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Travel Packing Guide: Winter Ski Trip

suitcase and ski gear ready for a winter ski trip

By the time ski season arrives, you've probably been dreaming about hitting the slopes for months. Whether you're planning your first big winter ski trip, or you've been perfecting your form for years, you could probably use a packing refresher. After all, you don't want to leave anything behind, but you also don't want to pay sky-high baggage fees. Get ready to hit the slopes and know what to pack for a ski trip with this handy ski trip packing guide.

Start with Clothes

open suitcase with warm clothes and ski goggles
Via Africa Studio/Shutterstock

If you want to know, "What should I pack for a winter holiday?," whether you're headed to the Rockies, the East Coast, or beyond, you'll need to prepare for some seriously cold temperatures. Start with long underwear or layers of active wear that help hold in warmth while wicking away sweat. Layers are critical on the slopes, so don't stop there. Pack fleece vests and sweaters of varying thickness so you're ready for any kind of weather.

Next up are the outer layers. Invest in a pair of thick waterproof pants that can keep you warm while resisting snow and moisture. You'll want to pack a similarly waterproof jacket, but make sure it's not so bulky that you can't move on the slopes. If you're planning to snowboard, pack a longer coat to add more waterproofing and cushion for any falls.

Your hands are susceptible to damage from the sun, wind, and snow, so be sure to cover them up with waterproof gloves that still allow you to grip. If you're heading to an area that's particularly cold or wet, add a pair of glove liners for extra protection. Keep your neck warm with a fitted scarf or a neck gaiter and protect your feet with a pair of thick wool socks.

Shield your head from the cold and the sun with a well-insulated hat that covers your ears. Top it off with a ski helmet, especially if you're new to the sport or if you're tackling some challenging slopes.

How do you pack a suitcase for winter?

  • Save room by wearing the bulkiest of your outerwear and footwear on the plane.
  • Invest in a well-made bag with sturdy sides that can stand up to a tight packing job.
  • Consider every layer, but don't duplicate too many items for each.
  • Winter clothing is heavier by nature, so weigh your bag before you head to the airport to stay under the extra weight fee.

Load Up on Winter Weather Accessories

winter ski accessories, pink down jacket, scarf, camera, gloves and ski goggles
Via Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Fresh, white snow has the ability to reflect bright sunshine back into your eyes, so you'll need to protect yourself on the slopes. Your winter packing list should include pair of sunglasses to combat the glare. Or, try a pair of tinted ski goggles to keep falling snow away, too. Be sure to bring extra sunscreen, as you'll want to reapply it throughout the day.

If you're worried about chilly weather, stock up on hand and feet warmers that you can tuck into your gloves or boots. Consider bringing a hydration pack along and bring a small waterproof backpack to hold essential accessories.

Grab Custom Gear

close-up winter ski custom gear
Via Alexander Ishchenko/Shutterstock

If you practically live on the slopes, you've probably invested in custom gear. Don't leave home without your skis or snowboard, boots, and poles. If you drive to your favorite slopes, stay safe and learn what to store in your winter car kit.

If you've taken your downhill skills to the next level or if you're thinking about changing up your routine, it might be time to invest in a new pair of skis. Be sure to size your skis correctly based on your height, ability level, and terrain preference.

Don't have an entire unit dedicated to ski storage, or don't want the hassle of flying with skis? Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of renting your ski essentials and cutting down on winter storage.

Consider Renting Ski Gear

rental skis lined up outside shop
Via nuclear_lily/Shutterstock

Downhill skiing and snowboarding technology advances at a rapid pace. That means ski gear becomes outdated quickly. Unless you're on the slopes more than once or twice a year, buying and maintaining skis, poles, and boots becomes more and more impractical.

If you don't live near ski country, owning ski gear poses additional challenges, even if you keep winter sports gear in storage during the off-season. After all, checking a normal-sized bag on any airline is expensive enough. Thinking about checking an oversized bag for your snowboard or other ski essentials? You're looking at extra baggage fees each way.

If you haven't skied much or if you're hitting the slopes for the first time, buying your own ski essentials might be premature. You'll probably want to test out ski boots a few times before committing to a brand, and you'll definitely want to get a feel for skis or a snowboard before you spend serious cash on one of your own.

Fortunately, most ski destinations make renting ski essentials easy. Almost all have the newest skis, snowboards, and even boots available for rental. If you plan ahead, you might be able to get a discount on gear rental when you purchase your lift pass or even when you book your trip.

From warm coats to protective goggles to sunscreen, you won't want to leave home without any of these ski essentials. Add your tried-and-true favorites to this ski trip packing list and start counting the days until ski seas

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