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Selecting Ski Equipment for Kids

If you decide to purchase Ski equipment you must do your homework.  It is important that you understand what you are purchasing so do some research, ask questions and shop around.

How do I select a helmet?

Purchasing a helmet is not difficult.  You must measure the circumference of your child’s head; use a tape measure around the head just above the eyebrows. Most helmets are sized in centimeters so you may need to convert your measurement if it is in inches. Sizes may vary based on the manufacturer so be sure to try on the helmet. Also, be sure to try the goggles on with the helmet you plan on purchasing.

How do I size my child for ski boots?

There are many different styles of boots to choose from however the most important thing to remember is that they fit properly and are comfortable.  It is important to try on a variety of styles and sizes at a reputable ski shop where they can properly size your child. There are two types of boots either top entry or rear entry.  With rear entry, you slip your foot into the boot from the back.  Top entry boots will have multiple clips down the front and you slip your foot in from the top.

Make sure you child is wearing ski socks when they try on the boots.  Let your child put the boot on as an initial test. First make sure all the buckles, straps and Velcro fasteners are completely undone. If your child doesn't complain, you're off to a good start

Have your child take the boot off and remove the liner. You'll get a better idea of how close toes are to the end of the boot with a soft liner. Ask your child to wiggle his or her toes to get an idea of tightness and space. Make sure that there is some space beyond the toes within the boot. Kids need some extra space to keep their feet warm. Also, a little extra space may allow your child to get more than one season's wear from the boots.  All boots will get "roomier" as the inner boot packs down. Be sure to have them flex their knees similar to a skiing position.  The heel should stay in place and the foot should not move up 

Put the liner back in, and have them latch the clips to tighten the boot on their feet.   If the boot has a power strap, Velcro strap across the top, pull it tight to adjust the fit.   Listen to what your child says about the fit and comfort of the boot.

Should Children Use Ski Poles?

Almost any child under the age of 6 will find no use for poles on the ski slope.  Poles are used to help you with your balance and they are extremely useful in helping to initiate your turns, perhaps to break a fall, or to pole yourself along on flat terrain.

What are bindings?

Bindings hold your boots to the skis and are designed to release when you fall. The type of binding used is based on weight, height and ability of the skier. It is important that bindings be set by a certified technician, because they are set incorrectly, you could suffer a severe injury.

Selecting goggles…

Goggles are important for your comfort and safety.  You should choose a pair of ski goggles like you would choose a pair of shoes, accurate fit is very important!

  • The ski glasses should be strapped on snugly over your ski helmet or hat.   The feel of the goggle foam on your face should be consistent all the way around the goggles, there shouldn't be any uncomfortable pressure points.

  • Make sure your goggles have good vents. These are foam covered air portals, to let air flow through the skiing goggle to keep them fog-free.

  • When buying ski glasses or snowboard goggles, look for double lenses. They perform the best by creating a thermal barrier. Double lenses won’t fog up on you

  • Goggles come in a variety of colors and each has it own benefits.

Lens Color Chart

  • Clear lenses are best for extremely stormy conditions or for riding at night.

  • Lemon, or yellow lenses are best for stormy conditions and overcast days, they increase contrast and brighten up the landscape.

  • Vermillon or pink lenses increase contrast in most conditions. This lens with a silver gun mirror is ideal for most riding conditions. Pink ski goggles are very popular nowadays.

  • Citrus or orange lenses also increase contrast, and are great for bright days. Choose an option with a mirror for a darker lens for the brightest conditions.

  • Modulator lenses or photochromic lenses change depending upon the light conditions (for example from a light pink or orange, to a dark pink or orange). They are a very light high contrast color for stormy weather, and dark enough for the brightest bluebird days.

  • Polarized ski goggles lenses can cut glare that reflects from snow or ice.

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Understanding Ski Length

It used to be you could determine your ski length by reaching the tip of the ski to the top of your head. You'd add five to 10 centimeters according to skill and weight.

Using the top of your head is still a good guide, but with shaped skis, the trend is to shorter skis. Shaped skis are wider and have more surface area touching the snow. They're more stable. If one word can describe the way they work, the word would be "automatic." Lean a little and the skis almost turn themselves.

Do I need shaped skis for my child?

For the typical skier under 8-9 years, the corresponding ski length isn't even long enough to benefit from a side-cut.  Furthermore, it requires a great deal of force to bend a shorter ski enough to feel the difference that a shaped ski provides.  Lightweight youngsters traveling at slower speeds simply do not have what it takes to carve a turn.  Some instructors feel shaped skis are actually detrimental to wedge-turning, because the shape might serve to force the tips together rather than releasing back into the parallel position needed for beginner turns.

Skis that are about 130 cm in length will begin to perform differently depending on their side-cut.  It is at this length when manufacturers begin to make style-specific side-cuts on skis (i.e. GS, SL, etc.). At this point, you can decide what shape would be ideal for your child depending on their skiing style.

What ski length should you get?

Here's a good place to start:
Juvenile: Age 2-5
Ski Tip should be between mid chest and below the chin

Junior: Age 6-12
Ski Tip Center of Forehead

If you are unsure about what size to get, always err on  the shorter size.
As with adult skis, you should take into account the child's weight, ability and aggressiveness when picking the correct ski length.