The snow is falling and the holidays are upon us – and if you’re lucky enough to have a family ski trip on the cards this season, there’s no doubt one question at the top of your minds is how do you keep your kids warm on the ski slopes? It’s one thing when you’re there with them, carrying layers in backpacks and spare gloves for post-lunch hand warming. But what about if your kids are heading off to ski school for the first time? Or going on a ski trip without you, perhaps with school?
Making sure they keep warm (but not too warm) while on the slopes, in potentially unpredictable weather, is something at the top of most parents’ list of priorities. So what's the secret? Does it matter what make of ski gear you buy? How many layers are optimal? Is it better to be too hot, or too cold? We spoke to the experts at Helly Hansen to find out the answers to all of our questions.
What should kids wear ito ski school when you don’t know what the weather is going to do?
Layering is key. By using a system of different layers that are designed to work together you will trap small pockets of air, keeping your kids warm and allowing them to take off/put on layers depending on the weather. This is much better than dressing kids in one big chunky coat which may keep them warm at the start of the day but will cause them to overheat when they start skiing. There are three basic layers; the baselayer, the midlayer and the outer layer. Thermal baselayers made from Merino wool or polyester are able to trap air even when they get wet and work best when layered under a midlayer. Fleeces and synthetic or down insulators are the best choices for midlayers and, like baselayers, trap air to keep you warm. For the outer layer, the most important thing is it needs to have a waterproof yet breathable membrane. This will keep the wind chill and moisture out, but it will also make sure that when you start to heat up, that heat can escape.
How do you make sure they remain warm all day long?
It’s important that the layers they are putting on in the morning are clean and dry. If they start the day in damp clothes, you are fighting a losing battle. Having clean layers and having a variety of them means that the layering system will be able to do its job and move moisture away from the skin. Also, look for an outer layer that has a hood, wrist gaiters and an adjustable powder skirt to keep the snow out and keep your kids dry.
Any top tips for warming up at lunch time?
If your kids have got the right kit, they should be warm on the slopes so when it comes to lunchtime, they shouldn’t need to warm up too much. If they are feeling the cold, ensuring they can warm up their hands and toes is vital - if these are warm, they will feel warm. Make sure they’ve got warm socks and waterproof but breathable gloves or mittens, so they don’t get damp and cold. Hand warmers are also great, but if they’ve got cold hands you need to be careful about warming them up too quickly. A great tip is to put hand warmers in gloves during lunchtime, so when it’s time to hit the slopes again they will be lovely and warm, and will keep little hands toasty.
What’s the best way to keep little fingers warm?
If your kids suffer badly from cold hands, mittens are the best option. This is because when you wear mittens your fingers aren’t separated like they are in gloves and so can share heat and warm air can circulate. Full-finger gloves provide more dexterity and are therefore recommended for children when they’re skiing. Whatever style you choose, it’s most important to choose a pair that is waterproof and breathable, with adjustable cuffs to make sure little hands stay warm and dry.
Which materials are better for baselayers to prevent overheating when working hard?
Technical synthetic materials are generally better at keeping you dry, and wool is another good choice - it doesn't dry as quickly, but is usually the warmer option. For baselayers that will keep your little ones warm but comfortable, look for ones that combine both synthetic and natural fibres.
Any tips for keeping warm on ski lifts?
Make sure you do up zips and pockets. Your kit should have wind-proof zips, so making sure everything is zipped up helps to prevent warmth escaping and the icy wind from getting in. We lose loads of warmth through our head, so wearing a woolly hat works wonders. Ones that are fleece lined provide extra insulation and are really cosy, perfect for keeping kids warm on ski lifts.
Is there anything that is different about keeping kids warm than keeping adults warm on the slopes?
Kids will usually feel the cold more than your average adult, so it’s important that they have the right layers to keep them warm. You should kit your child out in exactly the same way you would yourself, with all the features and technologies needed to keep them warm and dry on the slopes.
Should you dress differently for a Christmas vs. an Easter ski trip?
The weather influences the layering system, however, the benefit of this approach is that you can change the layers for lighter or warmer options depending on the conditions. Whatever time of year you head to the slopes, a technical layering system will do the trick. For really cold days, go for an insulated jacket or a shell jacket with a down midlayer. Match the warmth of your baselayer and midlayer to the conditions and on warmer Easter ski days you can simply remove your midlayer and alternate between different weights of baselayers to match the weather and your activity levels.
Our pick of the best kit
HH Lifa Merino Set has a unique 2-in-1 construction which combines the natural fibres with its polyester LIFA® technology. The non-itch Merino Wool is excellent at insulating and maintaining warmth, while LIFA® delivers great moisture management by moving any dampness away from the skin and transporting it to the surface of the fabric, where it evaporates. They also have fleece reinforcement on the knees and elbows for a bit of extra padding in case they take a tumble while learning new skills on the slopes. Kid verdict: So cosy, not itchy at all.
These trousers are designed to keep active kids warm, dry and totally unobstructed by the elements when out adventuring. Their features include windproof fabric, insulation, advanced seam sealing and zippered hand pockets to increase protection. Reflective detail, articulated and reinforced knees and waist adjustable tabs answer every parent’s concerns about safety and durability in their child's clothing. Kid verdict: The reflective thermal coating is amazing - you're so warm and never damp. We had to eat lunch packed lunch on the slopes and although my knees got cold the wet didn't get through because they're so well padded and waterproof.
Decathlon is rightly the go-to destination for many ski essentials thanks to its incredible value for money and great technology. This fleece is a snip at £4.99 and thanks to being warm and lightweight, makes a perfect addition to any child's ski wardrobe, as a toasty mid-layer. Kid verdict: Light to carry in a backpack and comfy and soft.
This style takes notes from the new Ullr freeride adult jackets with Helly Tech® Performance fabrics that are waterproof, windproof and breathable. It has a whole host of features, including PrimaLoft® Black insulation, a RECCO® Advanced Rescue System designed to help search and rescue teams in an emergency and zip ventilation to stop kids from overheating on the slopes. It’s important to explain the features of the ski kit you buy to your kids too so that they know how to make the most of the features and can focus on enjoying their day on the slopes with confidence. Kid verdict: These jackets are super cool and so warm. The wet didn't get through once.
When the temperature drop, keep little toes nice and warm with these waterproof, seam sealed, leather snow boots. Featuring generous insulation and heat-regulating technologies, your little one will stay warm and comfortable whether they're charging down trails or playing in the snow. Kid verdict: Amazing! These boots are so comfy and so warm.