Families that ski together stay together! Does this sound familiar to you? This is the motto in my husband’s family, where there is a 47 year tradition of skiing together every spring break. Spouses are picked with a criteria for loving to ski; children are pretty much born with skis on their feet. You get the idea. Our oldest daughter logged 2 ski seasons before her 3rd birthday. The first time she did some sliding, while holding onto my husband’s pole or skiing between his legs, was when she was 17 months old, but one purchase made the second trip (just shy of 2.5 years old) a game changer. I thought I’d share tips (& our new gadget) from my experience:
- Have the right sized gear – appropriately sized gear is important, but not always easily accessible and can get pricey. You’ll need waterproof outer layers (ski pants/bibs, jacket, and gloves), base layers and mid-layers, mask (with good UV protection), and a helmet. ***exception: ski boots on a young toddler. They don’t make them that small! Also, the rigid boot is all that mattered for us when you are guiding their skis anyway.
- Pack a backpack – #1 most important thing is to bring comfy boots for your little one to walk to and from the slopes. Or expect painstakingly slow speed and for all of his/her energy to be sapped. Or you will carry them – add 10lbs since they are wearing heavy ski boots.
- Timing – plan on only about an hour of time on the slopes. Getting to and from the snow may be the hardest and most exhausting part. And I repeat – pack comfy boots in the backpack! Have you ever watched a 2-year-old walk in ski boots??? Utilize ski lockers. A stroller would help if you have a place to leave it or a person to leave it with. Throw in YOUR comfy shoes in this case!
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- Ski bibs and jacket: We used Old Navy bibs and frost-free hooded jackets for the first 2 seasons (through size 2T), and have loved our Columbia set (3T) that I got end of season clearance last year on our way out of Colorado. One thing I find lacking is a zippered pocket. None of her snow outfits have had one, which is a little annoying for her lift ticket.
Similar to the set we have: Columbia Little Girls’ Toddler Frosty Slope Set, Miami Dot Print, 3T
- Base layers – we have the basic long johns and also used cotton t-shirts and leggings, for an extra layer on particularly cold days, but my FAVORITE is a zippered uni from REI. I haven’t seen it online in a while, so no link. Note: One-pieces are challenging once potty trained. She wore it every day and then added more layers as appropriate. Her mid-layer is a North Face fleece or similar, and we have a neck gator for extra cold/windy days.
I haven’t tried any of the thermals from Amazon, so no link for this one!
We have this Neck Gator: Turtle Fur Original Turtle Fur Fleece Kids Turtle’s Neck
And this fleece (hoodless for less bulk): The North Face Infant Glacier Track Jacket
- Mask – we loved this one from Amazon (link), but also tried the ski Banz version. It was too big for her face (width of the mask portion, not strap) and would fit maybe starting around 4.
We have this one: Giro Chico Snow Goggle
For a wider face/larger head, try this one: Baby Banz Ski Banz Goggles
- Helmet – we found one that was only slightly large (youth small). I could have researched better to find a more appropriate fit, but this one was on sale for $10 and protected her fine for the hour per day she was on the slopes.
Similar to our helmet, but this one is a set with goggles: Giro Launch Combo Kids Snow Helmet w/ Matching Goggles
- Gloves – We found the best gloves this year! They pull up either under or over the jacket, keeping the gloves on securely and snow OUT. We bought them in the baby thumb-less (6-18 months) and toddler with thumb (Small: Ages 1-3 years). Both are great, but funny they are about the same size, so next time I would probably just get the pair with thumbs to grow into. See link below. Previously, all of the waterproof ones we tried were still huge or missing thumbs…
These are the ones we have and love: Toddler/Kid Sizes – SnowStoppers Kid’s Waterproof Stay On Winter Nylon Mittens
- Snow boots – our favorites are Bogs (start at toddler 4) and Kamik (start at toddler 5)
- Kids skis – we purchased ours used from a ski rental place on the mountain. Ask what the daily rate is, and what they would charge to buy a set of boots, bindings, and skis. Ours are sized 203mm (Similar to Mondo 15/16) and we miraculously got 3 seasons out of them. The boots were huge the first year, but the structure of the rigid boot allowed her to stay upright better. We tried the skis that strap over her snow boots, but didn’t go so well due to lack of ankle support.
No example here – I recommend looking for some used skis in the smallest size possible 70cm or less for 3 and under. Ideally the skis would come between the child’s chest and nose when standing. Like I said above, we bought ours from the ski rental place.
- ANNNNNNND…drum roll… our game changer —— Hook Ease! This amazing little device attaches to the back of the child’s skis and the end of the adult poles. Hook them together, and you can guide your child’s skis, even gently facilitating the weight shift required for turns. It was much easier on my husband’s back, and C LOVED skiing down the mountain with Daddy.
LOOOOOOVE this! Hookease – Ski Trainer by Launch Pad
Watch her go!
Don’t forget plenty of time for après-ski, and S’mores!
Make perfect snowballs: Snow-ballers
Tubing fun: Unicorn tube