Ski Schooling: Layering and Clothing Specifics

Welcome to our Ski Schooling Series! If you missed our other post on dressing for skiing, start here: 10 Tips for dressing yourself and your little one. Otherwise, I am going to cover some classic scenarios in terms of weather and skier ability. So keep reading for more specific brand suggestions. Please post any questions or tips of your own in the comments section!

Scenario: temperature is mid 20s – mid 30s, slight wind.

Skier: Toddler who needs a lot of assistance, including holding them between your legs or lifting on/off the chairlift.

Parent: Dress in light layers. You will be busy hiking up hill, lifting your child, helping them on/and off the lifts. And chances are you won’t be out in the elements that long. Here are my clothing suggestions:

  • Base layer: synthetic/wool running shirt (long or short sleeve), light long underwear
  • Mid Layer: none (unless you choose a warm fleece warm and go without an outer layer altogether!
  • Outer layer: Soft shell jacket /breathable jacket. A heavy weight fleece might work well and shell pants.
  • Heads/hands/feet: light weight ski socks, fleece gluttons (mittens with removable fingers, very useful for helping those little ones), helmet with vents opened. 🙂

Toddler: Your toddler will not be working nearly as hard as you, so dress them warmer. Once again this will all vary but here are the layers we have loved:

  • Base layer: REI synthetic long-underwear top and bottoms (we double use as pajamas :)) If it is colder we use thick fleece pants instead of the long underwear.
  • Mid Layer: North Face fleece turtle neck or REI fleece top.
  • Outer layer: Preferably a down jacket, or heavy ski jacket that  has a moisture barrier. And fleece lined ski pants.
  • Heads/hands/feet: wool ski socks, mittens (we’ve had luck with Gordini zippered mittens ), helmet.

Scenario: 20 degrees or below. Windy.

Skier: Elementary age kids. I would not even suggest taking your toddler out. Mine always cry the whole time. (Unless you live up north 🙂 Where it is probably always lower than 20 degrees.)

Parent: Remember, if you are with older, more self sufficient kids, you will not be working hard. But sticking with them on green and blue runs (depending on your own level of proficiency). So I’d dress warm, really warm.

  • Base layer: wool or synthetic long underwear top/bottoms and/or fleece bottoms. Brands we like: Hot Chili, Patagonia, REI
  • Mid Layer: Fleece power stretch, quick dry long sleeve. Brands we like: Patagonia, North Face, REI. Add a down or synthetic sweater (like Patagonia down sweater) as a mid-layer if your shell adds little insulation.
  • Outer layer: Preferably a down jacket, or heavy ski jacket that has a moisture barrier. And lined ski pants. Jackets we love: ISIS Whisper Hoodie, Patagonia Soft Shell, Mountain Hardware Synthetic-fill hoodie, REI fleece lined soft shell
  • Heads/hands/feet: wool ski socks, mittens/gloves, helmet with vents closed. Balaclava for wind and face protection.

Children: Pretty much dress them as warm as possible.

  • Base layer: REI synthetic long-underwear top and thick fleece pants (REI light weight fleece pants) instead of the long underwear.
  • Mid Layer: North Face fleece turtle neck or REI fleece top.
  • Outer layer: Preferably a down jacket, or heavy ski jacket that has a moisture barrier. And fleece lined ski pants.
  • Heads/hands/feet: wool ski socks, mittens, helmet with vents closed. Balaclava for wind.

Scenario: Spring skiing weather. Temperatures above 32 degrees. Sunny.

Skier: Any level.

 Parent: When it is warm, it is warm! Everyone can dress for the weather. However, resist the temptation to wear shorts and/or t-shirts. Sunburns abound. As well as slush burns. Ever had one of those? Not fun. So if you think you might fall, keep your skin covered!

  • Base layer: Short/Long sleeve shirt
  • Mid Layer: Fleece or cotton hoodie. Yes, I said it. Cotton. On warm days I find my favorite clothing includes an old sweatshirt!
  • Outer layer: none, unless you think the wind will pick up…then maybe a wind proof shell.
  • Heads/hands/feet: light wool ski socks, gloves or gluttons, helmet with vents opened.
  • SUNSCREEN and GOGGLES or SUNGLASSES with adequate coverage a must! You can actually sunburn your eyes. Believe me, it is bad. Bad. Plus in the world of skiing, goggle tans are cool. 🙂

Children: All the same applies!

  • Base layer: T-shirt (long sleeve if you think they’ll want to ditch the fleece).
  • Mid Layer: Fleece top like the North Face fleece pull over or the REI Boulder Ridge fleece jacket (pictured below).
  • Outer layer: none, save ski pants.
  • Heads/hands/feet: wool ski socks, fleece mittens (Brands we love: REI, Patagonia. look for a cinch cord or tight cuff around the wrist), helmet with vents opened.

13 comments on “Ski Schooling: Layering and Clothing Specifics
  1. Great tips – layers for everyone is so important. We also bring along a change of clothes for the end of the day so that we can get out of our damp, sweaty gear that we’ve been in all day. Makes for a much more comfortable ride home from the slopes (or dinner on the way home).

    • Suzi,

      Thanks for your tip! I can see how a change of clothing is necessary, especially if you want to stop for dinner. I always get chilled after a day of skiing. That bone chilling cold!

  2. Our kids wear DucKsday layers for skiing (and sledding, snowfort building, snowball fighting) – our fleece layer with the one-piece waterproof/windproof shell is keeps toddlers through age 5 warm and protected from the wind without the bulk of a typical snowsuit. Our older kids use their DucKsday pants and jackets as their outer layer.

  3. Great tips! I love skiing with my kids. I think one of the most important clothing articles is the Ski Pants. They keep you warm and dry– particularly when you or the kids are prone to falling or having snowball fights. We plan to go skiing over winter break, so the whole family bought new ski pants from Burlington Coat Factory last week. They had GREAT deals. We saved an average of $40 on each pair. Now, we are definitely ready to hit the slopes (and I do mean hit).

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  5. Pingback: Layering up Kids for Cold Weather | Tales of a Mountain Mama

  6. Hi! And thanks for writing this. I am bringing my kids to ski school for the first time. They’re 5 and 3 and have lived in the tropics their whole lives. They love cold weather, but this is different! I have a million questions, so pardon me!
    Where do I buy socks for little kids? I am only finding big kid socks.
    Am I better off buying a bib rather than ski pants?
    Will they need gloves or mittens? I can see mittens being pulled off constantly. Thoughts?
    We are going to Colorado so it’s a drier snow. I was thinking long undies, fleece, bib and jacket. Think that’s good?

    Any other hints to help prepare them… and me?

    Thanks in advance.

    • I will try yo help as much as possible! What a fun adventure!
      1. Socks – Online from REI or RE/Outlet, Amazon, or Backcountry.com are my favorites. Brands: Wigwam, Smartwool all have socks for tiny ones. Just check out the size chart.
      2. Bibs/pants – I say bibs are better by far! They can wear them longer, they are warmer, and limit the amount of snow that will inevitable go up their back or down their pants. (If this happens it can often be a game ender for toddlers.) Downside? Potty trips are a hassle.
      3. Mittens are warmest, make sure they are water proof, not just fleece ones. And yes they will fall off/pull off… unless you get a rockin’ brand like the Winter Mitz from Stonzwear.com. Any other mittens that have a long cuff or go up near the elbow will be better than others. DucksDay mittens are good as well.
      4. I grew up in CO! So fun! It can tend to be colder. The layers sound fine but I would for sure get goggles and something to cover the face! Even if our kids are layered up, a cold wind will send us inside if their cheeks and chins aren’t covered. A neck gaiter is very helpful. A full Balaclava is even better and our #1 gear suggestion for cold days. Best of luck!

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