Getting ready for the ski season? Since we’re still ahead of the snowiest months, fall is a terrific time to do a family ski gear inventory. For a deeper dive on sussing out your own gear, check out our past blog post. Here’s your guide to knowing when it’s time to replace or repair kids’ ski gear:
Skis and Bindings
Have your child stand next to their skis. Ideally, the tip of the skis should reach between their chin and forehead. However, if your child is young, light and inexperienced, the tips can fall below the chin. Too short is better for most kids than too tall.
REPLACE: While the average lifespan of skis is between 80-100 days, younger children rarely get this much use on their skis. This makes used skis an option for kids. Trade with friends and visit ski swaps.
REPAIR: Summer storage dries skis out. So take all of your skis in to be tuned and waxed prior to your first ski day. If the edges or bases are damaged, they can be fixed at this time.
TIP: Before buying used skis and bindings, make sure the bindings aren’t too old. Ski shops have a list of acceptable bindings and they won’t adjust bindings that aren’t on the list. Check with a ski tech or google “indemnified ski bindings” to search for a specific model.
If your child uses poles, place the pole upside down and ask your child to grip the pole just above the basket. Their arm should be at an approximate right angle.
REPLACE: If your child’s arm is not at a right angle, or if the poles are clearly broken, it’s time for new poles.
REPAIR: Missing or broken baskets can be replaced, a little bit of muscle can straighten out minor bends and duct tape works wonders.
TIP: Missing a basket? Ask your ski shop for a spare. While the new basket won’t match the old, your child’s poles will be easy to identify.
First, see if the boots fit.
Turn the boot upside down and center your child’s bare foot on the upturned sole. There should be about 1” of sole remaining on each end.
Take out the boot liner and put a ski sock on your child. Insert his foot into the shell. Ask him to move his foot forward and get into a skiing “ready position” (knees bent, ankles flexed). Shine a flashlight behind the child’s heel. You’ll want 5/8” to 1” of space at the back of the boot – or two fingers stacked together should fit.
Put the liner back into the boot and put both boots on your child and ask her to walk around. Ski boots should be tight, but not painful.
REPLACE: Boots that are clearly too small or have a damaged liner, sole or shell, should be replaced. Painful feet are no fun for kids (or parents!).
REPAIR: Damaged boot buckles can usually be repaired. To prevent damaged buckles, store your boots buckled and never walk in them while they are unbuckled.
TIP: If the boot feels small, but it measured to fit, take it in and have the liner stretched. This may buy you several months or even an entire season.
Helmets deteriorate over time, so it’s important to inspect them carefully before winter.
REPLACE: If your child’s helmet no longer fits or has visible cracks, it’s outta here. If your child took a big fall wearing this helmet, it’s time for a new one — even if there is no visible damage. Also, always replace a helmet with deteriorating materials
TIP: Replace everyone’s helmets after 3-5 years. Never buy a used helmet. If you don’t know a helmet’s history, you don’t know if it will protect your loved one’s head.
Have your kids try on their ski clothes. Keep what fits. Donate or pass-on items that are too small. Better yet, do a little research about which organizations or consignment stores you can donate or sell gently used clothes to. You could reach out to an adaptive ski program or even donate to REI and Give Back Box.
REPLACE: If it’s time for new clothes, fall is a great time to buy — if you’re willing to go with last year’s styles. Check sales racks, ski swaps and online retailers.
REPAIR: Clothing can usually be repaired. Skis pants can be patched. Holes can be mended. Repair patches for puffy coats and waterproof fabrics can be found online, as can detailed instructions for most repairs.
TIP: Coordinate with friends who have kids who are bit older and a bit younger than your children and create a “hand-me-down” circle. Pass the clothing among friends, save money, and get extra mileage from each item.
Now that you know when it’s time to replace your kids’ ski gear, are you ready for ski season? If you still aren’t sure, check out our other guide on making a ski comeback when you haven’t skied in awhile.