Focus on Footwear

Over the course of my career I have had many, many parents worrying about the right kit to pack for their children on their family ski holiday. This is the first of a series of blogs setting out products and styles which in my opinion are the most comfortable, and practical. I’ll also touch on a few tips for ensuring you get the most out of outfits.

Footwear on a ski holiday can be broadly split into two areas; ski boots and snow boots. The style of each of these varies depending on the age and ability of each individual child.

Snow boots

These don’t have to be expensive, but need to tick 4 boxes:

-waterproof

-warm

-good grip

-easy to put on and take off.


Very young babies don’t need snow boots but will need warm footcovers- these often come with their snowsuits and are already attached or detachable. If you can find a good snowsuit with ‘feet’ attached go for that if your child isn’t already walking. I love this one from Matalan which unzips down the front to make it easy to put wiggling babies inside.

Some toddlers aren’t phased by the snow in the slightest but for early stage walkers the uneven and weird looking snow-covered ground can be intimidating. Look for boots which come well above the ankle and have a solid rubber sole with a good grip to give a sense of stability.

These from Decathalon (£12.99) have a handy loop to make putting the shoes on securely much easier. Most snow suits or ski trousers have an underfoot strap which can be secured under the outside of the boot to stop the boot falling off or the trousers riding up.

As your children get a bit older and are running around more making snowmen and snowforts they will need a boot with a tighter fit around the lower leg. I have lost count of the number of children I have rescued because their foot has come out of the snow but their boot is still 50cm deep! Velcro Fastenings do the job nicely here.These from Sports Direct are a good example.

If you don’t want soggy socks and cold toes  avoid boots with only a toggle for tightening- realistically these rarely get done up properly in the haste to get outside and even if they do they loosen easily.

Older children usually want boots which come higher up their legs and can be worn over jeans if they are not planning on rolling in the snow. I still recommend Velcro rather than lace fastenings for ease of use. These Trespass boots with a toggle and Velcro combine practicality, ease of use and look smart too.

Ski Boots

Despite many misconceptions, ski boot shouldn’t hurt. This doesn’t mean they should feel like slippers, but there shouldn’t be any pain. When talking to younger children I liken them to astronaut boots- they feel bulky and weird and strange to walk in. But they do a job and they shouldn’t hurt.

With children, you should always hire boots locally. You might save a few quid buying some second (or third or fourth) hand off eBay, but you will then be stuck with what might be completely the wrong shape or ability for your child. This is one time to let the experts do their job.

Ski hire shops can be busy and chaotic seeming places on your first holiday, but a well run shop will not rush you when hiring equipment. As a rule (this applies to adults and children) your toes should touch the end of you boot slightly when you stand up straight, as you bend your knees (into skiing position) your toes should come away from the end of the boot. Your heel should lift ever so slightly off the back of the boot and you should feel secure pressure around your foot, ankle and lower calf with no tight pressure points. Don’t be afraid to speak up if the boot feels painful, people have different shaped feet and there are a range of boots to account for this. Good ski hire shops put pre-moulded insoles into boots to support your foot arch when skiing.

If your boots don’t feel right after a day of skiing get them changed.

TOP TIPS

*only one pair of socks EVER- doubling up causes rubbing and blisters

*the only thing inside the boot should be the sock- no snowguards and no thermals (pull these up above the boot)

*the tongue of the boot should lie flat against the shin with buckles and straps going outside of this.

* I find the easiest way to put young children’s boots on is to sit them on a bench and kneel in front of them, pull the tongue (boot not child) forward and get them to stand into the boot either on the floor or onto my upper leg. It is best for adults to supervise this until the age of about 10 as a badly fitted boot on day 1 can cause bruising which lasts all holiday.

*REALLY cold feet will warm up over lunch if you take the ski boots off… just make sure those socks don’t get wet.

Happy Skiing!

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