“17 below with a wind chill making it feel like minus 24″… no one really want to hear that forecast, right? And they really don’t want to hear that forecast for their upcoming family ski vacation! But it happens. So here are a few pointers on how to stay warm skiing on the ski hill from a Canadian who hates being cold.
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Long Johns are your friend
Dress in layers! To do it right, you should wear a wicking or quick-dry layer closest to your skin, then put your cozy fleecy layer over that. My husband and I really like our base layers made from Merino Wool. Merino Wool is a natural product (not a synthesized fiber). It is very warm, soft, breathable, and helps wick moisture away from the skin.
The One-Piece Snowsuit
For little kids, a one-piece snowsuit is quick and easy. They won’t get snow up their back when they start rolling in the snow and getting undressed for emergency bathroom breaks will be much easier! If you’re up for it, you too could sport a trendy, or retro, one-piece yourself!
Jeans are mean (to your legs)
When it is cold, jeans can seems even colder. Long johns under jeans or snow pants over jeans is much warmer. For some readers, this tip might seem obvious, but I am always surprised at how many people I see out on the hill in jeans.
Lots of socks
Purchasing a good pair of ski socks will really help keep feet stay warm and dry. While thick socks are good for retaining heat, they shouldn’t be so thick as to bunch up which can cause discomfort in a tight fitting ski or snowboard boot. Taking your boots off during a longer inside break can help dry out boots and socks too. And pack an extra pair of socks. At the end of a long cold day on the hill, just changing into a new pair of socks can be such a pleasure.
These are my absolute favourite socks! Over the years I’ve purchased them at Costco, but I’ve just discovered that Amazon also stocks them. They’re merino wool, warm, they fit nicely, and they’re cute too.
Toques, mitts, scarves, and goggles
These are essential in the extreme cold. To be honest, I start wearing my toque and gloves even before the snow falls. You want a toque that fits low over the ears. A thick fleece lined hat is great to help kids stay warm.
When choosing head wear consider how it will fit under a helmet. A balaclava works well. Not only is it safest to wear a helmet, but they block the wind and help you stay warm.
I like to wear a thin pair of mini gloves under my mittens. This way my hands are extra toasty, and if I need to do something requiring dexterity (like fixing kid’s zippers, blowing noses, or buckling up boots) my fingers won’t freeze.
Remember that any exposed skin is at risk of frostbite in extreme cold, so wearing a neck warmer (gaiter) or scarf is a must. These also help cover the gap around the neck where the jacket stops and the hat or helmet begins. Goggles help cover more of the exposed face skin. So while they improve visibility, they also help keep the face warmer.
The magic balaclava
Okay I will admit that I don’t wear a balaclava, but my kids do. In fact, our pink balaclava is my daughter’s first choice when it gets cold out. You get full coverage in one piece, ninja style. Easy. And, it fits under helmets and toques for extra warmth. I couldn’t resist posting this link below – although not practical under a helmet, it was just too cute!
Pocket hot pads
If you plan to be outdoors for a few hours, you may want to consider having a few of these Hothands on hand. They do not heat up until opened and exposed to air, but once they are activated, the pads will give off heat for a good 4-5 hours. My kids like to use these when skiing. They put the activated pads right into their mittens or leave them in their pockets for little warm-up breaks. I have even used these camping in the summer when my toes just won’t warm up. These Hothands can usually be purchased at sporting stores or online.
The extras: Heated boots and socks
My husband, in an effort to make skiing more appealing for me, bought me ski boots with a battery-powered heating attachment. You can also purchase heated socks, insoles, and gloves.
Plan lots of warm-up breaks
When it is really cold out, sometimes our kids need to go inside after every few runs. This helps them stay warm and motivated to stay at the ski hill… and want to go back again. Think snacks and hot chocolate or even a game of cards to make the warm-ups more exciting.
And, if all else fails, if you just can’t stay warm skiing, then call it a day, sometimes it is just too cold! Stay inside, share some hot cocoa, and cuddle with a great family ski movie instead!
PS. If you’re a family that enjoys getting outside and connecting with nature you may want to check out our Take Them Outside Newsletter. You’ll get tips, activity ideas, and goodies delivered right to your inbox every few weeks. Or, you may also enjoy taking the nature challenge. For one week, you’ll receive emails which challenge you to take a few minutes each day for specific family nature activities.