My son joined the ski club at school. You register online and you are IN ski club. Joining the club means he skis with his friends 5 consecutive Tuesdays and eats Skittles for dinner with no adult supervision. He is catatonic when I pick him up afterwards. It turns out skiing is good fun for the whole family. (ha)
The other day, a typical MN winter day, my husband mentions, “I hope he is warm enough out there.” For a split second I thought…Is he? Is he warm enough? My sweet boy is exposed to the elements. MY BABY!!! Oh no…he is fine.
Yeah. He’s warm enough. Definitely. You want to know why?
Because it isn’t 1981.
He is wearing gear from Spyder, Burton, Kamik and North Face. North Face, ironically, is a company created after 2 California natives took a hiking trip in MINNESOTA and climbed a mountain and were on the coldest, most brutal side of the climb. My son is wearing gear that is good enough to summit a mountain here and elsewhere. When the children leave in the morning, they look like they are being sponsored in the X games.
Remember the snow pants in 1981? The snow pants consisted of a thin inner cotton layer with a thin outer nylon shell that swished when you walked. Swish swish swish. Those were snow pants. My mother made me put on waffle weave long underwear, then the snow pants. They were likely the best snow pants available at the time. They stayed dry for about 6 minutes. Retail price $12.
My son has snow pants that have super powers. They are busy wicking moisture away from him and insulating him and trapping heat and are water proof yet breathable, have an adjustable waistband and they even freaking GROW another few inches longer if need be. Magic pants. Retail price $ Expensive. Worth every cent. When his brother gets them in 5 years and wears them out…we will be down to less than a penny per wearing.
The jackets? Did you own a stupid “ski” jacket in 1981? Mine had a chevron pattern. Similar to the one below…
Style wise? Awesome. They were not doing anything magical though…it was more of an aprés ski look. These were definitely made to wear near a crackling fire. I remember my zipper rarely worked. When it was zipped up the metal hit me right at the teeth. I used to put my tongue on the icy zipper all the time. Yeah…I licked the inside of my jacket. They used some sort of cotton fluff for insulation. Maybe it was cotton balls. It worked like cotton balls because it did not work. Years ago my father in law got a Columbia jacket that came with a book attached. It said, “This is not a jacket, it’s a system.” Systems apparently were not available in 1981.
My son has a jacket that has a removable hood, six pockets, a bungee cord on the interior to seal out the world, velcro at the wrists and an attached cloth to wipe off ski goggles. It blocks the wind, is lightweight, packs down tightly and is warm. His jacket is ready for any and all winter sports. He has on a base layer underneath. His base layer is a moisture wicking, soft, form-fitting, in his favorite color kind of base layer. I think in 1981 your base layer was your skin. That’s it.
The mittens. Those sad little mittens with the metal clips (maybe only for the abstract random kids like me who lost stuff). You could make exactly one snowball before those suckers were done. And your jacket didn’t meet the mittens all the time and the wrist of the mitten flared out like a bell collecting the snow so you had 1 inch of skin that was always exposed. But so what? Just keep your red, raw hands in that sopping wet mitten. I had eczema as a kid. Weird.
My kids have a veritable mitten buffet. They have stretchy gloves for cool weather. Mittens with fleece lining for cooler weather. They have gloves that come to nearly the elbow for cold weather with Velcro straps and elasticized cords to tighten the wrists. They have gloves with leather grips on the palm for driving? Tow ropes? Working outside? We even have gloves in this house that have pads on the fingers for touch screens. I guess you need those should you find yourself sledding and texting at the same time.
Hats. My boys wear hats that are not only warm but prefer ones that are fleece lined for comfort. Me too. In 1981, I had a pom pom hat with a heart print. See below. Crappy picture. Cameras in 1981 sucked too. Winter looked the same though.
That hat itched. It was pretty warm but it itched. I also use to pull the threads out of the top and tie them onto the zipper loop. That did not decrease the itch factor and made my mother pretty mad.
Remember how your boots were wet in 1981? ALL the time my boots were wet. You could put those pieces of crap over on a heat register for a full weekend and they wouldn’t dry out. I had moon boots similar to those pictured below (but mine were pale pink). Again, fabulous looking and quite sproingy (I made up that word) but I often wore 3 pairs of socks for sledding nearly cutting off my circulation.
My sons wear Kamik boots. They have a comfort rating down to -25F and a removable insert. -25 is incredible and why did it take manufacturers so long to figure out kids boots should have removable liners? They are ready for Everest.
So…I will not moan to the children about how I walked uphill to school 3 miles both ways in the snow. It wouldn’t be true. But I did trudge uphill to the bus stop and waited in the negative wind chill in the modern-day equivalent of their t-shirts. I was cold during most of elementary school. Minnesota winters haven’t changed. The gear has come a long way though, and for that I am grateful.
So, as I mentally do a scan head to toe of my son. He is warm enough. Plus with any luck, at the rate he is growing, those snow pants are MINE next year.