Skiing is a great family activity and a fantastic time for the kids. However, like adults, children need to stay warm and protected in order to have fun and enjoy themselves. A good choice of ski clothing can really make a difference when you get out on the snow, with the ski jacket probably being the most important piece.
This article will help you find a reliable jacket for your little one, so you can have peace of mind knowing they are warm and dry. Our buying guide gives you pointers on different things regarding the construction and features you should look for, so you’ll have an easy time making your pick. But first, take a look at some of the best ski jackets for kids we picked out for you, with models for every pocket and situation.
How To Choose A Ski Jacket For Kids – Buying Guide
A good jacket is one of the most important things you need on a ski trip. This is even more important for kids because they spend a good amount of time rolling in the snow. Most kids catch a cold pretty quickly, which is a problem you wish to avoid on a vacation. The jacket needs to be warm, waterproof (and windproof), and able to keep up with the kids’ activities while keeping them fully protected.
Reliable materials are the base of any good ski jacket, and the best ski jackets for kids confirm this. Since they are used in cold and wet conditions, it’s very important to pay attention to material quality. They are usually made of either nylon or polyester (and sometimes a combination of these two). Both are good choices, but there are some differences between them.
Nylon is very tough and often has a good waterproof rating. On the other hand, its level of breathability is not always great. Polyester, on the other hand, offers more when it comes to breathability, and feels light and great to wear. However, it’s usually not as waterproof as nylon, so manufacturers put an additional coating on the surface to improve its water-resistance.
In addition to these two, some jackets are made of more sophisticated materials (Gore-Text, eVent, and similar), which give excellent water and wind protection, while staying fully breathable. Unfortunately, these are very expensive too. For this reason, many parents decide to go with more affordable options since children grow fast and the jacket needs to be replaced every few years.
Like models for adults, ski jackets for kids come with or without additional insulation. This insulation comes as a layer between the shell (outer layer) and the lining inside, with the purpose of retaining the warmth that the body creates. Synthetic insulation is most commonly used in ski jackets, but you will stumble upon some down-dilled products too.
Synthetic insulation is a great choice for snow because, unlike down, it stays warm even when wet. In addition, it’s cheaper to make and use, and you can wash it in a machine. On the other hand, down is lighter and often significantly warmer. However, it loses its insulation properties when wet, which is an obvious drawback when used in jackets for skiing.
Ski jackets for kids without insulation are a good choice for warmer days when you don’t want your child to feel too warm on the track. They also give you more options, since you can always combine it with a base layer and a mid-layer when temperatures drop. When considering what your child is going to wear for skiing, you can also opt for a 3-in-1 jacket, which has removable insulation usually in the form of a separate fleece jacket.
Protection against snow, rain, and wind is the ski jacket’s main task. However, not every jacket offers the same performance. Being only water-resistant is often not enough, because there are big differences between the terms water-resistant and waterproof. Since these are ski jackets for kids, we advise you to go for a truly waterproof jacket. Unlike adults, kids spend much time sitting and laying in the snow, so you want them properly protected.
If you are interested in how waterproof a jacket is (or any other piece of ski clothing), you should look at its waterproof rating (hydrostatic head). This is measured in millimeters and shows you how many mm of water a material can resist (per square inch) before it starts to leak. Obviously, a higher value means that the jacket is better at keeping you dry.
This rating varies greatly from one product to the next, and a higher value often means a higher price too. Polyester ski jackets for kids with a DWR coating have a 5,000mm rating at best, and many don’t even qualify as waterproof. On the other hand, there are nylon ski jackets for kids that go over 10,000mm and Gore-Tex ski jackets for kids that have over 20,000mm waterproof rating.
The DWR we mentioned stands for Durable Water Repellent. This coating improves the jacket’s resistance to water – instead of soaking into the fabric, the water forms into beads and rolls off. On the same principle, the snow isn’t able to stick to the jacket, so you can simply brush it off.
Besides the material, you also need to think about the seams on the jacket. They can be a weak point on some products, and away from where water can leak even if the material has an excellent waterproof rating. Top-rated jackets have sealed (taped) seams. They can either be critically sealed (sealed seams on high-impact places such as shoulders) or fully sealed (all seams on the jackets are sealed).
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that almost all ski jackets for kids we featured offer good wind resistance. We all know how freezing winds can “reach our bones” while on the tracks, so you want your little one protected in this regard as well. Some design features on the jacket (storm flaps, adjustable hoods) can help further increase protection.
Your child’s jacket must be able to “breathe” if you want it to be comfortable. If the jacket isn’t able to let water vapor out, it may easily become too warm and your child will be sweaty very quickly. The risk of being sweaty is obvious – sweat cools down when they stop and they immediately get cold (and wet).
Making a jacket that is highly waterproof and breathable at the same time isn’t easy, and you usually get one or the other. Ski jackets for kids that give you both (like the mentioned Gore-Tex) often cost in the hundreds of dollars. Like with waterproofing, a higher rating is better. Breathability rating represents how many grams of water vapor can go through a square meter of material in a day.
While this is important, it’s not a crucial factor when choosing a jacket. However, good breathability will certainly make wearing the jacket more pleasant. In relation to this, the underlayers you put on your child should also be well-made and breathable.
The warmth of any ski jacket comes as a combination of materials used for the shell and the insulation (if the jacket has it). You need to think about how active your child is going to be, and how low the temperature is going to be. While it may seem tempting to buy the warmest jacket you can find, it’s often not the best option to put on your skiing checklist.
If you live and ski in a relatively moderate winter climate, the best jacket for kids is going to be one with excellent weather protection but without insulation. In any case, proper layering is really important, as we’ll discuss a bit later.
Even though kids are not too worried about the ounces on their jackets (unlike some adult skiers), wearing a jacket that is too heavy can be tiring. Depending on the age and size of your child, some ski jackets for kids can be simply too bulky and heavy, and cause them to lose their breath faster because of the restricted movement.
Unfortunately, except for some high-end brands, most manufacturers don’t specify how much a jacket weighs. However, higher-quality materials are more efficient in keeping you dry and warm, so it’s possible to reduce weight. As the price goes down, more material is needed to compensate for the lack of performance, and the jacket becomes heavier. If you doubt that a jacket may be too bulky for your little one, it’s a good idea to go through other user experiences and gather more information.
Size and Fit
This is where things get a bit tricky. Children’s sizes are most commonly sorted by age and sometimes height. You won’t normally come across information like chest or waist diameter (even though it may be available for some models). As you well know, children grow at a different pace, and, for example, not every 4-year-old is going to have the same height.
This means that if your kid is 4, a jacket intended for his or her age group may not fit them well. This is why it’s a huge help when the manufacturer also provides a height chart with the sizes and gives you instructions on how to take measurements to make sure it’s the right size before you order.
But why is all this so important? As with adult jackets, a bad-fitting kids ski jacket significantly loses on performance. While the downsides of a jacket too small are pretty self-explanatory, one that is too large and fits too loose won’t be efficient in keeping the warmth in even if the jacket itself is well-made.
If you want your kid to be warm, we recommended you buy them a jacket in their size (the same goes for ski pants and ski gloves). Don’t get tempted to buy a size or two larger (for next year), because it won’t work well this year. Additionally, some manufacturers may have come up with a solution to the problem of buying new clothes every year – some ski jackets for kids come with double stitching on the inside. When you undo the first set of stitches, the sleeves extend for an inch or two, which is really neat.
If the child doesn’t feel comfortable in something, they won’t wear it. The best jackets for kids are pleasant to wear all day and able to keep pace with your kid no matter what they do. This is why most ski jackets for kids are made from materials that are able to stretch to an extent. Additionally, all of the products we featured are lined with fleece, which feels great to the touch. And let’s not forget that, in order to be comfortable, the child needs to be warm and dry.
When it comes to the colors on the jacket, they are somewhat more significant on ski jackets for kids than on adult models. Many of them come in bright colors and even have reflective panels on them, which significantly improves visibility. When moving in the crowd on the ski track, nobody wants to worry about where their child is all the time. Bright colors allow you to spot them quickly among other skiers and keep an eye on them.
As the kids get older, they become more concerned with style. This is why we have boys ski jackets in shades of blue and green with one type of prints, and girls ski jackets in various shades of pink and purple, often with floral prints on them. While performance on the snow should always be the main concern, it’s best if we are able to get the kids jackets they actually like and want to wear.
The features on a kids jacket aren’t really that different compared to the adult models. Perhaps you should pay more attention to the zipper quality than you usually would. Kids often have trouble zipping the jacket themselves, and often don’t go easy on the zipper.
Other than this, consider the number of pockets on the jacket. It’s best if all the outer pockets are zippered, and if the jacket comes with a few inner pockets too. Some models come with a sleeve or chest pocket, which is convenient for a ski pass.
If you have a chance, get your kid a jacket with a good amount of adjustability. This allows you to improve the fit, and keep the warmth inside the jacket. Many models come with adjustable hoods, cuffs, waists, and hem closures. This can be done with cinch-cords or elastic bands with Velcro.
As for snow-related features, it’s a big plus if the jacket comes with a powder skirt, which prevents the snow and cold air from sliding underneath the jacket. Furthermore, reinforced cuffs with thumbholes prevent the sleeves from sliding up, and the glove leashes secure the gloves and prevent your child from losing them.
Other neat features include ID labels to write the name, storm flaps, and reflective accents on the jacket. One thing we like in any ski jacket is the underarm vents. These zippers in the armpit area allow you to open up the jacket and let heat out, allowing you to quickly cool down.
Specifics Of Buying A Kids Jacket
To sum up, a few things require your attention when buying jackets for skiing. First, consider that kids grow fast so you need to pay special attention to sizing. As we said earlier, not all the kids who are the same age are going to be the same size, so try to find additional info and measurements before ordering.
Furthermore, you need to choose whether you want an insulated or uninsulated jacket (in which case you need to think about proper layering). Think about how active your child is, and whether it’s freezingly cold outside or not. Of course, regardless of which type you choose, be sure that it’s waterproof and wind-resistant so it can give proper protection. Finally, while there are differences between men and women jackets for adults, they are really insignificant when it comes to kids jackets, meaning that models for boys and girls usually differ only in color.
Q: How Do I Know What Size Jacket Does My Child Need?
As we said earlier, children's jackets are usually sorted by age. While this is a good indicator, it’s not always 100% reliable. This is why you should look for other information such as height or waist and chest circumference (if available). Insight from other parents may also be useful since it can tell you if the jacket runs large or small. We would advise against purposely buying larger kids winter clothes.
Q: Are Jackets For Skiing Warm?
It really depends on the jacket. Hardshell jackets will keep you dry and protect you from the wind, but they won’t keep you warm. We think that the best jackets for kids are those that are lined with fleece and come with at least some insulation, making them a great universal choice for any winter adventure.
Q: Should I Layer Under The Ski Jacket?
Yes, you should. Layering is important for both comfort and warmth. You (or your child) will be warmer with several thinner layers than with only a single layer underneath a thick jacket. You will also feel more comfortable moving around. If you want to learn more, be sure to read our article about layering for skiing.
Q: How To Clean Jackets For Skiing?
While most jackets for skiing are safe for machine washing, we advise you to read the label and see the manufacturer’s recommendations. They are usually washed in cold water with a mild detergent. However, machine washing can damage the DWR coating on some jackets, so they should be washed by hand.
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Finding a nice jacket for your kid isn’t hard as long as you follow these simple guidelines. We hope that our article has helped you get a clearer picture of what you’re looking for. While the focus is a bit different compared to buying a jacket for yourself, warmth and protection still remain the main things to think about. Once you have all the gear ready and these boring tasks out of the way, you can focus on fun activities like teaching the kids to ski or conquering the slopes.
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