Travel is one of the best parts of skiing and snowboarding – with amazing mountain destinations around the globe, there’s nothing like exploring a new area. Plus, ski resorts are often located in beautiful locations that are hot destinations without the added bonus of skiing and snowboarding. Travel does, however, add to the already overwhelming process of packing your ski equipment. Rolling around the airport with your ski bag certainly isn’t the most fun, but the reward is oh so worth it. To make things easier, we’ve compiled some tips and tricks to make your travel experience a breeze.
Skiing and snowboarding require a lot of gear, which can quickly rack up extra baggage fees and increase your blood pressure – that’s why it’s important to pack light. Think about how much of your trip will be spent on the mountain, versus out and about on the town – odds are, you’ll be in ski clothes more than you realize. When you’re spending so much time on the mountain, you can get away with packing less casual clothes for off the hill.
Versatility is another key to packing light. On most trips, you can get away with one pair of technical, but casual shoes, look for something that works well with jeans at the bar, but is waterproof enough to keep you dry in slushy ski resort parking lots. A nice pair of boots will likely do the trick, as long as they are comfortable enough to wear through the airport. Likewise, one nice shell jacket, like a Patagonia gore-tex jacket, will keep you warm and dry around town, and out on the slopes. This also applies to base layers, many companies are now making technical base layers let look just like casual shirts. One good base layer with a henley collar can fill in for you non-skiing outfits as well, it will keep you warm on the hill, and look good at the bar.
Packing light is key but spare socks and underwear are never items you want to cut corners on, make sure you have enough for the entire trip, and consider technical underwear. Merino wool socks and underwear will really help manage odors, and keep you feeling fresh till the end of your trip. Will you be able to do laundry on the trip? If so, you can pack less casual clothing and just wash it partway through.
While packing light is important, you don’t want to skimp too much, this can leave you cold on the mountain, or smelly and gross. We always recommend bringing an extra packable puffy, and an extra pair of mittens in case things get colder than you expected.
Once you’ve narrowed down the clothing and gear that you will need, it’s time to figure out how to get it all to your destination, and luggage can make or break your winter travel experience. This is one place that it’s important to invest in. Downhill skis and snowboard are awkwardly shaped and are hard to schlep around, that’s why proper ski bag with wheels will quickly become your best friend, skimp out on your bag and you will regret it.
If you packed light, there’s a good chance that you can fit everything you need into your ski bag and a carry-on. Look up the weight limits of the airlines you’ll be flying with, and then check the weight of your bag as you pack, try to come in just a pound or two under those limits. You need a little extra space in case your scale isn’t totally accurate, or you decide to pick up some souvenirs on your trip.
Packing your clothes in your ski or snowboard bag not only can cut luggage out of the equation, it also helps to protect your boards from damage. Our preferred method of packing is to roll each shirt, pants, or layer individually. This way you can take advantage of every nook and cranny in your bag. Smaller items like socks and underwear can be packed into stuff sacks, like your sleeping bag comes in.
There are a couple of items that you never want to pack into your checked bag – your ski or snowboard boots, and your helmet. The best snowboard helmet is the one that’s not broken when you arrive – clip it to the outside of your backpack or carry-on where it’s safe. You can always rent skis or a board if your checked bags are delayed, but your boots are specific to your feet, and a rental pair will never be as good. That’s why it’s good to never let them leave your sight. Ski boots make for a good “personal item” that you slide under the seat in front of you on the airplane. When traveling around the airport, you can velcro the power straps together, or tie the laces together, and throw your boots over your backpack for easy transportation.
Depending on the type and length of your trip, it’s totally possible to pack in just your board bag and one carry-on. If you like to bring a backpack with you on the mountain, or if you’re heading out of bounds, your backcountry backpack can be your carry-on rather than a traditional suitcase or piece of luggage. Keep any essentials in here.
Here’s a sample packing list for a 7-day ski trip with 5 days of skiing:
In your Ski Bag
- Skis or Snowboard – 1x
- Poles – 1x
- Ski jacket and pants – 1x
- Base layers – 1x
- Ski Socks – 3x
- Mid layer – 1x
- Puffy Jacket – 1x
- Gloves – 1x
- Extra Mittens – 1x
- Face mask – 2x
- Extra pants – 1x
- Shirts – 4x
- Underwear – 7x
- Boardshort/swimsuit – 1x
- Beanie or Hat – 1x
In Your Carry On:
- Ski/Snowboard Boots
- Books, Snacks, charging cables, etc.
- Extra insulating layer
On Your Body:
- Versatile street clothes that will work in a wide variety of situations
- Waterproof casual shoes
Looking for some additional information about packing for an active winter getaway? Here’s a great guide on various bags and equipment for skiing.
So as you prepare for your dream trip this winter, just remember to pack light, and pack smart!