Once we started skiing, we progressively ditched the sunny southern holidays in favour of ski trips. Now that I’ve really nailed our ski packing list and system after eight years of trial and error, I figured it’s time to share! Assuming you’re going on a five- to six-day ski holiday, here’s the ski trip packing checklist that I’ve been building and perfecting as the sole packer of 75 per cent of my family. The printable version is a bare-bones list and purely so you don’t forget your ski essentials in the throes of packing up the entire crew, but you’ll also find below that I’ve offered some extra details, gear recos and rationale.
If you’re flying to your destination, or taking a shorter/longer ski trip, some of this will need to be adjusted; you’ll need plane outfits, travel insurance and only the ski gear you prefer not to rent at your resort (for example, I usually fly with my helmet, goggles and boots and rent high-performance skis and poles at my destination). This list is based on a ski road trip, but there’s space here and there to add to the list yourself, along with a space dedicated for those all-important TO DOs leading up to your ski vacation.
Ski trip packing checklist
As you start to think through all of the elements of your ski trip packing checklist, remember: cotton is your enemy and layering is your best friend. Some of these things will be need-to-haves while others will be nice-to-haves, which are optional depending on both budget and space. Most of us, for example, probably won’t need to worry about an avalanche kit; but for those who are hardcore backcountry skiers and tourers, it should be on your list.
Here’s the printable version of my ultimate ski trip packing checklist — just click and print! This is what it looks like:
Download it here: ski trip packing checklist.
Ski trip packing checklist: casual and après-ski outfits
You might think you need some chic Aspen-ready outfits for your après-ski game on your ski trip packing checklist, but I’m here to tell you that the only place I’ve seen everyone look bougie is in Salt Lake City at one of its poshest resorts. Everywhere else — and I’m talking from our little local hill’s cafeteria to Whistler’s nicest restaurants — is very much come as you are.
The key to packing efficiently is mixing and matching, so pack in outfits. Lay things out on your bed that you think you might want to wear and see how many different outfits you can make out of just a few tops and bottoms. When we’re flying, I only allow myself the boots I’ll wear on the plane as footwear; but when you’re driving, you may want a hardcore winter pair and a fun pair, like Moon Boots or Manitobah Mukluks.
- 2 pairs jeans/leggings
- 1 winter skirt/dress pants — I love the Smartwool merino skirts paired with fleece-lined leggings for a dinner or night on the town
- 2 T-shirts
- 2 long-sleeved Ts
- 2 sweaters
- 1 Oxford/flannel shirt
- 1 sweatsuit
- 6 pairs underwear
- 3 bras, if applicable
- 1 PJ set
- 1 pair merino hiking socks — I’m suggesting merino because you only need to bring one pair to go with your casual outfits for your entire trip since they’re antimicrobial and can be worn many times before they need to be washed, but if you only plan to invest in merino for your ski socks, just wear them with your casual outfits, too
- Winter coat
- Winter boots
- Winter hat — a ski friend also suggested a baseball cap to manage ski hair when you don’t want to wear a toque indoors
Ski trip packing checklist: ski gear
No ski trip packing checklist is complete without the gear that’s going to get you down the mountain. But that’s not to say you need to buy and own it all! If you only ski once or twice a year, it may make more sense to rent equipment at your destination and let someone else manage the maintenance and storage.
Do the math, though. When we first started skiing, we looked at the cost of skis for four of us versus renting and it turned out to be cheaper for us to buy brand new sets of skis, poles and boots than to rent just four times. We didn’t get the fanciest gear right out of the gate, so the math worked in our favour. When you start getting into adult sizes for your kids and higher-performance gear, the costs really do increase pretty dramatically, so keep mathing. Skiing is not for the faint of wallet, but there are local ski swaps, Facebook Marketplace and places like Play It Again Sports where you can get lucky.
One of the ways we’ve been able to save money over the years is finding a retailer with a buy-back program as well as purchasing items at the end of the season (and crossing our fingers they fit our kids the next one).
I’ve put an [M] beside each item below that’s mandatory; the rest are completely optional with workarounds if you need to watch your pennies.
- Skis [M] — it’s crucial that you get sized for your skis the first time if you’re an adult and every time for your kids and teens. If this is your first pair, or the only pair you plan to buy, I’d suggest buying or renting an all-mountain ski, which will get you down the groomers but can also handle powder if you find yourself in some (it happens!). Most of us can’t afford skis for different conditions, so I love an all-mountain option! This season, I’ll be skiing on Atomic‘s Maven 93 C. This’ll be the first time I’ve used skis designed specifically for women (the Maverick is Atomic’s men’s version), but I really believe for the most part that skis are unisex. The Maven comes in a variety of waist sizes and lengths; I normally ski on an 88mm-waisted ski, so this 93mm waist should provide more stability on powder days. My kids will be on Atomic‘s BENT twin-tip skis in the all-mountain 85- and 90-waists, and I am frankly feeling kinda jealous of their skis’ designs!
- Poles [M] — young learners absolutely don’t need poles, so you can skip this if you have little kids. But when I was first learning to ski, I found poles an invaluable source of balance. If you’re just starting out, get the least expensive poles you can find. This is one piece of gear that I wouldn’t upgrade until well into your ski journey. Once you’re ready, though, carbon poles are where it’s at; they’re super light but very rigid. I’m excited to try Atomic‘s AMT Carbon SQS poles, while I’m keeping my kids in a more cost-effective option with Atomic‘s AMT SQS poles
- Ski boots [M] — I have awful feet, so a really high-quality, customizable boot is imperative for me. But it may not be for you! If you have relatively normal feet, you can probably get away with a lower- or mid-range boot right out of the box. I’ve had really good luck with Salomon ski boots over the years, and adding an insole was a game-changer. My feet are so bad that I can’t even walk in running shoes for more than a couple of hours at a time, but in great ski boots, I can somehow ski for six to eight hours, no problem. Atomic has a huge range of ski boots for narrow, regular and wide widths; I’ve never had a wide-width ski boot before so it’ll be really interesting to see how my feet do in the HAWX MAGNA 105 S W GW boots this season. When you’re looking for your first pair of boots, your weight will be a consideration but, overall, you’ll want to start with a softer flex than 105 (105 is a medium flex, but I started on 70s) and then move up every few years as you progress. This year, Miss Q will be skiing in Atomic‘s HAWX PRIME 85 W boots; The K Man will be in Atomic‘s HAWX PRIME XTD 100 GW; and Big B finally bought a new pair of boots for the first time in eight years — Atomic‘s HAWX PRIME XTD 130 GW (so versatile, he could even go alpine touring in them!)
- Helmet [M] — without question, the most important piece of gear in your ski bag. Even if your resort doesn’t mandate helmets, please do not ski without one. Every single resort rents helmets and they’re usually only about $10/day. Your brain is really important to me, and every year people become brain-injured (and worse) because they didn’t wear helmets. And remember, if you crash and your head is involved but your helmet doesn’t look ruined, get a new one anyway! I’ve been skiing with a MIPS helmet for years — but ANY helmet is better than no helmet. This year, both Big B and I are testing out Atomic‘s new merino-lined Four AMID Pro helmet, which uses Atomic Multi-directional Impact Deflector technology to give you 40 per cent more protection than the industry standard
- Goggles [M] — most goggles will come with a soft, drawstring case and some will even come with an extra lens, which can be critical for, say, night skiing. I prefer photochromic goggles, which react in seconds to your real-time conditions; this year, Big B and I will both be skiing with Atomic‘s Four Pro HD Photo goggles (I also like to pack my goggles inside my helmet to protect them, but when we’re packing them in a suitcase, we’ll be using Atomic‘s RS GOGGLE CASE)
- Beanie/helmet liner — in case you need extra warmth in your helmet, but also for any outdoor pools and hot tubs at your resort
- Goggle cover — I like the Gogglesoc cover; it’s small enough to fit in a pocket when not in use and helps protect those pricy lenses when you take them off for lunch on the hill
- Rubber goggle wiper — for wet snow days, we have goggle wipers from when we went skiing in Whistler that are really handy
- Hand and toe warmers — if your extremities run cold, reusable or disposable hand and toe warmers will save your day. For me, it’s game over if my fingers or toes get cold!
- Fanny or day pack — if you’re packing water bottles and snacks for the fam, you’ll want a water-repellant slim day pack (think 15-20 litres), but I like a fanny pack for my keys, phone, ID and money. Even better if your pack/pouch has taped seams to keep the weather out!
- Ski Key — depending on where you ski and how valuable your gear is, this $20ish investment could help you ward off theft
- Ski bag or cart — we’ve used a wheeled ski bag for years that fit our two adult skis and poles plus our kids’ skis and poles, but when The K Man moved into adult ski gear last year, it just didn’t cut it anymore. And this year, Miss Q will likely be in adult stuff, too. Enter TRU-Kii: we can load up all four pairs of adult skis and our boot bags, too. It collapses into something much smaller than I expected after first seeing it online and also comes with a travel bag. Its big wheels roll through snow really well and it’s really sturdy, even when fully loaded. If you have a good walk from the parking lot to the chalet, the TRU-Kii system is gold. When I’m skiing without the fam this year, I invested in Atomic‘s SKI SLEEVE, which will cushion my skis and poles and has a carry strap
- (Heated) boot bag — a heated boot bag is certainly a luxury, and I LOVE the one I have from Kulkea. A more basic bag with room to spare for your helmet, goggles, mitts and some extra layers is really nice to have. But you can also completely forego a boot bag if you need to save money; just loop both ski boots together by attaching the Velcro straps to one another and toss them over your shoulder
- Ski strap + pole carrier — for kids who want or need to carry their own stuff, The Ski Strap has saved us on many occasions
Ski trip packing checklist: skiwear
This is one area where you can spend a little — or a whole lot. Skiwear comes in all shapes, sizes and budgets. I’ve seen people ski in everything from snow sets from Walmart to the most expensive, fur-trimmed brands out there, like Goldberg, Bogner and Moncler…and truly everything in between.
The name of the game is warm and dry. That’s it. That’s the goal.
If you want to add a little personal expression or fashion flare along the way, or extra technical features (like GORE-Tex, RECCO, etc.), that’s where your budget will start to head upwards. Renting skiwear is becoming much more common at resorts, too, so you may not even want to invest in much if you head out on one big ski trip per season.
The biggest rule? ZERO COTTON. Not on your body and definitely not on your feet.
- Ski jacket/shell — this is pretty straightforward, but I’ve written about women’s ski jackets before, if you’re interested
- Ski pants/bib
- Base layer short-sleeved top — for all base layers, I prefer merino, but the stuff doesn’t come cheap. A blend with merino would be my next choice but anything branded a “base layer” should do the trick. Even stuff you use for running would work if that’s what you’ve got
- Base layer long-sleeved top
- Base layer bottom
- Mid-layer top — on the coldest days, you’ll want an extra layer of insulation between your base layer and your outerwear and that’s where something fleece-y or with some poly or hybrid insulation will be your bestie (on top and bottom, or maybe just one or the other depending on where your body gets coldest)
- Mid-layer bottom
- Insulated/heated vest — some days, you may need a base layer and not quite a mid-layer, but…something. And that’s where a vest will come in handy, providing just enough extra protection for your core but not so much that you risk overheating (overheating is the enemy here, because nothing will give you a damp chill for the whole day faster than some sweat that gets cold)
- Ski mitts/gloves — I personally prefer mitts over gloves, but that’s because my fingers tend to get cold easily and mitts do a better job of retaining warmth. I’ve tried heated mitts, but I don’t find they keep my thumbs warm at all and they really suffer as a result; plus the battery packs always seem to impede my wrist motion. One of the best pairs of mitts I’d ever owned before last year was the Burton Oven Mitt. They were my go-to mitts until I tried the BAIST system; the Women’s BAIST Mitt paired with the BEAST Liner were by far the warmest product I’ve tried on my hands to date, offering an advantage over heated mitts because the liner includes my thumb. The K Man tried BAIST’s Men’s Trigger Glove with the liner it comes with and skied three full days with them in Vermont without needing a hand warmer, like he normally would, but the liner did get wet each day and needed to dry out in front of the fire. If our chalet didn’t have a fireplace, this would have been less than ideal. This season, we’re adding the Hestra lineup — including the Army Leather Patrol glove, Army Leather GORE-TEX Glove, Army Leather GORE-TEX Mitt and Army Leather Extreme Mitt — into our kit bags. I’m also excited to test out Hestra’s Merino Touch Point Mitt liner, which should allow me to take my hand out of my mitt to capture content and not leave my bare hand at the mercy of the elements. Keep an eye on my Instagram Stories once our ski season kicks off to see how warm these are compared to BAIST and whether or not the liners stay dry
- 2 pairs merino ski socks (or heated socks) — if you can only afford to invest in one merino piece this season, make it ski socks. There’s nothing more temperature-regulating that you can put on your feet for a ski day, and merino ski socks are usually designed with strategic padding as well to keep your shins and calves as comfortable as possible while they’re in your boots. I’m suggesting two pairs merely in case one set gets wet and needs time to dry. My family wears ski socks primarily from Darn Tough and Smartwool
- Balaclava — I rarely ski without my balaclava because, again, I tend to get cold easily and I’m a real wimp when that happens. I like one slim enough that if it turns out to be a bluebird day, I can stick it in a pocket or my fanny pack
- Neck warmer — long neck warmers can replace a balaclava for most people; I don’t often wear both a balaclava and neck warmer, but there are days (especially in Tremblant) where it’s been nice to have both
Speaking of Tremblant, my Things to do Mt Tremblant post will help you plan everything from where to stay and eat to activities beyond skiing in and around Mont-Tremblant’s village.
Another friend of mine who weighed in on this ski trip packing checklist reminded me that there’s a lot of gently used skiwear and merino layers on Facebook Marketplace and Poshmark, where you can find great items for a fraction of retail.
Ski trip packing checklist: tech + gadgets
Just when you thought you were done packing…
- Smartphone — I’m partial to my iPhone 15 Pro because it makes taking photos and videos a breeze while skiing since it’s easy to carry and has amazing built-in features like stability, so videos are really smooth even while you’re in motion
- Tablet — we don’t leave home without the iPad, since most hotel rooms or chalets don’t have enough TVs for all four of us; when we’re done skiing and want to veg out, the iPad provides an extra device for entertainment
- Apple Watch — I love tracking my ski runs each day and when you pair an Apple Watch with the Slopes app, you can track more than just your calorie burn
- PowerBank — I take an external battery with me on every trip, not just ski trips!
- All charging cords + blocks
- Portable smartphone tripod
- Insulated smartphone case — I really like the ones from PHOOZY, which protect our iPhones from potential falls and from the cold to conserve battery power
- iPhone tether — this is a must for me, because I like to take pics and videos from the chairlifts and while we’re skiing, so the risk of dropping my iPhone or losing it in the snow is high. I mitigate that risk with a KOALA clip
- Bluetooth in-helmet headphones — we’ve tried a couple of different brands, including KONNECT and Outdoor Tech‘s CHIPS (though not the most current 3.0 version)
- Ski-friendly walkie-talkies — an alternative to in-helmet headphones if you’re just using it to stay in touch with members of your group or family
- WHOOSH! screen wipes — we take this stuff everywhere
- GoPro/action cam + adaptors
- Avalanche kit — this is not something I personally ever expect to pack, but for those of you ski touring and doing backcountry, this could be lifesaving equipment
Ski trip packing checklist: toiletries
I’m much more judicious about how much I’ll pack if I’m flying to a ski trip, but I’ve listed everything here that you might want to consider for your own list and left room on the printable ski trip packing checklist above to add any extras:
- Perfume/cologne — you may also wish to consider your use of scents since some people can be sensitive to it
- Face wash
- Hand cream — I love the L’Occitane minis for ski trips
- Makeup & brushes
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
- Aromatherapy roller — like the ones from Saje, such as Peppermint for headaches and Pain Release for muscle aches
- Razor + shave gel
- Mini nail file
- Hair brush
- Hair elastics/scrunchy
- Eye drops — my eyes tend to be dry in the best of circumstances, but in winter and especially up in the mountains, they need a little extra hydration
- SPF Lip Balm — you’d be amazed how much the sun bounces off the snow and can very easily burn your lips if you aren’t wearing a balaclava! (We love SUN BUM‘s sticks)
- Facial SPF — if you typically ski bare-faced, SPF is a must. No ands, ifs or buts! If you ski the big stuff, you might even consider a glacier-specific SPF
- Mini first aid kit — think: bandages, antiseptic wipes, Polysporin, Ny-Quil, a tensor bandage, blister pads (and of course any other things that you or your family require, like Epi-Pens). Many of these are probably not going to work for your ski trip packing checklist if travelling by air, so stick to essentials only
Don’t forget your wallet + ID
Don’t leave home without double-checking this part of your ski trip packing checklist — especially if you’re flying!
- Passport + NEXUS card
- Health card
- Insurance cards
- Debit card
- Credit cards
- ID for kids’ jackets — whether or not my kids are doing Ski School, we always put something in their pockets that provides my and my husband’s phone numbers and an extra emergency number, like grandparents
And, finally, all of the other things that you’ll want to think about for your ski trip packing checklist that doesn’t really fit into any of the above categories:
- Snacks — granola bars can be the difference between getting an extra hour or two out of your kids without retreating indoors for a break
- Tide Stick
- Throat/nose sprays — we are obsessed with the BETADINE Cold Defence Nasal Spray and Sore Throat Spray (but a friendly reminder that if you start showing symptoms, please stick to the outdoors only to avoid making others sick). Just be sure if you’re preparing your ski trip packing checklist for air travel that you only pack these in checked bags unless they meet your airline’s carry-on size guidelines
- Hand sanitizer
- Clorox wipes mini-pack
- Tissue mini-packets
- Medication(s) — both prescription and over-the-counter, such as Tylenol, Advil and Imodium
- Books + magazines
- Bathing suit — many resorts and slopeside hotels have indoor and heated outdoor pools, so don’t forget to bring along your swimmers!
- Flip flops — for the same reason I’m suggesting a bathing suit
- Yoga/workout clothes
- Contact lenses — and solution if you don’t use one-a-day lenses
- Ear plugs — or you could just use a white noise app on your smartphone
That’s it! You’re ready to customize your ski trip packing checklist, whether use the one I provided above and print it out or make something similar in your Notes app. Wishing you the best ski season yet.
DISCLAIMER: no one compensated me for this ski trip packing checklist post, though it does include some products that have been gifted to us over the years and probably five figures’ worth of our own investment. I simply wanted to create a ski trip packing checklist that would help get you and your family out the door more easily. All opinions and suggestions are my own.