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As a mom who lives in California and just can’t get enough outdoor family adventure time, I recently started to snowboard and ski with my family. I’ve learned that getting your family geared up for fun on the snow-covered slopes is definitely a game of preparation.
After you’ve chosen the right family-friendly ski resort, you want to make sure that you’ve purchased all the essential kids snowboard and ski gear for comfort and safety on the slopes. From helmets and gloves to jackets and snow pants, we take all the guesswork out of which items to purchase for your family’s upcoming snowboard and ski trip. And, don’t forget you’ll also need a stash of hoodies, leggings and cold weather clothes to snuggle up in for après-ski activities.
You’ll want to do some price checking for your gear to save money where you can. And if you find places where kids can ski for free, definitely take advantage of it because I can’t reiterate enough how quickly the expense can add up for kids and winter sports.
Read on for a comprehensive guide to the most important pieces of kids snowboard and ski gear that were super beneficial and helpful to us during our family snowboard and ski trips in South Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Mountain.
Kids Items to Purchase Before Your Ski Trip
I must admit that I was shocked by how much gear is necessary to snowboard and ski during a cold weather family vacation. In addition to the ski gear you need to get down the hill, you also need the right snowboard and ski clothes. If your kids are not warm and they can’t move around, they will be miserable out of the gate. It’s more cost effective to buy all your ski and snowboard clothing before your trip. In general, you’ll pay more at resort ski shops than elsewhere.
Here are some essential kids ski gear items to buy before your trip.
Kids Ski Mittens and Ski Gloves
Since your kid’s hands will be in contact with the snow, waterproof mittens or waterproof gloves are crucial. But first, you have to figure out whether your kid prefers mittens or gloves. Then you can stock up to ensure you have backups to replace the ones they are guaranteed to lose somewhere on the mountain.
We bought our backups from Amazon and spent $15 to $25, as opposed to the $85 it would have cost us at the resort ski shop.
A few of our favorite products:
REI makes a nice thick glove and mitten. They are a good quality, and able to stand up to a bit of beating and washing:
Base Layers for Kids
Base layers are what your kids are going to wear under their jackets to keep them warm. Whether your child chooses to snowboard or ski, base layers (thermal underwear)are essential.
When purchasing your base layers, aim to have a couple of colors and a couple in black. Also, choose synthetic materials or wool. Cotton is not waterproof or breathable.
As a mom, I highly recommend purchasing three sets of base layers so you won’t have to do laundry every night. Thermals tend to get hot and smelly after a long day of snowboarding and skiing.
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Thermal underwear can do double duty since they are also great for sleeping. And unless you want to poke your eyeballs out trying to figure out which ones belong to which family member, I highly recommend choosing different colors for different people.
These Rocky Thermal Underwear come in several colors for both boys and girls. We bought a variety of patterns and colors. When it’s time to launder, it’s easy to sort. Great quality, great colors and everyone stays warm.
Here are a few other base layers I like:
- REI Co-op Midweight Crew Long Underwear Top – Kids’
- REI Co-op Midweight Long Underwear Bottoms – Kids’
These are fairly priced base layers that are great ski layers and also can do double duty just lounging around. You’ll get use out of these layers on and off the slopes.
Although slightly more expensive, a merino wool base layer will add a good deal of warmth to your outfit. A little extra work on the wallet, but you’ll be warmer and able to stay out on the slopes a longer.
Kids Ski Jackets
I’m a huge fan of choosing colorful top layers so it’s easy to spot your kids on the slopes. When you’re breaking up and going on different mountains, you really want to be able to see each other. If everybody’s wearing black, it’s impossible to recognize one another.
Now, the first time our son went skiing, he wore a Spider-Man jacket that his aunt gave him. And because he was such a natural and I just couldn’t keep up with him to save my life, I asked all the snowboarders that I saw to look out for him as he sped down the mountain in his red Spider-Man jacket and to help him if need be.
I’ll never forget how our son told us that he didn’t really want to wear that jacket anymore because everybody on the slope was calling him “Spidey” and trying to get his attention.
I felt really grateful that he could be identified so easily in that red Spider-Man jacket. So I highly recommend getting something super identifiable when purchasing a youth ski jacket.
Here are a few snowboard and ski jackets we found helpful:
We are fans of the Columbia brand because this brand is built for outdoor sports. The kids jackets offer both enough insulation and mobility, an important combination for kids ski and snowboard wear. These are the Columbia jackets we love:
- Columbia Mighty Mogul Insulated Jacket – Boys’
- Columbia Mighty Mogul Insulated Jacket – Girls’
- 3-in-1 Columbia jacket
I’d also recommend everyone have at least one fleece jacket with them as an extra mid layer or stand alone jacket. On warmer days, we just went out with our fleece or hoodie (in addition to wearing bib pants). The fleece jacket was also what we all seemed to find ourselves in when we went to dinner or spent time hanging in our condo or hotel.
Kids Snow Pants
I’m a big fan of purchasing a pair of ski bibs for your kids because they are far more comfortable than traditional snow pants. Additionally, they offer ample storage potential and go a long way toward keeping the snow from getting into places where it should not go.
We purchased this basic black bib from Amazon and then added our easily identifiable colored jackets on top of that. I’m not exaggerating when I say this basic black bib was our basic foundational garment for everything we did all winter.
This is the number one most important piece of kids ski gear you will get, hands down.
Getting your kids into a pair of insulated bib pants is a key to success. Bib ski pants such as the Columbia Snowlope 11 or the REI Co-Op Timber Mountain Snow Bib Pants will keep kids warm for a full day of winter fun. These also come in toddler sizes.
If your child really won’t wear bib pants, here are a few snowboard and ski pants we enjoyed:
These REI Co-op Timber Mountain Pants are hip and cool and will give your kids the warmth and mobility they need to ski and snowboard in comfort. Best of all, they come with lots of Velcro so they can size up and down as needed.
The Columbia Bugaboo ll Snow pants have fully sealed seams to keep kiddos dry and provide a little extra insulated warmth.
These Patagonia Snowshot Pants are built for active kids. They have a fully taped seam that adds a little extra protection around the boot, are insulated for extra warmth and have a grow-fit feature to increase the length in the leg by two inches so you can squeeze an extra season of wear out of them.
Kids Snow Suits
Some families are fans of the one piece water-resistant snowsuits when it comes to their families’ snowboard and ski clothes. While they are best for smaller kids, I don’t think my teen would be caught dead wearing one.
For men and women, I’ve seen some gorgeous, chic snow suits.
For kids however, you have to ask if your kid can function without immediate accessibility when going to the bathroom.
This is definitely a preference choice. Some parents love having only one piece of clothing to keep track of for their kids, and some parents find it too much work to undress for their kids (especially when you’re out in the backcountry and may just need a quick dash behind a tree).
If you are a fan of the snowsuit, again, I’d advise a bright color so everyone can find each other.
Here are a few snowsuits that fit the bill:
- Toddlers – Arctix Kids’ Dancing Bear Insulated Snow Suit
- Tweens and Teens – Genma0 One-Piece Snowsuit Water Resistant Windproof Taslon Reflective for Kids/Boys, Girls
- Tweens and Teens – Kamik Lazer Snowsuit – Kids’
Kids Warm Snow Socks and Neck Warmers
Thermal ski socks are the best bet to keep your kid’s feet warm and dry. Cold winter sport socks are best when they are made out of merino wool, or some other material that isn’t cotton. Wool socks will keep your feet warm, dry and comfortable.
I highly suggest having one pair of thermal winter socks for each person for each day you’ll be on the slopes. Socks get stinky, hot and sweaty while skiing. If you don’t have a fresh pair of socks for each day, you’ll spend some part of your vacation doing laundry.
You’ll also want to protect your child’s face from sunburn and windburn. I don’t have enough good words for this Maskus Necktube from Black Crows. It does double duty as both a neck warmer and a mask, keeping you warm and safe; everyone in the family needs one. This one simple piece of clothing is much better than trying to juggle scarves, neck tubes and masks.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Staying in a place that has a washing machine makes everything so much better during such a physically active vacation.
Kids Ski Goggles
You can’t overlook the importance of adding ski goggles to your checklist of kids ski gear. They work so much better with a helmet than your basic pair of sunglasses. Plus, ski goggles stay on your child’s face so much better.
Thankfully, kids ski goggles are so easy to find at Amazon and REI. Buying them online before your ski trip won’t break the bank like buying them from a ski lodge would.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Make sure the goggles you buy have an anti-fog coating.
Anti-fog, UV protected snowboard and ski reasonably priced goggles for the whole family:
- These goggles do the trick, offer UV protection and anti-fog features, and are reasonably priced.
- There are so many color choices with these Zionor Lagopus Goggles that everyone in your family will get to pick their favorite.
Kids Ski Helmets
Everyone needs a helmet. We have rented a lot of snowboard and kids ski gear throughout our family ski trips, and discovered along the way that it’s far more cost efficient to just buy your helmet instead of renting one.
Buying means your kids can try on the helmet to make sure it’s a comfortable fit. Kids can also add their own sense of fun to their helmet by adding on topper accessories like horns or Mohawks to suit their personalities and individual styles.
Express yourself and stand out in a crowd with these helmet add-ons for the whole family:
- Parawild Bison Helmet Accessories Fun Red Devil Helmet Horns/Ears/Covers
- ParaWild Unicorn/Narwhal Helmet Accessories Helmet Horn/Cover
- Tangerine Mohawk
Nice to Have Extras
Whether you’re a ski expert or a novice, one thing all levels of skiers and snowboarders have in common is falling. I would highly recommend purchasing some padded impact shorts or “butt covers” to cushion those falls.
Your kids will be much more comfortable falling while wearing these, and a bonus is that they offer an additional base layer to help them stay warm.
A box of Hot Hands hand warmers added bountiful joy to our ski trip. These are great for everybody so you can warm up quickly on and off the slopes.
Hand warmers are fun and inexpensive items that just keep everybody happy.
Hats and Beanies
When you get off the slope, everybody needs a hat. This is yet another piece of kids ski gear that will allow them to express their personalities, have fun and stay warm.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Let your kids choose their own. It will let them express their unique personality, and make it much more likely they’ll wear the thing!
Key Items to Purchase for Toddlers, Teens, and Parents
Keep in mind that everyone will also need a pair of snow boots. You can’t be walking around in sneakers when you get off the slopes and you’re going to and from the car.
I really love my Columbia women’s ice maiden. You really want something that can grip the snow and ice as you’re moving all over the place.
Recommended Ski Gear for Toddlers
A good rule of thumb for winter weather dressing is to put toddlers in one more extra layer of clothing than an adult, teen or older child would wear in the same conditions.
Toddlers are pretty much going to stay with you during your whole trip, so you want to make sure they’re warm. For toddlers, waterproof mittens are the best choice.
If you’re dressing your toddler in the car, I would advise keeping items like a yoga mat and collapsible stool in your vehicle so that they stay dry and comfortable while getting geared up.
Read More: How to Keep Your Toddler Warm in the Winter
Recommended Ski Gear for Pre-Teens and Teens
As a mom of a pre-teen son, I will say with 100 percent conviction that you need to let them have a say in what they will be wearing—what color they want, what they think is cool and what style suits them best.
It’s tough to please a teenager, so make sure they pick their own stuff. It really depends on whether your teen is a skier or a snowboarder because each one has its own vibe.
Most of the teens hanging around the ski lodge or even walking around town were wearing hoodies (with their moms hovering nearby asking, “Are you sure you’re not cold?”).
Recommended Ski Gear for Parents
You want to make sure the snowboard and ski jackets you buy have lots of pockets. As parents, you’ll be responsible for carrying around a lot of the essential items like ski passes, money and snacks.
Having a colorful lightweight fleece pullover is nice for traveling too. I love this waterproof fleece pullover from Amazon because it’s priced so well and it really held up through several ski trips and several washings. My favorite waterproof ski jacket from Amazon: GEMYSE Women’s Mountain Waterproof Ski Snow Jacket Winter Windproof Rain Jacket
And then for moms, it doesn’t hurt to have some sort of sports bra as well.
Plan Your Snowboard and Ski Trip With Your Kids
As you are researching which resort is best for your family, you also want to figure out what time of day and how long you think you’re going to be skiing.
For our family, it worked out better to plan five-day trips at first. That meant we could have shorter days skiing at first, spending around four hours a day on the slopes. See what works for your family based on your collective level of expertise.
No matter where you decide to ski with your family, you will need the same best ski gear. We personally rented all of our snowboards, ski boots, skis and ski poles during the last year. I was really glad we did because a lot of it was stolen at times. We were able to just go and get new stuff. Research the rental packages for the gear while you deciding which resorts are right for your family..
Snowboarding and skiing require a fair amount of gear. To help defray the cost, ask for holiday gift cards to some of your favorite stores. We like Patagonia, The North Face, REI, Obermeyer and Amazon.