Parents often worry about how cold their kids will be when they’re skiing, snowboarding or just having some fun in the snow. How do we make sure our kids are warm enough, but not too warm? The key to being just warm enough is to dress in layers. Buying kids ski gear is one thing but getting the right type of layers is paramount. Not to mention, there are many benefits to dressing your child and yourself in layers. Read on to find out about how it works, its benefits and tips on how to choose the right layers for your kid’s winter and snow wardrobe.
How Layering Works
Layering refers to the system of dressing for the cold where there is a base layer, a middle layer and finally an outer layer. Each layer contributes to the overall comfort by playing a specific role. For example, an ideal base layer would wick moisture away from the skin to keep you dry, while a functional midlayer would help to trap air between the base and midlayer to keep you warm. A worthy outer layer should keep you dry from the wet and protect you from wind chill.
Materials for each layer such as merino wool, wool, polypropylene or fleeces, should be chosen based on their relative benefits in moisture-wicking and insulation. A bulky fleece would keep you beautifully toasty but would not be the best at wicking moisture away from your skin. Neither would it keep you entirely dry if you wear it as an outer layer knowing it might rain.
Fabric choice is also essential for greater flexibility in layering. Wearing two layers of fleece is great if you’re going to be out in a blizzard the whole day, but you’ll be sweating up a storm once you step indoors!
Benefits of dressing your child in layers
- Kids will be able to remove a layer or pop it back on themselves if they’re too hot or get cold
- You’ll save money in the long run because these separate layers are likely to get used throughout the year over and over again
- Different combination of layers will produce different outfits to keep even the most style aware teens satisfied
- When kids are comfortable and warm, they’re happy. Happy kids = Happy parents
When you’re layering, remember that moisture is your enemy, so you want the base layer (the one closest to your child’s skin) to eliminate as much moisture as possible. It should keep the skin dry and encourage airflow. You may think that your child will be cold all day long but remember there are a lot of times they’ll be indoors, waiting, dressing, moving around and they will sweat. If moisture is trapped within that base layer, your child will get cold from their sweat when they head out the door onto the slopes again.
The best thing about active kids base layers these days is the fact that they can often double as winter pyjamas or be worn under a light midlayer for that morning winter walk in the park. As far as kids are concerned, any versatility that goes a long way is worth a pretty dollar!
What its role is:
Avoid the accumulation of sweat and moisture to prevent hypothermia.
Look for kids base layers that are:
- moisture wicking
- not too thick, so there is freedom of movement
- soft on the skin for maximum comfort for your child
Merino wool or synthetic blends
Depending on the weather conditions and how your child tends to fare with their body temperature regulation, the midlayer is the most likely layer to be swapped out. It is responsible for not only insulating but also retaining body warmth by trapping air that is already warmed by your body. Kids can choose to have a thicker midlayer such as a fleece or even two merino wool midlayers if you are anticipating a colder day. Of course, if your child goes indoors to grab a quick drink and it gets a little too warm, being able to unzip that midlayer will bring instant relief. Pockets with zips are also great for squirrelling away any secret and very important stashes. The best thing about choosing the right midlayer is, more often than not, it can be used as an off-mountain winter jacket too.
What its role is:
Insulates and retains body heat to protect from the cold.
Look for kids winter clothing that is:
- Allow for movement
- Have pockets, zipped pockets are a bonus
- Can be unzipped either partially or fully
- Is light
Down, Synthetic down, merino wool, lightweight fleece
Kids Outer layer
There is nowhere else but on the ski fields where you can see the most fantastic array of kid’s outerwear designs and colours. Not only is it socially acceptable to wear gear with contrasting loud colours and designs, but from a parent’s practical point of view, it also means you, ski instructors and ski patrol, can spot your kids from a mile off.
In its most simplistic interpretation, a kid’s outerwear can be a shell layer that is wind and waterproof. A good kid’s snow jacket and snow pants, however, is so much more than that. While there are different measurement standards for waterproof and breathability, 10 000 mm/24hours and 10 000 g/m2 (10K/10K) is a fantastic place to start for most recreational skiing and snowboarding kids. If you have a child athlete who is going to spend hours skiing or snowboarding in the rainy snow, be prepared to spend more on your outer gear! Durable water-repellent (DWR) finishes are used widely to create a water repellent finish if used on its own or to improve already waterproof outerwear further.
There is a question of how much insulation there should be in ski jackets and ski pants. The more insulation, the warmer. However, spending time sitting on or in the snow is a good part of any child’s snow experience, and the weight of a moisture-soaked jacket or pair of kids snow pants should also be considered. To give yourself and your child the most versatility, perhaps wearing a thicker mid-layer would be more appropriate than having a thicker outer shell.
What its role is:
Waterproof, windproof and breathable protection from the potentially unpredictable weather.
Look for kids snow jackets and snow pants that:
- Have some insulation but without the bulk
- Allow for movement
- Have a variety of zipped pockets including a ski pass pocket on the sleeve
- Have waterproof or water-resistant outer zips
- Is light and durable
- Is visually fun!
DWR treated jackets that are at least 10K/10K in waterproof and breathability
As long as you’ve thought about how each layer will work, and you actually leave the house with the layers, you’re set for a brilliant time at the snow with a happy wallet!