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Extreme Weather Protocol and Rain Gear

Extreme Weather Protocol & Rain Gear


  • Terra Marin School Students (see below for Terra Explorers)

Due to Earth Education being predominantly outdoors, our itinerary is often dictated by what mother nature has in store for us. We will go out rain or shine. However, during times of extreme weather (which is often determined by weather-alerts and what the clouds say) or excessively smokey skies, our backup plan is to take a field trip to one of the three indoor destinations below.

This list will likely grow as we make connections with more fun indoor alternative locations.


Should we need to make last-minute location changes due to severe weather, we will do our best to let families know at least 48 hours in advance.


  • Terra Explorers Students

If extreme weather is predicted to the point where the roads are deemed unsafe and/or park closures are put in effect, we will postpone class until weather improves. This decision is largely dictated by unsafe driving conditions and park hazards, such as falling branches, thunder & lightning, and the increased risk of hypothermia. 


Should we need to cancel a class due to extreme weather, we will do our best to inform families at least 24 hours in advance.


For families who live in the same neighborhood, however, we are in full support of hot coco movie nights amongst students as a substitute for the day at Terra Explorers. :)



Recommended Rain Gear

Legend: the layers below, with the exception of Down (which is typically only worn as a jacket), can be worn as both top layers and bottom layers.


- “Base Layer” is the layer closest to the skin


- “Secondary Layer” is the next layer worn over the base layer, such as a sweater or long-sleeve


- “Outer Layer” is a thicker layer worn over the secondary layer, such as a big jacket


- “Shell” is a raincoat or windbreaker worn over the outer layer for wind or rain-proofing


Different fabrics and fibers are affected differently by wind and moisture, and the type of clothing worn in the elements can make a substantial difference on a students experience during Earth Education. Below is a detailed list of recommended rain gear to ensure the most enjoyable experience possible. 


  • Cotton: NOT Recommended. At all.

Cotton is the most commonly worn fabric and often makes up the ingredients in most hoodies, jeans, socks and t-shirts. It is very absorbent, stays wet for a long time and does not trap body heat when wet. Additionally, it often makes you colder as it keeps your skin damp underneath. If at all possible, we strongly recommend avoiding cotton on rainy days.


  • Nylon: Recommended base layer

Nylon is thin, light, dries quicker than cotton and polyester and traps a lot of body heat. This makes it a great base-layer. Although, due to its low breathability, it can cause perspiration more than most fabrics, and it’s thin structure makes it prone to windchill and should be worn underneath other layers.


  • Polyester: Recommended secondary layer

Polyester makes up the ingredients for most fleece sweaters and sweatpants. Polyester not only feels nice & soft on the skin but is often warmer than cotton. When wet, body heat dries polyester faster than cotton, as well. However, polyester only traps body heat mildly better than cotton when wet and should be used as a secondary layer worn underneath a larger jacket.


  • Wool: Recommended outer and base layer

 Wool is highly recommended for outer layers, socks, gloves, scarves, hats and sometimes base-layers in the form of SmartWool. Wool not only dries quickly and is incredibly warm, but most importantly, it maintains trapped body heat even when wet. You’ll often see instructors in many wool layers for the above reasons. There really are very few cons to wearing wool, one of the only downsides being weight and density, as wool is often a thicker fabric, takes up more room in a backpack, and can be heavy at times.

  • Down: Recommended outer layer or shell

 “Down” (goose feathers) is an incredibly warm material. It traps body heat very effectively partially due to its thickness. It’s amazingly light for its size and even adult size jackets can roll up to be the size of two fists, making it very portable. The large “down”side to Down is its severe lack of water resistance. When Down gets wet, it’s rendered almost completely useless as the feathers mat together and hold almost no warmth whatsoever. This is not recommended to wear in the rain, even under a shell, but works great for windy days.


  • Rain Coats & Pants: Recommended shell

Rain coats & pants are often made with a combination of rugged nylon and polyester, coated with durable water repellent. Because of this, rain coats are often light but run large enough to be worn over other layers and should be worn as the final layer (“Shell”), protecting the other layers.


*Please note: there is a distinct difference between “water-resistant” and “waterproof”. In short, “water-resistant” is NOT waterproof and will still soak through. “Waterproof”, on the other hand, is waterproof. However, because of the low-breathability of “waterproof” rain coats, it can also cause perspiration over time, more so than other materials, which is why it’s useful to wear multiple layers underneath to provide a barrier between the wearer’s skin and the rain coat.


  • Shoes, rain boots, hats, gloves & scarves

The quality of these smaller articles of clothing are often overlooked but can often make or break the quality of an individual’s experience in the woods, sometimes even being the difference between hypothermia and not. 


Gloves, Hats & Scarves: Wool & Polyester are recommended here because gloves, hats & scarves are often the only layers worn on their respective areas (hands, head and neck).


Socks: Wool is the only recommended material for socks on rainy days, as extended periods of walking in the rain often cause water to soak through most shoes, making wool the ideal sock materials as it will, as mentioned above, hold onto trapped body heat when wet.


Shoes: Any high-top, leather hiking boots with waterproofing technology (i.e. Gortex) will work for most of the day, but will eventually soak through due to being leather and not rubber. However, they are still recommended, and in conjunction with wool socks. 


Rain Boots: are completely waterproof and are, obviously, designed for the rain. However, their large size and mildly-awkward design can inconvenience children with playing games and engaging in stealth activities. 



Tips & tricks for staying happy in the rain


  • Reusable plastic bags worn over wool socks inside shoes and tucked into pants work great for keeping a child’s feet extra dry.


  • Packing a change of clothes can not only make for a clean car during pick up, but a happy camper post-class.


  • Hand-warmers are an excellent idea for any cold-weather occasion.


  • Umbrellas are welcome and useful at times but can be cumbersome to carry around and heavy in backpacks. 


  • Waterproof backpack covers do an amazing job at keeping backpack contents dry, preventing soggy sandwiches (put items within backpack inside a plastic bag to keep contents dry.).  


  • Sending your child with warm tea & soup can have a great effect on a child’s morale, helping them stay warm internally while layers keep them warm externally.


  • Goodwill, Salvation Army & other thrift stores are wonderful sources for affordable, quality wool and polyester clothing options!


In any case, children are almost guaranteed to immerse themselves in the puddles, mud, wet grass and just the rain itself on rainy days. This is something we understand and encourage (in a safe way) as rain is often the necessary ingredient to incredible bonding experiences, to both each other and nature. Some of the best memories are made attempting full-body slides down the wet grassy hills and tilting your head up towards the clouds to taste the rain drops, returning to the shelters to drink hot Yerba Buena tea with honey on blankets around a warm fire started by bow-drill, while listening to all the different stories of where fire came from.


While we create opportunities for this, we recognize a child isn’t happy if their body isn’t happy, thus staying warm and dry on rainy days, or having a warm, dry place to return to, is the key to keeping a positive mental attitude in the elements.

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