Kids these days don’t know how lucky they are. When I grew up skiing in New Hampshire, I had to step with all my might on my downhill leg to make my narrow skis turn. Plus I had to sidestep up the mountain just to ski down it. I actually did—but that’s how we had to inspect slalom courses in those days.
The truth is I’m jealous of this new generation or skiers and riders. Ski and snowboard gear has evolved so much over the past several decades since I learned how to ski. I have worked hard to evolve with these changes by changing my technique. It would have been easier to begin skiing on shaped skis (and maybe I could have avoided knee surgery). Rocker makes snowboards way more maneuverable, ski boots have better performance and fit, kids don’t have to shiver in cotton long underwear anymore—everything is more geared toward comfort and performance. I have watched my little one go from pizza pie, to French fries to… where the heck did she go? Though I’d like to claim genes handed down from my Norwegian relatives have something to do with my daughter’s acumen on the slopes, in reality, gear plays a big part.
Admittedly it’s expensive to outfit your child with new gear each year, particularly when they are growing like Jack’s beanstalk. To address this, many ski shops offer gear packages that allow you to rent gear for the year, thus you can trade in and trade up each season. But there’s something to be said for investing in new technology for you and your kids, particularly if you are all avid snowsports enthusiasts. The following items will enhance your kid’s time on and off the mountain—and yours as well.
Bogs Classic High Handles Boots
If you’ve ever dealt with raging tears and ice cold feet, look no further than Bogs. Created originally for farmers and ranchers in the Pacific Northwest, word spread about their boots' ability to keep you warm and dry in inclement weather. Bogs are billed as a kid’s all-weather boot. Made from hand-lasted rubber on top of a four-way stretch inner bootie makes them super waterproof and warm (rated to –30 degrees). The boots also come with easy-on handles, slip resistant outsoles, cute graphics and anti-microbial odor protection.
Chariot Cougar 1
Cougar 1, $535; XC Skiing Kit, $250
The task for every active parent of young kids is to find a way to keep doing what you did before you had kids… all the while making sure your kids are safe and comfortable. As the SUV of carriers, the Chariot Cougar 1 offers both things. All Chariot carriers come with CAS, or Chariot Adjustable Suspension, which allows you to adjust the suspension without tools. Got twins? In double carriers, CAS is available on both sides and can be adjusted for varying weights.
If bad weather hits, kids have a zippered two-in-one weather cover. Chariot designed the sleek Cougar 1 with a “spacious child cockpit,” including a padded seat back and large tinted windows so little ones can enjoy the views. Skiers need the XC Skiing Kit (we used ours for numerous hut trips). The ski kit and other attachments, such as biking and jogging kits, are sold separately.
Lange RSJ 50
The RSJ 50 (named after its kid-friendly 50 flex index) features Lange’s Control Fit Technology, three buckles and all the performance that come from a mono-injected shell. So what's the real magic of the RSJ 50? It is one of the only performance-oriented boots that comes in a size 17.5. Parents and ski instructors agree that the stance difference between a rear-entry boot and a three-buckle boot is tremendous. At four-and-a-half, my little skier’s foot fit into a size 17.5 and her skill improvement was remarkable.
POC POCito Collection
POCito Light Helmet, $120; POCito Skull Helmet, $150; POCito VPD Spine Vest, $100
Skiing with a child can be a mixture of pride and terror. Unfortunately, collisions and accidents happen on the slopes. But POC knows that visibility is your friend—particularly if you’re less than four feet tall. Enter POC’s POCito Collection, unmistakable for their fluorescent colors and reflective patches. POCito Light Helmet ($120) has soft ear pads and a lightweight construction. The POCito Skull Helmet ($150) hails from the adult racing collection (downhillers Bode Miller and Julia Mancuso use POC) and also features a soft lining and shock absorption designed for lower speeds. A LED lamp, which adheres to the back of the helmet, is included. The POCito VPD Spine vest comes with a back protector made from a soft material that has energy absorbing properties which actually stiffen when energy or force is applied.
Völkl Gotama Jr
Who says a kid can’t have what adults have? The Gotama Jr. takes a nod from the adult model and sports an 80 mm waist that’s wide enough for soft snow, but narrow enough to turn on the groomers or play in the park and pipe. The Gotama Jr has full rocker (reverse camber), which makes the ski super maneuverable, particularly in powder. Like the big boy Gotama, the Jr. has a Sensorwood core and power construction. The size run starts at 118 cm and goes up to 158 cm.
Atomic Century Jr.
To kids, the whole mountain is a playground. Why not give them a ski that can handle a variety of terrain and snow conditions? Enter the Century Jr.: An all-mountain ski for girls. With a waist that ranges from 76 mm to 85 mm according to length, the Century Jr. can float in soft snow while still allowing kids to carve on the groomers. Like the adult model, the Century Jr. has Active or full camber, increasing edge grip on groomers and hard snow. Colorful graphics add kid appeal. The Century Jr. comes in a kindergartener-friendly 110 cm and runs up to 150 cm.
Rossignol Scan Amptek
There’s something intensely cute about mini-shredders. But there’s more to this snowboard than photo ops: The Scan features Rossignol’s Amptek Auto Turn technology, which combines high rocker in the tip and tail plus subtle camber underfoot to make the board incredibly maneuverable and easy to ride. The result? Beginner snowboarders can learn how to jump, spin and slide like the big kids. The Scan comes in a pint-sized 100 cm, and goes up to 130 cm.