It’s Elemental

Let’s Play!

Whether the weather be fine
Or whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold
Or whether the weather be hot,
We’ll weather the weather
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not.

Winter has come to play, and just like the old rhyme says, kids should be outside whatever the weather. Playing outside boosts their immune system, helps them avoid indoor germs, and keeps them active and fit. The season of sneezles and wheezles is real, but if they get outside with the right gear, they’ll stay warm, dry, and healthy.

But choose their gear wisely. The waterproof materials many of us grew up with, like Gore Tex, have been found to have harmful impacts on our health. So serious they’re in the process of being banned in Europe and in the firefighting foams and uniforms in some US states (but not in US kids’ clothing!).

Called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS, which include PFCs and PFOAs), they’re also known as forever chemicals because they don’t break down in the environment or our bodies. These toxic compounds are carcinogens, hormone disruptors, cause neurological damage, and are toxic to reproductive and other developing systems. And they’re used in the outerwear of most major brands, including outdoor favorites like The North Face and Patagonia. Some companies even claim to be PFC-free, but still contain PFOAs. We also recommend avoiding PVC vinyl in winter gear, the most toxic plastic and a known carcinogen.

Luckily, there are a few responsible, forward thinking companies that do not use PFAS materials. The brands Mini Rodini and Polarn O. Pyret have some of the best designed kids outerwear, and were also among the first to switch to PFAS- (and formaldehyde- and paraffin-) free waterproofing. Other brands have followed, and there is now a great selection of cool gear to make it easy to brave the conditions. See our picks in the slideshow above.

*At Tucan we prefer natural materials, but we understand the need for kids to stay dry. So, in this case, we recommend that kids wear natural materials like cotton or wool underneath, against the skin, and for hats.