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Equipment for a toddler

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
So I introduced my son (2 at the end of February) to snow this year. We made and threw snowballs, we tobogganed, and he did some walking and sliding on little plastic skis that I bought. I think next year he'll be ready for the real thing, at least a little.

I've read posts in some threads that indicate people have had reasonable experience buying used ski equipment for kids on Ebay, but I think he's too young for that and I also think I lack the requisite expertise; perhaps that's an avenue to pursue in later years if he really takes to it.

I also recall reading (either here or elsewhere, probably both) that some ski shops (and maybe some resorts) have programs that let you rent kids equipment for the season or that let you buy with the ability to trade up for subsequent seasons. Does anyone have experience with San Francisco Bay area shops that they can recommend (in particular, in or around San Jose)? Would it be feasible (and advisable) to hook up with a place in the Lake Tahoe area, which is where we will primarily ski? Other thoughts?
post #2 of 27
At three, not much in the way of quality equipment is available. I am a strong advocate during the years when the growth starts and the skiing really starts to use those season leases with the clause to change gear to acomodate for growth or skill levels.

When my kids were just starting, I took them to a better shop and swung a deal on last years "good stuff" and for about $100 or so walked out with gear that got them through the first two years. The best you will find in boots are two buckle (conventional entry) and a good short pair of shaped skis will see them through.

Later, as they progress, the seasonal rental is the viable option but the closer to home the better (as long as it is a good shop). But find out the details of the lease first and look at your plans. In my case we used to milk out the season as long as possible. The season plan required equipment return by something like March first since they like to get the winter stuff in storage and bring out the bikes and canoes. We still had plans for at least another month. This was smoothed over with a phone call but then I was faced with shipping the stuff back to the store, or was faced with a long ride to return it .... or be faced with a $50 extra charge. The parking tab in New York City, tolls and lunch that day passed the $100 mark to return a pair of boots.

The devil is in the details ...
post #3 of 27
At that age put them in the mountain's Children's program with permission to use the gear for family time skiing together. Decent gear and you are not committed if the kid decides that today they just really want to stay indoors and play.
post #4 of 27
I'm going to emphasize what Yuki said about lease programs, check the details. As my kids grow (I still have an 8 year old) I found it to our advantage to buy equipment out right as needed but we always sell at ski swaps if the kids have out grown the equipment. In our experience we received more in resale then the amount credited towards a new lease. If ski swaps, E-bay or our new Family Gear Swap Forum are too much hassle then the lease program might be your solution.

As Yuki said, find a good shop close to home so you can deal with equipment issues at your convenience. Why waste ski time at the resort waiting in a crowded shop when you and family can be on the snow?

Stache has a good point too. If the resort will rent the equipment for the day, that will be convenient if you put your child in a program every visit. In my experience owning your own kid equipment doesn't reduce the cost of the program so check that detail too.

Personally I always felt it best to own all the equipment my family uses.
post #5 of 27
We started with season lease programs for the first few years until my kids began to race and needed race equipment. I think seasonal rentals are more common in suburban ski shops than in ones near the mountain (at least in my experience).

I like that you can swap gear during the year if needed - we swapped boots, got longer skis etc. I suppose now with ebay I might think more about buying and reselling but the leasing is easy.

One temptation when you buy equipment is to buy big and use for a few years -- be careful of this because when learning being on too big skis one year, just right one and too small one isn't exactly the best. I think for your kids to progress best they need to be in the right sized gear -- too long skis and too big boots will not help them learn. If you buy be prepared to buy/handdown/sell as needed (probably every year for a young child starting).

For seasonal rentals, if you get to know the people in the shop they can make it even better for you -- I've kept rentals until mid-April instead of returning in March (of course I asked first). Find out the day they start the rentals (usally early August) and go one of the first days for the best selection.


Always Skiing
post #6 of 27
I also recommend to send your kids on a ski school.But teaching him personally isn't a bad idea.
post #7 of 27
Put my eldest on skis for the first time when she was 3, and went with seasonal rentals the following year. I figured that even if she only skied 2 or 3 days (she skied more like 15 that year), it was worth the investment just to avoid the zoo at mountain rental shops. That was one less logistical hurdle to overcome and made for a much more pleasant start to the day.

As my kids have gotten older and become better skiers, quality of equipment (boots in particular) has become an issue. None of the shops in or around NYC have trade-in deals, so buying was never an affordable option. I've just had to ask around and do some scouting on my own to find decent rental equipment.

That said, just because you find a place that has good equipment does not mean they have an unlimited supply of it, especially in your kid's size. You really do want to get there the first day they start renting. I suppose there's a chance your kid might outgrow his/her boots sometime between the end of August and mid-April, but with two kids over 14 years, that has yet to happen
(though one year we did have to get some thinner socks for my son).

Most of the places we've rented want their equipment back by April 15, but nobody has ever complained if it came back a week or two late, though I've always called to let them know.
post #8 of 27
Let's be real, guys. A 2 or 3 year old does not need their own equipment, nor do you have to worry greatly about whether the rentals have good edges. My toddler "skis" only in the sense of putting on cool little Atomic skis and boots and learning to walk around, go up a 2 degree magic carpet, then slowly slide down with an instructor walking beside. He laughs a lot, which is the point.

The best thing you can do is find a school that has a combined daycare/learn to ski program (I've heard Sugarbowl is good). Most provide a package with equipment for nearly nothing, and if they're any good they emphasize having fun in the snow over all else. Make a reservation if you're going on a weekend. Watch, take videos, applaud the occasional complete "run," help build a snowman, get in a few runs on your own, have hot chocolate all around. Save your bucks for equipment when growth slows down a bit, around Kindergarden, and your kid has enough motor control to say, "Hey Dad, try this!"
post #9 of 27

...Never too early...

W,
Never too early for that first pair of crampons...:
...however, I guess my $.02 would go for the decent, breatheable clothing for the outdoors on wintery days...and a saucer or sled that you can pull around, and won't build up too much speed...
post #10 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond
Let's be real, guys. A 2 or 3 year old does not need their own equipment, nor do you have to worry greatly about whether the rentals have good edges.
My three year old had her own skis and boots. I kept them sharp and well waxed -- no detuning of the running surface. We tried the "who cares?" approach, but she kept falling down due to the dull edges. Once sharpened she was fine. Who sez kids can't tell the difference or it's not important?

It's like we eat steak and they eat hot-dogs. Sorry, my kids will have the steak too...
post #11 of 27
I agree 100% with BigE.

You want the little ones to get positive feed back when the do the "right" thing.

A good wax allows a flat ski to glide.

A good edge makes a ski turn and locomotion on the flats easier.
post #12 of 27
ditto that - we'll be reinvesting this year from; http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=34022
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigE
My three year old had her own skis and boots. I kept them sharp and well waxed -- no detuning of the running surface. We tried the "who cares?" approach, but she kept falling down due to the dull edges. Once sharpened she was fine. Who sez kids can't tell the difference or it's not important?

It's like we eat steak and they eat hot-dogs. Sorry, my kids will have the steak too...
And don't buy them the cheap ones when you have the ribeyes. My wife used to do that but when I shopped I ruined that for her. They know the differance and why make them feel less than
post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by GarryZ
And don't buy them the cheap ones when you have the ribeyes. My wife used to do that but when I shopped I ruined that for her. They know the differance and why make them feel less than
There's nothing like sharing a properly cooked steak with the family. Tonight was a 2" thick sirloin tip roast, 1.1 Kg with a short rib bone -- on sale for $12.(That's 2.4 pounds) :

Montreal steak spice both sides. It was grilled for about 25 minutes, seared one side and flipped. Then flipped again at the 10 and 20 minute mark. It was blue in the middle when served... just the way the kids like it.

Sorry for the hijack.
post #15 of 27
Ummm. Sirloin tips are pretty fine. But I'll take marinated wild salmon with a cilantro/lemon/breadcrumb crust. Or Flank Steak soaked for two days in terriyaki and whiskey also works. Hungry. Anyway, back to the matter at hand, sorta:

You folks who are advocating nicely maintained personal equipment for toddlers are professionals, yes? Makes perfect sense you'd want to fast track your kids, since you were probably introduced to racing early yourselves. And you can provide lotsa days on the slopes for them right now. It's all good.

Or we assume so. But let's say it is, or let's say your toddlers really want the acceleration. Either way, certainly means they'll be more likely to win a ski scholarship, which is non-trivial.

But most toddlers who ski belong to families who don't get as many days on the slopes, who probably aren't as focused on early sports achievement, and who see skiing as a purely recreational activity. Probably one of several that compete for discretionary income. See the point? For Jane, plenty of time to worry about edge pressure and optimal glide. More relevant that she's having a ball.

Yep, I know the technical arguments about better equipment providing better biofeedback and unconscious muscle memory and so on. All reasonable. Although I suspect there are so many uncontrolled variables, so many sources of error, in the mechanics of a toddler skiing that small differences in edge bite or base glide get washed out. I'd be happy to be proven wrong. Meanwhile, I'll continue to suspect those nice edges and base are more for the parent than the toddler.

Think of it this way: My approach may make it less likely my kids will dominate in junior racing, but it also keeps a lot more instructors employed. I'll be slapping down the plastic at your ski schools this winter...
post #16 of 27
Beyond, I just have to disagree. If you don't want to wax so much that's fine, that'll help keep the speed down.

But the need for sharp skis is like the need for sharp skates -- the child will spend more time trying not to slip and fall than having fun. Again, irrelevant in powder, but darn important in hardpack, where a lightweight child cannot generate enough edge pressure to get a dull ski to bit. They DO need sharp skis for that purpose.

As I said, I tried dull on my 4 year old and then sharp. She had much more fun on sharp, and told me after they were sharpened they were much better than last week. It's not me I'm pleasing it's her.
post #17 of 27
Again, my point about buying the equipment when my kids were toddlers is this, after crunching the numbers it proved to be cheaper than leasing through the local ski shops. I always got more money selling the used equipment then the exchange through the lease program. It was cheaper for my family and we enjoyed all the benefits that ownership offers.

If you're not a dedicated skiing family and only get to ski a few times a season then daily rental maybe the answer.
post #18 of 27
OK, E and LHC. Sounds like your data trumps my assumptions. Couple of questions, though:

Say I decide to buy. The smallest skis and boots I find at manufacturer's sites like Atomic or Rossignol are 70 cm long, size 15 boots. Both seem big for my son, who's average size for 3.5. Am I missing something here? Should skis on toddlers come to their noses, like adults? I always assumed they'd be distinctly shorter. The rentals seem to be.

Also, these shortest skis tend to be exageratedly fat. More normally shaped skis tend to begin at about 100 cm. In your opinions, are the very fat shaped models a good thing or a bad thing?
post #19 of 27
Fat and straight is a good thing.

Fat enhances lateral stability, so they don't plop over their outside edges.

Straight means they have to turn the ski -- the ski won't unexpectedly turn and cross their tips so they get stuck and frustrated.

Too short, and you cannot mount real bindings.

When it comes to boots, go as soft as possible. Rear entry is ok at that age -- they tend to be softer.

Good luck!
post #20 of 27
beyond,

I had my daughter on 80cm skis at 3.5 yrs old, 2 years ago. They were modern, shaped skis purchased new on ebay. She was also able to use them last year. Next year, I don't know if she'll fit without moving the bindings, because I couldn't find demo/rental bindings at the time. However, I had the bidings mounted forward, so if I want to get them moved, I'd only have to have the heels moved.

I can't stress enough how important good, waxed bases are for a 30-40 lb kid. They simply don't have the mass to overcome the friction on a flat hill on a warm day. There were a number of days when my daughter would just come to a stop while trying to go straight, even with waxed skis. Skis that stick make turning a lot more difficult. It's also a bad scenario when a kid is able to straight run the entire hill from end to end. They don't learn to control their speed and direction.

Having your own stuff will do a couple of things for your kid. They will always be on the same equipment, so they are familiar with it and know how to use it (buckling boots, stepping into bindings, etc), you don't have to deal with crappy rentals, rental lines and rental returns, you know it's tuned and working properly, the bindings are adjusted properly, and your kid gets a sense of ownership of the equipment, and can learn to carry it and takes pride in it. Plus, it's so small and light that it takes little effort to deal with. I got a cheap backpack with compression straps on the sides. I can fit her helmet, boots, gloves, hats, and other stuff in the backpack, and put the skis in the compression straps.

I had been doing the seasonal rentals for boots, but now that I have more kids (11mo old triplets), I may go e-bay and start keeping stuff so that her little sisters and brother will have stuff when they are ready to ski.

As for a helmet, the Giro that is adjustable seems to be the best choice these days. My daughter has been in hers the past two seasons and will probably fit in it for at least another season or two. It adjusts just like a bike helmet. They are also doing good things with kid clothes. They are sewn up an inch or two in the sleves and legs, which you can remove some stitches to lengthen them, so that you'll get multiple years out of them.
post #21 of 27
Just to chime in, pretty much agreeing with JohnH others (and, by the way, I'm not a professional ... skier, anyway):

I did the season lease from age 3 up to, I think, 6 or 7. From there, I've bought stuff. One or the other of these seems like the way to go.

The difference between the season lease vs. buying/selling at a swap meet (or to a friend, or on eBay or whatever) is pretty modest. Economically, they're probably close: I'll take LHC's word that the buy/sell plan pencils out a little better. The season lease is a little bit more convenient, at least for some people, i.e. if you've got a decent place near home, and they don't want the stuff back at some absurd time (March?!). I got ours at a place that only does kids' equipment, is within 15 minutes of home, and doesn't seem to care when you return the stuff. There was one year (just one, but still: one) when I took advantage of the option of switching skis in mid-season. Another factor: judging by the number of old skis lying around, I don't have any confidence in my ability/willingness actually to sell anything. On the other hand, if you have multiple kids who are candidates for hand-me-downs, buying looks smarter and smarter.

I'd do a season lease or buy stuff even if the only advantage was avoiding the rental shop melee. There are other pluses:

- Condition of equipment, as mentioned by BigE and others above. Yes, it really does matter to the kid. I wouldn't assume that kids from 3+ are just walking around and riding the moving carpet. Two-year-olds, maybe. But 3-year-olds can ride small chairs and do creditable gliding wedges and turns. I wouldn't sweat it if the kid's skis aren't tuned to perfection, but at least you can make sure the bases are in decent shape and the edges aren't round or railed.

- Kids do have some pride of ownership (if only for a season).

- The freedom to put stickers on the skis, whether it's Batman, or "Ski Like a Girl," or something else entirely.

I also give kids steak. Just keep an eye on them when they're ordering in restaurants ....
post #22 of 27
Well it appears my reply got lost somewhere in the woods...

My experience instructing leads me to agree with beyond.

Learning to ski is not as simple of an activity as say swimming; after birth a child knows instictively to hold its breath under water but it does not possess an instinct to balance itself or stop on snow with "cute little skis and boots".

While one must accept that all childeren develop at different rates. It must also follow that there are general trends and a common "average" if you will. It must also follow that there must be a certain ability level that must be obtained before skiing is a viable possibility. I for one to not consider traipsing around a hill being held up by a parent/instructor to be skiing. At some point every instructon is confronted by a parent who doesn't understand why he/she couldn't get their child to ski. The answer is many very young childeren do not possess the physical coordination or ability to control their body to make a wedge, or to stay in a glide. This is not a deficiency in instruction, it is nature.

This brings us to the point that i believe that beyond was trying to make. There is at some point where there is a too young and at that point any attempt at skiing is mere hand holding and baby sitting. No real learning will occur. For many children having a fun experience around the snow is about as far as a lesson will go. I assure you that this is not an uncommon opinion.

My personal belief that the golden age is somewhere around 4 years old, give or take based on development but around that age. Paying for a lesson for a 2-3 year old is somewhat a waste/exercise in futility and amounts to babysitting by the instructor.

I'm sure there are anomolies (2 year olds making carved turns) but i'm just speaking from observation and trying to offer that beyond and I aren't the only one's holding it. Perhaps its better suited to the instruction section but it is a differing opinion.
post #23 of 27
Actually skiing is among the very first sports that kids can learn. Why? Because balance is the first skill that they've developed.

Provided that they have a sufficiently developed sense of balance, they should be able to "ski". Perhaps not stop, but that is why bunny hills have huge run-outs. Too young is unable to stand in the equipment without help, or too weak to make balance movements.

Infants swim by instinct not skill. That's apples and oranges.
post #24 of 27
I'm actually more-or-less in agreement with Jamon98, though maybe about 6 months off about the golden age. When my daughter first accomplished "real" skiing (gliding wedge, with turns, on the bunny chair), she was actually fully 3 and half, rather than just 3. I don't think she was particularly mature or talented, so my anecdotal impression is that that was "typical," though maybe it isn't. I tend to think 2-1/2 would typically be too young.
post #25 of 27
What happened to the ability to delete messages?
post #26 of 27
I guess it's gone.
post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamon98
Well it appears my reply got lost somewhere in the woods...

My experience instructing leads me to agree with beyond.

Learning to ski is not as simple of an activity as say swimming; after birth a child knows instictively to hold its breath under water but it does not possess an instinct to balance itself or stop on snow with "cute little skis and boots".

While one must accept that all childeren develop at different rates. It must also follow that there are general trends and a common "average" if you will. It must also follow that there must be a certain ability level that must be obtained before skiing is a viable possibility. I for one to not consider traipsing around a hill being held up by a parent/instructor to be skiing. At some point every instructon is confronted by a parent who doesn't understand why he/she couldn't get their child to ski. The answer is many very young childeren do not possess the physical coordination or ability to control their body to make a wedge, or to stay in a glide. This is not a deficiency in instruction, it is nature.

This brings us to the point that i believe that beyond was trying to make. There is at some point where there is a too young and at that point any attempt at skiing is mere hand holding and baby sitting. No real learning will occur. For many children having a fun experience around the snow is about as far as a lesson will go. I assure you that this is not an uncommon opinion.

My personal belief that the golden age is somewhere around 4 years old, give or take based on development but around that age. Paying for a lesson for a 2-3 year old is somewhat a waste/exercise in futility and amounts to babysitting by the instructor.

I'm sure there are anomolies (2 year olds making carved turns) but i'm just speaking from observation and trying to offer that beyond and I aren't the only one's holding it. Perhaps its better suited to the instruction section but it is a differing opinion.
Mostly agree here.

As another children's instructor, let me add this: what is the most important skill for your child before you put them in a lesson? Answer: they must be potty trained.
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