10 Tips for Skiing with Children

January 12 in Skiing Insights by Steven Abramowitz No Comments

Tips skiing with children

Smart Tidbits when Skiing with Kids

Those idyllic scenes and enjoyable moments of family skiing are yours for the taking. With a little planning and preparation you can avoid the pitfalls. Here’s a short list of what it takes.

    1.  Ski a Family Friendly Mountain - There is a mountain out there for every skier. Find a mountain with the right terrain and amenities for your family. Make sure to consider trail difficulty, mountain conditions, weather, lodging, ski schools and après activities because they all impact the experience.
    2. Get Organized - Losing, forgetting or misplacing gear, apparel or accessories when skiing is often stressful and costly. Reduce the risk by ensuring each skier has his or her stuff organized in a compartmentalized ski boot bag that has a place for everything, including lunch and water.
      • Young Children - A duffle bag or children’s sized ski boot bag will do. Parents usually end up carrying this bag so both a handle and shoulder strap are helpful.
      • Older Children - Check out Kulkea’s lightweight Powder Trekker ski boot bag for smaller sized teenagers.  For larger sized teenagers Kulkea’s Boot Trekker and Speed Pack ski boot bags are perfect.
      • Parents – Don’t forget to take care of you too! It’s critical that your stuff is stowed in a comfortable, ski boot backpack. You’ll need your hands free for the car keys, to help the kids, to buy lift tickets, etc.  Checkout Kulkea’s Boot Trekker, Powder Trekker and Speed Pack ski boot bags.
    3. Learn the Mountain Logistics – Where is parking in relation to the lodge, ski school and ski shop? Is it a long walk? Are there drop-off points, buses or valet services?
    4. Know the Elements - It sounds obvious, but watch the weather. If it’s sunny don’t forget the sunscreen. If it’s freezing or windy remember face-masks, balaclavas and all the layers.
    5. Bring the Phone – Keep it on your person and make sure it is charged up! You’ll want to stay in touch with the kids and ski schools and other family members.
    6. Scope the Mountain – Carry or download a trail map. Make sure the family knows which lifts you’ll be using.
    7. Pick a Meet-up Location - Pick a meeting point in the event anyone gets separated on the mountain. It will eventually happen so it’s a good idea to have this plan even when off-mountain.
    8. Be Smart About Lunch – Pick a location and time to meet. Take an early or late lunch to avoid the crowds and get a seat. You can save some money by packing a lunch and water in your ski boot bag.
    9. Dinner Reservations – Book early. Don’t wait until the day of to think about dinner, especially at large resort areas during holidays and school vacation weeks.
    10. Bring a Bathing Suit & Flip Flops – The kids will be looking-forward to a hot tub or swimming, sometimes more than skiing so do not forget these important items.

Use these 10 tips to make the most out of your next family adventure on the slopes. Also, see our related articles for additional tips and insights.

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Choice Ski Boot Bag

December 23 in Reviews by Steven Abramowitz Comments Off

Powder Trekker OnTheSnow Editors' Choice

 Kulkea Powder Trekker Named Editors’ Choice by OnTheSnow

In only its first season the Kulkea Powder Trekker ski boot bag received the 2015 Editors’ Choice from OnTheSnow! The Powder Trekker was developed over the last several years based upon the ingenious design, high quality and extensive feature sets that skiers have come to expect from Kulkea. We’re proud to share that the Powder Trekker and its four great colorways made the grade with OnTheSnow.

OnTheSnow highlighted the smart-design of Kulkea’s latest addition to its ski boot bag lineup. “Powder Trekker is feature loaded, with ample gear stash spaces, all of which are tailored for the item designed to go there.”

Accolades from the editors included how the Powder Trekker’s brilliant design is intended to keep skiers organized and prepared for a day on the slopes. “The bag’s Intuitive Packing System is genius, with purpose-built pockets for goggles (with super soft microfiber lining), balaclavas/face masks, apparel/layers, sunscreen and/or snacks and water, and of course, your boots on the sides with water-resistant material.”

OnTheSnow loved the skier-friendly features of the boot bag that make it easy to carry gear, and the best choice for 2015. The “hiking-grade adjustable shoulder and sternum straps and a pack-release option that allows you to take it off without hassle.”

OnTheSnow enthusiastically called out their favorite Powder Trekker feature. “We love the deployable helmet sling designed for carrying your helmet on the outside for space and stink reasons. It packs away in its own zippered pocket when you don’t need it.”

Read the review from OnTheSnow.

More Kulkea reviews.

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Teaching Kids to Ski

December 9 in Skiing Insights by Steven Abramowitz Comments Off

Teaching kids to ski

Six Tips on Teaching Your Kids to Ski

Skiing with children can provide some of the most fun, memorable and exciting family times. The question is how to get your family to that point? Do you teach them yourself or leave it to the pros, and what’s involved?

  1. Parent Teaching vs. Ski Lessons - The initial stages of getting children out on the snow, up on skis and learning the basics is challenging. It can tax not only the child, but the parents. For some families, teaching their own children is what works best. Generally, however, the experience brought by the pros is a great solution.

  2. Group vs. Individual Ski Lessons - Skill levels range from beginner up to expert. Group lessons are far more affordable and can easily do the job for young children. Save the individual lessons for older children or those ready to perfect their skills.

  3. Full Day or Half Day Group Lessons -Plan for a full day if possible. Children pick-up a lot more by being on the snow longer. Also, keep in mind that half day lessons leave parents with very little time on the snow given the time involved for drop-off and pick-up. Note: Don’t feel pressured to overdo it on the lessons. Maybe mix in a full day followed by a half day.

  4. Ski Lesson Reservations – Make reservations in advance. Don’t wait until the day before, especially during holidays. Expect the unexpected; make sure to check cancellation policies.

  5. Find ”Your Family Friendly” Ski School – Student-instructor ratio, safety and experience are prerequisites for a ski school, but they’re not everything. The level of fun and convenience are also critical. Checkout the ski school, find out how they’ll keep the children engaged, what’s involved with the intake process, drop-off and pick-up time-frames, and how, when and where children must be dropped-off (i.e. at the ski school with their boot bag vs. geared-up on the mountain and ready to go). Beware of schools that will bore your children or leave you or your children exhausted before even hitting the slopes.

  6. Expect Children to Complain – Most will in the beginning, and it’s usually about going to ski school. It’s natural so don’t be duped. Your child is special, but not in that respect. Get them over the learning curve and they’ll likely fall in love with the sport.

Be on the lookout for our next post on “Tips for Skiing with Children.”

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November 22 in Skiing Insights by Brion O'Connor Comments Off

Key Ski Accesories

Other necessities and how to pack them for the slopes

Most skiers and snowboarders will keep the “big” items in mind when packing for a day on the hill. Things like skis, boots, helmet, layers, gloves, goggles, wallet, and mobile phone are all pretty standard.

But oftentimes, it’s the “little” things that can make or break your outing. So, for starters, check out our trusty Kulkea ski gear checklist. That fairly comprehensive list includes accessories such as helmet, goggles/sunglasses, balaclava, ski boot bag, ski bag, and miscellaneous items like lip balm, sunscreen, hand warmers, winter hat or cap, and a gear lock.

But, remember, these items are just for starters. We spoke with a number of ski professionals and dedicated winter enthusiasts who recommended a number of other items that they consider essential. With a sturdy bag like the Kulkea Boot Trekker (which has been getting great reviews, including this one in Men’s Journal), you’ve got enough spare room to bring along all the necessities.

Duct tape. The granddaddy of all-purpose emergency repairs. Gloves, jackets, boots, and a variety of other items can all be fixed, at least temporarily, by this tough, sticky silver tape. And you don’t need the entire roll. Some skiers will wrap anywhere from 15 to 20 inches of duct tape right on their poles. However, cold weather can affect the adhesive and make the tape a little more difficult to work with. I prefer putting the same amount on a ballpoint pen, and leaving it in my boot bag.

Spare screw set. This is particularly important for snowboarders, as snowboard bindings are more prone to loosening to those on alpine skis. The same holds for telemark bindings, though to a lesser degree. That’s one of the reasons many ski areas are installing workbenches near the base lodge and chairlifts. But those benches provide the tools, not the actual screws (usually).

Multi-tool. Murphy’s Law dictates that the very moment you need a workbench, you can’t find one. In those instances, it’s nice to have your own tools. A Leatherman-style tool (or, as one friend calls it, a “McGyver-style tool”) should be in your bag. Full-size screwdrivers will give you more torque. The Brooks-Range Backcountry Multi-tool is one of the best of the lot. Though a little pricey (about $70), it is designed specifically for the backcountry, and features several blades, a bit driver combined with five bits (two Phillips, two flat, one Pozi, and one Torx), wire cutters, needle-nose and regular pliers, four sizes of wrenches, and a bottle opener (of course). Money well spent.

Tuning kit. If the conditions are on the icy side, you’ll want sharp edges. There are a number of terrific miniature tuning kits that allow you to bring your tuning table with you to the lodge and keep your edges sharp and smooth. One of the best is the Tognar Alpha ski tuning kit, with a 6-inch true bar, brake retainers, base repair candles, a set of three pocket diamond stones, edge file/bevel tool, brass file brush, and steel scraper. Perfect. But the Tognar kit is also one of the most expensive, at about $115 (though it’s money well spent). Dakine also makes a great kit, complete with all-temperature wax, P-tex, a wire brush, scuff pad, a scraper, and edge-tuning tools, in a convenient, low-profile zippered case, for under $60. At the very least, bring a pocket stone to work out any nasty burrs.

Lost and found. If you plan on a little backcountry adventure, you should have RECCO technology, which allows resorts and rescue teams to find lost skiers carrying RECCO reflectors. If you’re apparel is not RECCO-equipped, the Patagonia Tech Web belt ($45) is a must, and a great price-point for that technology. Massachusetts ski mom Nancy Eileen Williams, who spends a good portion of her winters at Sugarloaf in Maine, always makes sure her teenagers have an emergency whistle and compass if they’re going to do some off-piste glade skiing. In the same vein, a reliable headlamp with full-charged batteries is nice to have.

Spare change. Boston Herald travel editor Moira McCarthy suggests stashing a few $20 bills in those hard-to-find pockets of your boot bag and parka. That way, you’re never at a loss for cash when you need it. “I don’t know why I don’t take them out at the end of the season,” she said, laughing, “but I always feel like I won that money.” Likewise, a spare car key and spare condo key can come in handy.

Spare clothing. Beyond regular layers (including glove and boot liners), a toasty pair of wool socks is a real treat après ski. Race coach Vaughn Harring, who calls Wildcat in northern New Hampshire his home area, says that for those really rainy days, “I have some industrial rubber gloves. They work great in the wet, and you won’t trash your leather gloves or mittens.” Extra goggles aren’t a bad idea, either (consider different tints for different lighting conditions).

Snacks. If you’re a parent traveling with young children, snacks are an absolute must. Because when little ones get hungry, they get cranky (the very definition of “hangry”), and that can put the whole day in jeopardy. Truth is, hunger pangs can affect anyone. So a few energy bars (Clif Bar and Luna bars are personal favorites) can help take the edge off. Energy gels, such as GU or Hammer Gel, also work, though not quite as filing. Shot Bloks by Clif Bar are a big hit with kids. Beef jerky is terrific if you’re feeling iron deficient. Fresh fruit and dried fruit are also great options. Just don’t forget that you have it in your bag after you get back home. “And chocolate,” said travel writer Hilary Nangle who lives near Sugarloaf in Maine. “Always chocolate.”

Instant warmth. Tea bags are an elegant solution to warming up while saving a few bucks. Skiing isn’t cheap. Anytime you can save some money, that’s a good thing. If you bring your own tea bags, all you need is a free cup of hot water. For the kids, bring packets of instant hot chocolate.

Vitamin I. Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are a great way to take the edge off those nagging aches and pains that come with skiing and snowboarding into your 40s, 50s, and beyond. They’re especially popular with the telemark set and freestylers. However, you should be aware that the National Institutes of Health has stated that NSAIDs may carry a higher risk of having a heart attack or a stroke, and may cause ulcers, bleeding, or holes in the stomach or intestine. So use with care. If you’re concerned, stick with aspirin.

Phone accessories. Our mobile phones have become our connection not only to family and friends, but the world around us (I absolutely LOVE my Urban Spoon app to find nearby restaurants when I’m in a new place, and my Yelp! App to provide reviews). Want proof? Think of how you feel when your phone dies unexpectedly. Plan for that inevitability by packing a back-up phone battery, a phone cable, and a phone AC plug. The Voxer app converts your cell phone into a walkie talkie, and is easier to use compared to texting or even the actual phone mode.

Personal grooming. Let’s be honest – one of the best aspects of skiing is après ski. There’s nothing wrong with sprucing up after your last run. Women have known this for generations (judging from all the micro-toiletries that she manages to squeeze into her over-sized purse). Toothpaste and toothbrush, maybe floss, comb and/or hairbrush are all compact and convenient. Don’t forget the breath mints.

Flask. Really, no explanation needed, right?

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Family Skiing

November 11 in Skiing Insights by Steven Abramowitz Comments Off

The Right Stuff for Family Skiing

Experienced ski parents know that family skiing starts with having the right gear, apparel and accessories. Hitting the slopes under-prepared isn’t only frustrating, but can be very costly when you have to buy necessities at the Mountain. Here are a few tips to help your family have stress-free fun on the slopes.

  • The “Stuff” List. Every skier in the family needs the right gear, apparel and accessories. See Kulkea’s printable Ski Gear Checklist.
  • Keep them Warm & Dry. There’s no need to overspend when outfitting children, but the quality of the apparel is important. Rule #1 for skiing with children is keeping them warm & dry. If they get cold or wet it’s over. “A happy child means a happy parent!”
  • Buy, Rent or Lease Skis, Boots, Poles & Helmet? This all depends where and how often you and the family expect to ski during the season so you will have to run some quick and easy numbers on the costs, but as a rough guide…

Local Skiing

One or Two Days-Rent. Three Days+ Lease.

Note that many local ski shops offer reasonably priced seasonal leasing programs for skis, boots and poles. Other than a helmet you should be able to cover all of the gear for younger children through a lease. For older children you’ll likely end up buying at least some of the gear, so check for shops that offer seasonal buyback programs. Keep in mind that buying with hopes of passing gear down to a sibling is often an idea better in theory than in practice.

Traveling by Air to Ski?

You’ll likely be much happier using your own boots and helmet so bring them along. Make use of an organized ski boot bag to stow and keep track of your gear. Good skis and poles, on the other hand, can likely be rented at or near the mountain. Bringing your own skis and poles boils down to a cost versus convenience decision.

  • Avoid Rental Shop Lines. If driving to the mountain and planning to rent, try off-mountain shops for convenience, selection and cost savings. If using the mountain rental shop try very early morning, or better yet, late afternoon the day before skiing. Don’t underestimate how poorly children and long rental shop lines mix.

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