How to dress children for hiking
Our ambassador Allan Hovda gives you tips on how to dress children for hiking.
We Norwegians are good at dressing ourselves and our children for being outdoors. Having lived in England and Spain, and also travelled around the world, my impression is that the level of expertise and quality of children's clothes here in Norway is very high. All the same, here are some tips you may find useful:
1. Bottom layer of wool – always. When you're out touring, only wool should be your bottom layer, even in summer. Norwegian summers are always subject to variable weather. Being so active, children get sweaty, they spill, their nappies leak or they just jump into a puddle. So you need to have clothes that keep them warm even when they're wet, which wool excels at. Go for high-quality wool that can be washed in a washing machine (never buy children's clothes that must be washed by hand – never) and that is made from fine wool like merino so it won't itch. Cotton and technical materials insulate poorly when it gets cold and should be avoided.
2. Over this layer, a thin wool top such as Ulvang 50Fifty, then the outdoor temperature will determine what else to wear. A thicker sweater/trousers such as Rav Kids is be suitable for cold winters if combined with lined outerwear.
3. Obviously, the weather will dictate which outer layers to use. Rainproof garments in wet conditions and more thickly lined clothing in sub-zero temperatures.
4. Adapt according to the level of activity – children of a walking age or older are often incredibly active. This often means they don't need as many clothes as you'd think. The disadvantage of small children in particular is that they're not really able to express what the problem is, just that there is a problem. So it's not always easy to know whether they're too hot or too cold. The neck is a good place to check and, in my experience, it's worth starting with slightly lighter clothing but bring along extra warm clothes should the need arise.
5. Bring a change of clothes. It's always worth bringing an extra wool sweater/ pair of trousers.
6. Do you have to wear everything at once? – The toddler age is often referred to as the ‘terrible twos'. Young children are not actually stubborn, but they haven't yet developed the ability to think ahead. They live in the here and now. So there's no point, for example, in putting on mittens before going outside. They don't feel cold – quite the contrary when they're standing indoors with all their winter gear on. There's nothing wrong with taking children out on a cold day without their mittens on and waiting until their hands feel cold. There's a good lesson in dressing according to the conditions.
7. Mittens with string – Anything that can be taken off has a tendency to get lost. Using mittens and hats or with string attached, or balaclavas, greatly reduce your chances of losing items along the way. And if you can attach a name tag with your phone number as well, you know you've done everything in your power to get them back again should you return home without them.
8. Let the children help choose. We don't only want children to be properly dressed, but also that they should learn to dress themselves. For many children aged two or older, it's important to be included when deciding what to wear. That doesn't mean that a tutu makes the best winter wear. But they might be allowed to pick out which hat, sweater and long johns to wear out of a few suitable options.
9. Give it a try and get some experience. Take them out on ski tours often and see what works. They don't need to be long excursions or involve any special activities. Grill some hot dogs over a fire, take them on a treasure hunt in the local park or go and feed the ducks. It's all fun and an experience that is worth its weight in gold when the children get older.