The sooner you can get kids on the slopes, the sooner you can get back to your ski addiction. It’s that simple. And whether you teach your kids to ski yourself or hire a ski instructor, making sure your kids are both warmly dressed and using the right equipment is key. After all, a shivering toddler on an oversized snowboard isn’t likely to want to join dad on the next big mountain run.
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Good equipment will not only keep your kids safe but also get them stoked for their time on the hill. Beginner skis and boards should be soft and short, so they’re easy to turn and control. Ski boots should go on and off without struggle as should ski gloves, ski mitts, and other apparel. You also want to look for that grows with your child (your wallet will thank you next year) and not to skimp when it comes to safety. A well-fitting, technologically-advanced ski helmet protects your child’s head when they crash, and they will do so ⏤ often.
Keeping all this in mind, we sifted through the best of this year’s kids gear and selected our top picks for skiers and riders hitting the slopes for the first time.
Burton After School Special Snowboard Package
Burton puts all the gear your aspiring little ripper needs in one package, so you don’t have to worry about compatibility. The After School Special’s soft, fully adjustable bindings come pre-mounted (in a beginner-friendly stance) to a specially designed saucer-like snowboard that helps kids learn balance and board control. The playful kids snowboard is best for groms on groomers, with a rimmed edge that makes stopping easier and which prevents the rider from getting tripped up on inconsistencies in the snow. Also, the buckles are easy to operate, even for kids.
Salomon Team Package
An ideal board for kids, with a funky design and flat profile that leads to smooth turns. It comes with a learning leash (the better to keep kids in tow) and a pair of beginner bindings, too. The best part is how forgiving it is, particularly in regard to the bite-free edges which make it much harder for the board to dig in and topple over when they’re getting the hang of turning.
Blizzard Cochise IQ Jr.
Blizzard’s Cochise IQ Jr skis and bindings have the perfect side-cut, radius, and flex for a beginner skier tearing up the groomers, which makes mastering the slopes faster and easier. The single-point attachment integrated bindings eliminate the dead spot created by using multiple fasteners to attach the binding, and the single pivot system lets the ski flex freely for a smooth, easy turn. They also come in two sizes.
Volkl Wall Junior
Ideal for young skiers who have more of a handle on their abilities, the Wall Junior is an affordable ski is ideal for both the park and trail. It features a well-balanced and stable full-rocker shape as well as a tip-to-tail wooden core that adds durability.
Salomon E QST MAX JR M + E L7 B80
Flexible, stable, and affordable, this ski is another great choice for any kids stepping onto the slope for the first time. The forgiving build is engineered develop confidence and comfort on and off the trails, while the all-mountain design allows it to be more versatile than other kids’s skis.
POC POCito Auric Cut Spin Helmet
If you’re going to spend big money on one piece of equipment, make it the ski helmet. And the Auric Cut POCito SPIN provides serious safety for kids on the mountain. A rotational impact protection system, called SPIN, reduces the force transmitted to the head and brain when a crash occurs, while an integrated LED panel in the back makes your little one visible in low-light conditions, lessening the chance he’ll be hit by another skier. It also helps you keep a better eye on them Adjustable ventilation makes the helmet comfortable; the easy-adjust harness gives kids room to grow.
Dakine Wristguard Glove Jr.
New snowboarders fall on their hands regularly, putting stress on their wrists. In addition to keeping their hands toasty, this extra-rigid ski glove has an embedded support in the back and palm to help prevent strains. A cozy fleece lining paired with high loft synthetic insulation keeps things warm while a waterproof shell prevents wet stuff from sneaking through. The extra supports are removable, so the gloves can be washed or used without the wrist guard.
FullTilt Growth Spurt Youth Boot
Let’s be honest: Shelling out for new ski gear when a kid’s just starting out on the slopes is tough. You want them to have the tools to make skiing fun, but they’re growing fast and gear is expensive. Full Tilt’s Growth Spurt boot takes the sting out of buying ski boots because it’s adjustable to three different sizes. That means it’s nearly guaranteed to fit next year, too.
Marker Vijo Helmet
Marker’s Vijo integrates a one-hand operable retractable visor (that quickly flips up or down, even with mitts on) into a kid’s ski helmet. This means there’s one less piece of gear for them to forget in the lodge. A foam gasket around the visor edge keeps wind out of the skier’s eyes and gives the visor a goggle-like feel. Marker has also engineered airflow through the helmet to prevent visor fogging. And if your kid decides he’d rather wear goggles, the visor is removable.
Julbo Atmo Goggles
The Atmo’s minimalist frame and big anti-fog lens help skiers and riders four-to-seven-years-old see better. The ski goggle fits most junior faces, is compatible with most helmets, and the double layer polycarbonate plastic lens won’t shatter in a crash. Our favorite feature, though: a molded piece on the frame that keeps the spherical lens from getting scratched when tossed face down.
Smith Gambler Goggles
Season after season, Smith offers a consistently excellent selection of goggles for adults and kids. The Gambler is no exception. Well ventilated and featuring an anti-fog coating, they stay secure and condensation-free during even the most hard-hitting days on the bunny slopes. Hypoallergenic face foam leads to a comfortable fit.
Obermeyer Chillcat Bib/Ober-All Bib Pant
Obermeyer’s kid’s bibs combine waterproof, breathable pants with a quilted-front fleece top ⏤ which should help get them dressed and out the door faster. Pant seams are sealed, and the bibs have reflective trim, reinforced hems, scuff guards, and water-resistant powder cuffs keeping your kid warm, dry, comfortable, and visible. Even better, the pant cuffs “grow” up to two inches when you snip the colored threads, so your child can wear them for multiple seasons.
POC POCito VPD Spine Vest 2018
While spine protection is required for junior racers, any kid can wear body armor. This spine-protective pad has a removable elastic waistband to hold the vest tight to the body, and it’s made from highly breathable mesh to keep skiers and riders from overheating as they crank out laps.
Aspen Grove Jacket
A ski jacket that can pull double duty on the hill and in town, the Aspen Grove is insulated with warm-even-when-wet mostly recycled spun synthetic. The hood’s fleece lining won’t cause chafing and more fleece at the back of the neck is cozy and warm. For extra cold days, the Aspen Grove has an internal powder skirt that snaps out of the way when not in use. The windproof shell is light but tough ⏤ so your kid won’t rip a hole in this jacket on day one ⏤ and the articulated sleeves “grow” up to two inches as your child grows.
Spyder Atlas Synthetic Down Jacket
We love this jacket, which is purpose built for girls who shred. Utilizing a stretchy, DWR-treated fabric, the jacket offers a great range of motion and gobs of pockets to store on-piste essentials like goggles and snacks. After the lifts close, the faux-fur-trimmed hood fits in around the lodge.
K2 Mini-Turbo/Lil Cat Snowboard Boot
Designed to help your kid achieve independence on the slopes, these soft and forgiving snowboard boots use a boa twist-to-tighten lacing system that can be loosened or tightened without removing gloves or mitts. The super grippy outsole has playful LED lights that reflect off the snow. Remove footbed shims and your little ripper will get multiple seasons out of these linerless boots.