Over the years, I've had a good challenge trying to find the best clothes/equipment for the kids. Which gloves work/don't work, best socks, best way to get skis. And always...shop sales at the end of the season for next year!!!!!
So, here is my advice:
1. Start with a good thermal underlayer. No, you don't need to spend $90. I tend to go for the REI brand long sleeve shirt/thermal pant. Get pants with the cuffs on the bottom, so they stay secure. You can go turtleneck or just low neck on the shirt. I even get cotton turtle necks from Target. You can find them for $5. Bren sees any turtlenecks in his drawer and calls them his "ski shirts". On a cold day, I also put a long sleeve sweatshirt or a lightweight fleece over the underlayer. I also may even add a pair of cheap thin sweatpants over the underlayer. Again, I shop Old Navy and can find fleece tops/pants for $5 at the end of the year for the next season. I feel this is the layer to go cheap on, not the outer layers.
2. Socks...DON'T go cheap on these. NOT COTTON SOCKS! With the help of the guys at Ski' N See, they've given me good advice. My brand recommend (and I'm not a brand person), I would go with the Euro sock. Love them! They stay up with a great tight elastic at the top and are warm. I've tried others...slip down, bunch up...lots of complaints from the kids. No gym socks, no cheap 5 for $1 types....spend the money, cotton makes the kids feet sweat and then they get cold. You only need one pair for the season. I just wash them up at the end of our day. If you ski many days in a row, maybe two max! Also, key in dressing them. Put the thermal pants on first, pull them up to mid calf and then pull the sock up and over the pants to the knee. You don't want anything bunched at their ankle as their ski boots will pinch them and then...misery.
3. Pants: Depends on the child. Bibs are great for the younger ones as when they fall, they don't get snow up their back. Problem with these, if there is a bathroom "emergency", you have to take everything off. Emily still wants her bibs, that's fine. Brennan went to pants because now he thinks they are his "boardy pants", just like the big boys. When they are 3 or under, go to Target. They have bibs/pants for under $20 and lets face it, they're not going to be out that much of the day or year before they need a larger pair. Em has Obermeyer brand, Bren, Marker. Do I care? No, just have to be good at keeping them dry. As they get older, this is where the Target stuff doesn't work. The pants need to be lined and warm since they spend a lot of time on their bums and also on the chairlift. Would I buy brand name stuff for my kids at 4? No, got them the end of last season. Bren is in a Spyder jacket. Come on, I'm not really one of those Moms. I found it for 70% off last season. Now, he's a dude!
4. Jackets: Same as pants. If you need to cut corners, I'd get a slightly cheaper jacket vs pants. You can always layer the top with a sweater, thermal and fleece. The key is, look for the "grow system" jackets and pants. I've included a few pictures of them. Most of the big name companies are now making the jackets/pants so you can use them for at least 2 years. There is a thread in the jacket arm or the pants legs that you cut as they grow and it extends the length of the arm/leg by 1 1/2". That is huge! This is where you can get some mileage from your expensive purchases. As noted above, sales, sales, sales!
5. Helmets and "gobbles": Both my kids have called goggles "gobbles". Dont' know why. I've been unsure about how the goggles are supposed to fit. The guys at Ski' N See informed me that they come in toddler and youth size. When you place them on their faces, just make sure they are outside the corners of their eyes and don't pull them. You don't want them too big. Just to give you an example, the picture of Bren in the green goggles are right. Both my kids are still in the toddler "gobbles". Any ski shop will help you with a helmet fit. You MUST have a helmet. Most if not all resorts will not give lessons without a helmet. It's worth it to spend the money and buy a good one. They will last for years since they are adjustable and have a padding at the ears.
6. Hats: With all kids having helmets, what do you do about a hat? One word...balaclava. Note the picture of Bren... they are thin, cover their faces and give extra warmth for the ears. Worth the $12-$17 for sure!
7. Mittens/gloves: Worse thing. I think I've spent more money on this than anything else. I'd pick mittens over gloves. Gloves get too cold on their fingers. Mittens...they have to be long and high and put them over their jacket. The best ones, elastic on the top. I've tried zips, elastic, pull over, strings... I've struggled with them all! you can put the mitts on first, then the jacket. Sure way to stay on initially. But, they always pull them off...nose itch, scratch on face, .... then you're back to pulling them over their jackets to secure them. That is why the longer, the better. Any advice, brands... I'm open. I also wouldn't go cheap on these. You want their hands to stay dry! Even get some of those $1 gloves at the dollor store and put them in first. The only thing, can they figure out the fingers when they go potty? Hardest category by far!
8. Gaiters: Even with the balaclava, they may get cold, so pop a gaiter around their neck for extra warmth. Not that expensive and saves a lot of cheeks.
9. Skis: Get season rentals. Ski' N See helped us out. They will wax for free whenever you need it and if the kids feet grow, just go exchange the boots. You should wax every 8 times or so for the kids. If the kids are a tad older, get the buckle boots. Emily has a double buckle this year. It will give her better support in her ankles. Any shop will help you on ski length. If they are just beginning, they will get a very short ski. It all depends on their height and weight. Have that info ready for the guys at the rental shop before you get there. Set the bindings loose. When a child falls, you don't want their ski to hang on. They could twist their ankles. Most all ski shops will set them loose for you. Even is you say your 6 year old is a"excellent" skier, better looser than too tight. If you live in an area where you're going to ski alot, get the season rentals. They are cheaper and you don't have to stand in line every day. You also can rent for consecutive days in a row which you will get a slight break on the price and again, not deal with the hassle. Ski' N See has a reservation page. Fill everything out and when you get there, your skis are ready. Anything to save time is great!
Few other tips: Put hand warmers in their ski pants pockets. They can crack them open during the day if need be. We got a free little handle from Ski' N See to hook the boots togther so the kids can carry their own. Key is teaching them early... if they want to ski, they need to help out.
Snacks,boarding, poles...I'll cover that next time! Happy skiing and let me know about tips you have for your kids!
Also, if you need some helmets or rentals for the kids, Ski' N See has a coupon for you!!!