Dressing correctly for skiing is tricky due to two main reasons. Firstly, of course, is the alpine weather. A temperature change of several degrees throughout the day is fairly common, as is the chilling effect of wind, snow, rain and on a nasty day, a mix of all three elements of Mother Nature.
Secondly, the activity level changes throughout the day. Skiing can be physically demanding and skiers in full swing can easily break into a sweat. Yet a large part of the ski day, particularly for children, involves waiting - waiting in line at ski school, waiting for the lift and sitting on the lift, and, on race day, waiting to receive a participation medal. Additionally kids love to romp around in the snow during any breaks and in any kind of weather.
Hence there is a balance to find somewhere between keeping your child warm and dry yet without the risk of overheating. I know, dressing for space travel seems simpler.
Fortunately there are a few basic guidelines to make dressing for skiing simpler. It's all about layers.
1st Base Layer - Start with a long sleeve shirt and longjohns with either a high polyester (polyprolene) content, often referred to as moisture-wicking, or Merino wool. (Both can be worn for other sports and even under school clothes all winter long.) The fit should be tight enough to be close to the skin without constricting movement.
Add socks, the often forgotten element of proper skiwear. The socks should be knee length and have enough elasticity to stay in place.
2nd Mid-layer - Add the next layer such as a high-neck ski shirt or a light fleece according to weather. Note that skiing is one of the few places where it is advisable to avoid cotton due to its moisture absorbing properties. In the absence of skiing sports wear, a wool sweater will do.
3rd Outer Layer - The importance of a good quality waterproof and windproof jacket and pants that are designed for alpine skiing cannot be overstated. This is the layer that prevents wind and snow from ruining Junior's day on the slopes. The arms of the jacket should be long enough to cover the wrists when the arms are outstretched and the back of the jacket should sit around hip level while in a sitting position. The legs of the pants should be long enough to cover the bottom shaft of the ski boot while in the sitting position (on the chair lift for example). The pants should sit high on the waist so it tucks well under the jacket and have adjustable shoulder straps.
An added note to jackets and pants is that they should not be too bulky. It makes movement awkward and can interfere with both agility and fun.
Ski gloves or mittens of Goretex or leather should go well past wrists and have adjustable wrist-bands.
By following these basic guidelines, children will stay warm and dry, and that is the first important step to an enjoyable ski holiday and a lifelong passion for skiing.
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