Some people dread the cold winters, but I love it because that means it’s time for ski vacations! I look forward to taking weekend trips around the Pacific Northwest to spend in the mountains.
Planning a ski trip weekend is one of my favorite parts of winter, as there’s nothing like spending a day on the mountain followed by good food and drinks after. However, there can be a lot of gear you need to bring, which is why I created a list to help you know what to pack for a ski trip.
From the clothing you need on the mountain to what to wear around town, this ski trip packing list has you covered. I’ve been on dozens of ski trips over the years, so I’ve used that experience to narrow down exactly what’s important. Here are my best tips for packing for a ski trip.
What to Pack for a Ski Trip Weekend
Make sure you’re prepared for the cold weather when you’re on the mountain! You can look at the weather ahead of time, but mountain weather tends to change quickly. Here’s what I recommend taking with you when you go skiing or snowboarding.
Ski Trip Packing List for the Mountain
Don’t skimp on this ski packing list, as it’s better to have too much than not enough clothes in this situation. My philosophy is to layer up and start warm during the beginning of the day and shed layers as needed.
- Ski Jacket – This waterproof jacket has kept me warm and dry on every ski trip I’ve gone on.
- Ski Pants – These pants have room to move but aren’t loose enough that they’ll fall off when you’re going down the hill.
- Thermal Socks – I always wear at least one pair, if not two, to keep my feet toasty.
- Merino Wool – Get both a long sleeve shirt and leggings made out of merino wool to wear as your base layer.
- Waterproof Gloves – These will keep your hands warm and dry.
- Warm Hat – The warmer your head is, the warmer your whole body will be.
- Goggles – Protect your eyes from the glare of the sun and the brightness of the snow.
- Helmet – Helmets aren’t popular with everyone, but it’s better to be safe and protect yourself from a fall.
I highly recommend investing in the clothes you put on your ski trip packing list, particularly your ski jacket and ski pants. These are the outermost layer and work hard to keep you warm and dry, so expect to shell out a few hundred dollars on these. When I spent 3 days in Banff, I was glad I had these with me due to how cold it was.
A good ski jacket needs to be waterproof so it doesn’t soak through. Even if it’s dry and sunny when you’re skiing, snow melts and will end up getting your jacket wet if your jacket isn’t waterproof. I absolutely love my jacket below that’s by Obermeyer, as it has tight cuffs so it’s almost impossible for snow to get in by my wrists and go down my sleeves.
Having waterproof ski pants are also crucial to invest in, as you’ll likely end up in the snow at least a few times during your ski trip. This is especially true for beginner skiers or snowboarders who have to learn by falling down multiple times. Having a cold rear end is no fun at all, so avoid this by keeping yourself dry and warm.
When making a packing list for a ski trip, I like to lay everything out based on how I’ll wear them. I always put on my thermal underwear first followed by my thick socks. I wore this almost every day during my trip to Casper in winter.
If it’s not predicted to be too cold or windy on the mountain, I might leave it at this and put on my waterproof jacket and pants. This way I don’t get too warm during the first part of the morning.
If the weather is unusually cold or windy, I sometimes add a very thin sweatshirt and sweatpants to my ski trip packing list to put over my long underwear until I warm up. I’ll likely take them off at lunch and store them in the car or in a locker.
Ski Trip Packing List for Off the Mountain
You want to stay warm yet stylish when it’s time for apres-drinks and a night on the town! While there are many places in ski resorts such as Whistler that let you go straight from the mountain to the restaurant, it feels good to freshen up.
Put a few cute items on your ski trip packing list so you’ll be ready to go out. After skiing, take a quick shower and then head out to celebrate a hard day’s work!
- Scarf – Stay warm walking around town with this scarf.
- Sunglasses – Have these for sunny days so the glare of the snow doesn’t blind you.
- Leggings – I’m obsessed with these leggings because they’re comfortable and super warm since they’re lined with fleece.
- Sweater – This sweater is perfect for going out for dinner and drinks.
- Boots – Keep your feet dry while walking around the snow in the town.
- Swimsuit – The best part about being cold is jumping in the hot tub after a day of skiing, so make sure to bring a swimsuit!
- Purse – When you’re in a ski resort town, you’ll need a purse for the shopping you might do later.
- Phone Charger – Nothing kills your phone battery quicker than the cold, so keep this with you to be able to capture your vacation.
- GoPro – There’s no better way to capture the action on the mountain than with a GoPro!
- Sunscreen – Even if it’s snowing, you should have this on your face on the mountains and in town since you’ll be at a higher elevation.
Tips for a Ski Trip Weekend
Keep these tips in mind when preparing and packing for a ski trip.
I always look forward to getting a few pints after a day on the slopes, but it’s important to remember to drink water throughout the day. Put it in your backpack, order it at meals, and drink it before and after you ski. You’re working up a sweat in cold conditions you’re not used to, so hydration is important. Add a CamelBak to your ski trip packing list if it helps you drink more water.
Keep Your Skin Moisturized
Bring a good moisturizer and lip balm to protect the outside of your skin as well. The last thing you want is cracked skin on your vacation. Put both of these on before you leave your room for the day and make sure you apply them again once you get home and take a shower.
While it’s tempting to spend a long time in the hot tub or sauna afterward, limit your time in there. They’ll only suck out further moisture from your skin.
Wear Your Coat on the Plane
If you have a good quality one, it’ll be bulky. There’s no point trying to cram it in your suitcase and take up much-needed space for other items. My favorite trick to save room is to just wear my coat on the plane.
This will make it easier deciding what to pack for a ski trip when you have that much more room in your suitcase. You can store it under your seat or in the overhead compartment if the plane ride is warm. The weather will likely be cold once you get to your destination anyway, so this way you’ll be ready to go straight outside.
Bring Plastic Bags
If you’re just doing a quick ski trip weekend, your clothes might not be fully dry by the time you need to leave. Have a few plastic bags to put your wet clothes in so they don’t smell up your car. If you’re flying, you might want to double bag them so they don’t drip on the rest of the items in your suitcase. Adding this small detail to your ski packing list will go a long way.
Make Sure All Clothes are Waterproof
I’m saying it twice because there’s no room for negotiation here. Even if the snow looks fluffy and light, you will get wet. I still see people wearing just sweatpants or jeans(!) when they’re up on the mountain. You might get warm when you come inside for lunch, but the second you step back outside with that wet clothing you’ll end up freezing.
Bring Multiples of Long Underwear
I usually just wear long underwear under my pants and coat. Unless conditions are extremely cold or very windy, you’ll be surprised at how fast you warm up after a few runs on the mountain. If you’re overdressed, you’ll need to take a break to peel layers off. Long underwear does get pretty sweaty though, so I recommend bringing multiple pairs to feel fresh.
Buy Travel Insurance
If you’ll be skiing in another country, it’s smart to buy travel insurance. I didn’t use to buy travel insurance until I had a few too many close calls in other countries. World Nomads is who I normally go with, but there are several companies available. While hopefully nothing happens to you, there are plenty of accidents that can happen on the mountain, from broken bones to concussions.
Before you buy travel insurance, always make sure that it covers the activities you’ll be doing. Certain plans consider specific sports as dangerous and will not cover you if that’s the reason you got hurt. Take your time looking at the different policies to see which one makes the most sense for you.
Don’t Dress Fashionably
Don’t bother with high heels or cute flats. Your feet will get wet the second you step outside, and you’ll be cold for the rest of the night. Wear boots that can handle getting wet, and always wipe them down at the end of the night to make sure they’re clean and dry.
Dresses or skirts are also out of the question due to the weather. Sweaters and thick leggings are still cute and will let you go to a nice dinner after your day on the mountain. Ski resort towns already have a cozy vibe to them, so why not be comfortable when you’re out?
Decide If You’ll Rent Your Gear
If you’re just going for a weekend, it might not be worth it to check in your skis, poles, boots, and helmet for such a short time. It’s often cheaper to rent for a few days. However, if you’re going for a whole week, you most likely will end up saving money bringing your own gear instead of renting it daily. It’s much easier when you don’t have to add your gear to your ski packing list anyways.
You’ll need the following items to add to your packing list for a ski trip depending if you ski or snowboard:
- Ski boots
- Ski poles
- Snowboard boots
- Ski or snowboard bag
A common misconception people have on ski trip weekends is that they don’t need sunscreen since it’s cold outside. The temperature doesn’t have anything to do with it and you’ll actually be closer to the sun since you’re higher up.
The sun also reflects off the snow similar to how it reflects off water in the summer, so you can easily get burnt. I guarantee you’ll see at least a few lobster-faced skiers at lunch who learned the hard way.
Always puts sunscreen on any part of your skin that’s exposed and reapply at lunch if you had a particularly sweaty morning. Don’t forget your ears (nothing is worse than burning the tips of your ears) and getting a chapstick that has SPF in it.
No matter how long or short your ski trip is, it helps to know what to pack for a ski trip. Hopefully, this list made it a bit easier so you can spend more time enjoying your vacation!