How to Pack for a Ski Trip

In families there tend to be three types of packers:

  1. the over-packer ready for any and every scenario
  2. the under-packer who forgets even the basics like underwear
  3. the one who waits for mom to pack everything for them and then complains when the clothes they wanted did not make it into the suitcase. 

In the Wanderingkellers Mom and Dad tend to be the over-packers in our house, and our teens tend to fall into group 3.  After years of traveling as a family though, we have come up with some general packing lists that we use with our teens to help them pack for themselves as these are life skills everyone needs.  We thought we would share these with our readers and even include links to where you can purchase some of the items and a printout checklist you can give to your family members for their packing ease.

*Disclaimer: Some links in this post may be affiliate links. If you click these links and purchase these items, we will receive a small commission. This will not increase the cost to you at all but will help defray the costs of the blog.

As far as the links go we own or use everything we have linked and will personally attest to their value.

At the end of this post is a PDF packing list to help you stay organized.

We will start with the family ski trip:

Of course, some of these items (and the number you choose to take) will depend on how long you are going away and what the temperatures/weather looks like it will be while you are there.  The list presumes that it will be about a week, dry and cold. We’ll add some “extra” items you could consider if the weather is looking rainy or wet.  And remember, with skiing or any outdoor winter activities, layers are the key!

Clothes Everyone Will Need:

Long underwear

Ski jacket (with lots of pockets to store things while you ski)

Make sure they are waterproof: We love the ones that have multiple layers so if it is warm ski day you can zip out the inner liner. 

Ski pants (again with lots of pockets to store things while you ski)

Make sure they are waterproof and make sure you try them on with as many layers as you will be wearing on the mountain so that you can button or zip them closed once you get fully dressed. If ordering online leave a little extra space. For the boys in the group make sure the pants have a fly since it is easier for bathroom breaks.

Heated Gloves & Socks

These were a game changer for us! Especially when we ski out West.  There are a wide range of options available at multiple price points.  For the kids, we purchased the cheaper version (although we have noticed that the batteries fall out of the socks easier).  For mom and dad, the more expensive Snow Deer version which have proved to be fantastic.  The gloves on the highest setting seem to last until our lunch break on the mountain, at which point we swap them out for extra batteries that we purchased.  The socks often last a whole day since you don’t need to keep them on the highest setting (otherwise your feet feel like they are burning).

Socks

If you don’t have heated socks, we would recommend one layer of wool socks for skiing.  These dry much faster if they get wet and will be warmer on your feet.  (Note: make sure you try your ski boots on with whatever socks you will be wearing to ski as it will make a difference!).

In addition to socks for skiing, you will want to bring 5 or 6 pairs of regular socks to wear at night or on days you are not skiing.

Ski hats or beanies

              This is dependent on what the person likes, you could also do ear bands.  We like the beanies to wear under our helmets to help keep our ears warm. This year, we even found ones with Bluetooth technology (Fulllight tech) that connects to your phone so you can hear your music under your helmet. And they were not even expensive! The kids love them.

Regular underwear

              We recommend a pair of underwear for each day and a few extra (just in case).

Clothes for Non-ski activities/Heading into town

              We always take 1-2 outfits to wear if we go out for dinner or just to walk around the town.  Most ski towns are fairly casual so jeans are welcome most everywhere.  This is an area where you can overpack. Remember that you will often have a washer/dryer if you are staying in a condo so you can wear something more than once.  Normally, each of us take two pair of jeans and two sweaters or nice long sleeve shirts.  For shoes, we usually stick with sneakers or nicer snow boots since you will be likely walking on icy or snowy streets. We also usually wear one pair of our bulkiest clothing on the plane to reduce travel weight in the suitcase.

Après Ski Attire

              You won’t need much here, but we always take a pair or two of pajamas, some sweats and sweatshirts and comfy slippers or socks for lounging back at the room by the fireplace after a long day skiing.

Equipment

Skis/Snowboards (and poles if needed)

              Of course, everyone will need skis or a snowboard.  You can always rent at the mountain or bring your own. One thing to consider is where you will be skiing.  Skiing on powder is often easier and better on skis made for powder rather than the narrower skis we use out East to ski on ice.  All-mountain skis may be the best compromise.  We take our own and have checked them onto the plane before and had them shipped out ahead of our trip. We HIGHLY recommend shipping your skis out and back. It saves you from carrying an additional heavy bag around the airport, to the car rental, etc., plus you can rent a smaller car (which ends up saving the shipping cost), and it is super easy!  We used shipskis.com. You can find more information on our experience with skipskis.com at our blog post on our trip to Steamboat Springs.  We really like the ski bag we use to transport our skis but its been replaced with this model which is solidly constructed but not too pricey..

Helmet

We highly recommend the use of a helmet when skiing. We find that this is something worth purchasing rather than renting as you can make sure it is comfortable for your head. Gone are the days of skiing in jeans with no helmet…we each have had many falls where without our helmet we could have been in a lot of trouble. it also keeps your head worm as an added bonus. we purchased ours through Costco which is a great place to buy one if you catch them before they sell out.

Ski Googles

We have found googles to be a very important part of skiing. If you wish to ski at night having ones that allow easy change to a nighttime lens is very helpful. We use ones that use magnets to hold the lens in. This allows not only easy switching but easier storage of the lens to reduce scratching. Anon are our favorite.

Ski/snowboard boots

              We rent our boots each year, but again, this is something you can purchase ahead of time or rent at the mountain.  As with the helmet, we like to rent ahead of time so we can make sure they are comfortable before a long trip.  As mentioned earlier, definitely wear whatever you plan to wear under your boots when skiing (that includes layers of pants and socks) to your fitting.

Small waterproof backpack

              While not a requirement, this is something we think is useful for at least one of the family members to carry. We keep small water and Gatorade bottles in there, extra hand and foot warmers, maybe a speaker for listening to music. We have two bags (waterproof dry bag and light hiking pack) both of which we have liked.

Hand and feet warmers

              These are critical, especially if you don’t have heated gloves or socks. We buy them in bulk from Costco, but you can also order them on Amazon or get them at your local outdoor store but purchasing in bulk makes them much more affordable. There is nothing worse than stinging, numb fingers to ruin a ski day.

Toiletries

              We won’t get into many specifics here but you will want to make sure you bring plenty of Chapstick, Aquaphor, and moisturizer as your skin will definitely be dry and itchy from the dry air if you are skiing out West especially at higher elevations. If your room has a humidifier use it from the first day. Your skin will thank you.

Food

On many vacations, you don’t need to think about food, but skiing is the exception. First, many ski accommodations have small kitchens.  Picking up groceries on your way into the hotel, or having them delivered using Instacart or another delivery service, allows you to eat some meals in the room so that you can spend more time skiing (and sleeping at the end of a long day).  Some places will even have a service to deliver already prepared (but not cooked) meals to your room, like What a Crock, that we used in Steamboat.  Second, skiing tends to make you ravenous and also very thirsty due to the dry air and exertion. Ambling around off the snow in ski gear is difficult, so being able to eat a quick snack while in line or at a lodge mid-mountain is a great way to fuel up without sitting down. We always ski with a small backpack so that wherever we are we have access to snacks and necessities like hand warmers.

Snacks on the mountain for everyone to consider:

  1. Protein bars/Granola bars
  2. Beef Jerky
  3. Gatorade
  4. Water bottles

If you have a kitchen and are staying for a while:

  1. Eggs
  2. Frozen hash browns (see our favorite ski morning breakfast on our Steamboat post)
  3. Deli meat for sandwiches
  4. Cheese
  5. Soup in microwave-ready containers
  6. Bread for toast and sandwiches (and toast toppings like butter, jams)
  7. Frozen waffles, breakfast burritos, or pop tarts
  8. Pasta or frozen pizzas
  9. Pretzels, chips, nuts, snacks
  10. Milk
  11. Cookies or other desserts
  12. Wine and/or beer for your après ski!

Electronics

We travel with a few of these electronics everywhere we go, but especially when skiing:

  1. Bestek power pack which on trips outside the US also converts power for your devices.
  2. Portable power packs that double as hand warmers
  3. Heated gloves and socks
  4. Extra phone chargers (the cold can drain your phone battery more quickly, and who can ever have enough chargers)

Some things to consider:

  1. GoPro– make sure you use a chest mount as I lost my GoPro skiing out west when it snapped clean off my helmet. I also recommend and use the screen protectors.
  2. Nintendo Switch for some nighttime fun- also useful on long car rides and long plane trips (and if you bring an HDMI cord with you, often you can plug it right into the TV)
  3. Apple Watch- this can enhance your ability to capture skiing data like speed and heart rate while attacking the slopes.
  4. Hats with built-in speakers– our kids love these.
  5. Books and card games to enjoy during your après ski
  6. There are some great skiing apps available for your phone. Each of them often does something a little different.  Also, EPIC and IKON each have their own apps with trail maps, tracking ability and other features.  Slopes is a great app to track your vertical feet, location, speed, etc.  And sometimes the individual resorts have their own app, like Steamboat.

7 thoughts on “How to Pack for a Ski Trip

  1. I love the idea for the hats with the built in speakers! I usually snowboard with a helmet, but I bet they have those as well. Man, this is making me want to get out on the ski slopes now!

    Liked by 1 person

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