It’s that time of year where you have no idea what to pack for your skiing vacation. Couples and families alike decide to plan a week in the mountains, and sometimes bring along friends. Don’t be the friend who forgot the basics, be the friend who gets invited back to the mountain vacation.
This basic packing list will vary greatly depending on who you are. If you are a member of the Houston-Fam, you may need to purchase (or rent) more items. If you are the type who only skis for one vacation a year, then you should consider renting your equipment.
As an experienced lifetime skier and professional ski instructor, here is my list of essentials (not including your skis & helmet) to pack on your next vacation. Check out my printable packing checklist for skiing vacations!
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Warm, Waterproof Gloves or Mittens Should Always Be in Your Skiing Pack
First, while skiing or snowboarding, one of the biggest misconceptions is that you can pack any type of gloves or mittens. I have seen countless parents and children show up for a day on the slopes with cold hands. This is because they have just your regular department store gloves. While those gloves will run you $10 or less at your local superstore, get high-quality gloves. Investing in waterproof gear will save your day and mindset.
Although saving on money is great, packing the more expensive gloves/mittens will make your winter vacation so much better. The second you bend over to buckle your boots, pick up your skis/board, or dust off snow from your gear, your gloves will be soaked from the snow. If you have waterproof gloves, you should be good (& dry).
For the same reason, your hands will get cold so much faster when outside in the elements. You will last longer if you are wearing waterproof gloves or mittens. Tip: If you are freezing even in the summer, buy mittens! Don’t waste your time on gloves, just get mittens so your hands are warmer.
Sunscreen Is a Must to Pack While Skiing on the Mountain
Next, we all know that protecting our skin should be very high on your skiing pack list. When skiing, you will be at a very high elevation. This means that your skin is at an even higher risk of cancer and sunburn. I’m sure have seen all the ski bums rocking their goggle tan in the spring. While this is a right of passage, it is also inviting some serious skin damage.
Obviously, take the time to pack sunscreen, not only in your suitcase but also in your ski jacket. Then, reapply sunscreen at least during your lunch (or every 3 hours, depending on what the directions say). Anytime I worked with clients, we would reapply sunscreen at the beginning of the day and again during afternoon lessons. You must take time to reapply your sunscreen while skiing on the mountain.
Always Pack a Change of Socks
Next, you should take care of your feet and pack multiple long skiing socks. The best piece of advice I ever got from someone was to bring extra socks to the ski slopes. If you have brutally cold feet all the time, you will want to bring a change of socks.
Tip: Bring an extra pair of socks so you have something to change into before and after skiing on the mountain. Your toes will thank me.
This is how I do it: You will want to start wearing socks for the drive to the mountain. Obviously, this step is irrelevant if you are staying at a ski-in-ski-out hotel. This is because your feet might sweat when warming up with the car heater. Then, when you are ready to ski/board, you can change into fresh ski socks before you put on your boots. This way you aren’t wearing sweaty socks that will freeze when you get on the chairlift.
Immediately at the end of the day, you may want to change back into your morning socks. If your socks are wet, your feet will be cold in your après shoes. Save your friends and family from your feet stench. Swap the socks out when you change back into your shoes. The extra smelly folk will want a bag to seal the stench away.
Rent or Own Gear That’s the Right Size for You
Next, another thing to pack when skiing is not physical, as it’s knowledge. Now, you may think that by renting your gear, that you will be wearing gear that is the right size. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many people I have seen on the slopes while working as a ski instructor.
Several people come in for the same size boot and ski, and on busy weeks you may end up renting with a similar (but not perfect) size. Or you ask for a size 9 boot when you are really a size 8. This can mean your boots are a little large or that your ski/board isn’t necessarily the best fit.
Basically, boots that are too large will suck. It will alter your ski/board response as your points of contact are in a different spot. So do your best to get gear that is the right size. This information applies to those who own their gear and those who are renting. If you have gear that is fitted to you, your day on the mountain will be easier and better overall.
Equally important is the ability to put your gear on and take it off without assistance. Take the time to learn how to put your gear on and take it off. If you can’t reach your toes, you are asking for a hard day on the mountain. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. People who can get up off the ground while their feet are strapped to a board(s) will have an easier day in lessons.
Pack Your Favorite Sunglasses or Goggles That Fit
Next, when you go skiing you need to pack goggles or sunglasses (goggles are generally better). One thing you realize while skiing every day of the year is that your need for eye protection changes. In the early winter, you may need to wear goggles. In the spring skiing months, you can easily get away with sunglasses. This will depend on your personality, as well as the weather conditions on the mountain.
Now if your goal is to just look fly on the mountain or while après skiing, sunglasses will be your go-to. But if you want to take in as many laps as possible – wear goggles. Goggles are typically better than sunglasses at protecting your eyes from the wind while falling down a mountain. Or you can do what I do: Start with goggles, and then switch to sunglasses when you get to the bar.
Tip: NEVER touch or wipe the inside goggle lens. Most goggles have a coating on there to prevent fogging, and wiping it away means your goggles will be more prone to fogging.
Invest in Some Waterproof Skiing Pants
Finally, the next thing you need to pack for skiing is probably the most ignored item for tourists: waterproof pants or bibs. While not obvious to some, skiing or snowboarding will mean that you sit on wet snow several times. Therefore, you need to invest in pants that are waterproof (no, not your jeans). If you are a newer snowboarder, you will spend most of your lesson sitting on the ground in the snow. If you are a skier, you might do the same. You will also probably fall at least once in the snow during your lesson.
In any case, you should consider purchasing waterproof pants instead of the cheap version at your local supermarket. This is because, at the end of the day, you will want a comfy butt instead of a cold wet one. Save yourself the misery of poor quality ski pants and get yourself some waterproof skiing pants to save your bum throughout your vacation. Burton makes it easy and offers jacket and pant sets, aka Insulators: 30% Off Insulators
This list of items to take on your next ski vacation will greatly improve your experience on the mountain. When you make sure to pack these items, you will be better prepared for a fantastic day on the mountain. Every day on the mountain is different, depending on weather and slope conditions, so you will need to use your best judgment.
There are many ways to improve your ski vacation in the mountains. By following this list of items to pack, you will have a better idea of what will help you. So, pack away, get on the mountain, and let me know how epic your day was.
Is there something else you would pack or is there something on this list you hadn’t thought about before? Let me know in the comments below.
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