But for anyone who’s considering skiing — especially with your kids — know that there are two essentials to making it work well:
- Great gear.
And what is Mommy Gearest if not first and foremost a total gear nerd? I mean, that’s how this crazy trip began nearly four years ago. Because when I get into something, I dive in head first and spend far too much money on more things than we really need because trial and error seems to be my jam.
At the end of the day, you rarely get it all right with your first picks, whether we’re talking strollers or skis. Unless, of course, you’ve been wise and done your research and read my reviews. (Which I know you totally have.)
Having great gear on the hill is the difference between warm, happy and comfortable skiers and miserable ones with frost-bitten fingertips, wind-whipped cheeks and pee frozen halfway down their thighs. OK, maybe not that last part, but I feel like you know what I’m getting at.
I have purchased 99 per cent of our ski wear and equipment, because brands don’t exactly know me in this space. Yet. So this feels like a throwback to my early blogging days when I’d buy 47 of everything to see what worked and what didn’t. I have spent a lot of money on ski stuff, friends. More than I care to disclose, but trust me when I say “a lot.”
Skiing is not for the weak of wallet. Skiing is not a budget-friendly sport. But my family doesn’t share any other sport that we can do together, locally or as part of a bigger winter trip, and that’s priceless to me.
So in my quest to keep everyone warm and dry, and to avoid any complaints after spending half an hour suiting everyone up, I bring you the best of the best ski wear and products we’ve discovered so far for every member of the family:
- The Kombi brand seems to have winter warmth nailed. We’ve lucked out with a lot of this brand’s goodies, most notably:
- The Racer Jr. GORE-TEX mitt — this is well worth the $60 price tag because Miss Q has a pair of non-GORE-TEX Kombi mitts that were $35 and they’re not as warm or dry. As soon as she can fit into these junior-sized mitts, I’ll be getting her a pair, too
- Neck warmers for the whole family in myriad colours — they’re only about $10 apiece and they’re better than doing your jacket all the way up to your neck and strangling yourself
- Kids’ merino wool base layer leggings (not shown) — we had these long before we ever skied and have passed them down from The K Man to Miss Q; they’ve been washed and hung to try probably 50 times over the years. And they still look like they just came out of the box!
- Wheat Canada snowsuits — as you know, we’re big Wheat Canada fans around here and although The K Man is managing alright in his two-piece snowsuit, it’s definitely not ski wear; it’s a bit thicker and bulkier overall. But I’m not about to buy him a separate ski jacket and pants for our inaugural season. Miss Q’s one-piece snowsuit (like the one shown above) is better suited to skiing, allowing her more flexibility through the torso
- These SPY Optic Targa Mini ski goggles are THE BOMB. They fit their little faces perfectly, and the kids rave about how light they feel on their face. Plus, they don’t fog up at all like their bollé goggles sometimes did
- Speaking of bollé, I do have to mention that we’ve had this brand’s helmets for about two or three years (for tobogganing — yes, really) and they’ve held up beautifully. We found them at Costco for only about $30 (and if you’ve seen the price of most ski helmets, you know this is a bargoon!)
- Seirus balaclavas are a must-have for your ski gear list — for every member of the family. The kids’ prints (not shown) are really fun, but most important, the design allows you to breathe comfortably without condensation making your face feel all sweaty. Better still, when paired with your neck warmer, goggles and helmet, there isn’t a square millimetre of exposed skin
- Our Völkl padded double-ski bag doesn’t just hold Big B’s gargantuan skis as well as mine, but also our poles AND both pairs of kids’ skis, too! It’s a huge improvement from last month when we were piling everything into the truck loosely and trying to carry them individually. It’s also a much better storage system for our mudroom too. Oh, and because it has wheels, I can actually get it from the front door into the mudroom by myself. (By way of constructive criticism, though, I do wish it had a specific pocket or elastic loops to secure the poles)
- I bought these Salomon helmets from SportingLife.ca (unfortunately before they went on sale…) without even trying them on, and nailed the sizing (a medium for me and an XL for Big B). They were only about $100 (and you can pay many more times that for ski helmets), and we love the way they fit and feel. My only complaint is that I wish I’d bought myself a white one
- We are huge Icebreaker fans, and we each have several pieces from this brand. But our socks (kids included!), zip-up tops and hoodies are our faves, notably this one that Big B also wears socially — because there’s nothing like perfect temperature regulation thanks to merino wool
- Our favourite base layer leggings are both merino wool, which is thin and not scratchy against the skin, and even in chilly Tremblant, we’ve only needed that one layer under our ski pants. Big B’s are from Helly Hansen and mine are from Smartwool. I love mine in particular because they have a wide, non-elasticized waistband that sits just below my waist, without being hip-huggers
- While we’re on the merino front, I did splurge and get myself merino wool underwear (from Icebreaker, not shown) and this Smartwool sports bra. The underwear didn’t really seem to do much but the bra is fantastic! It keeps my girls — affectionately named Britney and Christina — well-supported and SO WARM!
- See those white and black mitts from The North Face? Those are the best mitts I have ever owned. Ever. Not only are they totally waterproof, but thanks to the extra glove liner inside, they keep my fingers toasty. AND they don’t have any bulk around the wrists so they tuck into my ski jacket sleeves. AND…better still, they have these cuffs attached to them (called “wrist ovens”) that (1) act like a leash and keep the mitts attached to me when I have to stop skiing, and take one off to remove my phone from my pocket (to take any of the dozen or so pics I normally snap during a run); and (2) also have an opening for those hand-warmer things, which then heats up the inside of your wrist where your pulse point is. Guess what? Heat up that pulse point and you heat up the rest of your body, too. Cool, right? (Yes, I paid a fortune for these. Yes, they were worth it.)
- Huge shout out to my Halti ski jacket, which I found for 50 per cent off at SAIL because it was last year’s stock. It’s easy to move in, has enough pockets for everything I need to carry on the hill, features a goggle-safe cleaning cloth attached to the inside pocket, and is super warm without any bulk. Oh, and even when we skied for two hours in the rain, I was still bone dry while Big B was soaked through in his Spyder jacket with the same waterproof-rating
- After ordering a pair of Salomon goggles when I ordered our helmets, I quickly realized that you should never buy goggles without first trying them on. They just didn’t fit my face properly, the grey-tinted lens was a bit too dark for my liking and I didn’t love the way they looked on my face. I skied with them a few times but they weren’t working for me. So I did what any good wife would do and gave them to my husband. Then I went to Mount Kirby Skis & Boards and tried on every single pair of white goggles they had (because if I couldn’t have a white helmet…). I was prepared to spend anything for the right-fitting pair with a lens I liked, and the good news is that these Marker goggles fit well, looked great and had a lens that I could see through like a dream — plus they came with a spare lens for night skiing and a hard-shell case, all for less than $100. They’ve made such a difference for me. Because seeing is good when you’re flying down a mountain!
This definitely won’t be the last ski gear-related post you’ll see from me. This is just the tip of that proverbial iceberg. But it’ll get you started.