Choosing the right equipment for your kids can be an overwhelming task. The most common error that parents make is to purchase equipment that their child can "grow into" in order to get at least two years of use out of it. Kids are expensive, right?! However, as a snowboard instructor, I saw a lot of youngsters in gear that they had extreme difficulty in maneuvering due to the fact that it was simply too big. What should have been a very fun day turns into a frustrating and unpleasant experience, and it becomes more unlikely that the child will even want to try it again.
I've outlined some basic guidelines to follow to avoid this all-too-common scenario and instead set them up for a lifetime of joy on the mountain!
Q: What size of SKIS does my child need?
A: This depends on age. For children 6 years and under, the tips of the skis should reach anywhere between mid-chest and chin height. If you are unsure about what size to get, always err on the shorter size. It is far better to have skis that are a little too short next year than skis that are too long now. The foremost concern is that they are having fun of the hill, and this means having skis that they can turn. Young skiers will never, ever complain that their skis are too short and you will hear plenty of complaints that they are too long.
Q: What size of SNOWBOARD does my child need?
A: The tip of the snowboard needs to reach between mid-chest and chin height; just under their chin is ideal. It is essential that the board is the proper length without being too long. A snowboard that is too big is not easily maneuverable and extremely frustrating fort the little tikes.
Q: Do i need to get them a set of POLES?
A: Generally, no. Almost any kid under the age of 6 will find no use for poles at all- at least not on the ski hill. The only functions they would serve would be 1) to aggravate and annoy said child who already has enough on their mind; 2) to create the potential for a lawsuit; and/or 3) to poke you in the eye.
Q: How do I size my child for ski or snowboard BOOTS?
A: The ideal way to go about this would be to actually try on some different sizes at a shop. Always be sure to remove the liner from the boot before having your child step in so that you can check the length and width yourself rather than relying on the forthcoming affirmative response of the child. If you'd prefer the easier option, you might be able to find a shoe store that could properly size your child. Ski and snowboard boots are measured in what is called Mondo Point sizing, which is the length (in centimeters) of the sole of the foot. Or, simply have your child stand on a tape measure, being sure to read the centimeter side of the ruler from heel to toe. Most kids will measure between 15 and 21 cm, which is related as 15.0 and 21.0 MP in Mondo Point terminology. If you cannot measure in centimeters, you can measure in inches and multiply the result by 2.54 - always rounding up to the nearest size. For example, if a foot measures 7.5 inches, the caclulation is 7.5 x 2.54 = 19.05. The resulting ski boot size would be 19.5.
Q: Can I get boots a size or two bigger to achieve more than one season of use?
A: This depends. For the youngest skiers who can only ski with assistance (holding between the legs, harness, hoops, or what have you), you can purchase a boot that is larger than the actual foot size. For a skier of this ability, they are not turning on their own power and proper boot fit does not play as an important of a role. Also, these skiers do not spend as much time on the slopes and will be less prone to the fatigue from boots that are too big. As skiers progress in age and ability, it becomes increasingly necessary to have proper, snug fitting boots. As skiers begin turning, unassisted, on their own power, they will need snug boots that will properly transfer the energy from the feet to the skis. This will help them progress faster, and most importantly, increase their enjoyment of the sport. Proper fitting boots for older skiers will also keep their toes warm as they begin longer excursions on the hill. The number one factor for cold toes is boots that are either too small or too big.
Q: Does my child need a HELMET?
A: This depends. Do you consider yourself a good parent?
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