Ask A Snowmama: Keeping Warm - Neck Gaiter or Balaclava?

Posted by Kristen on March 3, 2014

Sporting the Neck Gaiters on a Powder Day

Does my 4-year-old daughter need a balaclava to keep warm or will just a neck warmer do? This is our first ski trip with her and her first time in ski school and I want her to be comfortable. Any recommendations on brand for either? THANKS! - submitted by Laura, January 2014

Dear Laura,  

Thanks for sending your question to the Snowmamas! 

The difference between a neck gaiter and a balaclava is that the neck gaiter just goes around your neck, but can be pulled up to cover your face, while the balaclava covers your neck and head, essentially becoming an extra layer under your helmet. Also available are face masks, which are good in snowy or wet weather, and in recent years the bandana has made a comeback. 

I have 4 kids, now ages 6-16, and we're a neck warmer, or gaitor, family. We have always been comfortable with just that as helmets keep you pretty warm and dry. They can be tucked up high enough to cover the whole face when needed, or pulled away when warm. I find little kids, if they are just starting out, get hot and sweaty really fast, so they don't need anything warmer. The one benefit to the balaclava is that it would keep you warmer on really cold days, but honestly, we have never needed one.  

Some of our favorite brands include Turtle Fur, Bula, and Columbia

Don't forget the sunscreen, even if the day starts off cloudy. We like using a sunscreen stick, and it can also be used as lip balm and to protect the face from wind. I often keep these in my kids pockets. 

In Park City, we only hit really cold temperatures on a few rare days a season. The rest of the time it's in the 20's and 30's, and pretty manageable. I find kids' toes and hands tend to get colder first. Hand warmers are great to have, and can be bought in the grocery store. I'm a newbie to toe warmers, but on a recent cold day in Colorado, they were a lifesaver! Really made the difference between coming in early or being able to catch the last chair.  

If she is headed into ski school, they will make sure they take enough breaks to ensure everyone is comfortable. If you ask a kid, they would probably tell you that all they need is hot chocolate to keep warm! 

Let us know if you need any other help prepping the 4 year old for skiing! 

Happy Skiing! 

Snowmama Kristen


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