Children used to be an afterthought in the ski market, having to make do with scaled-down adult gear or women's equipment. However, in recent years, many companies have addressed the children's market with vigor, creating products that are meant for kids from beginner to budding World Cup racer.
Most major manufacturers have a good selection of skis for children, many making them for both boys and girls, who have different centers of gravity and can ski better on equipment designed for their frames. For the junior free-ride skier looking to play in the terrain park or rip steep chutes, some twin tip models, like the Line Girls Celebrity Mini or Boys Chronic Mini or K2 Bad Seed offer eye-catching graphics and strong performance. Junior powderhounds will gravitate toward the Volkl Gotama Jr., a kids version of the popular adult model with its fat, rockered tip that's designed to float in deep snow. Junior racers will appreciate the Nordica Dobermann Plate and Volkl Jr. Racetiger, both of which are available in slalom and giant slalom versions.
Ski boots are probably the most important piece of equipment a skier can own because they are the interface between skier and ski. Kids' ski boots are available in many types of models. Scarpa and Garmont even make junior telemark boots. The economic parent will prefer the Full Tilt Growth Spurt, which can adjust to three different sizes via Allen screws on the side of the boot. For those kids wanting more performance, the Nordica Hot Rod 60 and Rossignol SAS Pro Jr. are ideal all-mountain boots. The Head Jr. Raptor 90 is a performance-oriented boot for junior racers.
When looking at bindings, it's important to check the weight guidelines and ski brake size with the salesperson to make sure they are compatible with your child's skis and weight. The Marker M7.0 EPS has 76 mm ski brakes and works with kids up to 165 pounds. The Dynastar PS Team Wide has brakes that will fit 100 mm skis and higher DIN settings for skiers up to 225 pounds. The Rossignol Comp J is for lighter skiers up to 88 pounds and has 73 mm brakes. Junior racers will gravitate to the Marker M10 Jr. Comp EPS with 90 mm brakes and a DIN setting to accommodate skiers up to 225 pounds.