One of the most important pieces of ski equipment for adults and kids alike are the ski boots. Why? Because the key to becoming a good skier is learning to control what inherently is a difficult-to-control setup -- two planks, attached to your feet, and waxed on the bottom to slide easily down a slippery slope! If the skis are like tires on a car, then the ski boots are like the wheels of a car. A secure, solid interface between the car, the wheels, and the tires, is critical for driving under control and, similarly, the interface between the legs, the boot, and the ski are critical for skiing under control.
High-quality kids ski boots, like all ski boots, are not cheap, though, so this creates a dilemma for teaching kids to ski or even later with kids that are great skiers. In the beginning, not all kids learning to ski will stick with it so investing in great ski boots may not make sense. And even the kids that do become good skiers and ski regularly outgrow their gear every year, again making the investment in high-performance kids ski boots a question mark.
For many families, especially with kids first learning to ski, we generally recommend renting before buying. While that connection between foot and ski boot and ski is important, it becomes more important as the child progresses and, early on, the cost simply outweighs the benefit.
For anyone buying ski boots, there are details to look for to get the best fit and performance that go well beyond the scope of this article. But for our list of the best kids ski boots, we were looking for products that solve kid-centric challenges much like we do with SHRED DOG premium outdoor kids winter gear.
For kids ski boots, the challenges are:
1) Kids outgrow gear every year and good gear is expensive to replace
2) Getting ski boots on and off of little feet can be seriously difficult and frustrating (for both kids and parents of course!)
3) Walking in ski boots isn't the best experience for anyone and for some kids, that challenge can impact their overall enjoyment of the sport
So which ski boot brands are solving those challenges? On to our 2019 list...
Rossignol has been making great ski bots for decades and with the Rossi Comp J1 Kids Ski Boot, they have focused on one of the other key challenges for kids learning to ski... the difficulty it often is to get little feet in and out of their ski boots! This boot features a rear-entry, single buckle design making it very easy and quick to get kids feet in and out of the boots. This boot is an even softer flex than the Roces so certainly designed for beginners.
Salomon is another iconic ski boot brand that has made great boot options for adults and kids for years. The Salomon QST Access 70T kids ski boot is not like the other two on this list - it is certainly a higher performance boot for at least an intermediate skier (flex 70 not 30/40 like the other two). This is a lightweight boot for comfort all day and features a walk-mode for backcountry hiking or just easier walking around the resort. It is on our list for both of those reasons. Beginner kid skiers learn and transition into great kids skiers that need great gear to do things like hike where there are no lifts with their parents to get to the fresh powder! But even for those that stick to on-piste runs, if you're willing to spend a little more, the walk-mode is also a much more comfortable experience getting to and from the car and walking around the lodge.
If you're not looking to shell out more money for a walk-mode boot or want a softer flex, beginner boot for kids first learning to ski, there are still options to help with walking in ski boots. To make walking in any boot a little easier, there are a number of brands making traction grips for walking from the parking lot to the lift. CAT Tracks are very popular and also check out a newer brand Ski Skootys. They say one size fits all but may only work well for bigger kids.
Do you have other favorite ski boots for kids? Let us know your thoughts and suggestions in the comments!
Coach Nelly is back with Part 3 of our guest blog safety series, this time teaching beginners (and reminding everyone) of safe terrain park etiquette.