Keeping warm is one of the key ingredients to a great day in the snow, or else a very short,
❄ Good windproof, waterproof gear. Good gear can
be a little more expensive but is well
worth it. You can be lucky and find good quality gear second-hand, as children tend to grow out
of it so quickly.
❄ Layers. In general, three main layers: A base
layer; thermals, a mid-layer; polar fleece, and an outer layer or shell; ski jacket and pants.
Choose layers depending on the weather, but at minimum have a good set of thermals to keep your
child's core warm and to wick away moisture. The outer, shell layer should be wind and
waterproof for the cold or wet weather.
❄ Gloves. If you can, take a spare pair of
gloves. No matter how good your children's gloves are they will eventually become soaked, as
young children love playing with the snow, and gloves can take a long time to dry
❄ Boots. Warm, waterproof boots that fit high
above the ankle are a must. You might be walking through some deep snow or slush, and cold, wet
feet make for an unpleasant experience!
❄ Hat and neck warmer. A woollen hat that can
cover the ears is a standard piece of gear for every outing in the snow. A neck warmer can also
be handy on the ski lifts and racing down the slopes to keep their face and neck from freezing
on a cold day.
Warm hats and gloves.
Keeping warm and dry in the deep snow.
Waterproof boots and gear.
Neck warmer for an icy day.
❄ Take plenty of breaks. Skiing can be exhausting,
especially for little children. Even just playing in the snow and the cold with all their gear on
can wear them out. Our youngest daughter fell asleep standing up after one exhausting day skiing;
see pic below. A sit down, warm-up and a snack, and they will be keen to get back out there.
❄ Shorter days. Your skiing days tend to be a
little shorter than before you had children. Remember you have to get your children back home or
back to the car at the end of the day, so make sure they have a little energy left or this can
turn into an arduous journey!
Asleep standing up!
A long day at Ski School, Whistler.
A rest between runs at Cardrona.
❄ Snacks. Take plenty of snacks in jacket
pockets. They can be handy for on the lift or when you aren't near a cafe and your children are
'starving'. It can also save you money on the mountain.
❄ On mountain dining. Buying food on the mountain
can be expensive, but a great treat for a good effort skiing! We tend to relax our ideas on
nutrition when we are skiing, maybe this is why our girls enjoy it so much? If you are heading
in to a cafe or restaurant for lunch we have found that it is best to go in before the lunchtime
rush, things can get really busy from around midday and it can be hard to find a seat.
❄ Rehydrate. Most resorts will provide hot and
cold water free of charge, which can be handy for hot drinks or noodles, and to rehydrate! (A
trip to the toilet before heading back out is also a good idea!)
A monster hot chocolate at Blackcomb mountain.
A snack on the go, somewhere at Cardrona!
Cookie at Cardrona!
Learning to ski or snowboard
❄ Lessons? We found that our girls picked up
the skills of skiing at a faster rate, and with a better technique, by having a few lessons. They
also had a great time skiing with other children their own age. A combination of teaching them
ourselves and organised lessons seems to have worked for us so far.
At the Whistler ski school each of the children wear a GPS tracker on their ankle (see pics
below) for safety. You can also replay the GPS data on a website to see where they went for the
❄ At what age? We started our girls skiing at 4.5
and 2.5 years old. This seemed to be the perfect age for our eldest but our youngest seemed
content to be pushed down a little slope between the two of us and eat snow: A habit that took
many ski trips to kick! Ski schools seem to set different minimum ages for lessons; it is worth
checking this out before planning your trip. There is still plenty of fun to be had in the snow if
they are too young or not that keen to ski yet.
First time on skis!
Gently does it.
Whistler Blackcomb Snow School!
Whistler Blackcomb Snow School!
Ski or snowboard gear
❄ To hire or to buy?
If you plan to spend more than a couple of weeks skiing each year then buying your own gear is
the way to go. Children grow out of gear so quickly that it can get a little expensive replacing
it each season, so keep an eye out for second-hand gear. You can often find good gear at a cheap
price that hasn't been used all that much.
❄ Helmet and goggles. Apart from safety, helmets
keep the head warm and hold the googles in the right spot. If you have googles take them with you
when buying or fitting a helmet. Make sure there is no gap between the front of the helmet and the
googles, as this will result in a cold strip on the forehead!
❄ Carrying gear. Carrying your own ski equipment
can be a challenge at times but add children's gear to
the mix and it can be a mission! There are backpacks that have side straps that you can secure
skis to; which can also be handy for carrying snacks and spare gear. An effective, very cheap
solution are straps that can carry skis and poles together over the
shoulder or in the hand. These straps can be shortened or lengthened for adults or children; see
image below. As early as you can, get your children to practice carrying their own gear!
Kitted out for a great day skiing!
Ready to ski!
First time in the snow!
The first trip to the snow with your children is very exciting but can be a little
intimidating, from choosing where to go, getting the right gear, organsing ski passes or
❄ Choosing a mountain. It is important that you
choose a mountain that has plenty of gentle beginners runs and ideally a separate beginners
area. A lot of resorts have magic carpets in their beginners areas that make it easy for any age
beginner to get back up the slope, before progressing to the lifts. Every mountain we have been
to has had very helpful 'lifties' that are
only too happy to aid beginners and little children in negotiating the lifts, which can be a
intimidating at first!
❄ Resort websites. Alpine resort websites are a
great place for detailed information about the mountain and the facilities available. Check out
the trail maps and mountain statistics to see how many beginners runs they have. There is also
plenty information on accommodation, ski passes, how to get there, the availability of lessons
and ski equipment hire.
❄ Ski gear. For your first time skiing or
snowboarding it is probably best to hire gear. Although it can be cheaper to hire gear
before you get up the mountain it is so much more convenient to hire it when you get there!
Additionally, if your boots or skis are not the right fit you can change them quickly and
easily, without having to put up with them for the whole day. Before you head up check out what
gear is available on mountain so you aren't caught short. You can generally hire most things you
need for a day skiing up on the mountain, including accessories like googles, helmets, jackets
and pants. Most of the time there are ski equipment shops if you need, or want, to buy equipment
on the mountain.
❄ Sunscreen. The low temperatures might lull you
into a false sense of security but the risk of sunburn is high when playing in the snow, so make
sure you cover any exposed surfaces.
First time on skis!
Covered magic carpet at the beginners' area, Cardrona, NZ.