Can’t figure out what to pack for your ski trip? Take everything you need but nothing more with this complete ski packing list.
The top of the Sugerloaf lift at Alta ski resort is always a revelation. I slide off the chair, bank right and am always surprised by the vast view across the mountain and down Little Cottonwood Canyon. It shouldn’t be a surprise, I’ve been skiing at Alta since the mid-70’s but seeing the steep mountains and craggy granite always strikes a chime in my heart. That’s why we ski, isn’t it? We do it for the thrill of being in the mountains, seeking a great run, fresh powder and that little chime.
But there are also a lot of nuts and bolts to skiing. Managing the logistics of getting on the mountain with the right gear is a price that you pay for the payoff at the top of Sugarloaf. This list of what to pack for a ski trip will help you with that. Pack all the gear you need…but nothing more…with this list covering outerwear strategies, apres ski clothes, packing basics and packing tips. This ski trip packing list will keep you covered (and covered up) for a five day ski trip.
What to Pack for a Ski Trip
The short answer for what to pack for a ski trip can sometimes be…everything! Skiing requires a lot of gear and the clothes are so bulky that if you aren’t judicious about how you pack, you could find yourself bringing the whole closet and busting the budget with checked baggage fees. This list will help you prioritize your ski packing list. It spotlights tried and trusted items that are useful, comfortable and can be leveraged for double duty.
This ski trip packing list has enough stuff to cover a five day trip and each section is followed by a checklist so that you can be sure to pack everything you need.
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Ski Packing Outerwear
My go-to ski set-up is a Columbia Omni-Tech shell, a North Face insulated pant and a mix & match collection of under and mid layers (depending upon the weather). The Columbia coats have several features that are useful for changeable ski conditions, including a thin shell, Omni-Tech non-bulky insulation and a good fit for women. The North Face pants are great because they have very effective insulation, zipper vents for warm days, an adjustable waist and lots of pockets.
My under layer always includes the SnowAngel base layer leggings, which are warmer then many polyprop layers, they don’t pill and they have a very silky texture. My upper body insulation always includes a layer of SnowAngel top and either a fleece coat OR a down vest.
Four Odd but Useful Things for Your Pockets
You can’t exactly take a purse with you on the mountain so be sure to load up your pockets with practical items. Sunscreen bottles are bulky and impractical to carry, but if you forget to put it on before hitting the slopes, your skin is doomed. So stock your pockets with a few individual packets of sunscreen wipes.
You need water while skiing but if you carry a water bottle and then fall onto it (in a spectacular yard sale wipe out) you are going to crack a rib. So re-purpose a flexible plastic booze flask for your water. It will fit easily into your ski coat breast pocket.
If you want to baby your skis, or even worse, you have a popular brand that everyone else is using this year, then carry a cabled luggage lock. You can lock up your skis and don’t worry about theft or mistaken identity.
Never, ever go anywhere without a bit of duct tape. You can use it to repair rips, tears and broken zippers while you are on the mountain. You can also use it to reseal snack bags and kill scorpions (true story, did that in Mexico).
Full Ski Packing List Checklist for Outerwear & Gear
- Ski Shell
- Ski Pants– This is usually the North Face pants but if I think I will encounter spring skiing conditions, I’ll also pack thinner Gore-Tex wind pants.
- Bottom base layer
- Upper base layer– I pack two so that I have a clean one and I also take a heavier one for colder weather.
- Mid layer of heavy fleece– (for cold weather) or a quilted vest (for warmer weather). The vest can also double for an evening dinner out.
- Ski socks (pack 2 pr)
- Thin balaclava– A balaclava will supplement the warmth of the helmet and also provide mouth and nose protection for windy days.
- Gloves– I prefer “glittens“, which are a two layer glove and mitten combination.
- Travel size Kleenex
- Lip goop
- Water flask
- Duct tape
- Ski lock
- Skis/poles/boots or snowboard/boots
Packing for Apres Ski
The Hollywood glitterati may go to Vail with fourteen bags full of the latest design ski togs, but the rest of us just want to bring something nice enough for going out to dinner. Fortunately most ski resorts are pretty casual so you don’t need to pack anything fancy.
Three Ideas for Cute & Cozy Apre Ski Clothes
I like to keep it easy and casual, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like to wear something cute after I’ve repaired my helmet hair. Treat your head to a warm and soft cashmere cap. They are less expensive that you would think and they don’t itch.
Telegraph your love of skiing to everyone with a silver “eat, sleep, ski” necklace. Combine form and function with Keen’s winter boots. They are waterproof, have a grippy rubber sole and come in a variety of solid colors and hipstery plaid patterns.
Full Packing List for Apres Ski
This list assumes that since you will be wearing ski clothes for most of the day, you will double up on some clothes for the evening. Doing this will also help save room in your bag.
- 2 prs jeans– or sub in a pair of black pants
- 2 sweaters– or mid-weight fleeces
- 2 long sleeve shirts– could be layered with the sweaters or worn on their own
- 2 short sleeve shirts-for layering under sweaters- this will give you mix and match options
- 1 dressy top– skip this if you don’t think you will be going out for a nice dinner
- 1 pr casual shoes
- 1 pr winter boots or booties
- Pajamas or lounging pants
- Bathing suit– because hot-tubbing is the best part of apre ski
- 6 pr underwear
- 1 sports bra, 4 regular bras
- 5 prs socks
- Light gloves
- Trek travel soap– if you think you might want to launder something out in the sink
Ski Trip Packing Basics
In addition to clothes, gear and outerwear, there are some packing basics that you should always carry with you, regarding of the type of trip that you are taking.
4 Remarkably Useful Items to Pack Every Time You Travel
I swear by GoToobs for carrying liquids such as shampoo and lotion. The squeezable bottles are leakproof and they are very durable. I’ve just recently replaced one that lasted for 5 continents, 14 countries and 10 states.
Take some waterproof toiletry bags. So in case a non-GoToob item explodes, it will stay contained within your toiletries.
Sea to Summit dry sacks are a compression sack that will squeeze down your bulky fleece items down to nothing, leaving more room in your bag for those cute Keen boots.
Take a high voltage dual USB plug and your can easily charge several phones or tablets quickly.
Full Check list for Your Travel Basics
- Hair brush/comb
- Facial soap
- Motrin- for post-ski aches and pains
- Prescription medication
- Anti-bac wipes
Protect yourself against unexpected trip cancellation, theft or medical emergencies and get some travel insurance for your ski trip.
How to Pack for a Ski Trip
Skiing is a very luggage intensive sport. Between the bulky clothing and the gear itself, you could spend a fortune on checked bag fees. What follows are a few tricks for keeping your gear contained with the minimum amount of checked luggage and minimizing checked baggage fees.
1. Pack extra outerwear into your ski bag.
All ski bags have room for more than just skis. Ball up your shell, fleece, ski pants, extra sweaters, gloves and hat and pack them in your ski bag. Doing this might free up just enough space in your main bag to fit your boots.
2. Take your boots but rent the skis
You can usually rent skis for $25 a day. If you are only skiing for a few days, renting skis vs. paying luggage fees could be a wash.
3. Fly Southwest
Checking bags with Southwest is free for the first two bags. Conversely, you should avoid cheap-o carriers like Ryan Air or Spirit Air. They make their profit on checked bags and any savings you might get on the ticket will be quickly dissolved when you arrive at the airport with all of your gear.
4. Do Laundry
If you are renting a ski condo rather than staying in a hotel, then pare back the clothing suggestions above and do laundry once or twice during your stay.
I recommend #1 as my best suggestion for how to pack for a ski trip. Consider using a combination of the following bags: 1x ski bag stuffed with extra clothing, 1x boot bag and 1x carry on wheelie bag. I’m a big fan of the Briggs & Riley carry-on series. They aren’t cheap, but they have a forever warranty and a magical interior that expands to hold everything (sort of like Hermoine’s purse in the last Harry Potter movie). This combo ski and boot bag from Athalon is a good basic bag for a reasonable price.
Get Inspired for Your Ski Trip
Not that I can ski like these guys…but you know…a girl can dream. If you watch this video, I guarantee that you will be pumped for skiing. You should also check out this list of Outside Magazine’s top ski resorts in North America and this one for Europe.
I hope that this list has helped to answer your questions about what to pack for a ski trip. If not, please comment below and I’ll respond. Otherwise, go hit the slopes and report back to let me know if this list is missing anything. Wishing you the deepest powder and that little chime in your heart.
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