Winter Shell For Kids
REI Salix Insulated Jacket
$62, 14 oz. (boys medium, size 10-12)
Sizes: boys and girls XXS-XL (4-18)
When your kids get old enough for hours of active backcountry recreation in winter like cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, they need a shell jacket that offers protection from snow and wind and some insulation without causing them to instantly overheat. In other words, they need a shell that it fits into a layering system, just like an adult. You want a well-made, durable jacket, but it’s nice if it doesn’t rival the price of an adult model. REI’s Salix Insulated Jacket for boys and girls fits that description completely.
My 12-year-old son has worn this jacket just about every day this winter, in temperatures from the 30s down to single digits (over a fleece), including numerous outings cross-country skiing and downhill skiing and a four-day family trip to a backcountry yurt, as well as to school and just playing outside. The jacket has a quilted taffeta lining and synthetic insulation that provides a little warmth, but not so much that he overheats when highly active, like Nordic skiing. It easily layers over a fleece jacket. The two-layer, proprietary water-breathable fabric sheds snow very well and is windproof (REI claims to 60 mph) and fully seam-sealed. The elasticized hood is not adjustable, but fits closely around his head, with or without a warm hat, so that it doesn’t blow off. Adjustable, hook-and-loop cuffs snug tightly over mitten gauntlets to keep out snow and cold air. There are plenty of zippered pockets: three outside and one inside with a cord port for an MP3 player. The below-the-waist length provides good coverage, and although there’s no hem drawcord, the cut is trim enough to keep wind and snow out. After innumerable days of use by an active boy, the jacket still looks new.
Looking for a three-season, waterproof-breathable jacket for kids? See my review of the Marmot Storm Shield jacket.
NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.