What Size Ski Gear Do Kids Need? Skis, Boots, Helmets, and More!

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Buying new ski gear for adults is totally different than buying new ski gear for kids. Sure, we all need to revamp our gear every now and then but only because it gets old (or we want to treat ourselves!) With kids, it’s usually because they have that inconvenient habit of growing, so kids ski gear needs to be replaced more often. 

And believe me, when young kids are involved, it’s rare to make it one year to the next without needing to get a bigger size. In all our years of skiing with kids, there have been several times when I’ve dragged out last year’s perfectly good kids ski gear only for it to look comically small on one of our children.

So, what are we to do? Well, we replace our kids ski gear of course. 

Since good-quality and good fitting kids ski gear is essential for safety and for good skiing technique, finding the right gear can often be a daunting task. Unfortunately, there is no exact rulebook that can help you find the perfect fit, and often you’ll need to find yourself in a ski shop at some point.

While you will likely need a ski pro to get a perfect fit, there are a lot of things you can learn that will help you figure out if your kids ski gear is the right size.  

But how do you know when kids ski gear needs to be replaced?

It’s also difficult to pinpoint exactly when helmets start fitting a little too snuggly or when ski boots are pinching at the sides. You’d hope your kids would tell you but sometimes they just don’t know either – we don’t wear ski gear every day after all and the fit can be a bit unnatural for kids.

So, we can help them out by applying a few neat tricks before making any purchases. Some techniques are more intuitave than others but we’ll go through them step by step for each essential gear piece.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

Choosing The Right Sized Kids Ski Boots

Ah, ski boots. Can’t ski with them, can’t ski without them. However, getting the right size can change your ski experience entirely.  Of all the pieces of ski equipment that you need for your kids, a good fitting pair of ski boots is the most essential.  Especially as kids develop into more advanced ski hills, they will require good fitting ski boots to ski properly.

When testing to see if a ski boot is right for your child, your first move should be to compare their foot to the bottom side of the ski boot. This cuts through a lot of “putting on-taking off” time and is a good benchmark to rely on.

If there’s an extra inch of space on both sides of the boot where the foot is not covering then you can estimate it’ll be a good fit, and can move onto the next stage of boot fitting. 

Next, take out the lining of the boot, and have your child wear just the boot liner. This will give you a good idea if the boot is too small, especially for younger children, who may not be able to tell you otherwise. Next, take their foot out of the liner and place your child’s foot inside the shell. 

Note: The ski boot liner is tricky to take out and put back in, but this is the best way we’ve found to see what size ski boots kids need.

what size ski boots should kids wear

Once in, you can gently move the boot until their toe is placed firmly against the front of the shell. There should be about ¾ of an inch or just an inch of space left between the heel and the back of the shell. If you’re not sure, you can use your fingers as a method of testing. Enough space for two stacked fingers should suffice. And if there’s no room at all, well then the boots just won’t do!

what size ski boot do kids need?

Continuing on, place the lining back into the shell (be patient, it can be tricky) and get your child to try the ski boot on once more. There should be no clear discomfort but expect them to be a little tight. All ski boots should have a tight fit rather than the looser fit we expect with day-to-day footwear. 

If the boots are snug and don’t move about too much, you can then try both boots on and let your child do a test-run. If your child can freely walk around and they’re not too clunky or painful – you’ve probably found a pretty good match.  I usually have my kids leaven the boots on for 5-10 minutes just to make sure that their ankles or feet aren’t being pinched by the boot anywhere.

With the rate kids grow, we highly recommend these adjustable ski boots.  They are super easy to adjust, and work well for beginning and intermediate skiers.  As an added bonus, you don’t have to adjust the ski bindings when you change the size, so it really is something you can do on the hill if you learn that your child’s boots are too small.  

How To Find The Right Size of Ski Helmet For Kids

Finding the right ski helmet for kids is a little easier than fitting kids ski boots, but a good fit is very important. A proper helmet can mean the difference between a trip to the emergency room or an inconsequential fall.

Scary, I know! I often spend hours just trying to get a decent ski helmet for my kids despite their begging me to go home already, but this is a critcal piece of kids ski gear.

kids ski helmets

However, my go-to helmet fitting technique works, it hasn’t failed yet. Let me show you how to choose the right size of kids ski helmet.

First of all, you’ll know that your child is outgrowing their helmet when it’s getting too high above their eyebrows. Too high is two fingers space between the helmet and the top of the eyebrows. 

If you’ve reached this stage, you can be sure it’s time to shop for a new ski helmet. If you want to be completely accurate (which I recommend) you can measure your child’s head by circling it with a measuring tape just above the eyebrows. 

Though this may sound a little ridiculous, almost all helmets will be labeled with their interior circumference so you can be assured of an exact fit.

However, if you’d like to go a little more old-school, you can always try on different helmets in store. 

An absolute necessity is that the helmet cannot be moved around once on. It should fit firmly to the head without being excessively tight. If your child can shake their head from side to side and the helmet stays still instead of jiggling about – then you’ve got yourself a winner. Ask your child to walk around for a moment and if you notice the helmet slides forwards or backward on their head then it’s a big no-no.

If you’re looking to not only get the perfect fit but also the guarantee of a few years use out of a helmet, try buying one with an adjustable dial on the back. This gives your child the luxury of a custom fitting their helmet with each use and you’ll save a buck or two!

Our children often wear a thin balaclava face mask under their helmet on really cold days, so an adjustable dial lets me loosen their helmet a bit when they wear more layers, but also tighten it on warm days.

I can’t find a ski helmet to fit my child!!

Are you having a hard time finding a ski helmet to fit your child?  If your child has an especially round or elongated head, you’ll notice that it can be more difficult to find a good fitting kids ski helmet.  Trust me, I’ve been there.  One of my kids has a very round and large head and we had the hardest time finding a helmet for him.  Ultimately, we learned that Smith makes Asian fit helmets, and they fit his head perfectly.  If you have a child with a very round head, I highly recommend looking for one of these.  

What Size Skis Should Kids Use?

There’s some leeway when it comes to choosing the right ski size for kids. Seriously, it doesn’t matter a great deal and you have more wiggle room when deciding on the best size ski for your kids. However, we still want to get them close to the right size, and luckily – it’s incredibly easy to find the right size of kids skis.
Read more details about kids ski sizes.

what size skis should kids use?

All you have to do is stand the ski up next to your child and if the skis are somewhere between their neck and their nose, then it’s a good size for them. Don’t worry about being exact here, as long as the ski falls somewhere within this area then you should be fine.

It’s generally accepted that smaller skis that fall closer to the neck area are best for younger and inexperienced skiers.  For toddlers and really young kids, their skis can be as short as their upper chest (though it can sometimes to hard to find them that small).   If you aren’t sure when your child should start skiing, read our article on the best age to teach kids to ski. Naturally then, if you’re child has a few years skiing under their belts and is a more advanced skier, you can go for longer skis that end in the forehead area.

kids ski sizes

You generally get around 80 to 100 uses out of a set of skis but kids skis tend to last a bit longer. We buy a majority of our kids skis used, and then pass them down through all 5 of our kids and then usually onto friends after that.  Kids skids last A LONG TIME!  Even with growth spurts, all of our kids have been able to use the same pair of skis for an entire season, and often, they can use the same pair for two seasons (it will just be shorter on them the second season).  

You’ll know that your child needs new skis when they seem to be outpacing how fast the skis will allow them to move.  If your child seems to always be lagging behind, give their skis a good coat of wax, and if that doesn’t do the trick, consider the next size up. 

It can be somewhat hard to determine the best size skis for kids but generally putting your kids in the correct size of skis will help them improve their skills.  If they’re getting better, it could easily be time for new skis.

But, if you don’t have time to test, the height test is your next best bet and always reliable. 

What Size Ski Poles Do Kids Need?

Not every kid uses ski poles and they’re not strictly necessary for a fulfilling ski experience but if your kid likes to use them, it’s best to get them the right size!

when should kids use ski poles

Whis is the best age for kids to start using ski poles? We recommend starting to ski with ski poles when your child regularly skis blue ski runs.  If you have a young skier who has advanced really quickly, don’t rush into getting them poles.  As a general rule, we don’t have our kids start skiing with poles until they are 6 years old.  

To see if your childs ski poles fit them properly, place the pole upside down and ask your child to grab it just above the basket. If their arm is at a right angle, then you’ve got yourself a good fit. If not, it’s time to get a different size.

kids ski poles

What About Kids Ski Clothes?

Just in case it needs to be mentioned because having children is often stressful enough to make us overlook the obvious – eyeball it. This is especially applicable for outerwear such as kids ski coats and kids ski pants. Just by lending an analytical eye when they’ve got all their ski gear on should be good enough to let you know if there needs to be any adjustments or replacements.

I hope you’ve gained some valuable insights from reading my article. Getting the right skiing gear for my family has always been a challenge but getting the right fit from the beginning has always allowed us to ski together as a family so much better throughout the year. When everyone is comfortable on the slopes, there’s no complaining and much more time for enjoying the day skiing together as a family! Moreover, everyone is kept safe and sound since there’s a lot less falls and a lot more laughs if the kids have ski gear that fits correctly.

Following these guidelines can ensure a smooth and easy skiing trip for the whole family – enjoy!

Written by Jessica Averett

Hi, I'm Jessica! After meeting my husband on a chairlift, we now live in the mountains of Utah with our 5 kids. As a former ski instructor and mom, I'm here to help you make your family ski trips as easy, and FUN, as possible!