I get asked about ski gear a lot. There is so much out there and honestly, technology is changing so quickly that if we wanted, we could just be continuously buying gear. First off, I am not an expert on ski gear. For specifics, I definitely recommend going to speak to someone in person at a reputable ski shop to determine what fits you and your children best. My family does this. And, I admit that although I want to give them the commission, I usually end up price checking online and buying our stuff wherever is selling at the lowest price.
1. Make sure your boots, helmet, and goggles fit! I have travelled with my family on ski trips, and, yes, it’s super annoying dragging all of our gear. We’ve rented while away as well, thinking that it might be easier. Well, here’s my two cents on this. If you have boots that fit you well and that you love, bring ‘em. Rent the skis if you want. Nothing spoils a lesson more than boots that either don’t hold in your ankle or that give you blisters. Getting a helmet-induced headache or goggles that fall off or fog up is also not an enjoyable experience. Remember to check with the airline if you’re traveling by air, because a lot of airlines charge one bag fee for boots, helmets, skis – basically a gear fee rather than per bag.
2. Don’t wear baggy pants or thick socks that will buckle at your ankle! Long underwear, and ski pant liners should NEVER be stuffed down in the boots.
3. Only wear one pair of socks! Don’t double or triple up. Your feet will not be warmer and you’ll be uncomfortable. If you can fit multiple socks in your boots, then the boots are likely too large anyhow, which ultimately will affect your performance too.
4. Always wear a helmet! Unlike when we were growing up, nowadays, the cool people wear helmets. If you’re in the market for a new helmet, make sure the helmet has MIPS impact technology.
5. Protect your eyes and wear sunscreen! The sun is very strong in the winter, especially at higher altitudes. Always wear either goggles or sunglasses while skiing and bring a small tube of sunscreen with you to reapply at lunch.
6. Layer! I wear a long underwear base and then a ski sweatshirt. On super cold days I also wear a vest and then I have my jacket. I have a neck warmer that can be easily removed. Remember that temperatures can change drastically from the bottom of the mountain to the top, and throughout the day.
7. I like wearing glove liners! I wear them every day either under my mittens so that my hands don’t freeze if I have to take off my gloves, or so I can ski in the under gloves only on warm days.
8. Pack snacks! Please remember that if you’re traveling from the East coast to the West coast, your kids will be hungry by the time their lessons begin. They won’t be able to enjoy their lesson if they start off hungry. A lot of the resorts don’t offer snacks, especially at the start of the lesson. Even if the resort says they are providing lunch please please please send your child with a snack in their pocket! It will make a huge difference so that they can start their lesson off on the right foot.
9. I can’t say this to be true 100 percent of the time, but I have found from my experience as a mom and as an instructor that kids are generally warmer than we are! We bundle them up with these heavy fleeces and crazy balaclavas and they are schvitzing! If they complain to you that they are uncomfortably melting, I’d believe them.
10. If you or your child needs an Epi-pen or an inhaler or diabetes medication or other meds, please bring it! The instructor should have a way of carrying it for you. Remember to speak to the resort ahead of time about their medication policies so that you can plan ahead if you need to meet up with your child’s group to give them his/her meds.
11. I love my heated socks (Lenz brand) but would never put a child in heated clothing! I have friends who have heated vests and heated gloves and love them, but I’ve personally never tried these products. I have also recently seen waterproof snow-pant-material shorts that can keep you extra toasty and dry but have yet to try them.
12. Label label label! And, if you have a young child, attach their gloves to their jacket. You want to be spending your après-ski ski time drinking hot cocoa and roasting marshmallows, not searching for new gloves.
Bonus tip: I know we all get so excited to get our kids on the hills, but don’t force the littles unless they want to. They really should be able to walk and balance first
Jen Bookman is a certified ski instructor with Park City Mountain Resort.