I've decided through the month of December to do "my favorite things" theme. I will share some of my favorite things with kids from getting ready, to hitting the slopes, to off the slopes.
Every year I like to do a clothing/dressing the kids blog; after all, this comes before you even leave the house. I learn new things every year, pick up new gadgets and still have some of the same challenges. Here are some of my suggestions for getting your kids ready for a great ski day and keeping them as dry as possible. . . after all, they are kids and will roll around in the snow.
Please cycle through all the photos enclosed for specific products...
Starting with the basics.
Long underwear/thermals: For years, I get these from REI. You can find them at the end of the year and get matching tops/bottoms for a good deal and they will last for years. They are fairly light weight and I like the bottoms because they are cuffed. One very important tip with these underwear...while the kids are still barefoot, pull the cuff up to mid calf. Why? Because you don't want any extra material inside their boot that will pinch their legs. Only the sock should be in there, not a bunch of pants, leggings...If you don't have these long underwear and are in a pinch, put some cheap leggings on them. Or, you can go the expensive route and buy nice thermals...I cut corners here.
Extra tops: Again, I love Target anything. I buy their cheap turtleneck tops and fleece. On cold days, I put on a turtleneck and a fleece top. On warm days, I just use the turtleneck. I will tell you, they have never complained of being cold on their upper body and I spent all of $10 on these tops. Do make sure they are tucked into their ski pants otherwise...snow up the back-yuk!
Socks: No cutting back here. I wouldn't suggest the 6 pack cotton socks from Target here. My choice..Euro brand. You can find them for $12 and I buy only one pair for the season. They are warm, they stay up and arent' too thick. I've tried thicker socks and hear only compaints. The elastic on the top is strong. Remember from above..pull the socks up and over the cuff of the long underwear which is sitting at mid calf. You can try other brands, but not cotton. They will make your feet sweat and get cold.
Jackets: As the kids are older, go with a brand name. They spend a lot of time on the slopes, some of it falling down and the new technology in jackets is worth the price. Even while not skiing, my kids wear them to school, so it is not a waste of money. You can find awesome deals after the season or before it starts and can easily get you hands on a nice jacket under $100. Get this...they can wear it 2 years due to the I-grow system. I believe this is a term coined by Obermyer, but many kids jackets have these. Bren has a Spyder jacket and it also has it. Pants as well! Basically, you buy a jacket (look inside at the tag to see if it has this system) and it can be expanded in the lentgh by 1 and 1/2"! That gives you at least 2 years out of your jacket and pants. These more pricey jackets are also more waterproof for the time the kids are just laying around in the snow. I also like hoods on jackets. I have no preference to one that zips on our stays on. I have one of each, but do like having one. Also, zip pockets! I put snacks, kleenex in them. If they have an inside pocket (most do), I put $5 in there as well. Down jackets...great for an underlayer in a thinner jacket, but they get wet quick, so maybe running about at night doing things other than skiing, but for skiing, I'd not recommend them.
Pants: Now that my kids are older, much prefer pants to bibs. Bibs are great for little guys 4 and under, but pants work better for older. Yes, they fall down...but they don't have to get all undressed while using the bathroom... Don't go cheap here. Get a brand name. You need something very water resistant. Probably most important as they are sitting on the ground, on the chairlift...and if it is a cheap pant, they will get wet! Also, find one with zip pockets. I put their hand warmer packets in their pants pockets and zip them up. That way if they are in lessons or not with you, they can open them up if needed. Many of them last 6-8 hours which is awesome! When you put their boots on, make sure the elastic bottoms inside are pulled over their boots. No bunching up in the legs. This also keeps the snow out of their boots. Elastic is key on the pants-they are inside the legs as a "liner", not on the outside.
Hats and gaiters: You do not wear hats inside their helmets. Buy a blalaclava. It is about $16 or so and goes over the head and down their neck. You keep the cheeks and neck warm and adds an extra layer under the helmet. If you wear a hat, it will break down and reshape the helmet which is not good. On a warm day, just the helmet is fine. Turtle Fur gaiters are my choice of a gaiter. A fleece neck "scarf" that you pull over your head. It can be worn around the neck or pulled up on the cheeks. My kids always have these either on or in their pockets. When they get on the lift, it can be chilly on their cheeks. They can be found for about $10.
SkBob Helmet Cover: This is a new product I've got this year. It is a neoprene cover for the helmet. It is very thick and stretches over the helmet. It has a small pocket for you to put the kids ski passes in so when they go through the automatic gates at the resorts, it lets them through. Sometimes the little fellas are so short, they can't buzz through the gates. It also helps keep the head warm as air doesn't get through the helmet. They come in many colors and when you little guy is in a lesson, you can spot them miles away with the bright colors.
Helmets and "gobbles": A must. If you take a lesson, you must have one for your kids. You can rent them at rental shops if you don't want to buy one. My choice is Giro. You can get one for $75 or less. You don't need to go all crazy with lids, crazy colors... as long as it has the adjustment on the back to tighten to fit the head, that is all that matters. It is worth money. "Gobbles" as my kids call their goggles need to fit snug, but not to make them so tight. You'd be surprised how long they will wear the toddler size. Emily still does and she's 7! You want the edge of the goggles to be just outside the corner of their eye for the right fit. You can get your hands on goggles for $25-$30. My choice is Smiths. No reason, just have always had good luck. It protects their eyes from the bright sun and any injury should they fall down.
Snowboard/boots: I've been a fan of Burton. My favorite memory of last year is Bren getting his new board. This year...he grew, go figure. He's now on a 90 cm board and his boots are bigger. The beauty of the Buron Grom boot...it grows one size!! There is an insert in the sole inside you pull out to expand it one size. Look at the bottom of the boot to see if it expands. Look for a picture I've include to see! Also, Bren can still use the Riglet Reel. It attaches to the front of the board-specific to Burton and you can pull the child along. Probably last year for this as Bren is getting too heavy. You can see this in a blog from last year. If you google it, Bren comes up on front page in a video!
Mittens and "glubs": I feel like leaving this blank....I can't recommend anything. I've struggled and spent a lot of money and still haven't found the perfect answer. I've tried lots. I wouldn't recommend gloves as they are too cold. I would recommend ones that come up high on the arm. You can pull them up and cinch a little cord to keep them tight so snow doesn't get in. Warmth, waterproof? I'm going to leave this open for suggestions and discussion...HELP! I bought Bren some new Burton mittens that have a pocket on the top for a warmer. To be determined as we haven't had a trial run yet.
Waterproof bag for the car: Have something in the car to put wet gear in when you're done. I picked up a $1 deal at REI awhile back. I put mits, hats....in there at the end so they're not rolling around. Anything will do that you can contain everything in one place.
Now that you've missed an hour of your life reading this, I hope you find it helpful and please send any requests/questions my way!!