One of the best parts about skiing and snowboarding is travelling to ride in new places. There’s nothing quite like your first day on a new mountain as you explore, find new terrain, and figure out the best lines. But often this travel requires carefully packing all your gear and loading your precious ski equipment on a plane. That’s more complicated than it may seem at first glance, so here are some tips on how to pack for a ski or snowboard trip. As you’re packing, think about these two major considerations, packing light, and packing smart. They come with two questions – do you actually need to bring it? And if you do, what’s the best way to pack it?
Skiing and snowboarding requires a lot of gear, airlines hate people with a lot of gear and like to charge them extra. So figure out what gear you actually need, and what you can go without. Can you make it through the whole trip with only one set of street clothes? Then wear those onto the plane. Think about how your time will be split on this trip. Will you be skiing all day every day? You probably just need one non-ski outfit then. Do you have some down days planned? Make sure you need everything you pack and try to make sure not to bring anything that you’d only wear once. It’s not worth bringing your favorite casual outfit if you’re only going to wear it for a few hours on one evening. Versatility is key. 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.
Do you have any technical flannels that can double as apres wear and an insulating layer? Clothes that can serve more than one purpose are key to packing light. For example, instead of packing a ski coat, and a raincoat, a Patagonia goretex 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. Thermal 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. Also, make sure to plan for the weather you’re planning on dealing with. It’s always good to overpack a little bit, bring an extra packable puffy, and an extra pair of mittens in case things get colder than you expected. Packing light is great until you pack too light and end up cold and uncomfortable.
Your skis or snowboard will probably be the heaviest thing in your bag. Check the current conditions and the forecast at your destination, and decide if you can just bring one pair of skis or board, or if you’ll need a quiver. If you need to bring more than one, consider just bringing one pair of bindings. This is especially simple with snowboards, it’s easy to swap bindings between boards, and many of the more popular splitboard bindings have add-ons that allow you to use them on an inbounds board. This can help you save weight and space.
The most important piece of equipment when you’re flying to ski isn’t your skis, it’s a good ski bag with wheels. Navigating a crowded airport with a bad bag without wheels is the sort of thing only criminals convicted with stealing skis should have to do. Look for a model with big, sturdy wheels, that’s the right size for your gear. Snowboarders can get away with shorter bags, but skiers need to make sure they get a bag that’s long enough to fit the longest pair of skis they’re bringing. Make sure your bag has sturdy handles, and big wheels that will make dragging it through rough parking lots easier.
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.
Pack your clothes in your ski bag, they’ll help pad your ski gear. Fold or roll them carefully so that they take up less space, and try to pack them methodically, just wadding everything up and stuffing it in won’t work well with irregularly shaped bags. Most puffy jackets come with a bag or pocket that they stuff into, pack them like this, and roll your outerwear tightly so that it makes the best use of the available space in your bag. Keep careless baggage handlers in mind when you’re packing your helmet as well, many people have arrived at their destination only to find that the helmet they packed in their snowboard bag was cracked. The best snowboard helmet is the one that’s not broken when you arrive. Try to pack your helmet in your carry-on- you can always clip it to the outside of your bag.
Don’t bring a roller bag carry-on if you’re already planning on bringing your backcountry backpack. Instead, load your shovel and probe in your ski bag so they don’t hold you up in TSA, and use your touring backpack as your carry-on. If you’re bringing an avalanche beacon, don’t leave it in your checked luggage, carry it on. Big shifts in temperature and pressure can mess it up and make it less accurate.
Most airlines let you bring a carry-on and a smaller personal item. Your ski or snowboard boots should always be your personal item. 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. Always keep them with you. You can even pack your snacks, magazines, or water bottle for the flight inside of them, and just strap them to the outside of your backpack when you’re walking.
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
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
A big smile, get excited, you’re going on a ski trip!
So as you prepare for your dream trip this winter, just remember to pack light, and pack smart!
Written by our guest blogger Evo.com