Whether you’re new to snowsports or a seasoned enthusiast, you know that both skiing and snowboarding take a lot of gear. To help make sense of what you need and what you don’t, here’s the rundown of items
Skis or snowboard, Bindings, Boots, Poles
You can’t ski or snowboard without these items (with the exception of young children who aren’t yet using poles). But don’t despair if you don’t own the hardware. If your family is new to skiing or snowboarding, or you only ski and snowboard a few times a year, consider renting, either day-by-day or for the ski season.
Here’s a list of the basics you’ll need.
• One pair of thin wool or polypropelene ski socks: The best ski and snowboard boot fitters I know caution against thick socks. You don’t want the boot too tight around the foot or you’ll hamper circulation and your feet will be colder.
• Long underwear/base layer tops and bottoms: Again, wool or polypropelene, fibers that effectively wick moisture away from the body and keep you dry. Avoid cotton and cotton blends.
• A sweater or fleece: This essential layer is sometimes called a mid layer or an insulator. It should be thicker and warmer than your base layer top.
• Waterproof, insulated ski pants: Look for pockets to stash a pass, chapstick, lunch money and so on, and reinforcement around the inside of the ankles (an area that gets a lot of wear and tear).
• Waterproof, insulated ski jacket, ideally with a hood that fits over a helmet.
• Waterproof, insulated mittens or gloves: Mittens are generally warmer and much easier for kids to put on and take off than gloves but either will work.
• Ski helmet: A bike helmet, climbing helmet or other type of helmet is not a suitable substitute. Invest in a proper snow helmet for your kids safety.
• Goggles: Make sure these fit well with your helmet.
Finally, don’t forget snacks, sunscreen and SPF lip balm.
If you’re skiing with a beginner child who is under age 6, consider a tip connector (sometimes called an Edgie-Wedgie). It’s a short rubber tube that connects the ski tips, keeping them close together and making it easy for young children to learn to ski.
Likewise, if your young child is a beginner snowboarder, consider a Riglet Reel that allows you to pull your child while she balances on her snowboard.
NICE TO HAVES
Additional items for very cold days may include:
• Disposable hand warmers.
• Thin wool or polypropylene glove/mitten liners.
• A down or wool vest.
• A balaclava, neck gaiter and/or face mask.
• Extra baselayers for additional layering.
On warm days, being properly dressed is more about unzipping and shedding layers. While some people like to ski in sunglasses on warm, sunny days, we stick with our goggles, preferring the additional eye protection.
Consider a ski boot bag or backpack for each person in the family. Keep it packed and ready to go with ski boots and ski clothing for “grab and go” ease.
WHAT YOU DON'T NEED
While every family’s needs and circumstances are different, here are three examples of items you probably don’t need.
• Expensive clothing. Well-made waterproof, insulated ski jackets and ski pants are truly essential, so don’t scrimp on quality. But that doesn’t mean you have to buy expensive brands. Some of the most costly brands are actually the least practical.
• Learn to ski gadgets. Many products purport to help parents teach their children to ski. When evaluating them, avoid those that cost a lot, are complicated or interfere with your child’s balance and skiing position.
• Ski carriers and boot protectors. A surprising amount of products will help you carry skis from the hotel, bus stop or parking lot to the lift. Likewise, products to protect ski boot soles as you walk from point to point. Good rule of thumb: If it won’t fit in your pocket easily, you don’t need it (and even then, you may not need it).
Ultimately, the best way to evaluate additional ski gear is to remember that “less is more.” Not just in terms of stuff, but in terms of money, as in the less you spend on skiing stuff, the more you can spend on actually skiing.
Hailing from Colorado (USA) Kristen Lummis, or as she is better known, the Brave Ski Mom, is an avid skier and true family mum in every sense of the word. www.thebraveskimom.com