10 Easy Tips for Packing for a Ski Vacation

If anyone knows how to pack for a ski trip, it's The Inn at Riverwalk's Resident Athlete, U.S. Ski Team member Tess Johnson. #checkout her tips below!

As a professional skier on the World Cup tour, I feel like I’m constantly packing for a ski trip. As I write this blog I’ve just finished unpacking from a camp in Steamboat Springs and tomorrow will be packing again for an upcoming competition! Packing can be overwhelming, especially with the extra burden of an oversized ski bag and all of the cumbersome equipment. However, over the years I’ve developed a master packing list that, assuming you will bring your own ski gear, might help you pack for an upcoming or future ski vacation! While a lot of what I bring might be unconventional for a recreational skier, such as workout equipment and a foam roller, you’ll be glad to know the 10 easy tips and tricks I’ve written below. 

  1. Any skier knows that the most imperative thing to do while traveling with ski equipment is to carry on your boots! While they can be a little annoying to lug around the airport and on the plane, your ski boots are the one thing you absolutely can’t afford to lose. I’ve learned that I can always borrow or rent other equipment like goggles, or gloves, or outerwear, but every skier’s boots are specifically made for them, and having to rent or borrow a pair if you already have your own can be really painful on your feet!

  2. Bring plenty of layers! I personally don’t get too chilly when I ski, but growing up in Edwards, Colorado I’ve learned that the weather can drastically change in a second, and it’s crucial to have extra layers. I always pack the most base layers (tighter long sleeves and leggings that serve as the bottom layer), 1-2 half zip tops that can fit over the base layer, and one bigger fleece or hoodie in case it’s really brisk! Especially if you’re someone who gets cold easily or isn’t used to mountain weather, layers are essential. 

  3. Pack a beanie, or two, or three! My teammates and I find ourselves packing at least 3 different beanies to put on after skiing. They’re cozy, warm, and they hide crazy helmet hair after a long day of ripping it up. Beanies are especially nice if you’re sticking around the base of the mountain for a bite to eat and apres.

  4. Similar to the beanie, I always bring a comfy pair of shoes and a different pair of socks to put on after skiing. They could be slippers, sneakers, or boots (my go-to is fuzzy Birkenstocks), but your feet are going to want some space from your ski boots and socks immediately after skiing! I know mine always do.

  5. Sunscreen and chapstick for a ski vacation is an absolute necessity. Even if it’s snowing and cloudy for the entirety of your trip, skiing can be extremely tough on your skin and lips. It’s so important to protect your face during all conditions. Just remember to put the sunscreen in your checked bag or bring the appropriate amount for carry-on so that TSA doesn’t take it from you. I’ve been there…

  6. Bring at least 2 different goggle lenses if you are able. Good visibility while skiing is obviously critical, and if you have a high-light lens (good for sunny days) on a cloudy, low-light day or vice-versa, you won’t be able to see anything and your likelihood of crashing is higher. If you aren’t able to bring multiple lenses, select a medium-light lens that works for all lights. This will also help protect your eyesight! 

  7. I would highly recommend bringing multiple pairs of gloves and/or mittens. I use gloves most of the time, but I also have mittens in my backpack in case it gets really cold. Plus, if one pair gets really wet, they may not dry in time for your next skiing adventure, so it’s best to have an extra pair just in case. 

  8. Another great item to multiply on your packing list is a buff/neck gaiter/balaclava. With COVID, it’s often mandatory to have a mask over your face in lift lines, plus they keep your face warm and protected from the weather. However, I find that I’m constantly needing to wash them, so it’s a relief to have multiple ones to switch up. 

  9. I consider goggles to be delicate items, so I make sure to always keep goggle in their case and wrap them in soft items like clothing when packing them away for travel. I’ve unfortunately damaged and scratched goggles before while traveling, so this is a tip I’ve learned the hard way!

  10. Finally, if at all possible, dry out your ski gear before you pack it up. If you don’t you’ll arrive home to some seriously smelly (and maybe even moldy) ski gear. Plus, goggles need to be aired out if they get wet or you can count on them to fog up the next time you use them. 

Hopefully these 10 easy tips and tricks will relieve some stress while packing for a ski trip! These suggestions have helped me tremendously over the years, and I always enjoy a trip more when I’m fully prepared and my gear is functioning properly. Happy skiing!