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Outfitting a toddler with ski gear

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Moderators: Feel free to move this to the Family Skiing forum or Kids Gear Swap forum if this seems more appropriate there.

I need some guidance on outfitting my son with ski gear.

His stats: He just turned 3 at the end of February. He's 3' 3" tall and about 35 lbs. He's very active and (it seems to me) has pretty sturdy legs.

Some (possibly relevant) background: My wife and I pulled him around on some plastic skis a few times last winter and he liked it (he loved snowball making and tobogganing even more). This past Monday I took him out for the first time on real ski gear (rentals). We rode up the magic carpet and slid down maybe 8-10 times. At his (strong) urging, we even rode up the beginner chair lift and slid down for the last "run" of the day. He really seemed to enjoy it (though he enjoyed the gondola rides even more). His balance seemed pretty good and he had little trouble walking around on his skis. All of this is by way of saying that I think he is both willing and able to start learning to ski. So, instead of renting all the time, I thought I'd buy him his own equipment instead. (He has a younger brother - and more later - who can use the equipment in future years, making buying an even more attractive option.)

What is a good size ski for him to be on? The smallest sizes I see online look to be 70 cm or maybe high 60s. I was considering picking up equipment (skis, at least) on Ebay and I've found a used pair of Atomic Race 5 skis in 80 cm. Is that too long for him, considering his age, height, weight and novice status? (One of the most attractive things about those skis are the graphics: yellow with a racing flag design. He loves cars and he latched on to that design right away ... and that's an important consideration for a three year old.) Obviously, I'd like his first attempts at skiing to be as easy as possible, but I think it would be OK to have skis a bit long with the thought that he could use them again next year. Are there considerations other than length that I should pay attention to? (In other threads, I've seen the schools of thought range from "It doesn't matter. What do they know?" to "Kids are people too. Pay attention to their equipment.")

How about boots? I know enough now to know that boots are, universally or almost so, considered to be the most important equipment to get right. Is that less so with a toddler? In other words, is any boot going to be OK so long as you get the size right? And, as to size, how do I go about deciding on an appropriate size? Even if I have him outfitted woth boots at a ski shop, it seems to me that the sizing will depend mostly on my (and the shop's) input: a three year old (my three year old, at least) is not really much good at providing appropriate feedback for such things. I assume that he'll wince in pain if the boots are way too small, but if they're only a little bit too small or if they're too large, I'm not confident he will accurately convey that information. I measured his foot and it looks to be about 15 cm. What size boot is right for that size foot? 15.5? 16? 16.5? One of the online boot buying guides that I've read indicated that the boot should be one size larger than the shoe size. Is that right? I also understand from some reading I've been doing online that boots from different manufacturers that are nominally of the same size may not in fact be so, complicating things even more.

If there's any additional information I should provide to enable meaningful guidance to be given, let me know. Thanks for any help.
post #2 of 10
Skis.... Since this season is over halfway over, I'd consider the longer skis so he can use them next season. Since he is only 3, you'll be VERY lucky if you can get him to wedge... He'll just be sliding around, and longer skis would be more stable for him... If he is 3'3", that's about 100cm (39cm * 2.5), so 80cm would come about to his shoulders... Maybe consider a 90cm or 100cm...

As for boots, you need something that fits comfortably... when you get rental boots, see if you can shell fit them, and leave a couple cm behind the heel in the shell... This will give a decent fit with some growing room. This will be the size you would probably want to buy. You aren't talking about him carving.. or needing 100% preciseontrol.. he just needs to be able to wedge, and as long as the boot is not 4-5 sizes too big, it shouldn't be an issue. Try him in a set of rental boots that are about 3 sizes too big... If they are comfortable on him (based on non-verbal cues), they may be your best bet, so you can get use out of them next season.

If you wanna do this on the cheap, go on eBay and get used boots and used equipment.... If you get 100cm skis, they should work for him this season and through next season... I'm not 100% sure how fast kids feet typically grow (maybe another aprents can chime in here), but I figure they won't grow more than 1 or 2 sizes by next season.

Ideally, though, you'd go out and get appropriate equipment for him at the beginning of every season, but that can be expensive....

Once again.. this is all just opinion and what I'd likely do in this situation if I could not afford new equipment each season for a child... If anyone else has better advice, chime in.
post #3 of 10
find a local shop with a leasing program.
That way you can switch out boot size or ski length as the season goes on.

Also you can get them out in the back yard slip sliding around until you finally venture to the ski area.

All three of our toddlers started this way.
Plus you avaid the rental shop scene on valuable ski days. Priceless!

Bon Chance!
post #4 of 10
I'm in the area and I've been pretty happy with the junior program at Norski. Basically, you get skis, bindings, boots (poles are optional) and then get a 50% trade-in value when you go to larger sizes. IIRC, the packages start around $250. No time limit so if the tyke can stay in the same equipment for 2 seasons - which can happen if you get him stuff now, no problem. Heck, if the younger one uses it and you don't trade it in for 3-4 years, no problem. Better yet is that they're local so they'll size him appropriately with boots and skis. Both my boys and my neice have their equipment through this program. Shorter on the skis makes it easier to learn....slower speed, lighter weight and easier to turn.

For boot sizing, you pull the liner out and size by the liner when the kids are really young. Make sure they've got some room to grow in the liner but not too much. My 8 yr old will be ready for shell-fitting on his next set of boots...but fitting to the liner for a 3 yr old is going to be as good as it gets. When they're really young, they can't get their feet into tight fitting boots.

I think Pleasanton is the closest location. Talk to Ryan, Steve or Lauren. They also have most of their adult ski stuff on sale too. No affiliation - just a happy customer.
post #5 of 10
I'm planning to pull the trigger on some gear for my daughter this summer (currently 19 months old). I'm trying to figure out what is a good target price.

I've seen packages for ~$200 new including ski's bindings & boots. I'm looking for leftovers or lightly used - want to be able to pass down to the next kid...

So what's a fair price, what's a screaming deal? I'm trying to hold out as long as possible on the boots for better in season fit.
post #6 of 10
I just bought new skis from Porters in Tahoe for my 4 yro, and got used ski boots from another Bear for $20. Skis and bindings were $106 from Porters, with a snowbomb discount (code meatloaf). I would say for his age and size I would go 88 or 90 cm, which he can use for another year or two. My daughter is now 43 inches and I just bought her 100 cm skis, which should fit for a couple of years. She was skiing on 88 cm rental skis earlier in the season. Edgie-wedgies are also very helpful when they are starting out.
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks, everyone, for the information.

As to leasing, that was initially what I thought I'd do if he showed interest in skiing this year. But I haven't found anyone locally who does that (I checked in person at Mel Cottons and the Helm web site doesn't say anything about seasonal rental for kids). If anyone knows a shop in the south Bay Area that does seasonal rentals, I'd certainly like to hear about them.

With two (and, most likely, three) kids to use the equipment, buying is probably a good option for us anyway. And I think I'm falling in love with those yellow race car skis.
post #8 of 10
I did the season lease for my 3 year old daughter this year (I've got a 1 year old at home too). Just alot easier that way for me, and this way, my 1 year old will be on newer equipment when its his turn. Plus, if your kid hits a growth spurt during the season and his/her boots aren't fitting anymore, you can just simply get a new, more appropriately sized pair from the shop you leased them from.

The shop in VT by Mt Snow where I leased the pair from my daughter from charged me $125 for the season (return by May 15th). And most importantly, my wife won't get on my case for adding even more pairs of skis to my basement
post #9 of 10
Originally Posted by jasdmd0 View Post
if your kid hits a growth spurt during the season and his/her boots aren't fitting anymore, you can just simply get a new, more appropriately sized pair from the shop you leased them from.
You forgot to mention one exceptional assumed condition regarding this. What if they are away from home on a ski trip and the kid's feet grow overnight. Hmm... Don't laugh, it actually happened to us. We ended up paying for the rental for the week and the annual lease. About double the original expense for boots that year.
post #10 of 10
Looked at ski leasing, found that I could purchase new at my local shop for about 3/4 of full price...both boots and skis. While I have another on the way---used (newer) equip is going for about 1/2 origional cost...so I purchased.

My son was 18 mos when I purchased....smallest boot I could find was an 8. (his foot was 6 at the time) Forget the cm, but think it was 16. They worked great. He could have skied with free rentals where I work, but they were sold out each time I brought him up. Very good for our mountain and the industry.. Owning also saves all the rental time--which is very valuable with a 2yr old in the cold.

I may also custom paint/decal his skis this season. Could not do that if leased. I am sure he does not care that he skis Rossi---while dad is on Dynastar or Fischers.
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