Let’s start simple. If you’re skiing with kids, the number one thing to remember is that keeping those kids warm and bundled up in the proper gear is the key to skiing success. Nothing will sour a kid on skiing faster than not being able to feel their fingers and toes, and nothing will cut a day on the slopes shorter than a blue lipped, borderline hypothermic kid. Here’s a list of essential items that you’d be wise to invest in before you snap into your skis or strap on a snowboard.
Stocking Cap – No pom poms please! Remember, your child’s hat will need to fit under a helmet!
Balaclava or Neck Gaiter – Some people consider these optional. I do not. All it takes is one plunge through powder or a kodak quality face plant to get snow down your neck and under your clothes. A good balaclava or neck gaiter gives you that added protection and warmth that can be so critical when alpine skiing!
Heavy Coat – I like coats with a zip-in fleece as an inner layer. That way you’re prepared for any contingency. It can be worn as a heavy coat, a shell on warmer days, or just as a fleece if the weather is nice and you’re strutting around town! 3 in one!
Snow Pants/Snowsuit – I can’t stress how important a good pair of snowpants is (or a good snowsuit for younger children). Remember, we’re talking kids here. Even if they’re a good skier, they’re going to spend a lot of time rolling around and playing in the snow. And if they’re just picking up the sport, they’ll spend as much time horizontal on the slope as vertical. Think warm and spend extra for waterproof!
Gloves – Bypass the cheap pair from Wal-Mart, and pick up a quality pair from a sporting goods store or outdoor outfitter. Again, think waterproof and warm, as it won’t matter how warm the rest of your kid’s body is if their gloves are sopping wet and their fingers are freezing. I even pack in a few spare sets just in case, as kids seem to have an uncanny ability to get their gloves wet!
Wool Socks – I prefer smartwool, because it’s warm and comfortable and your kids won’t complain about them being itchy. Worth every penny. Second only to cold hands, cold feet are your worst enemy when it comes to keeping a kid on the slope!
Long Underwear – Any kind will do, though I prefer synthetic materials that wick moisture over traditional cotton long undies (especially for older kids that seat more. Remember, anything wet = cold, and that’s bad if you want to stay on the mountain.
Skiing on a budget (and who isn’t)? 2nd hand stores in ski towns are great places to pick up high quality gear on the cheap! We make it a point to stop at least once a year, especially if we’re hitting more ritzy resort towns like Vail, Aspen, Steamboat, or pretty much all of Summit County. And if you’re just dipping your toe in the pool and only ski a few times per year, keep in mind that most ski rental companies also rent coats, gloves, and snow pants for $10-$20 per day. Sounds like a lot, but it’s not a bad option for the occasional skier, and especially growing kids who need new gear on a year to year basis!