Bundle up for a chilly adventure! Tips for keeping kids warm, along with essentials needed to enjoy their time on the slopes under a variety of conditions.

Kids ski school at the resort in Northstar, CA.

Keeping Kids Warm on the Slopes 

Brrrrr. It’s cold out there! But that shouldn’t be an issue when you know how to keep kids warm skiing. With a little planning and prep, they can still have a wonderful day on the slopes in some of the lightest, fluffiest snow of the season! 

How to Keep Kids Warm Skiing

You might think that keeping kids' hands and feet warm while skiing is all there is to it, but there are a few more important considerations to remember to ensure they stay as comfy and cozy as possible out in the cold.

The more you can do ahead of time to keep them warm, the more they will enjoy their time in the snow. Here are some top tips for dressing and caring for your kids on the slopes during those colder days: 


1) Cover up and dress in layers 

Start by dressing your kids with a good underlayer shirt or long underwear. Then, a nice turtle neck or other technical apparel. A fleece layer or a thin down sweater (a “puffy”) is a solid heat-keeper layer on top of that. Next, you’ll want a substantial winter jacket that protects from wind and wet weather. If you don’t have layers of down and wicking technical wear, a good ol’ wool sweater under a nice winter jacket is still an excellent solution for keeping your kids warm. 


2) What about their feet?! 

An important rule to keep kids' feet warm skiing is: YOU DO NOT WANT LAYERS. Your child should only have one sock in each boot. Multiple socks and long underwear stuffed inside their ski boots won’t keep them any warmer and only create potential blisters and discomfort. The key to keeping the feet warm is finding the balance between a nice firm fit for ski boot performance and enough room in the boot for good circulation. 

What about Toe Warmers? If you can fit them in the boot without making the fit too tight for good circulation, they can be a help. A good pair of ski socks and properly fitting boots are your best chance at keeping those toes and feet warm.  


3) Helmets and layers 

When it’s cold out, a balaclava over the head and inside the helmet can help as a layer for the head and also cover up the face. A neck gator also would work well. When it’s really cold, say subzero temperatures, leaving no skin or very little skin exposed is important to reduce the chance of frostbite. 


4) Mittens or gloves? 

Generally, mittens are warmer than gloves. Each finger helps keep the others warmer. Down-filled mittens are quite effective. The mittens with glove-type, sewn-in liners aren’t very “handy.” The inside glove layer often turns itself inside out when your child pulls their hands out of the mitten. Once this has happens, it can be tricky to get the inside liner back in order so your child can easily put the mitten back on. 

Hand warmers? These do work well. They are inexpensive and usually work for a whole day. A hand warmer in a mitten or glove doesn’t prohibit circulation like a toe warmer can in a boot. Some mittens or gloves have a special pocket for the warmers, and these are effective even though there is a layer between the warmer and your child’s hand. The special pocket feature isn’t necessary to be able to use hand warmers. They are fine just going into the mitten or glove. 


5) Taking breaks 

When it is very cold out, it is a good idea to take more breaks inside than you might on a milder day. The breaks don’t need to be very long; your child will warm up again pretty quickly, and you can get right back out on the slopes. Go into the lodge, open their jackets to let the warm air in, loosen the boot buckles for a few minutes, and you’ll all be warmed up and ready for another run soon. 


6) Hydration! 

You must keep your child hydrated. It is tempting on a cold day to go in for some delicious Hot Chocolate. That’s ok, but have your child drink a good glass of water first or instead of the hot chocolate. Staying hydrated is vital to staying warm. 

A good rule of thumb for proper hydration is having clear urine. Ask your child to look at their pee color and report back. Be sure to give them extra water if it’s a yellow or darker color. They really can’t drink too much water in the cold. 


7) Additional Tactics and Strategies


  • If your mountain has a nice gondola to ride rather than a chair lift, you can stay reasonably warm on your way up the hill instead of getting colder in the open air. 
  • If you only have chair lifts servicing the runs you want to ski and you have a choice of a long lift or a short one–take the short one and get moving again sooner. 
  • Making short turns and skiing bumps require more energy than long, straight, fast runs and will keep your child warmer. 
  • If the wind is blowing hard, see if you can ski in areas out of the blowing cold. 
  • Stop in safe, sunny spots rather than in the shade when you stop on the trail. 


What is Too Cold for Kids to Ski? 

When temperatures get too low, it can be downright dangerous for kids to ski, even if they follow all the tips here. Generally speaking, anything in the sub-zero (below zero degrees Fahrenheit) is too cold for kids. 

If temps drop far into the negative, making your kids tough it out is not worth it. Frostbite and hypothermia are very serious concerns when winter is really biting. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so if you think it’s too cold for your kids to ski, it probably is. 

The snow is often best when it’s a bit colder out. All in all, you and your children can still have terrific ski days even when the mercury drops if you dress well, take some breaks, stay hydrated, and plan your day accordingly