Skiing with your kids can be a really amazing experience, it can also be really challenging. Finding the right equipment is 70% of the battle, the other 30% is getting them out the door and then carrying all that crap the base of the lifts. If you’re planning a spring break trip, or just a long weekend even, make sure you’ve got the right goods for your kids to have a great time too! This will ensure happy skiers and happy parents for years to come.
Here’s the scoop. In the rental shop in the morning… it’s MAYHEM! The first best thing you could do for yourself and your kids, is come to the rental shop at an off time. That way you’ve got plenty of time to make sure they’ve got a great fitting boot, and a solid dose of excitement for the morning ‘let’s get out of the house!’ session. If you’re into making it really easy on yourself (what parent isn’t?) call up Door 2 Door, Ski Butler, or JH Mountain Direct, and they will bring the rentals to your condo, hotel room, or wherever you are staying. (p.s.- If you rent with JH mountain direct, they give you 20% off for booking online. ) Click here for the website.
In general, the folks helping you get great equipment know what they’re doing, but there’s some things you should know before you go. Leave the ski fit to the pros, the rental shops know what size you need based on ability and size. Trust them. The same goes for poles, if your kiddo has never skied before, they probably shouldn’t use poles for the first time, or, if they’re 5 and under.
1. Have a fresh, well fitting pair of Smartwool or other SKI socks to wear. Skip the cotton gym socks; bad ski socks are notorious for making kids cranky all day. A nice pair of Smartwool ski socks can make all the difference.
2. Next, make sure you have enough time to make the right choice, there’s nothing worse then spending half a day where you could be skiing in the rental shop or boot room.
3. Measure the foot and try on a few sizes if you’re in between. Once you think you’ve found a comfortable fit, remove the liner from the boot and try on just the liner. This will allow you to see if there are any places where there is too much overlapping fabric, or if the toe fit is really a good one.
4. Stomp the heel to the floor to push the heel as far back into the feel pocket of the liner. Your kids toe should be close to the end of the liner, but not pressing on it. If the boot is too big, there is more than ¾ “ of room at the toe.
5. Once you have a good liner fit, put the liner back in the boot. Gently open the front of the boot up while your child puts the boot back on, making sure the tongue of the boot is flush with the top of foot and shin of the leg, it should be tucked underneath the liner on both sides. Also, make sure their socks are tight and not bunching anywhere.
6. Once the boot is on, the toes will likely touch the front, but as long as the boot is not pressing firmly against the toes, it’s still a good fit.
7. If your child is in between adult and kid sizes, I recommend going with the kid size. Often the adult boots are meant for a fuller foot and a taller person.
The clothes that your kiddo wears skiing can be really helpful too. I will never forget skiing Breckenridge as a kid, absolutely freezing, thinking how much I hated this horrible sport. Obviously, at some point, my mind changed and started to love skiing. Mainly when I started skiing with friends…. Hint hint! Anyway, in this day and age, there’s no reason your kid should be freezing on the mountain.
How to make a great outfit:
1. Start with great base layers. They should be moisture wicking long underwear and not cotton. If cotton gets wet, it doesn’t stay warm, whereas wool and poly blends do. If your kiddo is picky about wearing wool, try polypropylene. Patagonia among many other brands make great layers.
2. If the weather is really cold, I’d use another layer up top, like a fleece or something that is insulating. HOWEVER, if your kid has bibs for ski pants and an insulating jacket, a warm base layer might be enough. We don’t want them rolling around like the kid from A Christmas Story.
3. Try to find something that is waterproof, breathable, and insulated for the jacket and pants.
4. If you have a little kiddo, I recommend bibs, (one pieces ride up and are quickly grown out of). If your kid is too big for bibs or doesn’t like them, make sure the jacket has a powder skirt. There’s nothing worse than cold air flying up your shirt all day.
5. Accessories are important too. A bright helmet is never a bad idea, so you can find your kid on the mountain, and a generic brand of goggles should do the trick too. It’s best to choose red colored lenses as they work best in all lighting conditions. I wouldn’t spend too much on goggles until your kids are older.
6. A good pair of mittens is like a unicorn, often talked about but rarely seen. Kids hands get cold. Buy them some nice mittens. Lots of kids I ski with are really into gloves, but let’s face it gloves are FREEZING!! Hestra’s are hands-down the best mits out there, they’re not cheap, but they’re worth every penny when the complaints about cold hands all but disappear.
7. The neck piece, often unnecessary and despised by children all around. This layer is really light and gets the job done with out leaving the snotty mess that won’t dry off around your face.
For kids ski gear in Teton Village go shopping first at the Kids Ranch, they have the best options. If you’re in town, Hoback Sports has some great options, and if you’re looking for used equipment try Just For Kids and Headwall Sports.
So there you have it, a comprehensive guide to great gear and no complaints. Don’t forget to bring candy and promise hot chocolate and pizza at regular intervals.