Thursday, December 16, 2010

Getting Geared Up: Clothing

The Challenge: keep the kids warm and dry so they can focus on fun in the snow. Throw in a seemingly irresistible urge to tear off the mittens and eat the snow. Even as Bridget gets older, she may know that this habit is going to make her hands cold, but the impulse is apparently just too hard to resist. Unlike adults, babies and toddlers can’t forsee how uncomfortable they’ll be if they stuff snow in their mittens or get soaking wet in a puddle.

The Solution: Probably the most important step to ensuring the kids have fun outside is to get them dressed properly. Spare socks and mittens take up little space in your bag, and could also save you if one of those paired items goes missing. I stopped by TreeTop Sports yesterday to talk with Resort Retail Director Judy Ratzel about her top picks for outfitting the kids for fun in the snow. Snowsports retailers have made their gear not just good for getting outside, but fun, too. I couldn’t resist picking up a Cookie Monster hat for Timothy while I was there.

Like adults, it’s a good idea to dress the kids in layers. It may seem like it takes longer to get them geared up than the time you are actually outside, but if they are well dressed, odds are better that you can stay out longer. Ski clothes shouldn’t be made out of cotton. Synthetic fabrics or wool breathe well and dry quickly, so if Bridget overheats from exertion or just bundling up too much at the start, the moisture will be wicked away from her skin. She usually wears:

  • Polypro long underwear (top and bottom)

  • Fleece top and pants

  • Fleece jacket or vest (optional, depending on the temperature)

  • Synthetic or wool blend socks

  • Ski jacket and snowpants or snowsuit

For the jacket and snowpants, I looked for something that had a little room to grow at the cuffs so that there’s enough fabric to go over boots and mittens. This is key to keeping the snow out. Socks don’t have to be ski specific, but Darn Tough makes a great ski sock for even the littlest feet.

Then the ski gear: I strongly recommend a helmet. We had Bridget try several on to see how they fit. Helmets not only protect their heads, but they are warm and lightweight. Like wearing a helmet for riding a bike, ski helmets are commonplace nowadays, meaning Bridget and Timothy will grow up just expecting that it’s part of the ski outfit. “When buying a helmet,” Judy told me, “most have a size adjustment. If you buy the helmet with it fitting on the smaller end of its range, there’s more room to grow before having to purchase a new one.” Bretton Woods rents helmets too, so you don’t have to buy one before you’ve decided this will be something you’ll do often.

A good pair of double-lens googles is also a must to protect their eyes. (It’s not very fun to ski if your goggles fog up and you can’t see!) Mittens need to be waterproof (not fleece, which get soaked) and I look for ones with long cuffs to tuck in to her jacket to keep the snow out.

TreeTop Sports also carries kid-sized ski boot backpacks called Transpacks. Judy told me, “Asking your kids to carry their own gear, even if it’s just a small backpack to start, is a great habit for them to get in to. They are learning to take some responsibility for that fun day on the snow.”

And if we DO get a little cold or wet out there? Chalk it up to the fun of really immersing ourselves in the snow, and come in for hot cocoa!

1 comment:

  1. just remember kids don't have the same "fat" (subcutaneous fat)layer we normally have, so they may not be able to stay out as long. Also they have a different sweat rate, watch the dehydration ( I know 18 layers on and off, again!)happy outdoors!Becky