Ski season is still a while off, but with the temperatures dropping and a few dustings of snow in the mountains, it’s time to start getting ready for another amazing year on the slopes!
Fall means time for ski movies, new gear, ski swaps, and plenty of squats and lunges to make sure your legs can last as long as the powder does. You’ve gone through it year after year, so much so that prepping for ski season is as exciting as it is effortless. But how do you get your kids ready for ski season? Getting kids in shape, making sure their gear fits, and teaching them how to layer well will make your transition to winter fantastic.
Help your kids get in shape for ski season
As adults, we like to throw around terms like cross-training and strength building when we set up our workout plans. But what should kids be doing to get in shape for ski season? The biggest thing is to KEEP MOVING!
Once school starts, kids are suddenly sitting a whole lot more than they were in the active summer months. To help your kids build their fitness up for the winter, you’ve got to get them up and active. For a lot of kids, the best way to build up their cardio is signing up for fall sports. Soccer, football, and cross-country can all be great ways to get a good workout and keep your muscles active.
For kids, exercise looks a whole lot more like PLAY and less like work (and they’ll have even more fun if Mom and Dad join in, too). Head out for a family bike ride and make sure to challenge everyone with a few good uphill sections to get those legs working hard. Another great family activity is running. If your kids are younger, this could be a nightly game of tag in the backyard. For older kids, get them out on the trails for some trail running, which is one of the best exercises that kids can do to prep for winter.
Make sure your kids have gear that fits
If you’re lucky, all the gear that your kids used for ski season last year still fits them. Realistically, that almost never happens, though (ski hand-me-downs are sometimes as close as it gets). Take a bit of time early in the season to have your kids try on all their gear and ski clothing to make sure that it fits well.
While you don’t need to go out and buy all new gear right now, it’s really helpful to know what you need so that if a great deal comes along, you can hurry and scoop it up. Make sure that your kids have good wool socks, base layers, mid-layers, waterproof jacket and snowpants, helmet, goggles, and waterproof gloves. If your kids have gear that can make it a while longer, but it’s not great, consider gifting them some new equipment for Christmas. Also, if you’ve got gear that still works well, but isn’t very waterproof anymore, consider coating it with a waterproofing spray to help it last longer. You can find waterproofing spray at outdoor recreation stores as well as home improvement stores.
How to know if your kids’ ski boots fit? Fitting kids’ ski boots can be a bit tricky since you can’t feel for their toes, and ski boots fit a lot differently than shoes, so kids are also unsure about what a good fit feels like. The best thing you can do is take out the boot liner and feel to see if it fits the foot both in length and width.
What size skis do kids need? A good rule of thumb for intermediate skiers is that their skis should come to their nose, though anything that’s within the face area should work fine. If you’ve got a beginner or a really young skier, you can have skis as short as their chest since shorter skis are easier to learn on.
If your kids need gear, fall is a great time to decide if you are going to get new or used gear. There are lots of used ski shops around the Salt Lake City area, as well as several amazing ski swaps in October and November that can be a great place to get all the gear that you need. Many shops also offer season-long rentals if you’d rather not buy something for just the year.
Teaching kids to layer their clothing before winter starts
If you want to simplify your entire winter, teach your kids how to properly layer their clothing for cold weather NOW. As parents, we have a huge list of things to do before we can head out skiing, and this is definitely one that you can outsource.
How to teach your kids to layer:
The first step in teaching your kids to layer their clothes is to talk about why layers are important and how to layer in the winter. If you tell your kids to go and wear a few different layers, without instruction, you’ll probably get a crazy hodgepodge of pajamas, gym shorts, and their favorite sports jersey.
With our kids, when we’re going skiing or on another winter adventure, we talk about what to wear over breakfast. We tell the kids what the weather forecast is and then ask them what they think they should wear. Sometimes they nail it, and other times it’s a miss, but talking about it is all part of the process. We always have kids wear a base layer and a mid-layer and explain that they can take layers on or off depending on how cold they are. Some days they wear a light base layer with a thick fleece, or on really cold days, they wear the warmest of every layer that they have.
The biggest key to getting kids to layer correctly is giving them the correct clothing to layer with. I’ve found that with our younger kids, it helps to keep all their ski layering clothes in one place instead of mixed in with their other clothes. Each of our kids has two or three sets of base layers and mid-layers in varying weights. It’s been no problem for my 5-year old to find his warm base layers when he only had two different options!
What kids should be wearing while skiing or snowboarding
1.) Base Layers. This is always what should be going on first, and it should be a high-quality base layer that both insulates and wicks sweat away from the body. Cotton is usually a poor idea, and if you’re thinking about having your kids wear waffle weave thermals, guess again. Synthetics and merino wool are our favorites for base layers and there several great kid options in both materials. Each of our kids has two sets of base layers — one that’s a lighter weight and the other that’s a heavier weight for really cold days.
2.) Socks. We won’t wear anything besides wool, and only one pair! Make sure you get your kids the right size of wool socks because it will make your ski day significantly easier. Socks that are too loose will bunch up inside ski boots while socks that are too tight will cause discomfort and circulation problems. Wool socks are an absolute life-saver in winter, so make sure to have several different pairs since your kids might want to wear them daily.
3.) Mid-Layers. This is your insulating layer, but don’t go overboard here since putting too many clothes on will make you sweaty (which will make you freeze on long chairlift rides). My favorite mid-layer material for kids is fleece, You can get fleece in different thicknesses, and kids love how soft and comfortable it is. As a parent, I love that I can get decent kids’ fleece at a cheap price. If you’re looking for another alternative, a thicker merino wool shirt or lined leggings are great options as well.
4.) Coats. Getting your kids good outerwear is an investment that will pay off over and over again. Cold, wet kids are almost always miserable, and if the kids are miserable, chances are that Mom and Dad are as well. If you look around, you can find a pretty great kids’ coat for under $100, and if you buy something that’s high-quality, it can be passed down to other kids as well. When you’re buying a coat, always get one that’s water resistant, has a hood, and will still cover their whole arms when they reach forward.
5.) Snow Pants. The most important advice I can give to parents buying new snowpants is to buy something waterproof. Between sitting on the chairlift, crashing, and rolling around to build a snowman, kids’ snow pants get really wet. You don’t need anything fancy when it comes to snowpants, but waterproof is an absolute must-have feature.
Although it’s a bit of work getting kids ready for ski season, if you put the time in now, you’ll have a lot more time to spend on the slopes once Solitude opens for the season!