Headed Out Skiing
Winter seems to be perpetually coming. I don’t know about you, but I always used to have the worst winter blues before I started getting into winter sports. Getting outside even when it’s the coldest time of the year is the best way to feel alive again, when everything is under a thick layer of snow.
You’re probably here because you’re just getting into it, and kudos to you! Winter bunnies really know what they’re doing, and they know exactly what they need to bring on their many ski trips throughout the year…
Now I am not a veteran on the mountain, but I sure am good at packing, and I recently really honed in on my knowledge of what you pack to have the most successful ski trip possible. So grab a pen and paper or whatever you use to make lists, and let’s get you on that snowy peak!
Planning for a camping trip once things start to warm up? We’ve also got a list for camping packing here!
Is road tripping more your thing? We’ve also got a great packing list for a road trip too!
Are you headed to Hawaii for the winter months instead of Aspen? Don’t fret, we’ve got you covered with a packing list for a Hawaiian vacation too!
Before you Go…
There are a few questions that you should ask yourself before you start packing, and even way before you start planning your trip. Though I’m not much of a planner in regular life, I sure like to plan trips! I find planning more usually allows for the most successful trip.
Where are you headed?
Not all skiing and snowboarding happens around resort towns. Mountains are all over the place, and you don’t have to be an extreme sports person to get out there where things aren’t so established.
If you’re more of a beginner, it’s a good idea to stick to the well established runs that are usually around ski resort towns. Some people may not like the sounds of a ski resort, but there are so very quaint and reasonably priced ones out there.
Getting into the outback where there aren’t established trails should be left for the people who have way more experience, and ignoring that is quite irresponsible. Those who go into the more wild places are required to have their avalanche training, so if you go out there without the proper credentials, you could end up being a burden on someone else.
Some of the most popular ski resorts in North America can be found in Colorado, California, Utah, Alaska, Montana, British Columbia, and there are smaller ones on the east side where the mountains are a little smaller, like in Vermont, and Quebec.
Who are you going with?
The type of trip that you have also depends greatly on who you’re travelling with! Are you travelling with your family? A partner? A group of friends? It’s always a good idea to have a conversation beforehand about the type of trip that everyone wants to have, so that those things can be planned around.
It’s also important to have a ski or snowboard buddy of a similar skill level with you. It’s never fun feeling like you’re being left behind, or being brought down a run that is outside of your pay grade. So if you don’t have that, see if you can find someone!
How long are you going?
The amount of things that you have to pack will totally depend on how long your ski trip is going to be. You can usually get away with 1 set of everything if you’re just headed out for the weekend, but a 3 week trip is probably going to mean an extra suitcase.
You should also ask if you’re going to go skiing or snowboarding more than once in a day. If you are, it’s probably a good idea to pack an extra of everything so that you don’t have to put on a soggy snowsuit to go out twice in one day.
Another question is: is it worth it to bring your own gear, or to rent stuff while you’re there. If you’re flying in, checking all of your ski and snowboard gear can cost a pretty penny, but so does ski rentals. Check out the prices and plan from there.
The Ultimate Ski Trip Packing List
You know better than me what you need to bring on a trip, but you are only human at the end of the day. I’m an expert packer, but almost every time I travel with someone they forget one major thing. You can use this list as a guide, or as a simple reminder of something you may have forgotten otherwise!
The main thing to remember when it comes to packing for a ski trip, is that when you’re in the mountains the weather can change at a moments notice. You could be carving powder in a t-shirt at one moment, and shivering with 6 layers on the next. That’s why it’s always a good idea to pack extra extra extra ski clothes!
Jacket – depending on how long you stay, you may want to bring anywhere from 1 to 3 ski jackets. This layer should be waterproof and well insulated.
Snow Pants – I absolutely love snow pants. I don’t even need to be doing a winter activity to want to wear snow pants. 1 or 2 pairs of ski pants should suffice for any trip.
Snowsuits – if snowsuits are your thing, all the power to ya! Just remember that getting out of a snowsuit when you have to go pee can sometimes be a pretty dramatic situation. That being said, if you wanna look cool, wear a snowsuit.
Additional Insulation – sometimes the sun isn’t shining on the mountain, and that’s when you’re going to want an additional insulated layer. This should be made of either down or fleece in the form on a vest or thin jacket.
Top Base Layer – bringing 1-4 base layers for your top half should probably be good. It’s an ever better idea to invest in some nice moisture wicking layers. Cotton just clings on to sweat and ends up making you stinky and cold.
Bottom Base Layer – same deal as the top half, but for your bottom! These are ski essentials.
Sweaters – as long as you have your moisture wicking layers, the type of sweaters you bring is flexible. I like to bring wool because it tends to stay warm even if it’s wet! Those sheep, so smart.
Ski Gloves & Mittens – this is an item that you certainly don’t want to forget. A proper fitting pair of gloves and mittens can make or break your comfort for a day. This is an item you could really splurge on, especially if you have very poor blood circulation like me.
Winter Hats – we want to keep those little ears from falling off any way that we can, so packing yourself a warm winter tuque is the best way to do that. These can get wet pretty fast, so maybe bring 2 just in case.
Ski Socks – I love socks! I have so many pairs of fancy warm socks I can’t even count! They say that merino wool is the best type of sock that you can buy because it isn’t itchy, it’s moisture wicking, and it also doesn’t smell!
Neck Gaiter – a neck gaiter is also a super important item to add to your list. Scarves can get in the way, they change in tightness, and sometimes fly right off. A neck gaiter stays put and keeps that beautiful face of yours warm.
Skis & Ski Poles – whether you’re doing downhill or cross country, it’s always nice to have your own set when you get out on the hill.
Snowboard – you probably don’t need reminding to bring this, but bring your snowboard! Snowboarding may be hard without it!
Ski Boots/Snowboard Boots – make sure that you try on your ski boots or snowboard boots before your trip if they’re new. I’m sure you’ve experienced the pain of ill fitting gear in the past, and an ill fitting ski boot could potentially ruin your whole trip. A boot bag will be helpful too.
Ski Goggles – ski goggles are an absolute game changer. Getting a well fitting pair with reflective lenses makes the whole experience a lot more comfortable.
Sunglasses – snow is really really bright, and having a pair of polarized sunglasses will surely help prevent deepening your fine lines due to squinting.
Ski Helmet – a ski helmet! There are cool kids on the slopes that whizz by without helmets, but snow can be shockingly hard when it’s hard packed. Keep those little brain noodles safe and just bring one.
Hand Warmers – not everyone is going to need these, but having an emergency pair of hand warmers can be really helpful for folks like me with terrible circulation.
Not everything happens on the slopes in ski towns! It’s always nice to have some cute clothing with you if you want to go to a restaurant, out for coffee, or whatever the heck else there is to do! Though there are some formal places in most ski towns, you can usually get away without a collared shirt.
Warm Winter Jacket – it’s always nice to put on a big warm puffer that’s different from your noisy ski jacket at the end of the day.
Warm Hat – remember your ears!!
Gloves & Mittens – ski gloves are pretty different from more casual city gloves. Though some may think it’s overkill, I like to pack a set for each activity.
Sweaters – I love hoodies, I love sweaters, I love being cozy. I probably pack twice as many sweaters as I need when I travel in the winter.
Jeans & Pants – leave your linen at home. See if you can find a pair of lined jeans, wool pants, or suede pants to bring with you to be extra toasty!
Warm Winter Socks – merino wool doesn’t just have to be for the slopes!
Snow Boots – it’s always going to be a good idea to pack some snow boots with a fair amount of tread on them. Some cozy ones that you can sit in at a restaurant for a couple of hours, and then they’ll successfully take you home without slipping after.
Bathing Suit – if you’re a lucky duck, chances are that the hotel or air bnb that you’re going to be staying at on your winter vacation is going to have a hot tub. Try not to terrify your relatives and just bring a reasonably sized bathing suit.
Undergarments – pretty self explanatory I think!
Sleepwear – I know you got that set of Spongebob Squarepants flannel PJ’s. Bring em along.
Ski Passes/Lift Passes – don’t forget these! You will not be allowed on the mountain without them.
Prescriptions/Contact Lenses – duh
First Aid Kit – this one is always a good idea, especially if you’re travelling with kiddies. They sell neat little travel sized ones that you can fit in a large pocket!
Day Pack – I have a little backpack from REI that I call my “adventure pack” because it’s so small that I can’t really feel it on my back, but it’s large enough to hold all the essentials I need when I’m on the mountain. Get one!
Entertainment – a deck of cards, books, magazines, whatever helps the dull parts of the day go by.
Power Cables – I know you’re addicted to your devices. You’d never forget these in a million years.
Headphones/iPod – honestly, the first time I ever went down the ski hill playing one of my favorite tunes in my ears, I don’t think I’ve ever felt cooler in my life.
Water Bottle – I don’t want to see any of you folks walking around with any single-use plastic water bottles or I will LOSE IT.
Swiss Army Knife – though this probably isn’t totally necessary – especially since they’ve got wonderful rescue teams on the mountain – it doesn’t hurt to bring along a swiss army knife. These can be life savers!
Travel Tissues – no one wants to be the person who has a bunch of snot running down their face and they don’t realize it because their face is frozen. Take a tissue.
Sunscreen – this is a major one! The sun reflects off of the snow quite a bit and can give you one of the worst goggle burns of your life. Sunscreens with zinc in them are even better!
Lip Balm – I mean I use lip balm pretty much every hour of my life, but it can be a life saver when you’re up there on the mountain where the air is dry and cold.
Aloe Vera – for the day that you forgot to put sunscreen on the bottom tip of your nose.
Toothbrush/Toothpaste/Floss – dental hygiene! Hooray!
Hairbrush/Hair Accessories – you’ve got hair? You probably like hair accessories.
Soap/Shampoo & Conditioner – usually whatever place you’re staying, they will provide you with these items. But I know there are those folks out there who have custom shampoos made just for their precious scalp.
Deodorant – don’t be that guy. ESPECIALLY if you only packed cotton t-shirts.
Extras for Kids
Now I’ll be honest here, I don’t have kids, so I don’t know what packing for kids looks like. What I do know, is that kids literally don’t know how to pack, so chances are that you’re going to have to do the whole deal for them.
What I do know, is that packing for kids basically just means packing extra everything. Extra bandaids, extra snacks, extra water, extra blankets, extra toys and games, etc etc. Here’s a little list just so that you can add it to your list and don’t have to think about it
- diaper bag & diapers
- changing pad
- baby powder & lotion
- water bottles
- toys & stuffies
- books & entertainment
What are some popular ski resorts in South America?
Apparently when it comes to skiing in South America, there are various levels of popularity for certain resorts. Las Lenas Resort and Catedral are the two most popular in Argentina.
So if you’re looking for a place that’s a little less busy, folks recommend visiting places like Chapelco or Cerro Bayo in Argentina, or Corralco in Chile.
What is a good brand of ski gear?
There is so much different ski equipment out there, it’s really hard to know what direction is the right one to go if you’re just getting started. Once you do a little research, you’ll quickly see that there are some incredible brands out there.
North face is a very popular brand, Black Diamond, Arc’teryx, and Patagonia are some of the most popular in the world because they make such good quality gear, really across all sports.
Are packing cubes recommended for packing for a ski vacation?
Great question! I’ve personally never used packing cubes but I hear that they’re all the rage. I wonder if it might be trickier to use them for a ski holiday because ski trousers are so bulky, but I’m sure the convenience still applies. Maybe they have a larger packing cube for those big hefty ski trousers.
Where’s the best place for a ski holiday in North America?
If you’re travelling in Canada and you don’t feel like braving the busy Whistler ski season, you can always try Copper Mountain! Copper Mountain is a far less busy ski town with super high quality runs.
If you’re travelling in The United States, many folks would say that Aspen, Colorado is the ultimate ski destination for the perfect ski holiday.
What are the most essential items to put in a ski bag for your ski trip checklist?
To me, ski essentials always have to do with warmth. That’s why I’m always going to bring the best base layer tops, a great pair of gloves (with those little glove attachers so they don’t get lost) hand warmers, long johns, and anything else that will protect me from that bitter cold weather.