Buying the right waterproofs for your Forest School or Nursery is an important part of making sure your group of little ones stay safe and dry during playtime adventures. Here we list the 10 key things to consider when buying outdoor clothing for your school.
It sounds obvious, but a lot of so-called waterproofs aren’t actually that good at keeping kids dry! For groups of young children, you don’t technically need breathable fabric, you just need 100% waterproof. A Polyurethane (PU) coated fabric is ideal- this is the fabric that has a slightly rubbery feel. It never needs surface treatment (i.e. re-waterproofing) and it is easy to care for.
Kitting out a group of children head to toe in waterproofs is an investment, so you’ll want them to last. The wear and tear children inflict on clothing can be extreme. Don’t buy too cheap because, at the end of the day, you will get what you pay for! You are going to need a fabric that can withstand sitting in puddles, sliding down muddy banks and shooting off the end of slides all day long. A good quality PU waterproof fabric is ideal - most have a bit of stretch but make sure that the fabric isn’t too thin.
For clothing to be properly waterproof, the seams have to be sealed. There are two ways to do this: taping the seams, or welding the seams together. You will find that most adult clothing has taped seams (it feels like a Sellotape width of tape on the inside seam). Taped seams are great for high end clothing but for cheaper clothing it tends to peel off easily. For bulk buying children’s waterproofs, you should avoid taped seams and look for welded seams. These are much more durable and require less looking after.
Children’s waterproofs tend to be generously cut, so don’t go crazy buying sizes that they will “grow into”. Many of the waterproofs are sized by height i.e. 90cm = 2-3 yrs, 100 = 3-4 yrs etc, so it’s quite easy to get an idea of the size spread you’ll need.
You want to have clothing that doesn’t need a lot of looking after. A hose down and wipe with a sponge is enough and maybe a trip through the washing machine at the end of term. Waterproofs are there to be used, not to look pristine!
You don’t want them! They seem like a good idea at first… but when buying for groups of children, pockets just become a hidey hole for a rotting apple core, a sticky chocolate bar or even a slug collection. No pockets – keep it simple.
Easy to get on
Allowing the children to be able to get the jackets and dungarees on and off independently will make your life easier. Look for simple design without too many zips or poppers and fussy accessories.
If you’re going to get the maximum wear out of your waterproofs then having the option to get hold of repair kits is worth considering.
If you think you may need to top up your waterproofs next year then don’t buy a seasonal colour that may not be available next year.
After the waterproofs have had a good soaking you are going to need to dry them thoroughly before they are stored. Don’t put them directly over a radiator as this will damage some fabrics (particularly the PU fabrics). Hanging them on pegs to air dry inside or outside is the best method.
We sell Didriksons Slaskeman sets to forest schools all over the UK. We think they are the best waterproofs for the job and the points above have come from years of learning how best to kit children out so they are dry, warm, comfortable and therefore happy to spend many hours playing outside!