Taking children skiing for the first time is such an exciting adventure and one that creates life-long memories for both parents and kids. Making sure you have all the right clothing and equipment, however, can be a rather daunting task. This post will walk you through packing essentials and how to dress for success when skiing with kids.
Hint, hint: this is also exactly what you’ll need if you’re an adult who’s skiing, too!
Let’s talk first about quantity. The amount of items you’ll need to pack depends on whether or not you have access to a washer and dryer.
Clothing can get very wet while skiing, especially for beginners who may be falling a lot. Even if your kids are seasoned skiers, they will be sweating it out on the slopes.
Thus, the layers that touch the skin such as socks and thermal underwear need to be washed and dried frequently, if not daily.
If that’s not possible, then I recommend each person having one pair of socks and and one pair of thermals for each day of skiing. Trust me, you DO NOT want to put on a soggy, cold pair of socks before heading out for a day on the slopes.
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The key to clothing while skiing is layers. Layers, layers, layers.
Why? Because having a few thin layers as opposed to one or two bulky pieces creates a cozy and insulated environment that keeps warmth in while allowing skiers to move about more freely.
Also, despite the snow and wind chill, it gets surprisingly hot out there on the mountain! Layering allows skiers to cool down by taking off levels of clothing without leaving them completely exposed to the elements.
Without further ado, let’s discuss packing essentials! The order in which I am listing the items is also the order in which you would layer them to wear.
What to Pack
Tall ski socks are a must for a day on the mountain. Ideally, they should be made of a moisture-wicking material and come up to just below the knee. Make sure they fit well. Socks that are too snug and can restrict circulation to the feet which can make for some very cold toes! Too big and you’ll be left with a saggy sock that gets uncomfortably bunched up in your ski boot.
Thermals should be thin, long sleeved shirts and pants that go over your actual under garments. They sell these in a variety of materials including moisture-wicking fabrics.
You can also get creative with your thermals. For example, I prefer to wear form fitting workout or yoga pants as thermals on my legs whereas my kids liked wearing the softer, cotton blend thermals. Thermals could even be a thin yet snug fitting pair of long pajama pants and shirt.
On top of the thermals, for your upper body only, you’re going to want to add another layer with either a long or short sleeved cotton tee. Long sleeved if the weather is particularly cold, windy or snow is falling that day. Short sleeved if it is over 32 degrees and sunny.
The last layer before the water-proof ski jacket should be a fleece pullover that’s more on the thin side. This layer is weather dependent, as well.
On our most recent ski trip it was in the 30’s and 40’s and sunny every day. By mid morning we were all sweating up a storm and shedding our fleece pullovers.
An aside: Parents… bring a lightweight backpack to wear while skiing so the layers you shed can be stored easily. Also worth packing in the pack are granola bars, chapstick, a water bottle or two, a credit card, ID and a little cash in case you want to eat lunch on the mountain.
Ski Pants or Bibs
Over the thermals you will wear a pair of durable, waterproof ski pants or a ski bib.
If you’re new to the world of skiing, a ski bib is like overalls made for snow activities. I think it is wise to buy a size up in pants or bids so you can move around more freely while navigating the terrain.
Make sure to buy pants/bibs with pockets that zip (so your stuff doesn’t get lost) as well as ones with an attached ski boot cover or gaiter. The boot gaiter is an elastic-lined covering that you pull down over your snow/ski boots to keep snow out and warmth in.
Make sure the jacket you pack for you and your kids is waterproof and wind resistant. If it is advertised as a ski jacket, it should be both of those things.
Also, I would highly recommend getting one with several zippered pockets for lift tickets, gloves, hand warmers, cell phones, snacks and any other small items that might need storing.
These are listed in no particular order but are must-haves!
Water Proof Mittens
For kids, waterproof mittens (as opposed to gloves) are best in my opinion. It’s hard for children to finagle each individual finger into a glove especially when it has to be done SEVERAL times a day. That can get real frustrating, real fast.
I cannot stress enough that they must be waterproof to keep out the cold, wet snow. You’ll need these, too, for making snow balls, snow angels and snow men.
Our last trip we skied for 3 days and only had one pair of waterproof mittens per person. As long as they don’t get lost, that’s enough.
Go getcha some good snow boots that are, once again, waterproof. I found a pair for each kid at a consignment shop. Other than flip flops to wear on the plane and out to the hot tub, this is the only pair of shoes you’ll need.
Ski goggles are so important to shield your eyes from the sun, the glare coming off the snow, the wind and flakes of snow that may be falling.
For me personally, I do not like the feel of goggles on my face so I just wore sunglasses but I was basically the only person on the mountain that did. Long story short, you definitely want something protecting your eyes.
Depending on weather conditions, you may want an added layer of warmth with a fleece neck warmer or face covering. These are great especially if it’s actively snowing or if it’s extra cold and windy out.
I’m a wimp when it comes to the cold so I prefer to always have more optional layers just in case. If need be, they can always be removed and stored in your backpack.
Hand and Toe Warmers
While these aren’t a must-have, it’s nice to stash a few hand and foot warmers in a pocket somewhere in case someone’s toes or fingers freeze over. Speaking from experience, there’s nothing more painful and miserable than feeling like your digits have turned to ice.
P.s. If you’re wondering about the equiptment… you can rent it all, including the helments, when you get there.
You guys… that’s it!!! Whew!!