Updated: Jul 27, 2020
Everything we have learnt so far, getting our kids all geared up for the snow, our tips and tricks to get them to last longer and have fun.
2019 was our first year really getting in to winter sports and heading up the mountain with our kids. My husband (Tony) had been wanting to get the kids up to the snow for years, he used to run a Ski and Snow gear shop in Christchurch many years ago and it had always been a passion of his to get our kids up the mountain on some skis. With our sons autism diagnosis along with many sensory issues, it had not been a battle we were quite ready to tackle just yet. But 2019 was finally our year to bite the bullet and give it a try ...... I am so glad we did.
Our First Trip
For our first trip we headed up our local ski field - Rainbow Ski field, at Nelson lakes.
We had no expectations that first trip, we just followed the kids lead and thought we would see how it went and it was fantastic. We have since carried on to do many trips up the mountain and have definitely found a passion for snow sports. So below we thought we would share some of the tips we have learnt along the way to help us have many successful days in the snow with the kids.
What to wear, Keeping them warm.
This is a big one, keeping them warm not only keeps them safe but also helps them to have a great day and enjoy them self's. Our kids have been up the mountain in full white out conditions and still had a blast because they well nice and warm!
The key to this is layers, layers, layers!!! Never underestimate how cold it can get on the mountain, it is best to be over pre-pared and take layers off rather than be cold.
So how do you manage the layers? The layer system consists of three main layer
Base layer = warmth and moisture management
Mid layer = Insulation and materials that breath
Outer layer = Weather depended
For our base layer we like to use a thermal - synthetic thermal not merino. The reason we do this is it is fast drying and light weight and cheap. You will work up a sweat while racing around in the snow, so you will need something that will dry fast, is lightweight and keep you warm. In saying that though merino is also fantastic as a base layer if you have it.
For you mid layer you have options, our two suggestions are merino and/or fleece. You want your mid layer to insulate warmth and still breath to help with moisture management. We use a mixture or both of these depending on the weather. For the top we like to layer a Kathmandu Merino base long sleeve top over our kids base layer thermals then a fleece top (long or short sleeve) over that when needed, for our son he feels the cold so he normally wears one of these every time. The good thing about fleece tops is they are pretty easy to come by for kids, we have a mix of these from 360, Hunting and Fishing and Macpac ones.
For a mid layer on the bottom half this depends on what your outer layer will be, if you are using a thick waterproof snow suit you will find just the thermal base layer will most likely be enough. If you are just wearing waterproof pants you will want to add a mid layer for warmth - fleece pants are a great idea, try to avoid cotton where ever possible. Our kids have snow suits but they both like to wear their Macpac convertible pants between their outer and base layer, although they don't offer a huge amount of warmth they are light weight and breathable.
For your outer layer this is weather dependent, which when your heading to the snow is pretty simple it needs to be water proof and warm. The easiest and most effective answer to this is a snow suit, now while I don't suggest your go and run out and buy a snow suit for one trip, you might be able to borrow one off a friend or hire one up at the ski field.
You could also look at second hand stores or trade me for cheaper ones, other wise if you are looking to buy one places like The Warehouse, Macpac, Kathmandu, Torpedo 7, The Mountain Warehouse or Therm Outdoors all sell fantastic sets.
We managed to get our kids each a all in one snow suit each on a Torpedo 7 sale, these have been fantastic as no chance of snow riding up their back or down their pants when they fall off their board learning. We also ended up getting a really good deal on a second set for them each from The Mountain Warehouse on a fantastic clearance sale at the end of the session, so if you are looking to buy make sure you shop around and think of utilizing end of season sales.
Now you also don't have to use a snow suit, although it is the best option, you can also use water proof pants and good rain jacket. If you are doing this option just make sure you have a some good mid and base layers to keep in the warmth, also make sure your outer layer has a high water proof rating. Try your best to avoid materials that do not breath otherwise you will sweat and get very cold. Macpac do some fantastic waterproof gear for kids, well worth a look at.
For your feet
Feet are a big one, you want to keep them warm!!! Lets start with socks, avoid cotton!! for for wool or merino if possible. If you are doing ski or snow boarding lessons you do not want to double layer, your socks will rub and heat up in your boots giving you blisters, so just one good warm pair in your ski boots.
Ok so now Shoes - Snow boots are a great option, we brought The Warehouse snow boots for myself and the kids and they have been amazing!!! they are cheap and work well. If you are in a position to do so i highly recommend these, you can also buy the from places like Torpedo 7, Macpac, The Mountain Warehouse and Kathmandu but we have found The Warehouse ones to be absolutely fine.
If you don't want to head out and get a pair of these you will need water proof shoes, so the best option is gumboots. The big down side to gumboots are that they are cold and snow and cold air gets in to the top of them. So if you need to do this here are a few tips, layer up your socks, normally we don't recommend this but if your just in the snow to play it will be fine. Then we also recommend you tuck your gumboots inside your pants to avoid snow and cold air getting in to them. Don't worry about looking silly trust me no one will care.
Always pack extra socks, one can never have to many pairs of socks when at the snow.
Their is not much room for negotiation here you need warm water proof gloves, Cold hands = game over home time.
So get your self some waterproof gloves, if you feel the cold a lot like my son, you can layer the up with some thermal finger-less or fingered gloves underneath.
Waterproof gloves can be brought at pretty much any outdoor gear shop.
On your head
We can lose a lot of heat through our head so make sure you keep it warm. We have a merino beanie each for our kids from Macpac, these are nice and thin so they can wear them under their snow helmets as well.
Avoid cheap cotton hats as they will just hold the water make you cold.
If you are not skiing and just playing you can wear a cool pompom beanie if you like - just try to get wool or mernio ones when possible.
For your eyes
It can get pretty sunny up on the mountain, with the sun glaring off the crisp white snow it can get pretty bright. But this is not the only reason you need to protect your eyes, Snow is ice so it can scratch your eyes, also on a windy day it can get pretty hard to keep them eyes open with an icy blast in your face so some protective eye wear is a must.
You can keep this simple you just need some sun glasses or ski goggles - if our wearing sunglasses we suggest a tie to help keep track of them if they fall off when you take a tumble. You can get reasonably cheap kids snow goggles from Torpedo 7.
Clothes for heading home
One thing that is often forgotten about is a warm, dry change of clothes for heeding home in. After a big day on the mountain you do not want to sit in the car in wet sweaty gear for the ride home. So we strongly suggest you pack a full change of clothes for the ride home.
We pack a full second set of thermals, then fleece pants, a fleece top and a down or second jacket to wear home. We also pack a second dry hat and a few extra pairs of dry socks.
We do a full change before leaving so we can travel home dry and warm. This helps to end the day on a good note as well, every one can travel home nice a dry and warm
Hot tip; heat the car up & grab some drive home snacks for the kids before leaving the mountain, warm car = happy kids.
Well I think that just about covers it, I know it was a big one but I hope you find some of these tips helpful and they help you to have a fantastic day up the mountain
Happy snow days!!