended to bring on our overnight ski trip last December. Fortunately, it was a warm weekend and I got to test out the Thermostatic jacket to see just how wind resistant, water repellent, and warm it would be without another jacket as backup. I was extremely pleased on all accounts and am continually amazed at how warm this light jacket can be! It dries quickly when wet and never truly feels damp over good base layers.

More info on this jacket can be found on the Mountain Hardwear website - and it's on sale!

Skiing into a backcountry cabin in my Mountain Hardwear Thermostatic Jacket

Columbia Women's Barlow Pass 550 Turbo Down Jacket

While I would never wear this jacket for cross country skiing, I have worn it hiking on cold days and it's become my go to jacket for taking my son to school this winter. As long as I'm in my Barlow Pass 550 Turbo Down Jacket I am generally warm and toasty.

Hiking in my Columbia Women's Barlow Pass 550 Turbo Down Jacket

Favourite features of this jacket other than the incredible warmth it provides:
What I look like in the mornings en route to school
  • The hood I can pull up when walking to school in the wind
  • The chin and neck warmer that covers my face
  • The pockets! With inner and outer pockets, I have plenty of room to carry keys, a phone, a granola bar or two, and any other essential items when I don't want to take a backpack for a short walk
  • It's long enough to cover my butt - which is always cold!

More information about this jacket can be found on the Columbia website (and it's on sale right now!)

Warm and Toasty in my Columbia Barlow Pass 550 Turbo Down Jacket

Other Jackets I'm Wearing

For Downhill Skiing I'm still wearing my Columbia Women's Whirlibird Interchange Jacket which I received a few years ago. It's still in great condition and I have no complaints with the performance of this jacket.

You can read my previous review here. - (and the jacket is on sale right now)

For Cross country Skiing I'm often still wearing my Columbia Women's Diamond 890 Turbodown Hooded Down Jacket. While it's perhaps a bit warm, I'm usually skiing with a child and I'm not moving fast. I don't want to stop to put on more layers if I get cold so I just unzip if I get hot.

You can read my previous review for this jacket here. - and it's crazy on sale right now!!

I ski a lot in my Turbodown Jacket because I hate being cold!

Base Layers

Fun Purple Base Layers from Columbia

For base layers I'm wearing Columbia's Heavyweight Half Zip Top and Heavyweight Baselayer Tights. - and guess what? They're both on sale!! I think everything is on sale right now so it's a great time to go shopping and gear up for the rest of the winter.

My shirt and tights are both purple which makes them fun as well and a big step up from boring black base layers.

I'm starting to appreciate the tights for days when I plan to go out for coffee or hit a pub after skiing. I can just take my ski pants off and wear my tights with a long shirt overtop. They are fashionable and thick enough for stand alone wear.

Head Wear and Gloves

I'm trying out a new head wrap (think BUFF) for the season. It's from a brand new company called Watuko Head Gear. So far the verdict is that it's AMAZING. Super soft, made of natural fabrics, warm (I barely need to wear a tuque anymore) and very comfortable.

Watuko Headgear is also Canadian so this gives you the opportunity to shop locally.

Watuko Headgear - my new favourite outdoor company

For gloves, I'm still in love with my Columbia Omni-heat Whirlibird Mittens. They take a bit to warm up but once they're on for a few minutes, my hands stay toasty warm and I never need hand warmers in my gloves.

Read my previous review here for Columbia's Base Layers and Mittens. - and the mittens are on sale now.

Warm Mittens are SUPER Important in winter!

On the Bottom - Soft Shell Pants

Mountain Equipment COOP (MEC) is famous for discontinuing my favourite clothing items but they still sell a similar model to my beloved soft shell ski pants. The MEC Ferrata Pants are perfect for cross country skiing or snowshoeing when layered with long underwear underneath (and a down skirt over top if you're me!) Another product to try out would be the MEC Snowfall Pants. They are also soft shell fleece line pants.

We are Queens of Layering with down skirts over our ski pants

The other pair of pants I've been wearing for skiing this winter is the Salomon Women's Momentum Softshell pants. (again with my beloved down skirt overtop for my stupid butt that's always cold!)

These pants are thinner than my MEC soft shell pants and only get worn on warmer days. They are more fashionable though and I am truly in love with them. I bought them before Christmas at Kananaskis Outfitters one day when I forgot my ski pants at home and left the house in nothing but my tights! Oops.

Salomon Momentum Soft Shell Pants for Nordic Skiing

You'll notice the pink soft shell jacket in the photo above as well. I didn't mention it under my section on jackets because this model has been discontinued, but you really should add a soft shell jacket to your collection for all winter sports! I've been wearing this one from Patagonia for close to 10 years now and it has never disappointed me. It's fleece lined and performs well in very cold temperatures (even thought it's fairly light and not bulky at all.)

If you are looking for a soft shell jacket to go with your soft shell pants, I'd highly recommend the Columbia Women's Phurtec II Soft Shell Jacket - something I should really add to my collection since I love Columbia clothing so much. It even comes in purple and is on sale. Score!

Soft Shell Pants and Jackets can definitely get wet!

City Pants for Outdoor Activities

I couldn't write this story without including my favourite pants that I wear five days a week in the city. The MPG Lined Nemea Pants from MEC are my salvation for cold walks to school, skating, cross country skiing in the city and even for taking my son sledding. There's a normal version too that's not lined for summer use. I have one pair of each and it's pretty much all I wear around town.

My go to outdoor pants - the MPG Lined Nemea Pants

The Down Skirt!!

You'll see me wearing a winter skirt in 90% of my photos because I'm always cold - and I hate being cold! They are catching on too and one by one, my smart friends are starting to invest in their own down skirts. (and yes, it's an investment because they aren't cheap.)

Down skirts add another layer of warmth to keep you dry and toasty on cold days

I got my down skirt from a company called SKHOOP out of Alaska but Mountain Hardwear sells an insulated skirt as well and it's a lot cheaper than the one I got from Skhoop. I don't know if it's as warm or not but it is cheaper.

I wear my down skirt while skiing, snowshoeing and hiking. I've even worn it while backpacking. Mine has side zippers as well so I get a great range of motion when hiking up hills or snow plowing down a steep hill on cross country skis.

Real Mountain Women Wear Skirts in the Snow

Socks and Footwear to finish if off

Socks are easy - Smart wool and nothing but!

Boots on the other hand are a bit trickier and not all boots are created equally. I spend a lot of time in ski boots but when I go hiking or snowshoeing (or even walk my son to school) I need to wear something that can perform in my cold Canadian climate.

Below is a history of what I've tried, of what's worked, and of what hasn't:

Baffin Chloe Boots - Possibly some of the warmest winter boots I've ever worn, I was disappointed when the laces frayed and broke on them. I contacted the company to get replacement laces since they aren't your standard laces, and was told I'd have to buy a whole new pair of boots. They lost my respect over this. I have since discovered Keen footwear and find their customer support to be better.

Keen Wilma Lace Boots - These replaced my Baffins and I LOVE these boots. The only problem is that you'd have to have child sized ankles to get your feet into them without a struggle. I have very thin ankles (so it's not my fat ankles) and I've read reviews to confirm that it's definitely not just me! The boots are very warm but there is not enough room to get feet into the boots. Lacking a better option though I still wear these boots for snowshoeing and hiking - and just fight to get my feet into them. (note, Keen is aware of the problem and has discontinued the boots)

The places my Winter Boots have to take me

My Super Woman Betty Boots
The Keen Betty Boot II - In bright red, I call these my Super Woman boots. Sadly though they fit very wide and don't fit my narrow feet very well. I have to wear super thick socks to avoid my ankle bones from rubbing against the sides, and I wouldn't wear them for much more than shopping or running errands around the city. I hope they fit other women with wider feet though because they are super fashionable and warm.  

The Keen Baby Bern Wide Calf Boots - the BEST Keen boots I've purchased in the past 5 years. LOVE these boots. And while I wouldn't go snowshoeing in them, they are super comfy for walking around town, going to the zoo, shopping, and walking moderate distances in. They are also warm and reasonably waterproof (maybe just don't go stomping in puddles with your toddler.) Overall, I have zero complaints with them and I'd recommend them to all women looking for a fashionable winter boot to wear over leggings or skinny jeans. Definitely get the Wide Calf version because otherwise there's no way you'd get them over jeans. (and I do not have big calves.)

Baby Bern Boots for Fashionable Outings in the City

 The Keen Revel III Boots - These were my hopeful replacement to the Wilma Lace boots. I just got them before Christmas and so far am generally pleased with them. They are warm enough for winter hiking and fit more like a hiking boot as opposed to a snowshoe boot (meaning they do not fit like a pair of bulky Sorels.) I have hopes that I might even be able to wear them for mountaineering and on spring scrambles. The verdict is still out though because they fit very wide and I suspect my feet might be too narrow to truly appreciate them. (I'll keep you updated though and so far I have no blisters to report - which says a lot for my feet!)

The Keen Howser II Shoes - Hardly "boots" but they need to get added because these shoes are my favourite for "around town" footwear. They feel and fit like slippers, are waterproof, and are shockingly warm! They have good grip on ice and most of the time, I could wear these all winter long in Calgary.

My beloved Keen Howser Shoes

The Minx Boots are good for indoor use
Columbia Minx Mid Omni-Heat Print Boots - I often wear these slipper style boots to take my son to school because they're quick and easy to put on, are comfortable, and because they don't need to perform. However, I would never ever wear them out to the mountains for snowshoeing or hiking. I also know that if I wear my Minx boots for more than an hour my feet will be wet inside (no matter the conditions outside.) So, hardly a stellar review for these boots. They were given to me by the company but I'm sticking with Columbia's fabulous clothing and leaving footwear to Keen.



I hope this giant clothing and footwear spotlight has been helpful. I get questions emailed to me all the time about my infamous "winter skirt" and get asked frequently what I wear outside when skiing, hiking, or playing in the snow. The topic of winter boots comes up ALL the time in my moms' outdoor group and I'm forever joining in conversations about the best winter clothing to wear when standing around playgrounds (freezing our butts off.)

Please post any questions you have below and I hope you'll support the companies mentioned in this story.

Moms have to stay warm too!

Disclaimer: I have received free footwear and clothing from KEEN Canada and Columbia for review purposes. All other clothing and footwear mentioned in this story was purchased by myself. As always, all opinions are my own and I was not paid to promote any of the companies mentioned in this story.