Chill Out!

Ski Rack in Sun
THE RIGHT STUFF: Equipment can make or break your day on the slopes (Digital Visions)

When my twins were four we got stuck on a chairlift for a half hour. The skies went from light gray to black and the temperature plummeted. The wind picked up and blew the snow sideways. By the time we reached the top, whiteout conditions had taken over and the girls were cold, scared, and wouldn’t move. I couldn’t carry both down, and my husband was at a junior race halfway down the mountain. Fortunately another skier noticed my predicament (I later found out she was a former U.S. ski team racer). She plucked up one twin while I hoisted the other. I’d thought the girls were dressed appropriately, but I learned a valuable lesson—never underestimate the weather.

A good ski outfit consists of a helmet, goggles, neck warmer, long underwear, thick wool or synthetic socks, a mid layer, and a shell outer layer. Helmets keep kids warmer (and safer)—buy an adjustable helmet so you can get a snug fit for several years. The outer layer (jacket and pants) must be waterproof (not water-resistant) and made of a breathable fabric with sealed seams. Ankles of shell pants or bibs need to have gaiters to prevent snow from getting into the boots, and the jacket should be long (reaching past the waist to the hips), with a high collar and ideally an inner “powder” skirt to prevent snow from invading the jacket interior during an inevitable fall. While wearing a cotton shirt or jeans under a waterproof shell probably wouldn’t be fatal at a ski area, the best bets include pieces made of synthetic fibers or wool. Bibs are warmer than pants, but for kids they are harder to shed quickly when nature calls. Proper boot fit is critical. Modern boots are warm and usually only require a single light- to medium-weight pair of socks, and some even come with linings that can be heated and molded to the contours of each foot. Mittens are always warmer than gloves. On a chilly day, you can insert a pair of disposable hand warmers to keep little finger toasty (

Published: 13 Nov 2007 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »