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Hand-me-down-worthy gear to keep the kids warm on snow days and all winter long

Consider some as investments; they’re not cheap, but will last from one kid to the next

L.L. Bean’s Wicked Warm Long Underwear lives up to its name, and the lightweight synthetic material allows for great flexibility and ease of movement.

If you have kids, you know that hibernating indoors for the long New England winter is not an option. Getting outdoors is the healthy (and sane) thing to do. Kids love winter: skiing, sledding, snowmobiling and making angels, snowmen, and forts. The challenge is keeping them warm, dry, and comfortable. We put the top selling winter gear — jackets, snow pants and long underwear — to the test, putting them on kids of all ages, and turning the tykes, toddlers, and teens loose to play outdoors in all kinds of weather. We stuck with the gear that got the highest reviews and singled out the best of the best. Consider some as investments; they’re not cheap, but we deem them hand-me-down worthy, built to last from one kid to the next. Prices listed are manufacturer’s suggested retail prices.

L.L. Bean Patroller Jacket, which the company calls its most technical waterproof kids ski jacket, stands up to the elements.

Base layers (a.k.a. long underwear)

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The Patagonia Infant Capilene ($49) scores high on the adorable meter, with cute colors and prints. It’s also wicked warm and comfy. It comes as a set with a onesie top and matching leggings. We liked the padded knees, extra diaper room, and the stretchy fabric, and it’s made from 100 percent recycled polyester. Patagonia uses recycled materials in 87 percent of its products, which are also Fair Trade Certified sewn. You can also buy and donate used clothing and gear through its Worn Wear program.

There’s a reason that Chasing Windmills merino apparel for babies, toddlers, and children is often sold out. It’s ultra-soft, warm, and sourced from ranches in New Zealand and Australia. The Denver-based company was founded by a husband-and-wife team, who were looking for natural, durable wear for their own kids. The Thermal Long Johns make great base layers (and cozy pajamas) and come in sizes from three months to 10 years ($77 for sizes up to 2 years, $82 for sizes 3-10).

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L.L. Bean’s Wicked Warm Long Underwear lives up to its name, and the lightweight synthetic material allows for great flexibility and ease of movement. The durable, hardworking base layer comes in several colors, midweight and expedition weight, from kids size 4 up to 16 years. Tops and bottoms are sold separately. (Starting at $19.95.)

L.L. Bean Cold Buster gets high marks for its quality, warmth, easy on and off, and reasonable price tag.

Onesies for wee ones

One-piece baby snowsuits are one of the warmest options for infants and young toddlers. They offer full coverage, wrapping your bundle of joy in a bundle of warmth. Our favorite of the best-selling bunch was the puffy and soft The North Face Infant Nuptse One-Piece (we wish it came in adult sizes!) Oh my, it was cozy! It’s made of 700-fill goose down (certified to the Responsible Down Standard by Control Union), is water resistant, and easy to get on and off. We like the built-in foot and hand covers, too (sizes three to 24 months, $159).

The North Face Infant Nuptse One-Piece is made of 700-fill goose down (certified to the Responsible Down Standard by Control Union), is water resistant, and easy to get on and off.

The Patagonia Snow Pile One-Piece ($179) keeps kids warm and dry even on the worst winter days. Made of 100 percent recycled polyester, it’s waterproof and wind-resistant, and comes in fun, bright patterns and colors. We like the removable hood, and the elasticized cuffs and bootstraps, which fit easily over mittens and boots. The Grow-fit sleeves and legs add two inches for longer wear. But we thought the size ran big, with an especially long torso.

L.L. Bean Cold Buster gets high marks for its quality, warmth, easy on and off, and reasonable price tag ($89). The hidden “grow” cuffs, reinforced knees, fulfront zipper, and elasticized waist are nice features.

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Jackets and pants

Have a kid who spends a lot of time outdoors? Look at the new Columbia Mighty Mogul II jacket ($99). “My boys are outdoors all winter long, ice fishing, snowmobiling, snow biking — you name it!” says Nancy Clarke, a mother of three from Durham, N.H. “This jacket keeps them super warm and stands up to whatever they throw at it. They liked the cool designs, too.” The Mighty Mogul II features patented Omni-Heat Infinity technology, with synthetic insulation, a thermal-reflective lining, and waterproof-breathable outer layer. It has plenty of pockets, powder skirt, fleece lined hood and extendable cuffs.

Helly Hansen K Twister is a perfect kid’s puffer, super lightweight and warm.

Helly Hansen K Twister is a perfect kid’s puffer, super lightweight and warm. The top-quality jacket features recycled polyester insulation, is water repellent and PFC-free. “Our daughter is very finicky about jackets, but she loved this one,” says Kelly Glass, one of our volunteer testers. “It’s so soft, and easy to get on and off.” It comes in lots of designs and bright colors; the camo print is a popular boy choice, but we loved the signature Golden Glow yellow (sizes 1-9, $120). And it’s reversible!

The Helly Hansen K Vertical insulated jacket ($150) and K Vertical Bib Pant ($110) are solid choices for young skiers and snowboarders. The jacket features a helmet-fitting hood, soft chin guard, ski pass pocket, and waterproof powder skirt. The K Vertical Bib Pant has a fleece upper, waterproof legs, and boot gaiter. The leg length and shoulder straps can be adjusted for a better fit. We liked that they were not as bulky as other snow pants, and the kids could easily move around in them.

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The Burton Classic Jacket comes in bright patterns.

“Adorable!” “So cute!” Those were the consistent comments from our mom testers when they saw the Burton Classic Jacket ($114.95) and matching Maven Bib Pants ($109.95). We loved the fun, bright patterns (especially the Doodle Dot and Dreamscape choices). We also liked the streamlined fit (as opposed to the bulky abominable snowman look). Both the jacket and snow pants feature a patented two-layer technology providing warmth, waterproofing, and breathability, and adjustable cuffs and leg lengths for room to grow. “My son rolled around in the snow for hours and didn’t get wet or cold,” said one tester. Burton also has some of the best (read: warmest) mittens on the market. The Toddlers Grommitt Mittens ($29.95) cover up to the elbow and stay on tight. (Burton recently opened a flagship store in Boston at 37 Newbury St.)

If your young ones prefer more conservative colors and designs, and are rough and tumble players, check out the Patagonia Snowshot Jacket ($199) and Snowshot Pants ($139). They have high-tech insulation and waterproofing, and are made to last, with hand-me-down durability.

Kids will look very stylish on the slopes in a The North Face Freedom Extreme Jacket, with its bright and zany designs.

Your kids will look very stylish on the slopes in a The North Face Freedom Extreme Jacket ($189), with its bright and zany designs. It’s not just a good looker; it’s a hard worker, too, with super warmth (it’s one of the warmest kids jacket that The North Face makes) and water resistance. It also has snaps, hooks, loops and pockets where you need them.

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Our final choice is also a work horse: the L.L. Bean Patroller Jacket, which the company calls its most technical waterproof kids ski jacket ($149). It stands up to the elements, but we also like the soft, fuzzy lining, and multiple pockets. It’s a good, solid choice for any New England kid.

Burton's Toddlers Grommitt Mittens

Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at bairwright@gmail.com