It’s been a cold Winter. We haven’t skied in temperatures above 25 degrees, but we are able to take our kids into these cold conditions and have great ski days because we have the proper ski clothing and gear. As my wife likes to say, “There’s no bad weather, just bad gear.”
Here are some gear suggestions for keeping your kids warm while you ski.
1. Good Long Underwear. It’s not easy to find good long underwear in kids sizes. We have the best luck at local ski shops, but to save some money shop online at places like Sierra Trading Post.
Be sure to look for both shirts and pants that are moisture wicking and breathable. You don’t want real bulky stuff, we usually opt for the mid-weight long underwear.
Kids grow fast, so buy the biggest size you can, but be careful, you want the underwear to be snug. It doesn’t do much good if it fits too loosely.
2. Insulated pants with boot skirt. When you’re shopping for kids’ ski gear, pick ski pants that are lined with some sort of insulation. This won’t be hard to find as most are lined but make sure you’re not picking up just a shell.
Be sure the bottom of the pants have an inner snow skirt. This skirt fits around their ski boot once the boots are buckled. This is essential for keeping the pant from riding up and allowing snow to enter the top of the boot.
If you don’t have a snow skirt the boots will eventually get wet from melting snow and your ski day will end due to cold miserable children.
3. Gloves or Mittens. This is always a tough debate: which is better, gloves or mittens? Mittens are warmer but we use gloves because the kids like to have the use of their fingers when they ski. Mittens are just too restrictive.
In order to make the gloves warmer we always bring along hand warmers. These handy little bags get warm when you shake them. They last all day if you shake them occasionally. We put them into the palm of the gloves and the kids never get cold hands. They’re cheap and are worth the minor expense.
4. Ski Socks. Buy ski specific socks. They’re more expensive but they’re designed to fit snugly and keep from bunching up in the ski boot. This is very important to make the kids as comfortable as possible. They come in varying thicknesses, we opt for the mid-weight, and as long as were actively skiing and not sitting around, the kid’s feet stay warm.
5. Ski Coat. Believe it or not we don’t get too fancy with the ski coat. You don’t need waterproof or any kind of expensive tech gear. If it’s raining, we aint skiing!
Purchase coats that can also be used for everyday. Really we only look for two things in a coat: warmth and length.
The coat should be insulated, warm and have an outer shell. You don’t want a cotton coat. We want the coat somewhat long, (about halfway down the butt) because the length helps keep snow out of the pants when the little skiers fall.
6. Helmet and Goggles. Yes, you need to purchase a helmet for your child. They can be expensive but you can usually find decent used ones at pre-year ski swaps. Just be sure there aren’t any cracks or fading. Kids grow fast so finding a helmet that’s only been used for a season is pretty easy.
Goggles should be ski goggles. They should fit around the helmet, and be big enough not to be squinching the kid’s eyes. Spend some time fitting the goggles to your child. There’s nothing worse than ill-fitting goggles. Be sure they don’t squish the nose, or encroach on the eye (the 2 most common complaints).
7. Skis and Boots. Go to a ski shop and have a professional fit your kids with skis and boots. You can try to find used gear, but unless you know what you’re doing it’s tough to fit the kids’ properly. If you do it wrong it’ll make for a miserable trip and season. Spend the money and get it done correctly.
Some ski shops have ski swap programs that allow you to purchase gear, (skis and boots) for a one time fee, but then you’re signed up for 3 years. In other words you pay once and get ski gear for 3 years.
At the beginning of each year you return the old stuff, and get new stuff. The third year you keep the gear forever. This helps keep it simple when your kids are growing so fast.