Kids love to have fun. Kids love to be outside. Kids love snow and kids also love to ‘dress up’ in gear. With new technology, great teachers and role models like Shaun White, snowboarding is a very attainable and rewarding sport for children of all ages. Sure, your child will fall into the soft snow a bit while learning, but just like life, you have to pick yourself up again and keep trying! As far as where to begin, parents should commit to gearing their child up with some smart clothing and equipment to ensure an enjoyable and safe experience on the mountain…
Kid’s Snowboard Clothing
Kids’s First Layer
Let’s start with the first layer or base layer. A long underwear top and bottom should be worn next to the child’s skin. Such clothing not only adds a layer of warmth, but it also wicks moisture. Pure cotton is the worst fabric to wear as a first layer since it holds moisture. Once your child starts to sweat, which is highly likely with all the falling and pushing back up as a newbie, cotton will not dry. In fact, it will get colder once movement ceases (AKA on the lift)! So, do your child a favor and be sure they wear proper base layers! Snowboard specific socks are next on the first layer list. There’s no need to wear two pairs of socks these days. Snowboard socks are made from wool or synthetic materials that wick moisture and keep the feet warm. They are also padded in all the right places to eliminate pressure points.
Next is a mid-layer, or fleece. This will be worn directly over the long underwear top. Fleece is typically constructed with polyester, which is breathable, warm and dries quickly. Again, a cotton hoodie is not a great idea as a mid layer. If any part of it hangs outside of the jacket (cuffs, hem or hood), your child will have a snow coated hoodie! Snow literally sticks to cotton hoodies like glue. That hot chocolate break in the lodge will quickly turn the cuffs, hem and hood into an uncomfortable, damp mess. The other great aspect about fleece is that it is multi purpose and can be worn as a light jacket in the spring or fall.
Kid’s Snowboard Outerwear
Now for the fun part – a snowboard jacket and pants, both of which should be insulated. Snowboard jackets and pants are specifically designed for snowboarding and have features not found in ‘regular’ snow clothes. Such standard features from brands like Burton, DC and Volcom include articulated knees for maximum range of movement, adjustable waist, powder skirt, hidden zippered pockets, hoods that fit over a helmet and true snowboard style. The most important features of all snowboard specific outerwear it’s ability to breath and to repel moisture. And there’s no reason for your little princess to look like a tom boy either. The House has a huge selection of girl’s snowboard jackets and pants.
Kid’s Gloves and Mittens
Last but not least are gloves or mittens just for kids. Like the outerwear, these are treated with DWR on the outside which repels moisture and keeps those little digits dry. Kid’s snowboard gloves and mittens are also breathable, insulated and allow for maximum range of movement.
Snowboard Gear for Kids
The most common question from parents is, “how long can my child use their new snowboard gear?” Rightfully so, your child should get as many years out of their equipment as is safe and easy to use. Involve your child in the buying process, too. He or she will be more likely to take on to the sport, so your investment is a sure shot! Let’s get started with the gear essentials:
- Snowboard Boots - Choosing the right boot is one of the most important aspects of snowboarding for new and veteran riders alike. It will be a miserable day on the mountain if the boots cause hot spots, blisters or sore feet. Kid’s snowboard boots run very true to size. Sizing a half size up isn’t a bad idea to get an extra season out of the boot, but anything more than that is asking for sore calves and difficulty initiating turns. Some brands, like Burton, offer a removable liner in select models which yields an extra size out of the boot for growing feet.
- Snowboard – In terms of sizing, the general rule of thumb is that the snowboard should stand between the bridge of the nose and bottom of the chin. It’s not a wise idea to buy a larger snowboard, planning for the child to grow into it. A board that’s too long will be far more difficult to learn on, thereby decreasing retention. It could likely lead to frustration, and worse, injury. Snowboards are measured in centimeters. To making shopping easier, The House has broken the kid’s snowboards down by size. Figure out the centimeter range between your child’s nose and chin and match it up with the proper board size. Although the graphic won’t turn your child into a pro, it is important that the snowboard is visually appealing to new riders, so again, involve your child in the buying process!
- Bindings – Once you’ve chosen boots and a board, the bindings come next. Binding sizes correlate to the boot size. Each brand has different size charts per binding size, so be sure to choose the correct one! The House shows the size range of kid’s bindings per size to make it very clear which size to purchase!
Snowboard Safety for Kids
Snowboarding is actually a very safe sport for kids when they are taught how to ride correctly and geared up with some protection. Snowboard technology has come a long way in the past decades, making it more user friendly and easy to learn on for beginners. Here are a few tips to consider before heading to the hill…
- Helmet – Helmets will certainly protect your child’s head, but they are also incredibly warm with a few vents in all the right places for cross ventilation. These days, it actually seems quite strange to see a child not wearing a helmet when snowboarding. Like bindings, helmet sizes might vary slightly per brand and it’s important to have a proper fit so the helmet can do it’s job! Fortunately, each brand has provided The House with a clear size chart for all kid’s helmets.
- Lessons – Every resort these days has qualified or professional snowboard instructors who are trained to teach children (and adults) how to snowboard properly. Lessons greatly increase the likelihood of linking turns very early on. Rest assured, your child will be in good hands while you take some turns on your own.
- Snowboard Etiquette – Proper etiquette on the mountain enhances the experience for everyone. Resorts all have some sort of etiquette pamphlet for guests. However, educating yourself and your child beforehand is a good idea. Know your ability and stay in control. It is the rider’s responsibility to be able to stop and avoid other skiers, snowboarders or obstacles. As you proceed down the hill, it is your responsibility to steer clear of the people below you and beside you. Observe and obey all signs and warnings. Stay off of closed trails. When entering a trail or run, look uphill and give way to others. One of the most important rules to abide by is to not stand in the middle of the run or in a place or are not visible from above. If you need a rest, move to the side of the slope.
There you have it! You now have all the tools and knowledge for getting your child started with snowboarding. Sticking to these basics will increase the likelihood of them taking on to the sport, excelling and having the time of their life. If there’s one take away, it’s definitely to size your child properly in their gear. Equipment that’s too big or too small could be dangerous and won’t allow them to progress. Have fun!