Layering 101: More than just looking smart on the slopes

Ames-layering101Mommy n’ Me Hit the Ski Slopes

Hitting the slopes for the first time with a little one can mean shelling out big dollars. Mini sized name brand ski apparel doesn’t always come at a mini price tag. Skimping on quality could result in your 4 yr old declaring an hour into your week vacation that he’s cold and hates skiing.

Starting with a base layer, choose silk, wool or polyester or a wick-away poly blend. Steer clear of old-school cotton long johns as the minute they get wet, cold sets in. Base layer weight is dictated by geography and weather conditions. Obviously wet-cold icy Killington, VT is going to demand something heavier than a dry-cold Park City, UT. And, you might have seasonal Spring-like conditions or an unforgiving winter storm.

Next up is your mid-layer piece. Think fleece and neoprene. Tights for leggings. A breathable pullover, with a zip-down turtleneck for on top. Layers are intended to peel off and put back on as needed.

Base layers   I’m a smartwool fan for mom and kids on base layers. What’s smart about it? It isn’t the itchy wool you knew from your youth. Trust me, as a mom of a kid with sensory issues, I’d know. My son loves his. Breathes better than synthetics. Moths love them too so put cedar in your drawers and store in ziplocks in the off season to avoid having to stitch up holes.

Mom: Women’s PhD NTS Light 195 Wind Zip T and Women’s NTS PhD Mid 250 Bottom Pattern Bottom

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Kids:  Smartwool turtleneck and bottoms

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Midlayers A comfy fitted midlayer, preferable with a turtle that zips will work best from shaded early morning chill to mid day sun.

Mom: Columbia Glacial III half zip fleece pullover


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Kids: Colombia Boy’s Glacial Fleece half zip

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Top it all off with a water-proof, wind-proof outer shell with a storm hood and pit zips. Generous pockets for Kleenex, chapstick, snack and a small water bottle (particularly important at altitude.) If your jacket doesn’t have ample pockets, opt for a hydration mini backpack like Camelbak suited for winter (with a sleeve that fits over the hose to prevent water freezing).

Mom: The Caper 14 is large enough for 3 liters of water (more than you need skiing, but great for other winter sports snow shoeing or winter hiking when you need more hydration + carries your lunch and room to peel off layers for spring skiingScreen Shot 2015-01-30 at 7.42.41 PM.Kids: Camelbak Scorpion is a one size but small enough to cinch up for bigger kids. Carries 2 liters of water + room for a snack.

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Final accessories are often the biggest afterthought but most important. From the top, a helmet. Not a hat. Think, “Mom, I can’t stop!” and an ill-placed tree.

Mom: Smith Helmets , pricier than GIRO, another popular brand, but Smith offers a variety of styles with good comfort, venting and warmth. Unlike your child’s head, your helmet should last a while provided your head doesn’t become one with a tree.

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Kid: Bolle helmet A good fit is key. Kids heads grow faster than you might think so don’t assume it will fit from one season to the next. Two seasons is about right per helmet purchase.

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Goggles with UV protection (snow on a sunny day can be blinding.) And if your child wears glasses, they make goggles specifically suited to go over glasses. Don’t just put an adult sized cinched up. Ones specifically suited for glasses offer more depth your glasses won’t fog and the foam on the sides is cut out for the temples.

Mom: Smith makes high end optics worth spending a little more on than your child if you think you’re less likely to drop yours off the chairlift or sit on them. These offer superior anti-fog and clarity in the lenses.

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Kids:  Anon makes affordable ones with UV protection.

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A neck gaiter for wind protection. Waterproof, wind-proof mittens (warmer than gloves and easier to put on.)

Mom: Northface neck Gaiter Fleece is still my personal fav. The neoprene face masks which go up over the mouth/nose smell like a wetsuit and don’t breath as well as fleece.

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Kid: Bula neck gaitor. At $13, it’s does the job.

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 7.01.33 PMA thin wick-away moisture ski sock. Thick socks make your feet sweat and can make a boot too tight, cutting off circulation.

Mom: Smartwools’ Phd downhill racer sock 

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Kid: Smartwool

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Moms: Kombi Pro Skier Gloves

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Mom: Women’s Millenium Blur jacket is light weight enough for spring, sans a mid layer. I bought mine up a size so I could add a mid layer in colder months.

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Kids: Columbia Bugaboo is 3 jackets in 1 with a zip out fleece liner jacket. I’ve bought this jacket 3 times in a row for my son as I always find it at the outlet on sale. It’s grow system means you’ll get more than one season out of it.

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Ski pants

Mom: NILS Melissa Ski pants (available in short, regular and long). While I love Columbia for jackets, they don’t make pants in long length (they make plus sizes but don’t cater to varying heights in women.) NILS are super comfy and flattering.

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Kids: Killtec ski pant w/ zip off bib With bibs, you can get away with buying up a size for kids without them falling off. If they scrunch a little around the ankles, no biggie. With a child in the 99% for height, my son is constantly going through a growth spurt.

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Apres ski boots At the end of ski day, you’ll want these toasty comfy boots waiting to greet you.

Mom: Sorel Joan of Arctic boot


Kids: Northside Frosty Snow Boot

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What to wear is followed by the where to get it without having to tap into your child’s 529 college fund.

The Colombia outlet is a good starting point. In February you’ll find, for example, a $140 jacket priced at $20. Perhaps not in the variety of color choices earlier in the season. But at 20 bucks, who cares? If you live in an area with pre-season ski sales (like we do in Colorado) you can find steals at places like Sports Authority’s Sniagrab (bargans spelled backwards) sale labor day weekend. In Colorado, Sports Authority (and may of their competitors) offer deals on kids’ equipment for $99 for brand new skis, boots, poles to rent for the entire season. Should your child outgrown them mid season, you can swap them out (provided they still have the size up in stock of course.)

You might check ebay or craigslist for a good buy. What you will find at most ski shops are plenty of markdowns that, once you resell on ebay or craislist when your child outgrows, could lessen the blow on your pocketbook. Many brands of outerwear have a “grow with me” system where you can let down the hem on the pant legs and arm cuffs. And a bib with adjustable suspender straps will add length as your child grows in the torso. You should be able easily get 2 seasons out of your outerwear.


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