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The Importance of Good Ski Gear for Kids
Skiing with kids is all about creating lifelong memories while getting outside, even in winter. For a lot of kids (mine included!), getting outside in the winter can feel like a chore. It’s cold, it’s wet, and really, they’re just ready for a hot chocolate break. Add in sliding down a mountain on skis, and you’re set up for what could be a crazy time!
One of the best ways I’ve found to have a successful ski day with young children is to choose high-quality gear that will keep them warm and dry, even in the harshest of conditions. If your kids are warm and dry, they’ll be more likely to actually enjoy their time on the ski hill.
This guide includes everything your child needs to have an awesome ski day! For bigger categories, I’ve ranked the ski gear by good, better, best. I get that not everyone can afford the most expensive, high-quality ski gear that is recommended a lot. And that’s just fine! Good gear, at a lower price point, will work well for most families. However, if your kids are going to be at the ski resort every weekend, be sure to check out those better or best options! They’ll save you money in the long run by preventing you from having to buy new gear halfway through the ski season!
What Ski and Snowboard Gear Do My Kids Need?
Knowing what ski gear your kids need can feel a bit overwhelming if you’re new to skiing. Fortunately, I’ve got you covered! I’ve also recommended some great gear to streamline getting your family ready for an amazing ski trip.
What you need for skiing with kids includes:
- Skis or snowboard (can be rented)
- Ski boots or snowboard boots (can be rented)
- Ski or snowboard helmet (I recommend buying this, even if you can rent it!)
- Ski jacket
- Ski pants
- OR snowsuit
- Mid layers
- Base layers
- Waterproof Mittens or waterproof gloves
- Ski goggles
- Ski socks
- Neck gaiter/face mask
A skiing-specific ski jacket will have features that other winter coats don’t include, such as powder skirts and zippers for RFID ski passes. However, a casual skier can get away with a good quality winter jacket. My kids have used both skiing-specific and typical winter jackets for their skiing trips and both have worked out fine!
Good Ski Jackets for Kids
Lands End Kids Squall Insulated Winter Parka – This coat does a great job of keeping children warm and dry while out on the mountain. The exterior features seam-sealed wind and waterproofing and this coat is rated from -4 to 27 degrees F, making it a great option for skiers on a budget.
Better Ski Jackets for Kids
The North Face Freedom Tri-Climate 3-in-1 Jacket –This ski jacket features one of my favorite things for a ski jacket: a waterproof exterior shell plus an interior insulated layer. I love the versatility of this sort of set up, even for kids. You can add a heavier layer for extra cold weather or take off mid layers on warm spring skiing days.
REI Coop Timber Mountain Insulated Snow Jacket – The Timber Mountain jacket features breathable waterproofing and wind proofing up to 50 MPH. Its soft micro fleece lining provides warmth without too much heat, and the insulation is just enough to make layering easy. The detachable hood is designed to fit over ski helmets comfortably.
Best Ski Jackets for Kids
Akova (Shred Dog) Elevated and Element Ski Jackets – Shred Dog has recently rebranded to Akova, but the quality of their ski gear for kids remains top notch! The Elevated ski jacket features an uninsulted, waterproof shell featuring 20K waterproofing can handle anything from frigid temperatures (when layered correctly!) to snow, ice, and even rain while still keeping little ones dry. The adjustable hood fits a helmet perfectly and the wrist gaskets keep moisture out. It also includes a powder skirt, preventing snow from getting into kids’ mid layers. I also love the pit zips for warmer days! The Element Insulated Jacket features a thin, but very warm mid layer, giving kids ease of motion, warmth and durability for cold winter days. I love that the synthetic fibers are super warm without the bulk. It’s also a very versatile jacket that can be used year-round. It’s my go-to choice for my kids’ camping puffy.
Town Hall Mountain Town Winter Jacket- Town Hall is a new kids ski gear company out of Steamboat Springs, CO, and these parents know what they’re doing when designing ski gear for kids! This coat features all the technical aspects of an adult coat, but in a pint size package. The large hood fits comfortably over a ski helmet while the adjustable powder skirt keeps snow out. The ski pass pocket on the lower sleeve makes getting through RFID gates a breeze, even for kids, plus the spacious pockets can fit plenty of snacks on chair lift breaks. Featuring 150 g. recycled insulation, Town Hall is dedicated to bringing sustainability to kids ski gear while keeping kids warm on even the coldest days! Town Hall’s waterproof jackets are great for wet winter days!
Ski Pants and Bibs
Good ski pants are essential for keeping kids warm and dry while out on the ski hill. Especially when sitting on long and slow chairlifts, warm and insulated snow pants or snow bibs are a lifesaver!
Typically, snow pants are sold in one or two options: snow pants or snow bibs. Snow pants are like any type of pants, with a zipper and button at the hip. I personally prefer snow pants for myself, but bibs work better for kids. Snow bibs include straps that go over the shoulders, adding more insulation and preventing snow from getting into kids’ mid layers. This list mostly includes bibs, since that seems to work best for my family.
Good Ski Pants and Bibs
Boulder Gear Nestor Insulated Ski Bib – The Boulder Gear Nestor is a great snow bib for toddlers and little kids! These snow bibs feature an adjustable velcro shoulder strap to get the best fit for younger children. The waterproofing, breathable interior keeps kiddos warm and dry on chilly days, while the reinforced knees make for durable ski pants for both skiers and snowboarders.
Columbia Snowslope II Insulated Bib – The Columbia Snowslope II gives you all you need in a basic snow bib. Insulation, durable nylon exterior, and waterproofing will keep your child warm and dry on the slopes!
Better Ski Pants
Obermeyer Snoverall Ski Bib – With adorably bright colors and patterns, these snow pants are a great choice for little girls! They’re also ultra-waterproof, with 10K mm waterproofing and can grow up to 2 inches, allowing you to get more than one season out of these snow pants!
Obermeyer Enforcer Ski Bib – These bib pants are a great choice for older kids who like to rip on long days in all different weather elements. Featuring 15K waterproofing, these pants will keep kids dry, even in the most extreme snowstorms. The removable suspenders make breaks in the lodge even more comfortable. Add in recycled fibers, and these ski pants are a great environmentally friendly option for families looking to reduce their impact.
Best Ski Pants
Shred Dog Elevated Kids Bib/Pants – Featuring 20K waterproofing, these are the most waterproof kids snow pants out there! They’ll keep kids dry in even the harshest of weather conditions. (That includes thick, freezing fog from experience!) Featuring 3M Thinsulate insulation, children can stay warm even on chilly chairlift rides. They also include a removable bib, so these pants can function two ways. With an easy Adjust-A-Fit technology, these ski pants can last for multiple seasons. Thanks to reinforced knees, instep, and bottom hems, these snow pants will also withstand multiple seasons’ worth of wear and tear!
TownHall Mountain Town Winter Bib – These bright and adorable winter bibs feature 10K waterproofing and 100 grams of recycled polyester insulation, keeping kids warm and dry in the cold conditions. I love that TownHall uses sustainable and recycled materials in their products, while continuing to make high-quality products that last through multiple ski seasons. I also love the reinforced knee and kick pad to keep these ski bibs like new. The adjustable bib tightener is easy enough for even young kiddos to adjust.
Snowsuits for Skiers
Some families swear by snowsuits for young skiers and snowboarders. I’ve had mixed experiences with using snowsuits for skiing, but I think I’ve finally figured out my issue with snowsuits. It’s not that I don’t like snowsuits for ski days, it’s that I prefer my kids’ snowsuits to be made specifically for skiing. A lot of snowsuits are made for playing outside in the snow and often have tight ankle cuffs. These drive me crazy when paired with ski boots! They’re way too tight and can often ride up if you don’t use elastic stirrups with them (which can also be tough to use with ski boots)
The snowsuits listed below are designed to work for skiers, rather than just for outdoor play.
Best Snowsuits for Skiing
Columbia Buga II Snowsuit – This snowsuit is a great option for families looking for a high-quality snowsuit at a lower price than some of the other options on this list. The reinforced knees, seat, and leg cuffs make it a great option for snowboarding kids, or even for outdoor play. I love the wide leg bands that make it compatible with ski boots.
Burton 2L One Piece Snowsuit – The Burton 2L snowsuit is an awesome piece of gear for skiers and snowboarders. Featuring 10K mm waterproofing and breathable protection, kids are sure to stay warm and dry on cold ski days. The wide ankle cuff is perfectly compatible with ski or snowboarding boots and the reinforced knees are great for outdoor play, as well as ski days.
Reima Palaten Snowsuit – The Reima Palaten snowsuit has all the features you’re looking for in a snowsuit for skiing. The wide cuffs make it easy to use with ski and snowboarding boots, while the reinforced knees, seat, and ankles bring solid durability to a great product. I love the pocket for RFID ski passes on the arm and the spacious hood to accommodate helmets. Another great feature is the elastic cinches on the waist to get a comfortable fit for any kid.
Best Kids Base Layers
I’m sure you’ve seen it all over Instagram – the key to being outside for a long time with kids is layering! Base layers are the layer that’s closest to your kiddo’s skin. You’ll want to choose a material that’s wicking to make sure any moisture your child is producing in cold weather will go away from their body, keeping them warm for longer. There’s two options here. First, you could go with a natural fiber, like merino wool. This is typically a more expensive option, but the natural fibers work great to keep kids warm and dry on cold days (this is also my go-to option for camping!) The second option is to choose a synthetic base layer. These can be more affordable and I’ve found work just as well as natural fibers.
Good Base Layers for Skiing
32 Degrees Baselayers – Yes, these are the same base layers that are sold at Costco. They’re a low-price non-cotton base layer that does the trick on cool, snowy days. These base layers are on the thinner side, but they do a great job of wicking away moisture and keeping kids comfortable on mild ski days.
Better Base Layers for Skiing
Wee Woolies Merino Wool Base Layers– These adorable base layers are perfect for little ones playing on snowy days. I love the contrasting colors and the high-quality New Zealand merino wool. Two things to know: I find they run a bit small and are rather delicate to washing. My daughter’s pair has a couple of holes in them after a year of use.
Terramar Base Layers – These fully polyester base layers feature moisture wicking and quick drying technology that keeps kids warm and dry on the ski hill. I also like that they have antimicrobial treatment that keeps them free from stinky bacteria. I like the fit and the fun, bright colors options. My kids were able to get two seasons out of them too, which is always a bonus!
Best Base Layers for Skiing
Reima Taitoa– These base layers are the perfect mix of wicking wool, combined with the softness of silk! They seriously are the softest, most snuggly base layers out there. They’re also thick and perfect for cold days out on the mountain. Be aware, Reima’s sizes are large, and so I’ve been able to get 3 seasons out of our Taitoa base layers. They’re still holding up great, despite multiple years of wear and tear (including camping in the summers!)
Akova (formerly Shred Dog) Base Layer Top and Pants – These high-quality base layers are made from synthetic material designed to wick away moisture and keep kids comfortable on icy days. They’re a thicker base layer and feature four way stretch that allows kids to more comfortably no matter what activity they’re doing. These are also a great base layer for any activity- whether it’s skiing, hiking, or an extra layer on cold days at the soccer field.
Best Kids Mid layers
Mid layers are that layer that goes in between your kid’s base layers and outer layers. Sometimes my kids don’t need an extra layer, especially during spring skiing and warmer temperatures. However, there are days when mid layers are essential for a happy ski day as a family. I’m super basic with our mid layer pants, so I didn’t include them. I use whatever fleece sweats my kids have! That’s it, and it works fine since they already have insulated pants on.
For tops I love:
Primary Kids Puffer Jacket – This jacket is the perfect layer for cold days! With 100% recycled polyester, this mid layer is warm, thick, and environmentally friendly. We use them on extra cold days as a layer, but also love to use these coats for everyday use, including camping on the Oregon Coast.
Shred Dog (now Akova) Element Jacket – This thinner puffy jacket is much warmer than you’d expect! It’s thoughtfully body-mapped to add insulation where kids need it the most, and not where they don’t need it (under arm, anyone?) It easily and seamlessly zips into the Elevated hardshell, but what I love about it is that it can be used on its own. My daughter wears hers year round, including chilly Montana winter days.
Best Kids Ski Helmets
Giro Crue MIPS – This helmet fits well for young skiers. Our daughter began wearing this helmet at 25 months old. She could easily hold her head up and did not get weighed down by this lightweight helmet. The interior is soft, and the chinstrap features added soft padding to keep her comfortable. The low-profile hardshell construction keeps kids safe without sacrificing comfort. With an adjustable dial, this helmet easily fits young children. The air vents are not adjustable, but we have never experienced our daughter feeling too cold due to her air vents. The goggle combo with the Giro Chico makes for a perfect fit between the google and the helmet.
Smith Glide Jr MIPS – This is a great helmet for young children or toddlers! Features an in-mold system that fuses the outer shell and the EPS foam into a lightweight and durable design. The adjustable dial makes it easy to get the best fit for your kid. Featuring an extra warm and soft interior, this helmet keeps little skiers cozy on even the coldest days. With plush ear pads, kids won’t be complaining about cold weather! Ventilation isn’t adjustable, but we haven’t had a problem with being too cold. My son has had a sweaty head a few times after using the Glide Jr. helmet though. If you are looking for a helmet and goggle combo, this is a great deal for young skiers!
For a complete list of ski and snowboard helmets for kids, check out this article!
Best Kids Ski Goggles
Smith Snowday Goggles – These goggles feature all the things that quality adult goggles have, but in a smaller size. They integrate seamlessly with Smith helmets and feature two sided adjustments to get the perfect fit for your child. The carbon-x lens is distortion-free and impact resistant, keeping kids safe while on the ski hill.
Giro Chico Ski Goggles- Giro makes a fantastic goggle at a low price point for little skiers. Featuring fleece lined foam to keep little faces comfortable, anti-fog coating, and easily adjustable straps, these are a great goggle for kiddos.
Best Mittens and Gloves
A good pair of mittens or gloves can make or break a great ski day. I’ve tried so many pairs of mittens to find the perfect pair that are warm, dry, and can withstand hours of play. These three mittens stand out from the crowd.
Chopper Mill Mountain Mittens – Our top pick for winter mittens! Chopper Mill Mountain Mittens are durable, warm, and come with a FREE replacement mitten if your child loses one.
Reima Ote Mittens – These are a great choice for any winter activity. Featuring an adjustable wrist strap, these mittens stay on and keep kids’ hands dry and warm, even after hours outside!
Jan and Jul Waterproof Mittens – When it comes to cheaper mittens, you can’t go wrong with Jan and Jul’s Waterproof Mittens. At only $22, these mittens are a high-quality option at a great value. I love these mittens for little hands!
For a full list of my favorite kids’ mittens and gloves, check out this article!
Best Winter Accessories for Kids
Basic winter accessories can go a long way to make kids comfortable and warm on a ski day. Choose something that is lightweight, yet durable and insulating to keep your kids going all day long!
Do we really need ski socks? Your kiddo absolutely needs ski socks. Ski and snowboard socks are designed to be tall enough to be compatible with ski boots and have a cushion where other socks don’t, like in the shins. Your kids will be much more comfortable and have a better ski experience if they’re wearing socks designed to work with ski boots.
Remember that your kid only needs one pair of socks on for skiing. Resist the temptation to add extra sock layers. This will just cause the tight-fitting ski boots to feel uncomfortable.
REI Co-Op Timber Mountain Merino – These mid-weight merino-blend socks are a great option for families looking for a lower-cost ski socks.
Smartwool Winter Sports Full Cushion Ski Day Sock – Every Christmas, my kids receive ski socks in their stockings, and this is usually the kind they get! With extra cushion along the leg and cozy merino wool, these knee-high socks are the perfect pair for any kids’ ski day!
To be honest, I usually knit my kids’ winter hats or we use hats given by families. I don’t think I’ve ever intentionally purchased a winter hat for myself or my kids! So I’m going to have to leave this part up to you. But, I will say, homemade hats are the best!
Neck Gaiters and Face Warmers
Turtle Fur Original Neck Gaiter– Like the adult version, this classic neck gaiter is made of a double layer of polar fleece. It’s great for extra bitter days or days with a lot of snow. The double layer means it snow and ice can collect on the outer layer, while your neck and face continue to stay warm on the inner layer. This face mask also helps protect against icy wind, thanks to the thicker material.
Kid’s BlackStrap Tube– Very similar to the adult version, Black Strap’s design features a stretchy, outer layer and a warm fleece inner layer. The outer layer is excellent at wicking moisture while the inner layer will keep you cozy on powder days. It also comes in a huge array of colors and designs – over 30 on Amazon! The Tube also features protection against UV rays, making it a top choice for warm days in the sunshine.
Iksplor Neckies– This lightweight, washable merino wool neck gaiter is a great choice for kids! It is also UPF 50 rated against UV rays! This makes it a great option for sunny ski days.
For a complete guide to neck gaiters and balaclavas for the whole family, check out this article!
To Rent or To Buy Ski and Snowboard Gear
Renting vs. buying ski and snowboarding gear is always a question I get asked. It totally depends on your family’s ski habits and lifestyle. If you are only going to be skiing for a single vacation or a couple of days throughout the ski season, then I recommend renting your ski or snowboard gear. You can typically rent gear directly from the ski resort you’re visiting or you could look into renting from a local ski rental shop. Rental shops will do a great job of finding the right gear for your little ripper and fitting it to their needs.
Personally, I DO NOT recommend renting a helmet. You don’t know what has happened to the helmet prior to you renting it for your child. There’s a good chance it could have been in a ski accident that wasn’t reported to the rental shop. Instead, I always recommend buying a helmet, just like you’re going to be buying your child’s coat and other gear.
If your family is going to be buying season passes, or if you have multiple ski trips planned for a season, it’s time to consider buying your own ski gear. Personally, I choose to buy used gear for my kids. (Honestly, I buy used skis for myself often too!) For a complete guide to saving money on ski gear for your family, check out this article.
One important thing to know about purchasing used ski gear is to make sure you have the bindings checked and fitted to your child’s ski boots by a professional ski shop. Your kid’s safety is number one, and you want to make sure that the gear they’re using is in top working order.
For a complete guide to saving money on ski gear, check this out!
Kids Ski and Snowboard Gear
This guide to kids’ ski and snowboarding gear has covered everything you need to have a great day at the ski resort with your family. All you need now is to add snow and some hot cocoa breaks!
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