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Ski Clothing - Price Points - Technology - Value

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

In the K2 thread there was a heck of a thread drift that was a really interesting topic of discussion, relating to ski clothing, where its made, how much it costs and the value of the clothing to the person wearing it. 

 

Points were made about fit, function, water proof, warmth......etc

 

Now that the K2 thread is getting back to K2, lets talk about the clothing topic here (perhaps I should have pulled some of those posts over here but I hate doing that without a general consensus to do it. 

 

 

One quote that piqued my interest was @alexzn's comment about kids clothing. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by alexzn View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post


And while I can sympathize with that, it's not as important for where I normally ski (ie, high and dry). So I don't pay that much attention. I also ski in down most of the time, which I realize is impossible for many. Thank goodness for all the choices, as you said.


Exactly.  The tech is important, and so is important matching that tech to the conditions where you ski.  As long as you are making an informed choice, its all good (most people sadly have no clue about how this tech works).   Cut and fit are also very important, especially for women (having to live through jacket/pants searches for my wife and now daughters gives me ample understanding of the magnitude of the problem).  

 

The kids stuff- don't even get me started on that.  The industry pretends that kids who ski 50 days a year in any weather just don't exist.  But we have drifted from K2 topic enough...

 

I had a customer in our ski shop ask for something in Gore-tex for his kids.  

  • First, we don't carry kids clothing in our store because we have a sister store next to us that is kid specific
  • Second, we only cary one brand that is Gore-Tex - Arcteryx 
  • Third, I did some research with our Patagonia store, North Face, and with Arcteryx and see NO options for kids Gore-Tex
  • There could be brands who carry such items for kids but I haven't done enough research to find it.

 

 

Why don't these options exist for kids? 

Parents won't pay the price for their kids clothing because they grow out of it faster than they wear it out? 

post #2 of 17

Yes, I think you hit on the reason ... an adult can justify spending multiple hundies on a coat even if she doesn't ski more than 10 days a year, since she can use it year after year. Not so with a kid. 

 

In hindsight, we definitely overspent on some things for our kids, but I knew we could pass it down to niece and nephew. And they, in turn, pass it on to other kids in their town, where such clothing is necessary but hard to find. So that works for me. But it's kind of a waste for many people. 

post #3 of 17

For kids gear, we have been very happy with LL Bean.  The combination of price point and durability is hard to beat.  Some pieces have been through four different kids and are still great shape.  Also Patagonia for things like baselayers and fleeces, although I usually try and get these on sale. 

post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post
 

Yes, I think you hit on the reason ... an adult can justify spending multiple hundies on a coat even if she doesn't ski more than 10 days a year, since she can use it year after year. Not so with a kid. 

 

In hindsight, we definitely overspent on some things for our kids, but I knew we could pass it down to niece and nephew. And they, in turn, pass it on to other kids in their town, where such clothing is necessary but hard to find. So that works for me. But it's kind of a waste for many people. 

And, there is the benefit of buying that price point for kids. 

 

To be honest, we get requests for Kjus kids clothing on a regular basis, but the request for Gore-tex was a first. 

post #5 of 17

One of the shops around us (Sturtevant's in Bellevue, WA) brought in a waterproof/breathable shell for kids made by Volkl Performance Wear, the Team Pro Kids Jacket (Sensortex, 20.000 waterproof/breathable).  Basically it is just a scaled down version of the adult jacket and priced as such.  It felt great in the hand, it was really nice - it felt like something I'd consider wearing.  I'd never seen anything like it for kids before.

 

The soft goods buyer, who happened to be helping us that day, said that they brought it in as an experiment this season, they had never done a shell before for kids and wanted to see if there was interest.

 

You'd think something like that would be a natural for our climate and location - my kids ski +/-30 days a year in all kinds of conditions. I loved the jacket, and I tried it on my older son.  I thought long and hard about it - but at the end of the day the price was a bit rich for something that might only last one season (and he liked another jacket better from a fashion perspective - it was more "beast" - so there was no reason to push back on him). 

 

If we were a more normal family where I could pass the jacket down, it would have made more sense - then we could have gotten 3-4 years out of it.  But my younger son is a half-head taller than the older and the older is 12 and starting to grow.  So I passed on it, but for our region I still think that a technical, well constructed shell is a very good idea for kids who ski frequently and a family with a 2nd (or 3rd) recipient downstream.

 

Ultimately, I think that TC is right that price-point is a key barrier to producing highly technical kids wear.  Also, another limiting factor is the number of places where the expense makes sense in terms of weather, conditions and access to the hill (enough ski days to justify something like that for a kid).  And the soft goods companies are only going to produce products that sell.

 

It will be interesting to see if the Volkl shells are still on the rack in Feb (when I still grab one).  Because if Sturtevant's can't sell it full retail (given the climate, location and the demographic feeding the shop), no one can.

post #6 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeviousBear View Post
 

For kids gear, we have been very happy with LL Bean.  The combination of price point and durability is hard to beat.  Some pieces have been through four different kids and are still great shape.  Also Patagonia for things like baselayers and fleeces, although I usually try and get these on sale. 

 

We used a combination of Helly Hansen (for a while they were getting a ton at TJ Maxx here in CO), REI, LL Bean, TNF, Patagonia, and the odd Columbia or Obermeyer piece. Oh, there were a few pairs of Burton pants in there, too. Mostly whatever was on sale. My favorites were the HH and Patagonia pieces, they seemed to be the highest quality with the most thoughtful features. But it's been a few years since I've been able to shop in the kids' section. The worst is when they are out of the kids' clothes (ie, everything costs twice as much) but still outgrowing things every season! ack!  I think they are finally done though. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LewyM View Post
 

One of the shops around us (Sturtevant's in Bellevue, WA) brought in a waterproof/breathable shell for kids made by Volkl Performance Wear, the Team Pro Kids Jacket (Sensortex, 20.000 waterproof/breathable).  Basically it is just a scaled down version of the adult jacket and priced as such.  It felt great in the hand, it was really nice - it felt like something I'd consider wearing.  I'd never seen anything like it for kids before.

 

The soft goods buyer, who happened to be helping us that day, said that they brought it in as an experiment this season, they had never done a shell before for kids and wanted to see if there was interest.

 

You'd think something like that would be a natural for our climate and location - my kids ski +/-30 days a year in all kinds of conditions. I loved the jacket, and I tried it on my older son.  I thought long and hard about it - but at the end of the day the price was a bit rich for something that might only last one season (and he liked another jacket better from a fashion perspective - it was more "beast" - so there was no reason to push back on him). 

 

If we were a more normal family where I could pass the jacket down, it would have made more sense - then we could have gotten 3-4 years out of it.  But my younger son is a half-head taller than the older and the older is 12 and starting to grow.  So I passed on it, but for our region I still think that a technical, well constructed shell is a very good idea for kids who ski frequently and a family with a 2nd (or 3rd) recipient downstream.

 

Ultimately, I think that TC is right that price-point is a key barrier to producing highly technical kids wear.  Also, another limiting factor is the number of places where the expense makes sense in terms of weather, conditions and access to the hill (enough ski days to justify something like that for a kid).  And the soft goods companies are only going to produce products that sell.

 

It will be interesting to see if the Volkl shells are still on the rack in Feb (when I still grab one).  Because if Sturtevant's can't sell it full retail (given the climate, location and the demographic feeding the shop), no one can.

 

 

Yes, and as I added in that other thread, highly waterproof/breathable shells aren't really a necessity for the intermountain skiers like they are on the coast. It's just a different climate. Here you mostly just want to keep them warm, and covered in sunscreen. It will be interesting to see if that shell works. 

 

I will say, the HH jackets we had were also shells, or at least very lightly insulated. For old times' sake: IMG_0232.JPG


Edited by segbrown - 12/2/14 at 8:13am
post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post
 

Yes, I think you hit on the reason ... an adult can justify spending multiple hundies on a coat even if she doesn't ski more than 10 days a year, since she can use it year after year. Not so with a kid. 

 

In hindsight, we definitely overspent on some things for our kids, but I knew we could pass it down to niece and nephew. And they, in turn, pass it on to other kids in their town, where such clothing is necessary but hard to find. So that works for me. But it's kind of a waste for many people. 

We live and ski in Colorado....where almost any warm clothing will work.  You could ski in a windproof fleece here on most days and be fine.  Waterproofness is rarely an issue here so I've never worried about membranes.  Does it fit?  Do they like it? Is there enough room to add layers and account from some growth?  Compared to adults gear kids gear is very reasonably priced and I've got kids that ski well over 50 days a year for multiple years on the same clothing and then hand it down to their little sister who does the same.

 

Me....I'm a brand snob sometimes and sometimes I'm not...usually I buy an expensive brand on year end sales or model closeouts.  I've been in Arctyrex Theta bibs for 10 years and last year they started leaking in the butt a little when I would sit on snow on the lift.  I found a pair of Flylow Mt Baker bibs for $100 bucks on a year end deal so i bought them.  My shell is a 12 YO Patagucci that I bought for around $100 and has been back to Patagucci once to have the zippers replaced but otherwise works fine.  I can't justify a new shell when (even though I want one) when the one I have works fine.  I have no idea whether it's still waterproof but again that doesn't really matter here. 

post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LewyM View Post
 

One of the shops around us (Sturtevant's in Bellevue, WA) brought in a waterproof/breathable shell for kids made by Volkl Performance Wear, the Team Pro Kids Jacket (Sensortex, 20.000 waterproof/breathable).  Basically it is just a scaled down version of the adult jacket and priced as such.  It felt great in the hand, it was really nice - it felt like something I'd consider wearing.  I'd never seen anything like it for kids before.

 

The soft goods buyer, who happened to be helping us that day, said that they brought it in as an experiment this season, they had never done a shell before for kids and wanted to see if there was interest.

 

You'd think something like that would be a natural for our climate and location - my kids ski +/-30 days a year in all kinds of conditions. I loved the jacket, and I tried it on my older son.  I thought long and hard about it - but at the end of the day the price was a bit rich for something that might only last one season (and he liked another jacket better from a fashion perspective - it was more "beast" - so there was no reason to push back on him). 

 

If we were a more normal family where I could pass the jacket down, it would have made more sense - then we could have gotten 3-4 years out of it.  But my younger son is a half-head taller than the older and the older is 12 and starting to grow.  So I passed on it, but for our region I still think that a technical, well constructed shell is a very good idea for kids who ski frequently and a family with a 2nd (or 3rd) recipient downstream.

 

Ultimately, I think that TC is right that price-point is a key barrier to producing highly technical kids wear.  Also, another limiting factor is the number of places where the expense makes sense in terms of weather, conditions and access to the hill (enough ski days to justify something like that for a kid).  And the soft goods companies are only going to produce products that sell.

 

It will be interesting to see if the Volkl shells are still on the rack in Feb (when I still grab one).  Because if Sturtevant's can't sell it full retail (given the climate, location and the demographic feeding the shop), no one can.

I'll have to look for that shell at SIA this year.  

Great commentary on why parents and kids pick clothing 

post #9 of 17
Our boys are both in Burton jackets the last two years (30+ ski days plus sledding and various other activities) and we have had no issues at all. Keeps them warm and dry. They have a ton of zippered pocket and pit zips as well which the kids like using.

As for pants we buy whatever we can find on sale. We bought the Burton jackets on sale at a TJ Maxx where we sometimes get in decent winter gear at an absolute steal.

We have not had good luck with Spyder kids gear however. $50 gloves that aren't waterproof? ouch
post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by focker View Post

Our boys are both in Burton jackets the last two years (30+ ski days plus sledding and various other activities) and we have had no issues at all. Keeps them warm and dry. They have a ton of zippered pocket and pit zips as well which the kids like using.

As for pants we buy whatever we can find on sale. We bought the Burton jackets on sale at a TJ Maxx where we sometimes get in decent winter gear at an absolute steal.

We have not had good luck with Spyder kids gear however. $50 gloves that aren't waterproof? ouch

This is one thing I was going to mention ... gloves/mittens for kids! what a disaster! I see Hestra is making them now, not sure if they didn't when ours were younger or not, but I will assume they actually work. We ended up half the time just buying in bulk at TJ Maxx and swapping out regularly as they got wet and cold.

post #11 of 17

My feeling is that most kids are using their gear for a week or two when they go to the snow during Christmas/Presidents ski week, so parents are not going to pay real dollars for something a kid would wear for 12 days and grow out of.  So the majority of kids options are cheap insulted stuff that is waterproofed by DWR coating (which makes some sense if the garment is used for less than 10 days, before the DWR wears out).  The unfortunate side effect is that these garments set the price on the used market, which makes a real-deal used kids stuff unsellable (people expect to buy it for $15 or less). 

 

There are companies who still make quality kids gear, primarily Patagonia, which also puts baffles into their pant legs and jacket sleeves that "grow" and give an extra year.  My daughter had 150 days on her Patagonia set and it still remained waterproof despite a multitude of ski cuts and a hole or two in the back, fixed with artsy duct tape appliqués).  In the perfect world her sister would have inherited it, but at this point it is pretty much done (and at 150 days of team use we got a good life out of it).    But as far as I know Patagonia is a glaring exception: well made garment with H2No membrane that is almost as good as GoreTex (the only proprietary PU laminate that is that good).  North Face makes kids ski pants that are very lightly insulated and have their proprietary waterproofing which is not very breathable but very waterproof (which is better in pants).   Other companies cut more corners and put cheaper stuff.  

 

Even with those garments on the market, I think there is no such thing as high performance kids ski wear.  Even those Patagonia and North face garments are insulated heavy pieces with no pit zips that are not perfect for a team kid who one moment can sit on the snow waiting for their turn to ski the course or do a jump, and the next moment hike up a ridge.  This year my older kid will finally be in a proper layering system (she is finally old enough to wear women XS).      I think I am very well prepared to pay top $ for a high performance ski clothing for my kids, but I am probably an exception because (a) they use it way more than an average kid (b) I am a gear freak and believe that high performance clothes actually affect your skiing experience, and (c) with two kids of the same gender I have a built-in hand-me-down situation.   

post #12 of 17

^^ I just looked up HH's junior gear, and it still appears to have the same features, including pit zips and all that good stuff. Comes in at $190, though, which isn't exactly budget friendly.

  • HELLY TECH® PERFORMANCE
  • YKK® quality zippers
  • Powder skirt
  • Articulated arms and elbows
  • Pit zip venting
  • Ski pass pocket
  • Adjustable bottom hem and cuffs
  • Detachable hood
  • Insulated 2 layer construction
  • PrimaLoft Black® Insulation
  • Durable Water Repellency Treatment (DWR)
  • Fully seam sealed
  • Waterproof, windproof and breathable
  •  
post #13 of 17

take a look at the Columbia stuff for kids, since they own Mtn Hardwear, some of that tech has worked its way into even the lower level stuff.   Its also really hard to beat the stuff on STP with the right coupon.   buy around June and you still have plenty of time to return if the kids grow out of it before they use the next season.  

post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post
 

This is one thing I was going to mention ... gloves/mittens for kids! what a disaster! I see Hestra is making them now, not sure if they didn't when ours were younger or not, but I will assume they actually work. We ended up half the time just buying in bulk at TJ Maxx and swapping out regularly as they got wet and cold.

The Hestra claw mitts for kids are fantastic.  Well worth the price.  No need to swap out gloves at lunch anymore, no more junky mitts and gloves that leak. . . and the kids' hands stay warm and dry. 

 

Happy hands and feet = happy skiers = happy parents.

post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by focker View Post

Our boys are both in Burton jackets the last two years (30+ ski days plus sledding and various other activities) and we have had no issues at all. Keeps them warm and dry. They have a ton of zippered pocket and pit zips as well which the kids like using.


As for pants we buy whatever we can find on sale. We bought the Burton jackets on sale at a TJ Maxx where we sometimes get in decent winter gear at an absolute steal.

We have not had good luck with Spyder kids gear however. $50 gloves that aren't waterproof? ouch
This is one thing I was going to mention ... gloves/mittens for kids! what a disaster! I see Hestra is making them now, not sure if they didn't when ours were younger or not, but I will assume they actually work. We ended up half the time just buying in bulk at TJ Maxx and swapping out regularly as they got wet and cold.
OMG Gloves!!
This is an area that always amazes me. Parents will come into our shop and happily drop $80 on a pair of gloves for jr, as long as his hands are warm, then quibble over the price on a $60 helmet.
Always leaves me scratching my head
post #16 of 17
Back 14 to 18 years ago when my son was racing, Spyder stuff was pretty good. bought his base layers the same place I bought mine, Campmor or Sierria Trading Post. I think some of his gloves came from there too. Though in later years is was I had to have the glove that so and so has. Then at age 13 (J3), they all wanted thier own jackets, no longer wanted Team jacket. Womens small TNF fit him well. Then at age 14 it was Arcteryx. He's been wearing that brand ever since, he's 27y/o now and buy's his own... wink.gif
post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post


OMG Gloves!!
This is an area that always amazes me. Parents will come into our shop and happily drop $80 on a pair of gloves for jr, as long as his hands are warm, then quibble over the price on a $60 helmet.
Always leaves me scratching my head

 

Makes complete sense to this parent.  Bad gloves end a ski day.  Especially in a coastal area. 

 

I wouldn't quibble about the cost of a helmet either (seems kind of important to me).  But all helmets meet the same safety standard - as long as it fits, it works.

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