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Kids' skis w/ rail systems, ski length advice, & the usual "where are the deals" inquiry

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

After doing season rentals for my girls last season, I am looking to purchase gear for them this year.

My 4yr old is 42", 38lbs, has one season under her belt, and can control turns top to bottom on groomed green runs in a wedge.

My 7yr old is 50", 51lbs, has skied two full seasons, and is matching skis on turns and skiing parallel on all groomed blues.

They ski 2-3 weeks a year, with at least 1 week West of the Rockies & one week here in the East.


First question: sizing advice?

My 4yo skied on 80cm last season, and currently measures 90cm to chin.

My 7yo was on 110cm, and measures 108cm to chin, 114cm to nose.


I'm presently looking at some Head Nice One LiteRail skis, which can be had with the Head kid's rail-system binding for $160 mounted & tested.

I'm leaning towards getting the little one 87cm and the big one 117cm, to account for the fact that they've grown an inch or two, but to keep them within their comfort range.

I'm partial towards the idea of rail system skis to avoid the whole remounting racket when they outgrow their boots or it's time to hand down skis (I'm an ex-shop-tech, so I'm comfortable installing rail bindings & dialing in the DIN, but I no longer have free access to jigs, so I won't have the option of doing my own remounts).


Tips or advice on sizing and any other rail-system ski deals that may offer better bang for your buck would be welcome.

post #2 of 5

Sounds like a good deal.


Do they have their own boots?

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Unless I can score a better deal elsewhere, my present plan is to order the Roces Idea adjustable kids' boots from levelninesports.com with the Head skis & bindings I mentioned.

I heard about the Roces boots last season, and the feedback I found here on EpicSki was overwhelmingly positive, so I'm inclined to give them a try.

LevelNine will mount & test the bindings for free with the boots, and my thinking was if the boots just don't work out for one or the other of the girls, the rail system binding would allow me to re-adjust the binding to whatever boot we chose as an alternative.


Perhaps I should open up my inquiry a little:

What online ski shops are well stocked with kids skis & bindings?

I've tried the usual suspects (Backcountry, REI, Altrec...) and haven't been able to beat LevelNine's deals.

post #4 of 5

You may not going to like what I am going to say, but here goes.  We all know the most important thing for kids and adults is the boots.  When kids start carving and skiing the diamonds, they usually need a stiffer boot.  But kids don't weigh a lot, and a slight difference in flex can make a big difference between a kid flexing the boots and not being able to.  The problem with buying boots on line is not just the fit, but the "flex" since one company's "40" could be another company's "50."


There are a lot of skis on eBay for cheap, as well as from many on-line ski shops.  The problem I've had purchasing on-line is that kids skis are often times poorly made.  I returned kid skis last year--Rossignols--because the bottoms were so outrageously concave (kid skis are usually capped and not always made with in the same factories or with the same standards as adult skis).   I have learned my lesson and will now go into a ski shop with a tru-bar or ask the shop for a "flat" pair of skis if not shopping in person.


One option is to find a safe used equipment and tune the skis yourself.  There are used beginner skis on eBay with starting prices of $0.99.  Another option is to buy "new" skis that are a year or three old. They usually have the same dimensions of the new skis, with only the tops changing from year-to-year.  The third option is to go to a ski shop that has an exchange program.  Some shops will exchange your equipment when needed during the year, and will give you a healthy credit towards the next years purchase. 


Level Nine is an example of a shop that purchases inventory that hasn't sold from manufacturers, and sells it as "new."  Since most kids skis only change their tops every year, buying older "new" equipment is a huge $ saver.  I purchased some kid skis from Level Nine before and they seem like a reputable shop.  But for boots, I'd be wary of buying on-line if your 7-year old is starting to carve her turns.  That is around the age where strength and skiing ability improves rapidly (at least that is what happened with my sons), and getting the right boot will help her improve more than her skis.  I'm not knocking Roces, it is just that they may be too soft for your older daughter since I believe it has the same flex for all the adjustable foot sizes. Your younger child, of course, just needs whatever boot is comfortable with reasonable lateral support.


For other $ saving ideas, check out this thread:  Money & Time Saving Tips For Parents With Small Children Who Ski .

Edited by quant2325 - 10/12/10 at 3:30pm
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the input quant - the "Tips for Parents" thread is great too: wish I'd stumbled across it 3 years ago before we started skiing with the kids: would have saved me a lot of time learning the ropes.


As for the skis, it's pretty clear the Heads I'm looking at are from a previous season: different topskins than the 2011 model on Head's website, and they're about $100 less (with bindings) than any of the 2011-12 rail-system models I've found.

I bought both my wife's Atomics & my own Fischers online at steep, end-of-season discount, so I hear you loud & clear on NOS !


On buying used: I blew it and missed the ski swap last weekend at the only ski shop in NJ I like and trust. My one small consolation is I spoke with the guys there, and none of the JR skis at the swap were rail skis, so I would have saved $$ up front buying used, but likely have given a lot of it back on the binding remounting merry-go-round (not to mention the cost of pre-season tuning: after several years away from the sport, I still have yet to go out and re-purchase all the ski tuning tools & equipment I once had).


As for the boots: I have my misgivings about ordering boots online, sight unseen, but since no local retailers stock them, I'm inclined to order so at least we get the chance to try them out.  The sales guy I spoke to at LevelNine even offered me a return label at their cost if sending boots back on my Fedex account was too prohibitive, so I feel like I don't have a lot to lose by trying.

I used to fit boots back in the day myself, so I feel confident in assessing the fit & flex of the Roces when they get here.

If they don't work out, I'll probably start by fitting my 7yo for the next size up in the 4-buckle Nordica boots she had last year: the last & flex worked great for her, and given she's grown more in height than in weight since last season (+2in, +2lbs), my guess is they'd work well again this year.


I appreciate your critical insight on my current top choices, but unless someone can point me in the direction of some *specific* gear choices that offer greater flexibility, value, & performance, I'm probably going to pursue this Roces / Head setup as a starting point, and see how we make out.


Any thoughts on my ski length choices?  Does 7cm seem to be a reasonable step up? I want to give them some room to grow, but not give them more length than they can handle.

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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Family Skiing Discussions › Kids' skis w/ rail systems, ski length advice, & the usual "where are the deals" inquiry