Knowing what to pack for a ski trip is really important as there is nothing worse than forgetting something. If you do miss an item off a ski holiday packing list, chances are you will end up cold, soggy, or wet, and uncomfortable, the last thing anyone needs on a snowy mountain.
Packing for a ski trip isn’t like packing for a normal holiday, as you are going to be very active on some of the coldest days of the year.
This means the clothing you should pack is highly specific as you’ll be active on the ski slopes, but cold and inactive off the slopes too so there is quite a large range of things to consider.
In this article, we are going to run through everything you need to remember to have on your ski trip packing list and why, since if this is your first time skiing or snowboarding, chances are you might be wondering about what to pack and we’d hate for you to miss something off your ski packing list.
A key element to staying warm and therefore an item that should be on every ski trip packing list are base layers. A base layer is the first layer you put on while gearing up for going skiing after which you will add a fleece mid-layer and a ski jacket.
The base layer you choose has to be both warm and moisture-wicking (aka quick-drying) as since base layers sit closest to your skin, they absorb the most sweat. If the sweat doesn’t dry off quickly, then it will become cool and wet against your skin and you will get cold too.
The best material for a base layer in my eyes is merino wool as it is breathable, warm, moisture-wicking, quick-drying, and has natural anti-odor properties too. You can also use synthetic or bamboo base layers but merino wool is best in my experience.
You will want to have a long sleeve top base layer and a long-leg bottom base layer to wear skiing and snowboarding so you stay warm. Since you will probably be sweating quite a lot into these skiing essentials you will want at least two pairs of base layers, so you can wash one pair each day.
Whatever you do, do not buy or wear a cotton base layer on a ski trip as they take ages to dry and will only keep you cold.
READ MORE: BEST BASE LAYERS FOR SKIING
The next item to add to your ski trip packing list that you will need when layering up for the slopes is your mid-layers which are formed by one or two fleece jackets.
Fleece material is made from a synthetic material, polyester which is lighter than wool, warm, moisture-wicking, and dries quickly when wet too.
I would recommend having a heavy fleece and a light fleece jacket so you can pick one, the other, or both, depending on the weather conditions. Don’t overdo the layering before the slopes though as you will overheat while skiing otherwise.
The key to buying the right fleece is ensuring it fits over and under the other layers, you are going to wear.
READ MORE: BEST FLEECE JACKET
A waterproof ski jacket is another essential item that needs to be on your ski trip packing list as this is the outer shell layer that will block the wind, keep you waterproof, and thus safe from the cold.
When shopping for a shell ski jacket, you are going to find a multitude of different shell jackets to choose from, and there are some key features that every ski jacket needs.
The first is a snow skirt which is an elastic waistband that prevents snow from getting under your jacket while skiing in fresh powder, deep snow, or if you fall on the slopes. This ensures you don’t get melted snow and therefore wet your underlayers.
The same applies to elasticated cuffs and a high collar is also useful to block the wind from your face when it gets going.
A dedicated ski pass pocket is super useful too, as it will be helpful and save you time when using the lifts. A hood that fits a helmet underneath is also important as you may want to wear a helmet for safety reasons.
Finally, you will want the jacket to have pit zips so you can dump heat quickly without taking your jack off, as well as quality zippers, and taped seams, and you have to make sure it is big enough to fit all your other layers underneath.
READ MORE: BEST SKI JACKETS FOR MEN & WOMEN
Ski socks are something you have to pack for a ski trip and they can not be missed from your ski trip packing list. A good pair of thick socks are going to keep your feet warm and comfortable while you are on the slopes.
Make sure the socks are thick to give you some extra cushioning for your feet inside the boots as ski boots are quite rigid. The socks should also be long and fit just under your knee as ski boots and snowboard boots also ride quite high.
The socks should be warm and moisture-wicking to keep your feet dry and therefore the best material for ski socks is merino wool but you can also opt for synthetic ones if you want to.
For extra warmth and for staying warm in windy weather, we recommend covering up your neck while on and off the slopes. The best ski clothing for this purpose is a neck gaiter which is pretty much a tube that goes over your head and sits around your neck.
The great thing about this design of ski clothing is that there are no gaps that you would experience with a scarf and they are a lot less bulk too. Grab a neck gaiter made of fleece material so it is light, breathable, moisture-wicking, and warm.
Since ski clothing is quite expensive, you can bypass this bit of ski clothing if you need to and use a wool or cashmere scarf instead, but it will be bulkier and have some gaps in it.
READ MORE: BEST NECK GAITER
Ski pants are a must for every ski trip packing list as they are essential to you enjoying your time skiing or snowboarding on the slopes.
Ski pants come in two forms; normal pants that go up to your waist or as a bib (aka salopettes) that come high above your waist and are kept in place with braces.
I would personally recommend getting a bib as they cover more of your body and stop any snow from reaching your inner layers.
When buying ski pants you want to make sure that they are quite loose to go over your underlayers and so that they don’t reduce your movement while you ski. They also need to be windproof, waterproof, breathable and have taped seams to protect you from the cold.
Pockets with zippers or velcro closures are useful too and so are elasticated ankles to keep the snow from sliding up. Also, ankle zips are super useful as they make getting in and out of your ski boots a lot easier.
Some snowboard clothing work considering if you are going to learn to snowboard is a pair of padded shorts as you will be falling on your bum a lot and it can get quite sore.
A piece of ski gear that you can live without if you ski or snowboard is a good pair of gloves. Your hands will feel the cold first and to stop this from happening a good pair of waterproof and windproof ski gloves is a good idea.
You can opt for mittens that don’t have fingers but mittens make it hard to use things like zips and put your boots on. Fingered gloves are much more useful and you can even buy ones that work with touchscreens so you can still use your smartphone without having to take them off.
READ MORE: BEST HEATED GLOVES
Now, chances are you are going to be renting your ski boots on your ski trip as it will save space in your luggage but you are going to need some winter boots to use off the slopes.
While walking around and enjoying après ski life, you are probably going to be walking through soggy wet slush or snow, and to stay comfy, a good pair of winter or snow boots are essential.
Your winter/snow boots should be waterproof or at least water-resistant to stop your feet from getting wet. You can also use a pair of waterproof hiking boots to save you from buying more ski gear if you already own some.
READ MORE: BEST WINTER BOOTS
A warm hat is another must-have piece of ski gear for any ski trip as keeping your head warm is key to maintaining your body temperature. Chances are you already have a few hats with your winter clothing but you might want one that will fit under a helmet if you plan on wearing one.
A hat is also an essential piece of non-ski clothing as you will want to wear one when playing in the snow, walking from bars to restaurants, and back home again.
Most wooly hats will do just fine when off the slopes, but make sure that it covers your ears and a waterproof/windproof option will be best at keeping you warm.
A piece of ski equipment that is one of the top ski essentials is a good pair of ski goggles and sunglasses.
Ski resorts are at high altitudes meaning you are closer to the sun and the reflection of the light off the snow is incredibly bright and will damage your eyes if you don’t have something protecting them.
Ski goggles are better than sunglasses as they will protect your eyes as well as part of your face from heavy winds, unlike sunglasses. Sunglasses are great for warmer, bluebird ski days but you will want the goggles for those ski trips in bad weather.
With this type of ski gear, you want to make sure they are mirrored to reflect harmful rays and have in-built UV protection too plus an anti-fog coating. The same goes for the sunglasses you need too.
If you are going to carry a backpack when you’re skiing then it is very much worth having a full insulated water bottle packed as staying hydrated on the slopes is important. It also means you can avoid spending extra money on plastic water bottles.
By having an insulated water bottle, your water will not freeze if the weather gets to freezing temperatures and you can use it for hot drinks too. There is nothing like having some hot coffee or hot chocolate on a snowy mountain.
READ MORE: BEST INSULATED WATER BOTTLES
Bringing skis on ski trips isn’t something you need to do as you can always rent good skis at the resort or even at your hotel and the same goes for snowboards.
But if you ski or snowboard regularly then owning your own equipment is worthwhile and chances are you will want to bring them with you.
Another piece of ski equipment you can easily rent on a ski holiday is ski poles. Ski poles are very useful when walking on your skis or when going uphill but you don’t need to buy any for a ski holiday. But if you ski a lot, they are a bit of gear worth owning.
Helmets never used to be seen on the ski slopes but due to quite a lot of high-profile skiing accidents such as Michael Schumacher’s helmets are now worn all the time. After all, taking a heavy tumble and bumping your head is extremely dangerous so wearing a helmet is a must for safety.
A helmet is a piece of gear you can generally rent with ease at a resort or hotel but if you want to ensure high quality, good protection, a good fit, and one without anyone else’s sweat inside, you might consider buying one for your ski holiday.
If you do own all your own ski equipment from skis or snowboards to ski poles, boots, helmets, and more then you are going to need a special bag.
Ski or snowboard roller bags are designed to hold all your ski gear and they are usually the right size to be checked in as a checked bag and not as sports equipment. Make sure you choose one that is well padded and throw all the big ski clothes that take up a lot of space in there for extra padding and to save space in your carry-on.
If you are planning to rent your gear at the skiing resort then you will probably still need to check in a bag to get your bulky ski outfit and clothes to your destination. In this case, a duffle bag with wheels is your best bet as it will make it easy to roll the bag to your hotel once you arrive.
READ MORE: BEST SKI BAGS WITH WHEELS
For your plane carry on we recommend you bring a day pack so your carry-on doubles up for use on the slopes. This means you can bring water, snacks, a camera, a phone, and extra layers with you while you are skiing.
There are lots of different ski backpacks available from ones that are specially designed to carry everything from an avalanche kit to skis, or more basic packs for a few essentials.
Whichever option you go for, make sure it is waterproof, water-resistant, or has a water-resistant cover so that whatever is in your bag stays dry.
READ MORE: BEST SKI BACKPACK
All travelers have a range of electronics that they travel with but there are some specific ones you don’t want to forget when you go skiing in the elements.
You are, without doubt, going to want to take some pictures while you are on a ski holiday as the surrounding views and snowy mountains are nothing short of spectacular. You can choose to just use your phone, bring a better compact camera, or bring a big DSLR for taking high-quality images, the choice is yours.
I personally prefer a compact camera as they can fit in your pocket, take good photos, and they are not heavy to carry around either.
Also, if you take a tumble, a compact will usually survive and if it doesn’t it isn’t too expensive to replace. Breaking a DSLR is usually a $1000+ mistake so maybe bringing one isn’t the best.
Whichever option you choose, make sure to buy a padded case for it so that it is protected in case of any accidents.
There is nothing more annoying than running out of battery on your phone during après ski, especially when meeting friends or looking for a restaurant for dinner. The same goes when your camera needs a charge but you are running out on the mountain.
An external battery pack is perfect for these situations as you can charge everything on the go, get every photo you want, and stay in touch with everyone too.
If you are traveling to a new country, having a travel adapter is a must as you can keep all the essentials you need to be charged throughout your entire trip. I would recommend adding a travel adapter to your packing list that comes with USB ports so you can charge multiple things all at once.
Outside of your normal toiletries such as contact solution, toothpaste, and a toothbrush, there are some specific ones you will want to have when spending time skiing.
If you are blessed with sunny days on your trip you are going to need some sunscreen to protect your skin. The sun on the mountains is super intense as you are closer to it and you get hit by all the reflected light off the snow.
You will want a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 as this blocks 97% of UV to ensure you won’t get burnt. I personally only use organic sunscreen as I don’t like the idea of putting chemicals on my skin and then going into the sun.
Keeping your lips from chapping on the mountains is important and the only way to do so is by ensuring they stay moist with lip balm. I would also suggest getting a lip balm with SPF in it so that your lips do not get burnt either.
After spending a lot of time in the sun, wearing moisturizer at night is key to ensuring you don’t peel and your skin stays healthy. Make sure to put it on every evening at your accommodation before you dive into bed.
While we have covered everything you might need on the mountain when it comes to clothing, let’s now discuss the helpful basics you should bring with you so stay cozy and toasty as you enjoy après ski.
If you want to look stylish around the resort then taking a winter coat is a good idea or you can use your ski jacket instead. Foot warmers are handy when walking around in fresh snow. Yoga pants are great as a base layer and for any yoga classes going on.
If your hotel has a hot tub don’t forget your swimming gear, hand warmers are great for warmth when you are not doing any other outdoor activities, and slippers are perfect for wandering around the house without bringing water and snow inside.
A basic first aid kit is extremely useful to have on a trip and since they are so lightweight you may as well bring one. You may want to add a few things though that are specific for skiing one of which is second skin.
The most likely injury you are going to have from skiing is blisters from poorly fitting boots and second skins literally stop them rubbing and take the pain away so you can keep enjoying your trip.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!