Ski trip packing list: What to pack for a ski holiday
Posted On September 4, 2019
First time skiing and clueless about your ski trip packing list should be? Don’t worry, I’ve been there!
When Adam suggested we go on a ski trip I was thrilled. Until the realisation kicked in. I’d never been skiing, and he had spent five winters doing ski seasons. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, and I was going to look like an idiot. I had imagined looking classy and sophisticated on the slopes, but I had sudden visions of Bridget Jones, flying uncontrollably down the mountain in a bright pink onesie.
Luckily, I had Adam to guide me through everything I would need to pack for my first time ski holiday, and he gave me lots of tips for the packing process too, so that I could get the most from my baggage allowance!
Packing for a ski trip is so different to packing for a summer holiday. It even differs hugely from packing for a winter holiday. Doing a sport while on holiday means you will need to take some specialist equipment alongside all your normal cold weather gear. Planning exactly what you are going to need is essential if you have any chance of sticking to those baggage allowance limits!
I have listed all the things you will need for your ski trip, some of it you will need to buy and some of it you will probably be able to hire in resort, so think carefully about what you actually need to spend money on before you go. I’ve written down whether I believe it’s an item worth buying or not below.
Ski trip packing list
I’ve started with the skiing essentials, the things you will need for on the slopes, and finished with some things you might want to consider taking for your time off the slopes.
Layers are key. Over the course of a week I went from freezing cold to boiling hot multiple times, and I was so pleased that I was wearing layers I could easily put on and take off depending.
Your base layer is the first layer you will put on, and it won’t be coming off! It is the layer that will be closest to your skin, so you want it to be warm and quick drying.
As you will be wearing this layer the most, and wearing it close to your skin, it will also be the layer that suffers the most (we can’t smell like fresh daisies all the time!) For this reason you will probably want to pack at least two pairs of base layers (two tops and two bottoms), perhaps more depending how much laundry you want to do or how fresh you want to smell! You can always wash one pair while you wear the other, but no one likes to do laundry while they’re on holiday.
Do not pack cotton thermals, as cotton dries very slowly and will just stay wet against your skin if you sweat.
I would recommend long sleeved base layers but Adam, who is always hot, prefers the short sleeved ones. Remember that the more layers you have, the more padded you will be! Also, the more standing around you do the colder you will be. So beginners like me might prefer longer sleeves.
Include fleece layers in your ski trip packing list
On top of your base layer I suggest you wear a fleece layer. Fleece is made from polyester, which is perfect for retaining heat and whipping away sweat from the body. It’s fast drying if it gets wet, so if you’re like me and spend as much time on the floor as you do skiing, then this is a good choice!
You can go for a thick fleece layer if you feel the cold easily, but remember that as soon as you start skiing you will warm up very quickly. A thinner fleece layer on top of my base layer was more than enough for me.
Remember that whatever fleece you end up going for has to fit over your base layer and underneath your ski jacket. You also want to be able to move freely with all these layers on, especially if you’ll be doing lots of standing up and sitting down.
Ski Jacket: An essential ski trip item
One of the most important parts of your skiing outfit, and the part that everyone will see! A ski jacket should be designed especially for skiing, and therefore should have some very important features that you will want to look out for before making a purchase.
Look out for a jacket that has a snow skirt, which is basically an elasticated waist band that fastens separately to the jacket, and prevents snow from entering underneath the jacket should you take a tumble. If you do manage to get snow inside your jacket you will get wet and cold very quickly and it will make life very uncomfortable. A snow skirt will prevent this from happening.
Most ski jackets have a dedicated pocket for your electronic ski pass. I thought this was a bit overkill when Adam explained it to me, and I didn’t really see the point, until I had to use one and thought it was the best invention in the world. When you’re lugging heavy equipment through a turn style the last thing you want is to have to rummage around in a pocket for your pass. A pass pocket, usually located in the lower left arm of your jacket, will make your life so much easier.
There are other cool things that some ski jackets have, that aren’t necessary but you may want to consider them. Elasticated cuffs on the arms of your ski jacket are useful in the same way that a snow skirt is. They stop the icy water from getting up your sleeves and soaking into your base layers.
You will want a jacket with a hood big enough to fit over the top of your helmet in case the weather turns bad, and jackets with high collars are good for protecting you from chilly winds.
It goes without saying that you will need a ski jacket that is waterproof, with zips and seams that are taped. You will need to be able to move freely so make sure you get one that fits well!
Ski trousers or salopettes
Another must have. Proper ski trousers will be waterproof and slightly padded to provide some insulation against the cold. Again, there are a range of different styles. Salopettes come up higher and attach over your shoulders with braces. There are pros and cons to both so you will need to choose what suits you best.
Some things to look out for are that your ski trousers are waterproof, including seams and pockets, that they fit comfortably (you need to be able to move freely) and it’s useful if they have elasticated cuffs so the snow can’t get inside them.
Salopettes are great for stopping the snow getting in, but I didn’t like the restrictive feel of them and got on much better with ski trousers. If you have a decent ski jacket then snow shouldn’t be able to get up it anyway.
Ski trousers or salopettes should have zips at the bottom of the leg to make it really easy to get in and out of ski boots. If the bottom of your trousers aren’t big enough to slip over your ski boots then it could get a bit frustrating!
Padding for snowboarding
If you are planning on snowboarding for the first time then chances are you will be spending a lot of time on your bottom. You therefore might want to consider getting some padded shorts for some added protection! They may not look the nicest, but you won’t be able to see them under all your layers and you’ll certainly be thankful for them over your ski trip!
Ski trip packing list: Ski Equipment
If this is your first ski trip then I would recommend you hire your ski equipment rather than buy it. Ski equipment is expensive and you won’t even know at this point if skiing is definitely for you, let alone which kind of equipment works best for you.
Most resorts have quality ski equipment to hire and it’s an easy process to go and pick it up. Double check with your ski resort before you go to make sure you’re aware of prices and what they offer.
The other great thing about hiring equipment is that if it doesn’t work for you, you can just take it back. When I tried on my ski boots they felt like a perfect fit, until two days when I was in agony and couldn’t ski any longer. It wasn’t a problem, we just jumped on the chair lift into town, changed the ski boots with no questions asked (and some expert fitting advice) and got straight back on the slopes. It was all sorted within an hour. I didn’t miss any skiing time and I had a much more comfortable week skiing!
One more plus for ski equipment rental is that they will often offer one free exchange from ski equipment to snowboard equipment (or vice versus). This means that if you aren’t 100% sure on which sport you prefer, you can give them both a try!
Skis / Snowboards
There’s a wide range of downhill skis, cross-country skis and snowboards available to buy. These are nearly always available to rent, so buying only makes sense if this is a regular activity for you and you know exactly what you want.
Ski Boots / Snowboard boots
After my painful experience with my rented ski boots, ski boots are something I would now consider buying. If you know you have trouble finding good fitting shoes I would use this as an indicator that ski boots might be harder for you to find.
If this is the case then it may be worth investing in a pair of well fitting ski or snowboard boots before you go. You can of course buy ski boots online but it is well worth the time and effort to visit a specialist shop and have them properly fitted for you. If you do end up buying them online then make sure you can return them.
Snowboard boots and ski boots are very different, so make sure you know that you will definitely prefer one to the other before you make any purchases. You don’t want to buy ski boots and find out you prefer snowboarding once you get out there!
Helmet: An essential ski trip item
Helmets are one of, if not the, most essential piece of ski equipment. Falls in skiing are common, and so are collisions at high speed, so having a decent helmet protecting your head is vital.
You can rent a helmet, but the thought of wearing something that someone else has sweated into for weeks before made me a little squeamish. The wrong fitting helmet can also be incredibly uncomfortable so a good fitting helmet is a sound investment.
Although I wouldn’t recommend going for the most budget of options (this is a life saving piece of equipment), there are affordable options.
Ski poles are very handy and you will want them on your ski trip packing list. Again, they are easy to rent, or you can buy your own pair like these for relatively little money.
Ski Goggles / Sunglasses
Ski goggles are an essential piece of equipment to have on your ski trip packing list. I know this because mine broke half way through my ski trip! Ski goggles will protect your eyes from the UV light at high altitudes, they cut out glare when it’s sunny (working as robust sunglasses), they keep wind and snow out of your eyes and they can actually enhance your visibility in bad weather.
Some ski goggles also come with interchangeable lenses so that you can wear the right lens for the weather conditions on that day. Personally, I don’t think this is necessary for a first time skier, I would go for something simple that ticks the UV protection box and has some sort of anti-fog feature.
If you wear glasses it is possible to get prescription ski goggles.
You can wear normal sunglasses for skiing, but you will want to think about the limited protection they will offer compared to specially made ski goggles, they will break easily and fall off easily. For this reason you will need to get a strap like this one for them if you do plan on wearing your normal sunnies!
In my opinion this is another essential item for your ski trip packing list. The wind up the mountains can be intense, especially if you are somewhere exposed like the peak of the mountain or on a ski lift. Something to protect your face from the wind will make your trip so much more enjoyable. You can get ones that are like a balaclava, or ones that cover you nose down.
Keeping your hands warm is just as important as keeping your nose warm. You will be using your hands a lot when you ski, and probably falling over a lot too! Hands get cold quickly, and once the cold gets in they can become numb very quickly. Get a decent pair of gloves or mittens to prevent this from happening.
Go for something waterproof that are designed for wet/cold weather. I loved my mittens, they are the warmest pair of gloves I have even owned, but you may prefer the dexterity that gloves give. You can also get waterproof gloves that you can still use your phone through.
Don’t forget thick Socks
Let’s get those feet covered! A decent pair of thick socks (or three) is another important investment when it comes to your ski trip packing list. Along with keeping your feet warm, ski socks will provide you with extra padding for those hideously uncomfortable ski boots!
A good pair of ski socks should be moisture wicking, to help keep your feet dry as you exert yourself. You’ll want them to come up to your knee (or there abouts), party for warmth and party for added leg protection from those nasty ski boots!
In terms of material, socks are available in merino wool, normal wool, and synthetic materials, so you can take your pick! Obviously you will be wearing them every day, so consider that when deciding how many pairs to buy!
When you’re on the slopes you will be wearing a helmet, however for extra warmth it is possible to get hats that you can fit underneath the helmet like this one.
I didn’t need one, and I feel the cold easily, so I don’t think this is an essential item, but a nice to have item if the weather is bad.
You will however definitely want a hat for off of the slopes. Walking around town and exploring the local area can be very cold, especially at night. Get something wind proof like this, and I like something that covers my ears as they are the first things to get cold!
Scarf / Neckwarmer
Remember that cold, icy wind will creep in anywhere that it can when you’re skiing. One area that needs protecting is your neck, as wind blowing down into your jacket will cool your whole body.
A neck warmer will stop the cold from creeping in. One made from fleece material is probably the best option, to keep you warm and dry as much as possible.
Water Bottle / Insulated Flask
A reusable water bottle is going to come in handy for your days out on the slopes. Skiing is thirsty work (there’s only so much re-hydrating that mulled wine can do) so you will want a refillable bottle like this one to take with you. This will not only save you money, but also help save the environment!
An insulated flask is an alternative that is worth considering, especially if like Adam, you are useless without your five cups of morning coffee! You can fill this at your hotel breakfast, or in your hotel room, and have hot drinks all day for free!
I loved these handy hand warmers on my ski trip and they will be a must have on my future ski trip packing lists! But you only really need them if you feel the cold badly. They stay warm for ages and you can stuff them where ever you like to warm you up (I put mine inside my mittens when I was standing still for long periods of time).
The reason you need a backpack is obvious-to carry all your personal belongings. Lots of people manage without a backpack on the slopes, so it definitely isn’t essential, but I think it’s very useful!
You can use a rucksack to carry all your essentials for the day, such as water and snacks, extra layers, your phone and a spare battery and other valuables.
There is a huge choice of rucksacks out there, and really anything will do as long as it’s waterproof or water resistant and big enough to do the job. Some backpacks are designed to carry everything, including helmet and boots, so you can go straight from the slopes to bar. Others are more slimline and only have room for the essentials. It all depends on your needs.
Off the slopes essentials
Whatever you do, don’t forget to pack some normal clothes too! You won’t want to wear your ski boots to the pub!
If packing space is limited then your ski jacket will be fine for every day wear. It is designed to protect you from the wind and rain/snow.
You won’t want to wear your bulky ski trousers around town, so make sure you pack jeans or leggings, or whatever you feel most comfortable in, for evening or days off.
Depending on where you are staying or what you have planned you might want to take something you can dress up in for the evening. After a day rushing around the slopes it’s nice to have a reason to get dressed up a little. That being said, ski resorts are generally very relaxed and accepting of casual wear.
Think carefully about what shoes you bring. The resort will very likely be covered in snow/slush so you will want some waterproof footwear. I lived in my super comfy, super waterproof snow boots while we were off the slopes. They also had reassuring grip for the icy pavements.
If you don’t fancy snow shoes, a decent quality pair of hiking boots will also do the job, as long as they are waterproof!
Must have electronics
Everyone’s ski trip packing list will vary somewhat when it comes to electronics. Here are some of the things I think are worth considering taking with you, that may not have crossed your mind.
External battery pack
A battery pack is always on my travel packing lists, and a ski trip was no different. Phones are not only a great way to stay in touch, they can also be life savers, so having a phone that is charged is important. These external battery packs take up hardly any room and will make sure you can stay connected!
Camera / Spare batteries
An obvious one. Mountain scenery and exciting sports are the ideal combination for that perfect shot. But dragging your £3000 DSLR camera up the slopes may not be the smartest move. For your ski trip you will probably be better off taking a compact camera like this, or using your smart phone. It will be much easier to carry around in your pocket or rucksack.
Rugged phone case
If you plan on using your phone to take photos, or if you plan on taking your phone skiing, then you will want to make sure it is protected. Get yourself a rugged phone case, making it fall proof and waterproof. They cost hardly anything and you can take it off when you aren’t out on an adventure!
You might want a bit of down time (you are on holiday after all!) A kindle is a great idea, it’s compact and this one is even water resistant. I used mine in the spa after a hard days skiing.
A dry bag will come in handy
A little dry bag is really useful, especially if you plan on taking any expensive electrical items up the mountain. Rain, sleet and snow can come from no where and getting caught out without a way to protect your electronics could really ruin your day. These are cheap and small enough to carry in your rucksack, or even a big pocket.
High altitudes, reflective snow and no shade are the perfect combinations for sunburn. You won’t have much skin on show, but a high factor sun cream should be on your packing list- for your face and neck, or in case you take of your jacket to sun yourself with a well deserved pint.
An SPF lip balm is also a good idea. All that wind and cold can leave your lips suffering. I carried mine in my pocket and used it regularly.
Include swim stuff in your ski trip packing list
Most ski resorts have swimming pools or saunas, and although I’m not the biggest spa fan, it was bliss to relax here after a day out skiing. There is nothing better than getting into a hot sauna after a day of exercising in the cold.
Obviously don’t forget your passport (if you’re travelling abroad) or your money/credit card. Consider the fees you may have to pay when using your card abroad.
It might be worth getting a Revolut card (you can get one free through this link), to avoid excess fees and dodgy exchange rates. We love that you can top it up with however much you want (to stop you from over spending), and how easy it is to track your spending from the app. We use ours for everything abroad and just don’t have to worry about being ripped off.
Ski Trip Packing Checklist
Here is a handy list for you to check off as you pack (we all love a packing checklist!)
x2 (at least) thermal base layers (top and bottoms)
x2 fleece layers
Ski trousers or salopettes
Padded shorts and other padded protection (consider if snowboarding)
Thick Socks (a pair for every day)
Ski equipment (renting possible)
Skis / Snowboard
Ski Boots / Snowboard boots
Water bottle or insulated flask
Waterproof Ski Rucksack
Off the slopes
Snow boots or waterproof shoes
Non-ski clothing including underwear!
Swim wear and towel
Mobile phone (with rugged case)
External battery pack
Lip balm (with SPF)
Make up/Hair care
Essentials and Miscellaneous
Eye-mask / ear-plugs
Tips for Packing for a Ski Trip
You might be wondering how on Earth you are going to fit all of this cold weather gear into your baggage allowance. Winter clothes take up a lot more space than if you were packing for a summer holiday, and add onto that all the extra gear you need and packing seems a little impossible!
My advice is to plan exactly what you need for each day. That way you aren’t taking anything that isn’t essential.
Wear your bulkier items on the flight, and wear a few extra layers than you normally would too. The big pockets in your ski jacket are great for stuffing with some extra items. You can also make best use of your hand luggage by packing some of your heavier, bulkier items in there.
Use the inside of your helmet and the inside of shoes to stuff with your socks and other soft items. I always use packing cubes when I travel to get the most out of my packing space and to keep my things neat and organised inside my suitcase.
The other great space saving item I have found over the years is these squeezy re-fillable bottles. They are big enough to allow you to carry a weeks worth of shampoo and conditioner, they have handy labels on the bottom so you know which is which and because you can squeeze them, you don’t waste any of the liquid inside. I use mine for shampoo, conditioner, sun cream and face moisturiser.
If you are flying, check your luggage allowance in advance, and also check if your airline allows for checking of any ski equipment.
If you can’t fit it all in and you need more of a luggage allowance, make sure you book this before you fly. Booking at the airport is nearly always more expensive.
So that’s it for my ski trip packing list. I hope you’ve found it useful. Got any questions or think I’ve missed something off the list? Comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!