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Winter is one of our favorite times of year for one main reason: hitting the slopes. Whether you’re a complete beginner or have been skiing since you could walk, it’s important to have the right gear for your snowy adventures on the mountains. To help you make sure you’ve got the essentials, we created this ski trip packing list (plus a free downloadable version!) that you can use to prepare for your trip.

A woman skis down a snowy slope. Creative commons image as part of our ski trip packing list guide.

Ski Trip Packing List: What to Bring on a Skiing Vacation

Skiing Apparel & Clothing

Outerwear

Good outerwear is to skiing like a swimsuit is to swimming – you’ll absolutely need it to stay warm, dry, and safe out on the slopes.

  • Waterproof outerwear/coat – Possibly the most critical piece of clothing for a ski trip packing list is a durable, waterproof coat. It’s a must if you are hitting the slopes, especially as a beginner. There are tons of outfitters that make high-quality, waterproof ski jackets, but we find that Columbia offers high-quality ski jackets at the most affordable prices. Burton and Helly Hansen are more great brands that are famous in the ski world for having best-in-class clothing for even the coldest, snowiest conditions. Click here to shop ski jackets and compare prices.
  • Waterproof pants – Like your coat, a good pair of waterproof pants will keep you warm and dry as you’re falling (and maybe wiping out a few times…) in the snow. Again, there are tons of brands that make exceptional thermal ski pants, but we’ve tried and tested Rossignol ski pants (womens | mens)and find them to be an excellent choice at a fair price. Click here to shop ski pants and compare prices.
  • Gloves – It might seem obvious, but gloves are a must for any ski trip packing list. For beginners, we recommend these waterproof gloves, as you’ll likely fall several times and use your hands to get up. We also like the e-tip gloves from The North Face if you prefer something more lightweight. Click here to shop ski gloves and compare prices.
  • Thermal Sweatband – To protect your ears and neck from the cold, you may want to purchase a sweatband for underneath your helmet. Something thin and made of thermal material (like Merino wool or something synthetic) is usually the best choice. We recommend a Buff, as they’re versatile for other outdoor activities as well, but shop around for something that fits you well and is comfortable.

Thermal Wear

Outwear is great, but it’s only half of the equation. To stay warm and dry while you’re out on the slopes, it’s critical to pack high-quality, thermal clothes designed for keeping you warm and wicking moisture underneath your top layers.

  • Thermal baselayers – Thermal baselayers are absolutely critical for a smooth skiing experience, as these will keep you warm and dry underneath your outerwear. The best kinds of thermal baselayers are made of Merino wool, which is moisture-wicking and comfortable. (For vegans, however, there are also several synthetic blends that can work well.) Our favorite brand for Merino wool thermal layers is SmartWool – their tops and leggings are soft, lightweight, but warm and durable for all kinds of outdoor activities, including skiing. Click here to shop thermal tops and leggings and compare prices.
    • Long sleeve tops – We recommend these SmartWool tops for men & women.
    • Leggings – We recommend these SmartWool leggings for men & women.
  • Wool socks – Ski boots are often uncomfortable and won’t completely protect your feet from the cold, so thick, wool socks are a must. Darn Tough makes excellent wool socks that last forever and will keep your feet comfy in your ski boots for hours. Click here to shop wool socks and compare prices.

Other Skiing Gear & Essentials

Aside from clothing, there are a couple of things you’ll want to bring with you while skiing to make sure you’re comfortable and have a good time. Here are a few of the things we’d recommend bringing for those snowy, chilly hours flying down the side of a mountain.

  • Ski goggles – No ski trip packing list would be complete without a pair of fog-resistant ski goggles, especially if you’re going somewhere that makes artificial snow. Ski slopes often have snow blowing into the air several times a day and it can be hard to keep freezing snowflakes out of your eyes, even during clear days. We use and recommend these ski goggles. However, you can shop ski goggles and compare reviews/prices here.
  • Hand and foot warmersHand and foot warmers aren’t always a must, but they can be really, really nice for keeping your extremities toasty. They’re like little tea bags that stay warm in your gloves or shoes for hours. These are usually pretty run of the mill, but you can buy them in a large pack here.
  • Sunscreen – Did you know you can still get sunburned in the winter? It’s important to bring and wear sunscreen out on the slopes, especially on your face.
  • Lip balm – Cold air + sunshine can mean chapped lips for days, so we strongly recommend adding a heavy duty lip balm, like all-weather Burt’s Bees, to your skiing gear list.
  • Waterproof phone case – Especially if you’re new to skiing, you’ll probably fall into slow a fair share of times. An inexpensive waterproof phone case like this one can help you ensure your phone doesn’t drown in the powder.
  • GoPro – This is definitely not essential, but a GoPro can be a fun addition to your helmet so you can capture all the memories you’re making on the slopes, without having to carry a bulky camera around or worrying about dropping your phone.

Ski Equipment (That You Can Usually Rent)

If you’re a beginner skier, you’ll probably want to rent these items at the ski resort rather than buying them. However, we’ve included them here just in case.

  • Helmet – A helmet is a necessary piece of safety equipment for skiing, and can help protect you in case of a crash or other dangerous conditions. Most ski resorts have these for rent, but if you prefer a more comfortable helmet, you can also buy your own here.
  • Ski boots – If you’re going to buy any piece of ski gear for your own comfort, I’d recommend a sturdy pair of ski boots. These are generally pretty uncomfortable, but there are options available for purchase that are much nicer and more cushioned than the rentable ones are, typically. You can browse ski boots and compare prices here.
  • Skis – We would not recommend buying you own skis unless you are confident you will ski several times per year. They’re extremely hard to transport and it’s just too easy to rent them. Most resorts have skis for rent at reasonable prices that they keep in top shape for the winter season.
  • Poles – Most ski resorts have these available for rent (sometimes for free), so we do not recommend purchasing them unless you ski several times a year.

Things to Bring for When You’re Not Skiing

While you’ll hopefully be spending a good chunk of your time outdoors in the snow, you’ll also want some significant down time as well. Here are some of the main things to pack for when you’re not out in the cold.

  • Warm loungewear & casual clothes – Bring lots of warm, comfortable clothes for when you’re not skiing so you can relax by the fireplace or watch people whiz down the slopes. Pack like you would for any cold destination, including warm clothing, socks, toiletries, and outerwear.
  • Warm boots – Don’t forget some warm boots for when you’re wandering around the ski resort or walking to the ski center.
  • Swimsuit – Lots of ski resorts have indoor pools, spas, saunas, or hot tubs. Check your resort’s amenities and bring your swimsuit so you can kick back in the hot tub or sauna after a long day of skiing.
  • Packing cubes – These are a great way to keep your stuff organized in your bag, and they come in several different sizes. I recommend getting these Bagail mesh packing cubes, which will not only allow your clothes to breathe more freely, but will also make it easier to see what’s in each cube.
  • Thermal mug or water bottle – One thing we love to bring to the slopes is a thermal coffee mug filled with hot cider or our favorite tea, to sip in between slopes or warm up right after a long day outside. We love our Hydro Flask bottles for this purpose – they keep our drinks hot for hours!
  • Books, board games, etc. – If you’re heading to the ski resort with family or friends, you’ll want some fun things to do while you’re not out on the slopes. Don’t forget to bring a good book or a pack of cards for those evening hours of bonding and hanging out!

Additional Skiing Resources


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Kay Rodriguez is the Chicago-based travel writer and photographer behind Jetfarer and Skyline Adventurer. When she's not blogging furiously on her laptop or editing photos, you can find Kay running, hiking, or paddling in a new city.

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