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.


  1. those keen shoes look neat

  2. I've been looking for more information about the Columbia Women's Barlow Pass 550 TurboDown Jacket and I finally found your review. Thank for that!.

    Anyway, would you mind letting me know the size you're wearing in the photo as I'm not quite sure if I could get M or L. Thank you in advance for your advise.

  3. I am wearing a small jacket. I find that Columbia fits small though so for me, it means no layering underneath. I just wear a long sleeve thermal shirt and then the down jacket over top. I think I'd find the jacket bulky though if I went with medium. I'm pretty tiny up top. If you have a bigger chest size, you'd definitely want to go with a medium.

    1. Hi Tanya, thank you so much!

  4. What color is this in the Barlow pass jacket?