AKontheGO Ho Ho: A Gift Guide For Discerning Parents

It wouldn’t be Christmas without socks and underwear, right? There is no better season or reason for giving the gift of warm and toasty to the little ones we love, and since all of you who read this blog are dedicated to the cause of kids and the great outdoors, AKontheGO is happy to provide our top picks for the most basic of base layering information. In Alaska, the base layer is a fundamental piece of outdoor-attire, and our mantra is, was, and always will be: Get Good Gear for Good Times. Plus, the sales right now are just too good to pass up.

Warm feet = happy feet = happier children, and really, that’s what we want when recreating outside. Toaty tootsies demand quality socks. We checked in with REI
a few weeks ago during their Member’s Only Sale (you are a member, aren’t you?) and found some wonderful deals on Smartwool socks for kids. We like Smartwool for its less-bulky sock that holds its warmth and won’t bunch, a big deal for kids learning to put their own boots on. Sometimes we’ll layer two pairs if it’s really chilly outside. Smartwool socks also come in really groovy colors to please the little princess in your life (hey, socks are like purses, and we know accessories rock). REI also has its own brand of sock which we have found to work just fine for a lower price (about $7.50/pr). They do tend to be sized small, so get a larger size than you think you’ll need to prevent slipping inside boots.

I am a firm believer in wool-blends for socks; they are not like the itchy, ugly socks we grew up wearing, thanks to new technology and a less bulky yarn and darn it all, they are warm. Hang a few on the Christmas tree of put inside the Christmas stocking with a little treat inside, and the kids’ll be thrilled.

Long Underwear:
“Longies”, as my father used to call them, have come a long, long way from the waffle-weave style of the 1970’s, and the dreaded union suit from further back than that (am I dating myself, here?). 21st Century long johns are lightweight, soft, and designed for just about every outdoor activity a family can dish up; the only trouble is in deciding which type, color, and level of warmth for your little skier or sled maniac.

AK Fam actually has underwear for the occasion, if you will, coming to the conclusion with son #2 that the high-tech, more expensive stuff can be saved for the days where true warmth and dryness is imperative, and allowing for a cheaper version to be worn on days when we are close to home, or the temperatures are a bit more moderate.

We like the Patagonia Baby Capilene for a number of reasons. Capilene is lightweight, comfy to wear for long periods, and oh, golly, it has those “onesie” style snaps at the crotch. Our five-year-old Kid is still wearing his, even though he is long past the baby stage, but know what? His shirt never comes untucked to reveal the chilly gap between belt and shirt. The stuff is $50 a set, but it has lasted over a year and we figure we’ll keep using it even after we can’t snap the shirt shut anymore.

Another options is to try Lands End, the more trendy, east-coast outfitter for their Thermaskin, a nice choice for a more lightweight long underwear. It’s only $12 per top/bottom right now, and if you can swing the free shipping somehow (we mail to grandma who ships up for us, cheaper for sure), it’s worth looking into. Plus, they will return with no hassle if the item doesn’t fit.

LL Bean also has a brand of longies called “Wicked Warm”, a midweight underwear that has served some friends of ours well. They say it lasts a long time, and they should know, they have many children and it’s still going strong. LL Bean is offering free shipping, even to Alaska, with a purchase of $75 or more, plus a $10 gift card. Not too bad.

Another retailer now on the AKontheGO radar is Molehill Mountain, an Idaho company who specializes in tough, good-looking, long-lasting kids’ outerwear. They offer a “Polartec Powerdry” top and bottom for $19 each, and they say the wicking-power will keep kids toasty no matter how much they sweat. Nice.

Of course, you could go to Old Navy or Fred Meyer and buy PJ’s that look like long underwear, and for some, this works just dandy, and frankly, AK Kid does have his share of these cute articles of clothing. But sometimes we need the power-underwear, and what better time to procure some than the holiday season? Winter is here for a loonnnng time, folks; it’s a good investment.

Posted in Health and Safety, Logistics With Kids.