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Undeniably, one of the best travel experiences for every adventure lover is waking up each day to fresh snow and that crisp Winter air. But what to pack for a ski trip? This guide will detail what to pack and how to save space while keeping costs down.
Craig and I (Gemma) have had the pleasure of skiing at Whistler in Canada, the Cairngorms in Scotland, and Mayrhofen in Austria, so we feel equipped (boom, boom) to offer advice during this ski trip packing list.
You may also like our European Christmas getaway guide.
Ski Trip Packing List – Gear Travel
Option 1: Hire on Holiday
Whether you take your own ski equipment with you or not is a personal preference. We opt to hire onsite to keep airfare costs down and for a smooth transit between countries (like us catching a train between Germany and Austria).
Airlines charge between £45+ depending on the size of the sports equipment and if you book online or at the airport. Naturally, if you can keep within the baggage measurements and weight, you don’t have to pay an additional fee.
Option 2: Carry Your Own Kit
Our friends travel with their kit, not wanting to waste the investment or rely on the potentially lower-quality equipment at the resort. They state that it can work out cheaper regardless of additional ski gear charges.
Option 3: Pack the Essentials, Hire the Rest
An ex-colleague and committed skiing friend recommends investing in boots, packing them and then hiring skis (or boards) on holiday. He says this puts the onus on the hire company to ensure that the skis and boards are safe but lets you skip the boot queue, which can take the longest.
Wheeled Ski Bags
If you decide to travel with your own ski or board equipment, you will need a durable wheeled ski bag. Wheels are ideal for pulling through the airport, train stations and streets. The awkward length of the skies makes carrying on your shoulder a no-no.
The 5th Element ski bag (U.S. only) is padded and has a grab handle at the side.
There’s a larger handle at the top which can be thrown over your shoulder. A smaller pocket for items like wax gloves is at the bottom of the bag.
The padding is ideal for air travel – airlines really aren’t known for delicately handling our luggage!
A helmet is one of the skiing essentials for beginners.
Go for one that is adjustable.
Craig doesn’t ski with poles, but I do. It’s entirely up to your skiing style, but I like using them to help me turn (or get up during the occasional fall when I’m exhausted!)
They are another thing to pack but should fit in your ski/board bag. You can’t go wrong with lightweight Salomon ski poles (or gear), but they can get pricey.
What to Pack for a Ski Trip
As mentioned in the evening wear section of our guide, footwear is required to give the feet a rest!
Pack a pair of trainers for the bar and snow boots or just do what Craig does and wear your hiking boots with a good grip if there is snowfall in the town and leave the heels at home.
If staying in shared accommodation with communal showers, pack a pair of flip-flops to avoid verrucas.
Pack enough ski socks for every ski day or one less if your feet aren’t prone to smelly sweat.
Merino wool-based socks are the best bet (see the base layer section for more information). Be careful; some socks are not 100% merino.
Stock up on fresh cotton socks, too, for the post-shower evening outfit.
Don’t forget your swimming gear if there’s a hot tub or the potential of an invite to a hot tub!
2. What to Wear Skiing
Choosing the best tech apparel will keep you warm and dry.
Although we are inclined to go all out on our snow outerwear, the base layer is actually one of the most important because it controls your temperature and sweat.
You are likely to find that it’s not actually the snow that makes you feel cold but a sweaty layer on your skin. You want your base layers to allow air to circulate throughout (breathable), so the need to avoid sweat drying cold and sticky is essential.
That’s where the materials come into play.
They work because they wick water away from your body to the surface of the layer so it can then evaporate.
General polyester is cheaper than Merino but not as comfortable, and if you sweat, it will smell quicker!
Personally, for skiing (and hiking), I go for Merino options, such as Icebreaker Merino wool base layer USA / UK.
A good base layer will keep you warm in cold conditions but cool in hot climates, so you don’t have to pack it away come summer outdoors trip time—a great investment.
If you are a top-heavy adventure lover like me, don’t forget a comfortable but shockproof sports bra.
Magically, Craig was the only punter in this Piste Again.
It’s a really lovely fit, 80s-style jersey. I went for grey with the white writing for his Christmas present.
The print also includes Ts and other text variations like ‘Snow Board.’
A quality outerwear coat is one of the ski trip essentials you should invest in.
There are two options for outerwear coats. You can either go full ski jacket with a hard shell, which is great for all temperatures and conditions, or an insulated down puffy jacket with a waterproof softshell.
The latter is ideal for skiers who get hot easily and/or travellers who are packing for a multi-season trip.
I did this in Whistler, Canada, as I didn’t have my full kit with me.
For Austria, I wore slim-fitting O’Niell’s ski pants; the brighter, the better.
If you have space, go for the first option for a ski coat and enjoy the flexibility of hood adjustments, wrist gaiters and vents. I also like a snow pass clip, so I don’t have to remove my gloves when leaving the chairlift (I get cold hands).
Alternatively, go to the 80s and splurge on a crazy one-piece number.
4. Toiletries and Medical
First up – travel insurance. Make sure your insurer covers adventure winter trips. We use True Traveller. I had to claim in Vancouver, and they paid out fast. Check to see if they are right for your trip here.
Regardless of the snow, you still burn!
Go eco-friendly and pack soap instead of gels – if you travel with only a cabin bag, this saves more space in the 100ml restrictions bag, too. Consider solid shampoo and conditioner, too.
Ladies, a good tangle teaser is recommended. Why does our hair get so tuggy on the slopes?
Lip salve/chapstick for dry lips. Avoid licking them if you can.
Blister pads for rubbing; pack just in case.
If, like me, you really feel the cold, buy heat pads for your hands.
5. Ski Accessories
The internal mitten separates from the external leather outer so you can dry the fleece mittens without melting the outside.
The three-finger glove retains the heat because the heat stays circulating around your three-fingered section I made my own mitten straps to ensure I didn’t lose them but they also come with wrist clips.
I only had cheap gloves in Whistler and was left feeling sick with the pain from the cold whenever we stopped skiing (chair lifts, waiting on friends, fixing gear).
If you don’t want to invest, buy cheaper waterproof gloves and also mitten liners.
Shades aren’t just about looking suave; they also block out the glare from the sun, but glasses are useless when caught in heavy snow (every day, 3pm in Austria).
You need goggles to help with visibility at this stage.
The best goggles have adjustable head straps and correctly coloured tint (dark colours for bright sunny use, yellows for low light weather).
When wearing a helmet, a headband works best to keep the nip from your ears. Keep a hat in your day bag for lunch stops. Avoid a woollen hat; they get heavy and ruined when wet.
A headband with a pony hole is perfect for long-haired skiers.
Neck warmers are great when they are dry but can get moist when active on the mountain.
The wet turns cold and is pretty unpleasant! The more expensive versions, like the Airhole range, have mouth holes to let you breathe; this would resolve the wet issue.
Snot! Steal some toilet rolls from your accommodation or buy a hanky for a more environmentally friendly answer.
Waterproof phone covers, don’t lose the incriminating photos from the bar the night before.
Record the ride, and don’t forget your GoPro, body harness, and selfie stick.
Laugh all you want, but I like a bumbag (fanny pack) for ski trips to easily access my phone/camera, lip salve and some cash.
There are no loose straps to get tangled with either. Handy for the pub at night, too.
He’s also the chief controller of the water bottle and sun cream.
You may also like our guide to backpacks with wheels.
What to Wear at Night on a Ski Holiday
The apres-ski outfit is something that I thought a lot about before packing for Austria in March.
From my experience, skiers and boarders don’t get dressed up for dinner and drinks after a day on the slopes.
There definitely is a lot of socialising going on, but this is done in jeans or leggings, casual tops, and flats like trainers and hats.
Pro tip: go for black trainers as they look dressier. I wear black trainers with dresses and jeggings during travel trips.
Surprisingly, there was no snow on the ground in the village at Mayrhofen, but there was ankle-deep at Whistler, so winter boots are recommended for grip. Heading to Whistler? Here’s our affordable accommodation guide.
If you are attending a ski festival – pack the glitter, stock up on the superhero capes and look out for the themed night shoutouts!
Ski Packing List
- Own kit or hire?
- Wheeled ski bag with own kit
- Ski goggles
- Day bag/bum bag
- Outerwear jacket
- Ski trousers
- Trainers/waterproof snow boots
- Flip flops for communal shower rooms
- Merino based socks
- Merino base layer
- Sports bra
- Casual night gear
- Swimming gear
- Toiletries and medicine
- Suntan lotion
- Heat pads
Creating a packing list for a ski trip doesn’t have to be daunting. This guide details the essentials and some extras depending on your Winter travel needs.
I’ve also provided some do’s and don’ts of looking cool without feeling cool while skiing and boarding. Ski trips are honestly one of my favourites, and nothing tastes better than that first cider after a day’s ski (or maybe just the one on top of the mountain)!
If you are driving to the slopes, scroll to the winter packing list section of our road trip guide.
Ski Holiday Checklist
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