There’s nothing quite like the rush you get while speeding down a mountain on a pair of skis or strapped into a snowboard. Ski vacations are the highlight of many people’s winters across the world, as they mix outdoor adventure with luxurious resorts, quaint little downs and warm nights spent by the fireplace.
Whether you’re a novice skier or a pro snowboarder, this packing list has everything you’ll need for a successful trip, from warm clothes and gear to après-ski essentials.
How to Fight the Cold on a Ski Trip
As skiing is a cold weather activity, it’s important to prepare properly and make sure you’re dressed to stay warm throughout the day. You’re going to want to have enough layers to keep the heat in while still being comfortable on the mountains.
There are three layers of clothing that you should wear, no matter if you’re skiing, snowboarding or simply riding the chair lift all-day long.
Always remember: base layer, mid layer and a shell.
Your base layer is generally long underwear or other thermals that keep your heat in. It should fit you snugly, almost as if it were a second skin.
The best base layers are made from moisture-wicking material to move sweat from your body and keep you toasty throughout the day. Stay away from a cotton base layer as it will just absorb any moisture and stay wet for the remainder of the day.
Thermals come in different weights, ranging from super light to quite heavy. It’s a good idea to have a few different pairs to wear, according to the temperature. Check out our guide to the best thermal underwear out there!
A mid layer is used for insulation and to keep the heat trapped in your base layer. A good mid layer is made from fleece or flannel and will keep you warm under your shell.
If you skip a mid layer, you’re in trouble because all of the heat from your body will escape, leaving you chilly and longing for a sweatshirt. You only need a mid layer for your top, as most ski pants have this built in under the waterproof shell. For mid layers and base layers, I prefer using Merino wool. Here are a few Merino Wool reviews that we have.
The last layer is your shell made from waterproof material to keep you nice and dry. An important factor in a ski or snowboarding shell is not only to be waterproof but windproof as well.
Your shell is the final heat trap, keeping all of the body heat generated from escaping, leaving you nice and warm inside your jacket. Your shell should also keep you dry if you take a tumble or two on the powder.
Not only is your jacket a shell, but your snow pants are too. They both should have lots of pockets for stashing daily essentials. For the shell layer, we prefer using packable down jackets as well as a travel jackets.
Now that you know the layering process, you’re ready to start assembling clothes to stay warm during your snowy vacation.
Ski Clothing Packing List: On the Slopes
Packing the right clothing for a ski trip is paramount to your holiday’s success.
Not only do you need lots of layers, but you’ll need a proper waterproof jacket and pants, as well as a variety of accessories to keep you warm and dry on the mountain. There are so many variations of each item that it’s important to choose what you purchase and pack wisely.
Follow this guide and these suggestions to pack the ski clothing that’s right for you.
Essential Ski Clothing
The first step of the layering process before hitting the slopes is a warm base layer. A good base layer for skiing or snowboarding should be a tight-fitting (but comfortable and stretchy) thermal top and bottom that is made from material that wicks sweat.
This means staying away from materials like cotton and gravitating towards dri-fit. Here’s a great set for men, and an awesome set for women as well.
You’re going to want a few more layers if you plan on staying warm on top of a snowy mountain. I always go for a flannel as a second layer because it’s easy to take on and off as you need. It can also be worn open if you’re warmer or buttoned all the way up if it’s chilly.
Flannels are a great versatile layer that you should definitely pack for a ski trip.
If it’s extra cold, you may want to wear a sweatshirt on top of your base layers to trap the heat in.
Under Armour sweatshirts are great for physical activity, skiing and snowboarding included, because they’re thick enough to keep you warm with a fleecy inside, but not heavy the way cotton hoodies tend to be.
If you don’t start your day wearing this layer, I recommend packing it in your daypack (if you’re bringing one along) so you have something to throw on as the sun goes down or if you get chilly.
A good waterproof ski jacket is key for any successful day on the slopes.
When looking for a suitable jacket, you should consider extra features that differentiate this jacket from a normal winter coat. Look for features like a snow skirt and elastic cuffs which will keep you dry no matter how many times you fall down, ventilation areas to keep you cool, and lots of pockets for stashing any extra items you may need for the day.
Also make sure that whatever jacket you choose is big enough to fit lots of layers underneath and comfortable to move around in.
Along the same lines as a ski jacket, you’re going to want a pair of dependable snow pants to keep you nice and dry.
There are so many different kinds of snow pants, but it all boils down to personal preference. I typically go for a pair of standard pants that start at the waist, but many people opt for a pair that have shoulder straps to keep them secure all day.
Whichever style you choose, they should be roomy enough to fit layers underneath, have lots of zippered pockets and have zippers around the ankles for easy access to your boots.
Essential Ski Accessories
Waterproof gloves are essential for a day on the slopes. Choose a pair that give your fingers a good range of motion and withstand high amounts of moisture.
No matter how many times your gloves touch the snow, your hands inside should still be warm and dry.
A neck warmer is great for protecting against harsh wind and pelting snow. It also stops snow from getting into your layers underneath if you don’t zip your jacket up all the way. I highly recommend packing one of these for any ski trip.
Good ski socks are a must for keeping your feet warm and dry inside your boots. Choose a pair that wick moisture to keep your feet sweat-free and dry for the whole day.
Instead of cotton, go for a pair of smart wool ski socks that you can tuck your base layer into and are guaranteed to keep your toes toasty all day long.
For ladies, it’s best to wear a sports bra during your skiing or snowboarding for ultimate comfort. Be sure to bring ones that are made from moisture-wicking material to keep your base layer nice and dry throughout the day.
I highly recommend bringing dri-fit, sweat-wicking underwear along with you. It’s sure to keep you comfortable on and off the slopes, and comes in tons of different styles.
Mountain Packing List: Ski and Snowboarding Equipment
Besides the proper clothing, you also need gear suited to your adventure sport. In addition to choosing between skis or a snowboard, you need to determine the right size and fit to make sure that you’ll be comfortable and safe while speeding down a mountain.
If this is your first time skiing or snowboarding, or you’ve been a few times but aren’t a mountain frequenter, it may be best to rent most of your gear as most of this equipment is rather costly.
Renting gear will also give you access to a ski or snowboard professional who will help with sizing and pick out whatever you need for a successful day. Not to mention, you’ll save a ton of space in your luggage by waiting to grab a board until you’re there.
If you’re an avid skier or snowboarder, you probably have your own gear already.
Follow this list to make sure you bring along everything you’ll need to hit the slopes!
Skis / Snowboard with Bindings
This is an obvious one. If you already own skis or a snowboard, make sure you bring them along for a great holiday on the slopes. Be sure to have the proper bindings as well!
If you’re a skier rather than a snowboarder, bring along a pair of poles to keep you sturdy on the mountain. There is a wide variety of poles to choose from, so just make sure that when you’re holding them, your elbows make a 90 degree angle to indicate the right length.
A helmet is absolutely necessary for keeping you safe on the slopes. While some people may choose not to wear one, with an increase in tragic ski and snowboard accidents in recent years, it’s more essential than ever to keep your head safe.
A properly fitting helmet should feel snug on your head, but not tight or squeezing. Make sure it stays in one place when you move your head around — if it wobbles, it means it’s too large. A helmet does its job best when it fits well!
Goggles are a great piece of gear to keep wind, sun and snow out of your eyes while racing down the mountain. I recommend going for a pair of goggles that have changeable lenses for different conditions.
Sungod’s goggles are so cool. They come in two styles that are designed to sit close to your face with lenses that allow maximum range of vision. Not to mention the lenses are interchangeable and completely customizable!
Design a pair of goggles that suit your needs and personal style and have them shipped anywhere in the world.
And if that’s not enough for you, there’s a lifetime guarantee, where the company will repair or replace a broken pair, no questions asked. Total win!
Good boots should be roomy enough to fit your feet with thick socks, but snug when in use. A pro tip for packing is to put small items like goggles and socks in your boots to save space in your luggage.
Ski Clothing Packing List: Off the Slopes
While the main purpose of your trip may be to race around the slopes, you’ll also be in a beautiful area with so much to offer.
With your free time, you’ll be able to explore the surrounding areas, wander around the little ski town and make the most of all your resort has to offer. Be sure to bring enough extra clothing that you’ll be comfortable and warm while hanging around.
These are the items I recommend taking along.
You’re going to want a cozy winter jacket that’s not covered in snow to wear around when you’re off the mountain. It should still be waterproof, but go for something fleecy on the inside with a big hood to keep your head warm.
Layering is a common theme for cold weather so be sure you have enough sweaters to wear under your jacket.
You’re probably going to want a few long-sleeve shirts to wear when hanging around the ski lodge or going to grab dinner.
You may want to step out of the athletic clothes for a nicer dinner or walk around town. A pair of jeans will do the trick here.
Perfect for hanging out in or throwing on when you get off the slopes, leggings are comfy and versatile. They may even come in handy for other outdoor winter activities when off the mountain!
The most casual and comfortable article of clothing in existence. A good pair of sweats is key for feeling right at home on any ski trip.
Make sure you have something cozy to sleep in on your trip!
Wander around the resort or surrounding areas in a pair of comfortable snow boots. Classic duck boots are always a good call as they go with a wide range of outfits, keep your feet warm, and can be used for a ton of different activities.
A pair of comfy winter moccasins or other winter slip-ons should definitely be packed to wear when you’ve had enough of boots. These are great because they have a waterproof sole and are completely (faux) fur-lined for ultimate comfort.
You’re going to want a few pairs of warm socks to wear with your snow boots or other shoes. I love these socks because they’re stylish without sacrificing comfort. They work great for men as well!
Pack a warm hat or beanie to trap your body heat inside when spending time outside.
Stay warm and enhance any winter outfit with a nice scarf. I always go for a blanket scarf because they’re big, extra cozy, and can double as a blanket when in need!
Toiletries to Bring
Getting sweaty is an inevitable part of any ski trip and there’s nothing like a steaming hot post-mountain shower. Be sure to pack toiletries to keep you feeling fresh after your long days outdoors.
Many resorts will have basic toiletries in your room for you, but if you prefer to bring your own, be sure to pack these essentials:
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
- Shampoo & conditioner
- Face wash
- Hair ties
- Feminine hygiene products
You can also purchase a complete toiletry kit that will have everything you need for travel. They come with both men’s and women’s products in a convenient carrying case!
In addition to bathroom comforts, be sure to bring along the following items to protect your skin from the harsh mountain glare.
Sunscreen is super important to take on the slopes with you. Believe it or not, the worst sunburns come from the reflection of the sun on the snow.
While your whole body is covered, your face remains vulnerable to harmful UV rays. Apply before heading out, but carry a small tube with you to keep yourself protected throughout the day.
Getting chapped lips while in cold weather is inevitable. Stash a heavy duty lip balm with SPFin your jacket pocket to keep your lips hydrated and protected.
Optional Items to Pack
While these items aren’t entirely necessary, you’ll definitely be thanking yourself for bringing them along. From entertainment to comfort, these extras are a great way to round out any ski or snowboarding trip.
You’ll definitely want a pair of these when wandering around the town or partaking in other winter activities. You can even wear them on the slopes if you didn’t bring along a pair of goggles!
If it’s a warmer day, but still windy, you may want to trade in the neck warmer for a bandana. There’s nothing like racing down the slopes bandit-style!
While these are optional for some people, they’re a total must-have for me. I always keep a few warmers in my pockets, ready to be used when I’m starting to get a little chilly.
Sticking a pair in your boots is a total game changer and is sure to keep you extra warm on even the coldest days.
After a long day of skiing or boarding, there’s nothing like a long soak in the resort’s hot tub or indoor pool. Be sure to bring a bathing suit to take full advantage of the facilities!
Capture all the mountain action with a trusty GoPro. Built especially for action footage and to withstand the elements, a GoPro is the perfect companion for any mountain adventure.
Forget about holding onto your GoPro — grab a helmet clip instead! This way, you can easily attach your GoPro to your head and capture exhilarating moments from the best angle possible.
Whether you want a sporty soundtrack for your day or some chill-out music in the evenings, bring a pair of headphones to jam out the entire trip.
During downtime, catch up on your reading list! Your luggage will already be heavy enough thanks to your equipment, so skip the books and pack a Kindle instead.
This way, you’ll have thousands of titles right at your fingertips without the extra weight.
Slip a durable power bankand charging cord in your pocket before heading out for the day to keep your electronics charged on the go.
With all the physical activity you’ll be doing, it’s important to stay hydrated. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, your body is working extra hard, don’t forget to drink lots of water.
To save space when packing, go for a collapsible water bottle that’s lightweight and folds up when not in use.
If you’ve been skiing or snowboarding before, you’re no stranger to a runny nose from the wind and weather. Keep a small pack of tissues in your pocket to wipe off your face no matter where you are.
A lot of time out in the chilly weather may bring on the start of a cold. Stop your cold in its tracks by taking a couple Emergen-C for an extra strong dose of vitamin C.
I’m a big fan of the chewable kind (versus the powder) because you can consume it quickly and it tastes better!
You may choose to bring a small backpack to the slopes with you to store extra layers and whatever else you may need for the day. Go for a lightweight, waterproof one to keep your things dry!
Skiing and snowboarding means long, exhausting days. Bring along some healthy snacks to keep you energized on the slopes and off. I always pack some trail mix and granola bars to munch on throughout the day.
Packing for a Ski Trip: Final Tips
Packing for a ski trip definitely has its challenges.
A lot of the essential items are heavy and bulky, making them impractical to stuff in a suitcase. To mitigate this, throw on your ski jacket for the airplane — and maybe your boots too. Not only will your jacket make a good blanket on a chilly flight, but it will save a ton of space in your luggage.
On the luggage note, it’s important to check with the airline about baggage allowances and maximum weight, and if they’ll even accept larger ski and snowboard equipment as check-in items. If they do, it’s probably going to be pretty pricey to check it in, which is something to be aware of.
An alternative to flying with your equipment is to ship it, so you can avoid the hassle of lugging it from the airport to the resort.
Besides packing, always remember to ski with an ID and insurance card in case of emergency, and try to stay with a buddy if possible. Stick to marked trails and be cautious of other people on the slopes.
We also recommend having travel insurance for your ski trip as you never know when a mishap could occur. World Nomads can provide you with skiing and snowboarding cover.
Lastly, enjoy yourself! Winter sports are a great deal of fun and bring out the adrenaline junkie in everyone.
Throw on those boots and grab your lift ticket, it’s time to hit the slopes. Enjoy your trip!
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Planning a ski trip? Check out our other resources
- Best Ski Resorts in Europe that You Need to Visit
- Snowboarding and Skiing: When Is the Best Time of the Year to Go?
- How to Plan the Perfect European Ski Trip
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