Kids Ski and Snowboard Purchase Options

C at 23 months

Skiing and Snowboarding With Kids

Teaching our kids to ski and snowboard is one of the things we believe is a “must do”.  Manners, integrity, a healthy lifestyle, a love of the outdoors – those are some of the key values we work to teach our kids.  Skiing/snowboarding falls within both healthy lifestyle and love of the outdoors.  It is also a great way to combine these values with family time – as kids and adults can do this activity together from quite a young age.

Mid Atlantic Skiing, Not Exactly A Mecca

Admittedly, (considering that we live in Pennsylvania) we aren’t located in US Skiing Mecca (out west, of course), but we are lucky enough to have opportunities for skiing a few months each year within a one hour drive – and pretty great skiing only a long day drive away (New Hampshire/Vermont/Maine). It’s not Colorado Powder, but it ‘s pretty darn great, especially if you hit it during a big snowfall.

We prepare for our winter mountain sports time for months in advance, as we take a week long trip to New England on a ski in/ski out resort vacation each year.  The kids look forward to this as soon as summer ends and school begins.  The preparations include evaluating our ski equipment needs (snowboards, boots, bindings, skis, poles) and our clothing/warm weather gear needs.  You would think this would be easier each year – as we get the hang of it.  As adults, we don’t need new gear each year.  The kids are a totally different story.

Stocking Up on Equipment for Skiing

I’ve mentioned ski swaps for getting kid’s ski/snowboard equipment – this year it was a total win!  We grabbed a great snowboard for Ryder (with bindings) at a great price.  The bindings are top of the line youth Burton Bindings and the board is in great condition (not a scratch on the bottom or side).  We’re still looking for snowboard boots, but we’re excited for the find.  I always keep an eye out at the ski swaps for the boots, but buying online is also a great source when you know what you are looking for. Evo happens to be running a sale at the moment, click here to check it out – ->evo | Winter Clearance – Huge Markdowns!

Other online shopping resources abound, but I often find my best winter coat/gear purchases at the local consignment stores. I found a child’s Patagonia snow suit last year – barely worn!  You have to know the right time of the year to hit the stores, and you also need to have an idea of what store has the best winter gear selection.  This varies by location so you’ll need to do a bit of homework.  I’ve gotten winter boots, jackets, and snow pants in our local consignment store.  The money isn’t the primary issue, we want the high performance gear and don’t want to be buying new each year (since they outgrow it so quickly).  It’s important that the kids are warm and wearing quality performance gear when they might be spending the day outside in sub-freezing temperatures.  I’d rather buy used Patagonia, Mountain Hardware, Outdoor Research (that new would be $200 or more for a kids outfit) than new non-performance clothing.  Yes, I’m a outdoor clothing brand snob, you found me out! I’m just unwilling to spend  the money year after year on new kids clothing that will only last one season.

Disclosure: the Evo link is an affiliate program link, if you buy something from Evo after clicking that link, I get rewarded.  I shop there myself (just bought a new pair of skis this season), and would link to them anyway (their customer service is awesome), but just wanted you to know! 




Up by Patricia Ellis Herr

My recent climbing trip (and flight) across the country gave me ample time to read a book anxiously sitting at the top of my “to read” list, Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure.  As a mother to two young children and an avid hiker, climber, and camper, the story has a particular appeal.  To start, the book is written by a stay at home mother of two young girls, Patricia Ellis Herr.  At the start of her tale, Patricia, while an outdoor parent, was not (so far as I can tell) a mountaineering expert.  Nor was she a trained hiking or outdoor professional.   Throughout the story, you see that the hikes taken by Patricia and her talented daughter Alex progressively advance into higher mileage, elevation increases, terrain, overnight trips, and varied weather conditions.

Some things that I love about the book: 1) Patricia teaches her daughter that you should not be limited by gender, size, or age.  2) The lessons learned aren’t only about accomplishment (getting to the top) but are also about the journey, experience, and the learning process itself.  3) Our children can only benefit from the education, confidence, self sufficiency and appreciation for the outdoors that adventures such as peakbagging bestow. 4) The reminder that though others should not judge what one parent chooses for their children, they often (wrongly) do.

From a reader’s perspective, the writing is consistent with hiking peaks such as those in New Hampshire.  Some stories seem to run together, some hikes are not so memorable, and some adventures are completely event free  . . .The beauty of both hiking and Up is the truth that it gives to those uneventful moments, when the most amazing things happen, moments wherein the beauty lies in the “lack of” an action or event.  The prose itself is very well done, and the story of Hugh Herr in the midst is integrated well and quite poignant, particularly for those who already know the story.

The most thought provoking and surprising piece of the tale, for me, is in Patricia’s desire to homeschool Alex & Sage (her younger daughter).  She writes “I wanted to give my children the opportunity of a truly individualized education, I didn’t want to lose them to peer pressure and group think and low academic standards.” I find it interesting that this one quote is so judgmental, when so much of the rest of the book seems open minded and accepting, encouraging others to accept her choices for her children.  She follows it up by saying that she is not one to prescribe her values on others, but I was taken aback by that one statement, that one harsh judgment of the educational system and traditional education.  This one quote poses the only surprise for me, as I believe that this judgment comes across little different from the judgment that Patricia and Alex are subject to in their travels…people who believe that Alex shouldn’t be hiking such tall peaks.

I believe that there are values in both homeschooling and traditional education.  I also believe that we can teach our children to avoid group think through our actions, activities, and family values, while operating within a traditional schooling environment.  I love the idea that we can show our children the amazing things they can do, while also introducing them to nature and educating them on self sufficiency.  I appreciate Patricia’s eloquence in communicating this last piece.  For all of these reasons, I greatly enjoyed reading Up and I look forward to reading more about Patricia, Alex and Sage, as I’m quite sure that they aren’t done learning, hiking, or sharing.

Purchase the electronic version or print version of Up . Electronic  – Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure.  Print – Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure

For more from Trish, keep up with her blog.

Kids Summer Shoes – A shopping adventure

The Pediped Amazon shoes on Ry’s feet
Both of my kids have climbing shoes and good sneakers for our climbing expeditions.  There aren’t a ton of options for kids climbing shoes but I figure that’s a different post.  Given that summer is fast approaching, I went to the local kids shoe store yesterday to find a pair of hiking sandals that would be rugged enough for climbing approaches/trails as well as comfy enough (and cool enough) for daily use.  Here’s the summary:

  • Kids will rarely pick the shoe (or anything else) that you want them to pick.  In this case, neither of them picked the Keen or Northface sandals, my top choices.  Why Keens? They are sturdy, comfy, and. . . ok, I just like them for myself.  I’ve held off for years, as I can’t believe people spend that much on sandals for their kids, but then I can never find them at the local consignments.  I was hoping my kids would pick the Keens which pretty much guaranteed that they wouldn’t.
  • Finding shoes that are both supportive and are great for summer time is a challenge.  You don’t want your child walking around in Crocs on the trail (and they are generally not great for riding bikes/scooters/running according to some podiatrists), nor do you want them in flimsy flip flops or sandals.  That being said, sneakers aren’t a great option in the heat, nor are they great for use in the water (or when wet).  Socks are usually a necessity with sneakers (to avoid blisters) and in the heat, socks aren’t always a “fun to have” for kids.  That limits the selection to a small number of brands/styles.
  • I came up with the following summer shoe requirements: tread, support, breathability, washability, comfort & toe coverage.  Again, the list of brands and styles gets quite small from that list.

So we ended up looking at kids “sandal” shoes in Keen, Northface, Teva, Geox & Pediped.  Ultimately, the Teva and Northface were too much sandal and not enough shoe to replace sneakers for biking etc.  They just didn’t have the toe coverage that I wanted to see from a safety standpoint (toe stubbing & banging, catching against the bike/scooter etc).  The Geox (seen here in girls at Zappos) fit the criteria, but they were over $45.00 – my own personal “this is crazy” line in the sand.  So on to the Keens (which the kids liked but didn’t love).  They worked well, but seemed to be a bit less comfortable to the kids.  I was really disappointed and totally played the “they are like Mommy’s” card, which was less than effective.

Finally, we tried on the Pedipeds (at Olly’s Shoes).  The price was higher than I wanted it to be, but given that the kids will likely wear the shoes for the whole summer, I figure it’s worth it.  Additionally, they are washable (and according to the sales person, can be worn in mud puddles for puddle jumping fun).

All in all, it was a good exercise in identifying criteria BEFORE going shopping and sticking to that list. What are your favorite summer “must have” shoes?  And while we’re on the subject, what are your favorite kid summer clothing items?  Not sure what you’ll need for your summer adventures?  Here are some tips for selecting kids hiking clothing courtesy of Adventure Tykes.

Gear Review – practical climbing kids chalk bag

So now that you’re convinced that your kids should have their very own chalk bags (or not), where can you find kids sized chalk bags? Well, practical climbing recently sent us a few of theirs to test with the kids (gear review disclaimer).  Here are our initial thoughts.  Note: durability testing will continue as we use the chalk bags this climbing season.

Let’s start with the obvious – the design of the “Monster” (the chalk bag model we received) is a huge hit with the kids.  It’s fun and certainly get’s a child’s attention, differentiating this as a fun bag instead of mom’s plain old boring one.  I’m not sure how the monster “fur” is going to hold up, but if history is any indication, the nastier the fur, the more my kids will like it. . .so it doesn’t much matter. Time will tell on dirt and washability.

The waist strap that you can get with the bag is key for little kids.  The belt is lighter and seems more utilitarian than the carabiner alternative.

The size is great – too small and they won’t want it (“it’s for a baby” is often the refrain on that), too big and it swallows up their hands and gets in their way when they climb.

The price is extremely reasonable – kids bags start at $14 while buckets go for up to $28 (at the higher end).  The monster kids bag is available for $16 here. These price points seems both on the low end and are “a great value” for what you’re getting.

All in all, a practical “kids” chalk bag is a “great to have” item to bring along for each child.  It’s certainly preferrable to ending up with sticks and twigs in your chalk pot, wasting money and causing frustration when heading out to the crag.

Addition information: What you might like about the bags –

  • They are handcrafted in the US.
  • The eyes on the monster bag are sewn in (making it less likely to pop off than glue).
  • The inside material of the practical chalk bags is a fleecy fabric that feels nice on the hands.
  • Oh, and a great option for your favority pair of climbing pants or old climbing t?  Send it to practical and have a custom bag created. . . Both green & sentimental (wonder if they could make me a bag out of my wedding dress, or is that going too far?)

Some background on practical (yes, lowercase p).  practical climbing started with founder Tammy sewing custom bags for herself and her friends.  In 2009 Tammy’s custom business became “practical climbing” and she began making chalk bags of various sizes and styles available for purchase.  practical still fills custom requests but now offers a wide selection of chalk bags, buckets & pots available for purchase on their website.

With a bit of success has come environmental & social responsibility, as practical now offers a Tsunami relief chalk bag with 100% of profits going to the Red Cross.  In addition, practical has a new partnership with Friksn which reuses (or as they say, “upcycles”) shirt material to create new chalk bags for a more environmentally friendly product.

What material would you like to see in the next line of practical chalk bags? What features should they consider adding to be more kid friendly?