Picking gear for yourself might seem challenging, but what’s even harder is determining which gear is going to keep your kids warm and happy when temperatures start to dip. From the cutest ski boots on the planet to a wetsuit you can trust to keep your budding surfer warm, we’ve got the youth gear that’s going to keep the stoke high this winter season.
686 Girl's Harlow Insulated Jacket ($160)
Why We Chose It: Because our little snow bunny won’t compromise on style when it comes to her winter coat. 686 has been a leader in the snow apparel world for more than 20 years, so they know more than most about fusing fashion and function.
Why We Liked It: The Harlow has a nice slim fit, without being overly constricting. The faux fur hood was a hit right out of the gate, and 686’s infiDRY 15k fabric, fully taped seams and inner quilted lining kept her warm and dry all day long. Not to mention she just looked (and felt) so stylish the entire time she had it on.
Tester Tip: While this jacket certainly shines in cold, snowy weather, it’s still light enough to be used for everyday activities (or even a rain jacket) when you’re not in frigid temperatures. Keep it in mind as a solid option for a daily jacket.
Elan Sky Quick Shift ($275)
Why We Chose It: To be quite honest, it was the adorable colorway that initially caught our eye (a huge factor to consider for a child’s first pair of skis), but the trusted name of a brand like Elan was the catalyst in our decision.
Why We Liked It: Our little lady clicked into these skis and felt cooler than I’d ever seen a toddler feel. Elan’s patented U-Flex technology enables youngsters to truly feel digging into the snow thanks to the full flex that the skis employ under the child’s feet. And our little ski bunny had no problem getting the feel for the tiny little hill on these skis. It was a long day of “pizza and french fries,” but these skis certainly made for a wildly successful first time on the slopes.
Tester Tip: Get your little skier signed up for a ski school for their first time. While many of us want the experience of sharing these first moments with our kids, a good ski school gets them involved with other kids, talented instructors and an overall fun vibe. You’ll have the rest of your lives to lap the park together.
Anon Define Helmet ($140)
Why We Chose It: Because everyone should be wearing a helmet on the hill (especially children), because Anon arguably makes some of the best protective wear around, and also because the kids’ goggles are attached to the helmet with their Strapper-Keeper technology, which means no hassle of slipping goggle straps all day long. Win, win, win.
Why We Liked It: The soft, snuggly inner lining kept our little skier happy in the chilly winter air. The helmet/goggle combo not only looked adorable, but still maintained an extremely high level of protection with its Endura-Shell construction. There are no gimmicky bells and whistles, just a quality product that our little one was super stoked to wear all day long.
Tester Tip: The adjustable “On-the-Go fit” clicker in the back makes for easy (and pleasant) fitting so the helmet isn’t sliding all over your child’s noggin. As with most kids’ products you buy, it’s fine to go a size or so larger on this one because of the adjustability.
Dakine Brat Mitt ($18)
Why We Chose It: Mitts are an integral part of a kids’ snow arsenal. Without them, there are tears and whining all day long. Dakine is known for their quality gloves and mitts, so when we first saw the Brat Mitt, we knew we were done looking.
Why We Liked It: Our little one was able to slip these onto her own hands all by herself right out of the gate – that really says something about the thoughtfulness of the design here. Beyond looking adorable, they kept our kiddo’s hands warm and dry all day long — even in slightly slushy conditions in the afternoon.
Tester Tip: As most parents know all too well, it’s safe to opt for a size or two larger on these. This will give you the opportunity to get more than one season out of them, which you’ll surely be able to do, so long as your little tyke keeps track of them.
Elan Bloom XS ($140)
Why We Chose It: We wanted to keep our boots in the same system as our skis/bindings, so the Bloom XS was the obvious choice. Not to mention they’re built as well as many adult boots, and the soft fuzzy lining was a hit for our little girl right out of the box.
Why We Liked It: We had a hard time getting our little skier to take these boots off in the cabin. They’re so soft, and they fit tiny feet so well. The Bloom works harmoniously with Elan’s U-Flex technology skis, which only helps make everything easier for the child, and ultimately leads to a speedier progression. After a full day lapping the bunny hill, we hadn’t heard our toddler complain about foot pain once, which says a lot about the fit of these boots.
Tester Tip: Let your little skier romp around the cabin in the boots prior to stepping on the hill. Getting them used to that “heel-toe” stiff walk is crucial to having a pleasant day on the mountain.
Roxy Girls 2-6 Lola Bib Snow Pants ($90)
Why We Chose It: For tiny toddlers, bibs are the ticket. It keeps their pants up all day, and prevents snow from getting trapped in their waistband. Roxy is synonymous with girls’ style and functionality in the surf/snow space, so we decided that the Lola Bib in the Azalea colorway would suit our little lady perfectly.
Why We Liked It: It did everything we mentioned above, and kept her legs warm all day long. We didn’t even notice any soggy wet spots on her bottom from time spent seated on the snow. She also felt like a rock star with this bib on — it looks really cool.
Tester Tip: Our girl wanted to wear this bib all over the house for days before we even hit the hill. So, we let her. We didn’t want to spoil the “cool factor” that she saw in this bib – that stoke will carry over onto the hill for sure. Your toddler will likely feel the same, so we suggest just going with it.
Strider Strider 14x Sport Balance Bike ($209)
Why We Chose It: Our kiddo had spent years on the classic Strider bike without ever wanting to switch to a traditional pedal bike (and we tried many times). The new pedal conversion kit that comes with the Strider 14X was such a game-changing concept to us, that we had to get our hands on one.
Why We Liked It: As mentioned above, our little dude had been an expert on the original Strider for years. When the 14X arrived, we simply assembled it without the pedals (as Strider recommends), and let him jam around the cul de sac for a few days. As soon as he showed interest in the pedals, we attached them in about 5 minutes, and he took off all by himself on his first try. It was a huge moment for him, and for us.
Tester Tip: Don’t push the pedals on them until they’re ready. Just be patient and keep reminding them that the pedals are there whenever they want them. Once they see all the big kids jamming with their pedals, they’ll be asking you to get them dialed, too.
Volte Premium Youth 3/2 C/Z Steamer ($180)
Why We Chose It: Because the most important thing to keep in mind when getting your kids in the water is keeping them warm. A comfortable kid is a happy kid. With a name like “The Steamer” we decided to put the 3/2 suit from Volte to the test with our grommet.
Why We Liked It: Getting your kids into a wetsuit can be a very daunting task, but this suit was one of the easiest suits we’ve ever slipped our grommet into. The front zip is something we hadn’t tried with our kids before, and we won’t ever go back. The Steamer is also extremely well built for the price point. The quality is on par with any adult suit we’ve ever used, and the construction is sure to last multiple seasons—if you take care of it, of course. It kept our little guy warm and cozy all day long on a winter day in 60-degree Southern California water, without one complaint about comfort. What more could you ask for?
Tester Tip: As we all know, sizing up for a growing child is crucial. So we recommend opting for a size that offers some growing room. As mentioned above, it’s built so well that you’ll easily get multiple seasons out of it.