Welcome to Back to Ski Week, a preview of the upcoming downhill ski season for families. All week long we’ll be thinking snow and I’ll be sharing not only my own tips for planning a family ski vacation but also stories and ideas from other family travel bloggers. If you’re looking for more downhill skiing tips, reviews of ski areas from around the world, or just some stories from families who ski, be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook and check out the Back to Ski Pinterest board where you’ll find posts from other skiing family travel bloggers.
I love nothing more than to hit the mountains in the winter. But if I love that the best, what I may hate the most is how long it seems to take to get ready to ski. There’s no denying it: This is a sport that takes a lot of gear, and when you have kids, that gear multiplies exponentially.
Making sure that your kids have everything they need to be both comfortable and safe may feel like a daunting task, but I can assure you that with a little bit of organization you’ll find that each ski season your preparation work gets a little easier.
So what should you do get your kids geared up for the ski season?
Know what ski gear you need. If your family is new to skiing, you may not be sure just what you need to invest in. It’s a good idea to have checklist of what kids need to ski so that you can prepare (this list also comes in handy when you’re packing to go on a ski trip).
The basic gear you need for skiing includes:
- An appropriately-sized helmet
- Skis and poles or a snowboard
- Ski or board boots (and a strap for carrying)
- Long underwear
- Ski socks
- Ski pants (I prefer the bib overall variety for kids)
- A ski jacket (preferably one that comes with a removable inside layer so that it’s good for both warmer and colder days)
- A neck/headwarmer
- Ski mittens
When you’re purchasing ski clothing for your children, bear in mind that it’s worth spending a little extra for fabrics that wick well. This will keep children warmer and more comfortable. In my experience, nothing ends a ski day with kids faster than if their layers are damp and cold.
I also recommend you purchase a large duffle bag or two to hold everything both at home and on the road. I find that having all of our ski gear in one place is a huge help in staying organized.
Prepare for your ski season in advance. You don’t want to wait until the night before you first day on the slopes to pull out the equipment especially since many ski swaps and lease programs happen starting in October. Unpack in the fall and have your children try on everything from their ski socks to their ski boots. Check ski pants and jackets for holes, and make sure ski mittens all have matches. Make a list of what you need to buy or rent.
Invest in ski helmets and goggles. Helmets are so important for both safety and comfort and since most kids’ heads don’t grow that quickly, it’s my feeling that these are worth buying new (which isn’t to say that an older child can’t hand down a helmet to a younger sibling, but at least then you pretty much know what the helmet has been through). Since goggles are fitted to helmets, and since I’ve got a child who wears glasses that need protecting, I also chose to invest in new, high-quality goggles. Don’t order these online: Take your children to a ski shop and have the staff there help you make sure both pieces of equipment fit properly.
Check out preseason ski sales and swaps. Ski shops, ski areas, and ski clubs all may offer sales or swaps in your area (to locate one try an internet search using the term “ski swap” or “ski sale” along with the name of your state or town). Swaps and sales vary in terms of size and style – some are more casual affairs where participants bring their old gear to sell or trade. Others have numerous industry vendors who offer preseason sale prices on new gear. Either way, you’ll often find great deals on equipment for your kids. One caveat about ski swaps: You might want to visit a ski shop first and talk to the staff about what sizes you need to find for your children. And if you buy any used equipment, make sure you have it checked over and tuned.
Consider a ski lease program. Some ski stores offer annual lease programs for both used and new ski equipment. For the past three years I’ve leased skis, poles, and boots for my kids from The Ski Bum. The advantages of leasing over buying are that if your child grows and needs to change sizes (as happened with my older son Tommy’s feet last year) you can trade in the equipment mid-season for a larger size. These programs may also allow you to sign up as a continuing customer. That means if you pay for the following season in the spring when you return your equipment you get first dibs on the available new equipment in the fall. It also means you spread out the cost of your ski season.
And while you’re getting geared up, don’t forget to start planning where you’ll ski as well. Many ski areas and resorts offer deals on accommodations, lift tickets, or season passes that end in October or November. You’ll find lots of information about these deals in the links other skiing bloggers shared in my post about kids skiing free at Keystone Resort.
Now it’s your turn to share: How do you get your kids geared up for ski season? I’ve love to hear any of your tips.