Ever since I was 3-years old I’ve been skiing almost every year. No matter how many times I arrive at the slopes, that anticipation and adrenaline never dies down! Recently, Kelly and I have been thinking about taking another ski trip together — so far she’s just been with me once in Norway and is still new to it.
But, amid all the excitement of planning, she asked how we’ll ever fit all the essentials in our luggage — there seems to be so much to consider! Of course, a typical list of ski essentials seems never-ending. No wonder so many people feel overwhelmed when planning their first ski trip!
As a long-time skier, I’ve spent years stripping down my ski-trip checklist and getting rid of the things that were just taking up space. In their place are a ton of useful items that pack up smaller and can do double duty. In this guide, I’ll show you what my typical ski trip packing list looks like, and why some things are so important to bring!
Your ski trip packing list doesn’t have to be intimidating. The best way to figure out exactly what you need is to break it down into several categories. In this way, it’s much easier to plan and pack properly.
So often on ski trips, people take inadequate clothing that not only takes up more space, but simply doesn’t function as well as it should. When you’re at the top of the mountains in the snow, it’s really important to wear the right clothes.
We always adopt the layer system when dressing for skiing, and by choosing the right materials, we can ensure we don’t get cold or overheat. Both can be a problem on a ski trip, so it’s important to be prepared!
1. Merino wool underwear
Skiing is a pretty intensive workout, so you can expect to work up a sweat at some point, even if it’s freezing outside! Merino wool is one of the best materials for base layers such as thermal tops and leggings, as it wicks moisture away from your skin rather than absorbing it like cotton — which is just one of the 10 reasons we love merino wool!
We recommend 2 pairs of light merino wool leggings and 2 light merino wool tops to wear against your skin. These can be worn on the slopes and off-piste alike.
A nice warm fleece is the ideal mid-layer when skiing. It’ll act as an insulating layer, trapping warm air against your body. Look for something that isn’t too thick and that can pack up fairly small so that you can take it off if you get too warm.
We recommend taking 2 light to medium fleeces, made from a blend of polyester and wool.
Acting as the shell-layer, a waterproof jacket and waterproof pants are ski essentials — even the best skiers fall sometimes and the snow will soon soak non-waterproof clothes.
Good ski jackets and ski pants should be waterproof with taped seams, yet breathable, with some of the best utilizing ventilation zips. Pockets are an important feature too, and look for ones with handy lift-pass pockets and protected internal phone pockets. Other important features on a ski jacket include a high collar, large hood to cover your helmet, and long sleeves to prevent snow getting in.
You can also opt for a warm down jacket and wear a comfortable rain jacket, like the Fjällräven Eco Shell on top.
4. Neck Warmer
Did you know that not covering your neck in cold weather is a sure-fire way to catch a cold? The last thing you want on your ski trip is to get sick, so cover up your neck! While an old-fashioned scarf can look great, it’s not the most practical choice for a ski vacation.
Instead, we recommend a merino wool buff or neck gaiter. These can be pulled up over your ears, nose and mouth to protect against cold winds. And, since they’re merino wool, they won’t get damp so quickly from the condensation caused when you breathe — much more comfortable!
Choosing the right hat for the slopes can be difficult. On the one hand it’s got to be thick enough to keep you warm, on the other, you’ll need to fit your helmet over it. Beanie style hats are our favorite, but be sure they’re big enough to cover your ears!
A breathable, quick-drying fleece or merino wool hat is a good choice if you anticipate getting hot as you ski, but might not be ideal for colder ski resorts. In which case, it’s better to look for something that offers a little more insulation.
6. Eye protection
The winter sun can be surprisingly bright when it’s reflected off a crisp layer of snow. So, while you might associate sunglasses more with the beach than the slopes, they’re a necessity for any ski holiday! We recommend close-fitting frames that won’t slip, with UV protected lenses.
Besides sunglasses, a good pair of ski goggles are well worth packing. They keep your eyes from drying out as you whizz down the slopes, but also provide protection and improve your vision in case of light snow. Again, a pair with UV protection are the best, with an adjustable wrap around strap to ensure a snug fit.
7. Snug socks
A nice warm pair of socks are among our top ski essentials! A good pair of thick merino wool socks will keep your feet toasty all day, but won’t soak up sweat if you do get warm. You can never really have too many pairs, but at least take one pair of socks for every 2 days you go skiing!
8. Gloves or mittens
Great ski gloves will use a variety of features to keep your hands dry, toasty and warm while out on the slopes. The best have a breathable, water resistant outer layer, inside insulation, a comfortable inner lining, touchscreen friendly fingertips and a soft, fabric panel that can be used to wipe your goggles or nose.
Check out the cuffs as well, we like shorter cuffs that are designed to fit under the sleeves of your jacket, though you can also find gauntlet style mittens and gloves that fit over the sleeves. Whichever type you choose, make sure they’re not too tight-fitting, otherwise blood flow can be slowed down, making it difficult to keep your hands warm.
9. Sports bra
A supportive sports bra is another top piece of kit and surprise surprise, we recommend merino wool for its moisture wicking and breathable properties. A close fit tends to be more comfortable when you’re wearing several layers.
10. Going-out clothes
A great ski trip isn’t spent completely on the slopes and many resorts offer a wealth of fun things to do besides skiing. So, be sure to pack a couple of sets of clothes that you’ll be comfortable wearing off the slopes.
Think winter wear, like a warm sweater or hoody. If possible, it’s good to double up some of your base layers and pants to avoid packing too many clothes. However, if space allows there’s no reason not to pack a pair of jeans.
11. Cosy chalet clothes
Of course, you’ll want to spend a little time cozying up in your chalet, hotel or cabin at the end of a long day on the slopes. Some cosy house socks, sweat pants and whatever else you feel comfortable in are perfect.
Perhaps not essential, but if your resort has hot tubs, pools, saunas or complete spas, these can provide a great way to relax your muscles after a few days of skiing.
Besides your usual toiletries such as toothpaste and deodorant, there are a few other items that can be useful on the slopes. Mountain air is pure and fresh, but also cold and dry most often. This can cause a number of complaints, but with the following items you’ll be well protected.
13. Lip balm
Dry, chapped lips are a common grievance among skiers, but with good lip balm you can avoid any discomfort. We recommend Blistex Ultra SPF 50+, which not only protects against cold, dry air, but also UV rays. Plus, it doesn’t melt in your pocket, so you can carry it with you everywhere.
14. Moisturizer and hand cream
Dry, cracked skin is another issue on the slopes, but hand cream can keep your hands healthy and soft. Meanwhile, a good moisturizer will keep your face and particularly your cheeks from drying out.
15. Sun cream
Many first-time skiers are often surprised at how sunny it can be on the slopes. Often, the skies are a dazzling, deep blue, with a bright sun shining down despite the cold temperatures. It’s easy to think that you won’t suffer sunburn if it’s cold, but that’s a fallacy that can be proven wrong by looking at the rosy red, sunburned faces of those skiers that forgot to pack their high SPF sun cream!
The following items are a mix of little luxuries and potentially life-saving necessities.
16. Day pack
You probably don’t want to carry a backpack with you while skiing, but your ski jacket might not have the capacity to store all the things you’d like to take out with you. A day pack is a good compromise, which is small enough to stash away, yet large enough to carry your essentials.
Look for something that is durable, waterproof and features various straps to ensure it fits your needs.
17. Thermos flask
Nothing quite beats a hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate after a few hours in the snow, and with a decent thermos flask, you can bring your own and avoid the more expensive resort cafés.
We recommend this Stanley Classic Vacuum Insulated Thermos, which is leakproof, dishwasher safe, BPA-free and comes in a variety of sizes and colors. It’s good for both hot and cold drinks and can double up as a water bottle.
18. Recco: Safety system
Staying safe on the slopes is always important, but on very rare occasions, things can happen that are beyond your control. Avalanches are not common on most established ski slopes and resorts, but the danger does exist, and it’s best to be prepared.
The RECCO safety system is a great way to mitigate the risks, and is an affordable and simple solution that enables rescue teams to quickly locate you in case you become lost, or your cabin is buried in snow. It features a reflector that bounces back radar signals sent out by rescue teams around the world. The closer they get, the stronger the signal is, ensuring you won’t be lost for long. RECCO reflectors can be attached to anything from backpacks to boots and are well worth the small cost.
A multitool can be used to adjust or fix your ski or snowboard gear on the fly. They’re also useful for countless other tasks and pack up small enough to be worth carrying around.
20. Hand and boot warmers
Keeping your extremities warm is always important, and hand and boot warmers are a simple and effective solution.
21. First aid kit
A basic first aid kit is another important piece of kit to keep handy, though it doesn’t have to be too bulky. Be sure it contains the basics, such as various bandages, safety pins, plasters, alcohol wipes, one-use gloves, painkillers, heat rub ointment, tweezers and scissors.
Plus, we always carry a few sachets of sugar, like you get in a café. Swallowing a sachet of sugar with water is great for people who are in shock or are suffering from low blood sugar levels.
Buying vs Renting Skiing Equipment
You may have noticed that our ski trip packing list is missing some of the most important pieces of gear for skiing. The following ski equipment is also essential, but might not feature on your packing list simply because you can normally rent it from your resort.
- Ski boots
- Ski poles
In fact, besides these items, you can also normally rent ski jackets, pants, and even gloves. This is an ideal choice for infrequent or first time skiers. Skiing isn’t for everyone and there’s no point investing in brand-new gear if you’ll never use it after your first trip. If you do fall in love with skiing, you can buy the essentials later, piece by piece.
Another benefit of renting is that you can see what type of equipment works best for you. Do you prefer short cuff gloves, longer jackets, wrap-around goggles? By trying out different rental equipment, you can see which is best for you before you buy.
Of course, regular skiers will no doubt save money in the long run by purchasing your own equipment. Plus, you can be sure that it’s perfectly tailored to your needs. Ultimately the choice is yours, but there’s no rush to buy your own!
Pin it for later
Save this post on your Pinterest account in your ‘Winter Sports board’ and find it back easily next time.
We love to hear from you
We hope this information helps you create the perfect ski trip packing list — let us know in the comments below if you think we missed anything!
For more information, inspiration and tips, check out our travel tips page.