We may be a few months away from ski season, but now is the time to start getting your family’s skiing gear ready. Yes, you probably don’t want to think about it; the least fun aspect of skiing with kids is staying on top of everyone’s gear. But the best way to maximize your mountain time and ski vacation fun is to have all your gear ready before the lifts start running.
Taking care of your family’s ski gear needs early will also save you money because fall is the time for preseason sales and ski swaps. What should you do get your kids geared up for the skiing season?
Take stock of your skiing gear
Take all of your winter gear out of storage and have your kids try on everything to make sure it still fits. Check for holes, and make sure ski mittens all have matches. Make a list of what you need to buy or rent and in what sizes.
It’s a good idea to make a separate checklist of what your kids need for skiing that you keep on hand when packing for family ski trips. The basic skiing gear that every member of your family needs includes:
- A helmet
- Skis and poles or a snowboard
- Ski or board boots
- Long underwear
- Ski socks
- Ski pants/bib
- A ski jacket
- A neck/headwarmer
- Ski mittens
- A strap for carrying boots
When buying ski clothing look for fabrics that wick and can be layered. Ski jackets that have a removable liner offer the most flexibility. Extra ski socks, mittens, and neck warmers are a good idea – these can go in the ski bag for kids to put on midday when theirs get wet. And a large duffle bag that holds everything can help you stay organized both at home and on the road.
Search for local skiing sales and swaps
Ski shops, ski resorts, and ski clubs all offer sales or swaps (find one using the internet search terms “ski swap” or “ski sale” and the name of your town). Some swaps are casual: Skiers bring their old gear to sell or trade with each other. Other ski shops have large tent sales that offer a chance to shop from vendors who will give you deals on new gear.
Before you head to a ski swap, visit your local ski shop to have your kids measured for equipment. And after you swap for or purchase used equipment, bring it to a ski shop to be checked and tuned.
Lease equipment seasonally
Some ski shops have lease programs for both used and new skiing and snowboarding equipment. If your child grows and needs to change sizes you can trade in the equipment midseason at no extra charge.
Ask if you can sign up as a continuing customer. This means that when you return your equipment in the spring, you pay ahead, locking in your lease rate and getting first dibs on the available new equipment in the fall.
Invest in ski helmets and goggles
Helmets are so important for both safety and comfort (they keep your kids much warmer than hats do). Since kids’ heads don’t grow that quickly your children will likely get more than one season’s use out of their helmets, making it worthwhile to buy them new.
Since goggles are fitted to helmets and since they are also an important part of protecting kids and keeping them comfortable, buy new, high-quality goggles when you purchase helmets.
Have your kids with you when you buy their skiing helmets and goggles and ask the staff at the ski store help you make sure both pieces of equipment fit properly.
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. Check out my tips on choosing a ski resort for your family.