When packing for a ski and/or snowboarding trip there are more than just a couple of things that you need to keep in mind. I’ve been skiing since I was quite young but I still find that preparing for trips like this is very challenging, so I hope to make your packing and general preparation a little easier with this checklist. Here’s the list as a brief overview to start you off and then a bit more of a detailed explanation.
- Poles (for skiers)
- Bags for wet equipment, skis/snowboard, boots
- General equipment: helmet, goggles (+ cloth), gloves, protectors, ski lock
- Jacket, snow trousers and thermals
- Warm accessories: blizzard mask, neck buff, balaclava
- Hat or head band
- Sun cream
- Change of clothes
- More than enough socks
- Body lotion
- Mask (FFP-2)
Ok, so we’re starting off with a pretty obvious one. If you own your own skis or snowboard, you should certainly take them with you when you want to go skiing or snowboarding. Of course, you don’t have to own your own skis if you want to go on a ski trip but if you’re going often enough, it’s definitely worth looking into it. (To save myself a little typing, I’ll be writing ski trip and/or skiing a lot and not specifically snowboarding as well but I always mean both of course.) You can pretty much always rent or buy any equipment at the slopes, so there’s always a plan b. Generally, if you plan on buying your own, I’d always recommend buying used ones on eBay or similar platforms. New skis are usually extremely expensive and usually not much better than slightly used ones. Don’t forget to set your bindings correctly and check them if you haven’t used them for a while. Most lifts will have a ski shop attached or at least very close where they can help you sort it out – usually for a reasonable price. The type of skis or board you’ll need depends mainly on your height and level of skill.
Boots should be another obvious one. When using skis, you need the appropriate boots. You can also rent these on sight of course but boots are certainly a worthy purchase if you plan on going often. Especially as an adult when you won’t really be growing much more. Ski boots can last a really long time and finding the right ones to rent can take time and becomes more and more expensive over time. Just like with skis, I’d recommend buying the boots used to get the best value for money. You should also remember that you need the correct boots by the time you want to set up your bindings, so make sure you have them ready before you go to get your skis or board set up.
This is a point that only applies to skiers and not even all of them. If you ski with poles, remember to take them with you. It sounds silly but they can easily be forgotten because they seem too obvious. Poles are one of the easier things to rent, in case you do forget to take them with you but you should make sure the size is right. The people in the store are pretty much all experts, so they’ll be able to help you out and find the best fit.
Bags for wet equipment, skis/snowboard, boots
Bags for your wet skis and boots are mainly important for clean transportation. As my little brother pointed out to me on my last trip, “It’s common curtesy to take a bag for your skis with you if you’ll be driving in someone else’s car.” If you don’t have a bag for them, then try and find a blanket or some old rags to wrap your wet skis into after the day is done. Both the bag and the blanket may seem like a small thing but they definitely make a difference and can save a lot of time and effort afterwards. The last thing you want to be doing after having spent the weekend skiing is cleaning up the car. A boot bag is another good investment. It keeps your wet boots tidied away and can also be a great storage space to keep your helmet and other equipment stowed away and all in one place.
General equipment: helmet, goggles (+ cloth), gloves, protectors, ski lock
Now this one is more of a list within a list point. You need to make sure that you have a helmet. It doesn’t matter what level of skill you have, skiing is a pretty risky sport and can have horrible consequences if you don’t wear the correct gear, especially head gear. In some countries it is even illegal to ski without a helmet. The legality should be your second concern though because safety always comes first and a helmet should be at the top of your list of safety precautions. As an add on to the helmet, you should make sure to have proper goggles. This is a safety thing to protect your eyes but also a matter of convenience. It can be pretty hard to see on the slopes when it’s snowing or is really bright, so goggles are very much necessary. So that you can keep your goggles clean and dry, it can also be a good idea to bring a goggle or visor cloth.
Included in the general equipment portion of your packing you should include all necessary protectors. The most common ones are wrist protectors that can be inserted into your gloves and a back protector. If you need any supports for your knees or tape etc., try and think of them when packing your protectors. This way, you should always remember to pack both because you’ll remember either one and then make the connection. Also, if you have one, pack your ski lock. In a lot of ski areas you’re usually pretty surrounded by lovely, kind-hearted people but it only takes a few bad eggs to ruin a trip. So to be on the safe side of things, locking up your skis when you go for lunch can be a good idea.
Jacket, snow trousers and thermals
You need the appropriate jacket and trousers for skiing or snowboarding. The main difference between ski and snowboarding jackets is that snowboarding jackets are a bit longer to add some extra coverage to your behind. Ski jackets are often a little tighter. Both are wind and water resistant and have a load of pockets in various places. The trousers are generally the same really. Unless you really think that going into a snowy area is a truly one-time thing, I’d recommend buying your own jacket and trousers. However, I would also advise you buying good quality things in the pre or after season sales. Paying full price for (especially brand-) ski stuff is usually not worth it and expensive. Skiing most commonly takes place in the mountains where there’s snow. Where there’s snow usually means that it’s pretty cold. As much as the ski jacket and trousers are a good idea, you’ll need to layer up underneath to try and stay nice and warm…and perhaps properly dry. Make sure you’re wearing tightly fit and preferably thermal layers under your “main” top layer. This can be proper thermal wear or you can improvise with other sportswear.
Warm accessories: blizzard mask, neck buff, balaclava
We’ve covered most of the main, you-can’t-go-without things but there are still a few other things that you need to remember. To keep warm on your skiing adventure, you’re going to want to protect your neck and face. The basic layer is a balaclava and/or snood. A balaclava is kind of what you’d imagine a bank robber to wear when your whole head and face is covered apart from the eye area. I’ll be honest, it’s not a very sexy accessory but when you’re going skiing, your main goal shouldn’t be to look your best but to be practical and warm. Over your balaclava, you should then add a neck buff (which is just a round, small equivalent to a scarf) and perhaps even a snood. A snood usually isn’t as waterproof and doesn’t keep quite as warm, so a neck buff would probably be more effective. The blizzard mask, as the name suggests, is helpful to protect your face during a blizzard. It mainly covers your nose, mouth and chin and should mainly protect you from wind and snow.
Hat or head band, sunglasses
When you’re skiing, you’ve got your helmet and ideally a balaclava etc. keeping your head warm and your goggles to protect your eyes. When you’re taking a break at the hut or for a snack somewhere, you’ll probably be taking your helmet and goggles off but will still want to try and stay warm and have a good view. That’s why it can be nice to have a hat and/or headband and some sunglasses with you for moments like these. Depending on how cold it is, I’ve also known people to wear a hat under their helmet but this of course depends on how the helmet sits, whether you have a balaclava or not and how cold you get.
One of the things that surprises people so often after a weekend or even just a day skiing, is that they have a sun burn on their face. This is really common and when you think about it, it really makes sense. Mountains are high up and the higher up you get, the stronger the sun can be. So make sure you put some sun cream on your face before you head off in the morning and ideally, you’ll take some with you to reapply later in the day. The best thing to buy is a small face sun cream that can easily fit into your pocket and doesn’t take up much room but is effective. You don’t want to end your lovely ski trip with a nose like Rudolf and skin peeling off your face making it look like it’s snowing inside. That’s just not a great look.
Change of clothes, more than enough socks
We’ve covered pretty much everything you need for during the actual skiing portion of the trip and now here’s another biiiig tip for after. Bring a change of clothes with you – the focus of this change being socks. Having wet and cold feet for the ride home or to wear for the rest of the evening is not a pleasant experience. If you’re staying over somewhere, take a general change of clothes and maybe something nicer if you plan on going out for dinner. If you’re just driving home afterwards, I’d still recommend bringing maybe a jumper to change into or just simply a dry top and as mentioned, you definitely want a different pair of socks. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so feel free to take more than enough pairs of socks so you have a backup.
Body lotion and mask (FFP – 2)
One of these is a bonus and the other a kind of saddening but hygienic accessory. When it’s cold outside, your skin can get much dryer than usual. It also doesn’t help that you’ll be sweating a lot in the cold as well. That’s why it can be nice to have some body lotion with you. Particularly if you’re staying somewhere overnight. The hygiene mask, often FFP-2 mask is a necessary or mandatory accessory that you’ll need to take with you when skiing at the moment. You don’t have to wear it all the time but some places will ask you to wear it on the lifts, in the gondola and when visiting the huts. I found it really handy to tie the two ends of the mask together around my head, put the mask on under my helmet and then just pull it up and down depending on when I needed it.
There you have it! A packing check list and some general packing advise for any ski and/or snowboarding trip. Most of these points will apply wherever you choose to go skiing – be it Canada, Switzerland, New Zealand, Austria or anywhere else where the mountains have enough slow and incline. I hope this makes your next ski trip planning and packing phase easier!
If you’re interested in more travel and packing tips or more information on different destinations, then check out some of my other Meg’s Places articles and stay tuned for more! In case your questions aren’t answered here, or you have any comments or personal experiences you’d like to share, don’t be afraid to get in touch, comment and let me know.
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