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The snow is falling and it is time to start planning that winter ski vacation. If this is the first time taking the kids, this list will help you pack the essentials for a fun day on the slopes.

1. Ski harness or vest. Many parents teach their kids to ski using ski harnesses that work as leads while the kids are going down the mountain. While we never used this feature, the handle on the back of the ski vest is essential for young kids. The handle makes it easy for parents (and lift staff) to get kids on the lift and provides a convenient place to hold onto kids while on the lift. It also makes it easier to stand kids up when they fall.

2. Warm and waterproof ski gear. You may be able to ski in jeans but your kids cannot. They need warm and waterproof ski pants, jackets and mittens. All gear must fit properly but doesn’t need to be expensive. Beware of purchasing in second hand shops unless you know that the items retain their waterproofing. Fabric softener decreases the waterproofing ability of most fabrics and kids ski gear is often washed frequently. Some second-hand stores will let you test the fabric for beading with a spray bottle before purchasing.

3. Appropriate socks and base layer. One pair of ski socks is sufficient – layering socks makes it harder to ski and causes the feet to sweat, which ultimately makes them colder. The base layer should be of a wicking fabric to help keep the skin dry and warm.

4. Neck gator. A neck gator is absolutely essential anytime kids ski. Tuck the bottom into the shirt to prevent drafts and snow from falling into shirts. My kids like to pull it up while on the lift. They can be bulky for toddlers so we use a kid sized ear warmer as a neck gator for little kids.

5. Hot Cocoa and snacks. Kids get tired and cold very quickly – especially when they are just learning to ski. Frequent hot chocolate breaks make the day much more fun. Look for a ski vest (see number 1) that has a back pocket for stashing a variety of fun and healthy snacks. A day skiing really burns calories so select snacks that will fuel your kids throughout the day.

The right gear, a good attitude and a little patience make all the difference in a fun successful ski experience with the kids.

News Reporter