Jessica is an adventure-loving mom to five kids. She and her family have a serious case of wanderlust and are constantly exploring to find the best travel experiences for families. You can follow her writing and adventures at Bring The Kids, where she shares how to get outside and live an adventurous, travel-filled life with kids in tow.
It’s ski season again! And with your snowy vacation on the horizon, it’s time to get ready.
While they’re incredibly fun, you might be wondering what you need to pack for your ski trip.
Whether you’re a pro or novice, there are certain items that every skier should pack. I know all of it can easily overwhelm you, so I’m here to help!
Hi, I’m Jessica! I’m an adventurer, hiker, skier, traveler, wife and mom to 5 very active kids.
This list is full of tried-and-true travel essentials and will hopefully make preparing for your time on the hill so much easier.
Be sure to download, print and save the checklist, too, so you have it handy when you’re ready to get started.
Clothing to Pack for a Ski Trip
What you wear for a trip like this will play a major factor in how comfortable you are out on the slopes. The best way to stay warm, and not overheat while skiing, is to layer with warm and breathable clothing.
Here’s what I recommend…
Base layers, which are often neglected, are essential for staying comfortable on a family ski vacation.
If you choose the right ones, they’ll not only insulate you, but also help wick moisture away as you begin to sweat.
I recommend getting either merino wool or synthetic base layers because both can do a great job at keeping you warm and cooling you down.
Whatever you do, avoid any cotton base layers (yes, that includes the waffle weave thermals of your youth) because they’re horrible insulators and don’t dry well if they get wet or sweaty.
The most important essentials: Good Base Layers, Merino Wool Ski Socks, Waterproof Ski Gloves and a Properly Fitting Helmet and Goggles.
This is the layer to really rely on during cold days. For a mid-layer while skiing, my family typically wears a fleece, or if it’s really cold, a puffy jacket.
Choose different warmth of mid layers depending on the weather you’ll be skiing in.
All you need is one pair of decent socks to wear, and you should never wear two pairs at once.
We love wool ski socks because they come up high, and they have great cushioning to help make your feet and legs more comfortable while you’re on the slopes.
Merino wool is odor resistant, so you can actually get away with wearing them more than one day.
I recommend that for every person in your family, you pack 2 pairs of ski socks, so you have one to wear on the slopes and one fresh pair for later.
Pro Tip: Stay at a ski resort that has washers and dryers so you can pack lighter and fill your suitcase with fresh, clean clothes before you head back home.
Outerwear to Pack for a Ski Trip
If you really want to enjoy your family ski trip together, investing in great quality outerwear is essential.
It’s your best defense against the elements and can often be the difference between heading back to your villa wet and cold at noon or skiing until the patrollers close down the mountain.
If you’re going to spend more money on one type of ski gear, outerwear is the place to invest.
If you’re going to splurge on one piece of ski gear, invest in GREAT OUTERWEAR!
Coat and Snow Pants
Buy snow pants and coats that are waterproof, breathable and have decent insulation, and you’ll be a happy skier.
Look for coats and pants that have a waterproof rating of at least 10,000 (though 20k is even better).
I also recommend getting a coat with a hood for extra cold days (make sure it’s helmet compatible), and if you sweat a lot, get pants and a coat with extra ventilation (pit and thigh zips).
We’ve gone through lots of family ski gear, and I know first-hand that there’s a big difference between ski-specific outerwear and a typical stylish coat from your local big box store.
Ski Gloves or Mittens
Do your hands get really cold? Plan on wearing mittens since they’re much warmer.
Need to grab things better and hold on? Pack a pair of gloves.
Whatever you do, choose something that’s both warm and waterproof.
It’s easy to find a pair of mittens or gloves at any sporting goods store, but once again, you get what you pay for.
Most gloves and mittens in the $30 range will just last you one season before the waterproofing is gone and your hands are freezing.
On the other hand, a pair of gloves that’s higher in quality (and price) will likely last you for years and years.
Think about how often you’re going out in the snow to help you decide what gloves are best for you.
Buff or Balaclava
Your face can get incredibly cold, even if it’s a sunny day.
Make sure to pack a buff or neck gaiter for everyone, and if the weather’s going to be really cold, a thin balaclava that can fit under a helmet will work wonders for keeping you extra warm.
Pro Tip: If you’re skiing with really young kids, pack 2 for them and switch them out at lunchtime. They’ll usually start licking or sucking on their buff, which ends up turning to ice and making them extra cold.
Kids neck buffs can get wet really easily, so pack 2 and switch to a dry one at lunch.
Get More Ski Trip Tips & Inspiration:
- Planning a Family Ski Trip: 8 Easy Tips for Your First One
- Find Your Winter Vacation Spot
- 8 Reasons Skiers & Snowboarders Love Tahoe Ridge Resort
Gear to Pack for a Ski Trip
When it comes to ski gear, there are some things you absolutely NEED to bring or rent before you head for the hills.
This is absolutely NON-NEGOTIABLE! Every member of your party needs to wear a ski helmet at all times.
If you’re not going to be there for long, you can rent one at most rental shops.
During our ski trip in Lake Tahoe, we stayed at Tahoe Ridge Resort, which had its own ski shop on-site. This was super convenient for us to get anything we needed before our day.
But if the idea of sharing a helmet doesn’t appeal to you, buy your own.
Pro Tip: For kids, make sure to buy a helmet with an adjustable dial so it can grow with your kids and last longer.
The Resort Sports Ski Shop at Tahoe Ridge Resort in Lake Tahoe
Not just for fashion, ski goggles will help make your day more comfortable AND safer!
They’re designed to give you a large field of vision so you can more safely see what’s going on around you, as well as protect your eyes from the intense mountain sun.
They also block out wind and trap in warmth so your face stays warmer.
With so many affordable goggles on the market, there’s no reason to ever ski in sunglasses again!
An obvious essential for every ski trip, a pair of boots that fit well will make your day so much better.
Not only will good ski boots feel more comfortable, but they’ll also drastically improve your performance.
Make sure you go to a ski shop so you can get the best fit and type for your style and skill. They fit VERY different from shoes.
Pro Tip: If you have growing kids, consider adjustable ski boots. They fit multiple sizes at once and are perfect for managing mid-season growth spurts!
Depending on where you’re headed, you may want to bring your own skis, or just rent on arrival.
Most ski resorts will have a rental shop, though you might find cheaper sizes if you get them a few miles away from the hill.
If you’re planning to rent gear, check ahead and see if you can pick everything up the night before to make your morning less stressful.
For intermediate skiers, and most adults, ski poles will be on your list of things to bring. For beginners or young kids, poles are absolutely not necessary and usually discouraged.
Poles are helpful for intermediate and advanced skiers, but not necessary for beginners.
Extras to Take on the Ski Hill
Other than clothes and gear, these are some other things you’ll definitely want to add to your ski packing list.
Often overlooked, sunscreen is absolutely essential for skiing. The high altitude and reflective properties of the snow will make you especially susceptible to sunburns.
To keep things simple, put a sunscreen stick in your coat and apply once in the morning and again at lunch.
You usually only need to apply on your lower face, since everything else is covered, so it’s really quick and easy.
Snacks and Treats
Skiing requires a HUGE amount of energy, so make sure you come prepared to refuel throughout the day.
We throw an energy bar or two into everyone’s coat before we leave the car. They’re perfect for those times when you’re getting hungry but aren’t quite ready to go in for lunch.
If you’re skiing with kids, make sure mom and dad have a few bribes with them.
We always carry some sort of small candy in our pockets and pass a little bit out as we tell our kids something they did great on the last run.
It’s amazing how much they look forward to a couple of M&M’s and how much it re-energizes them to have a little treat AND praise on their skills!
Don’t forget the snacks! Put a few in everyone’s pockets before you head out!
You’d be amazed at how often skiers deal with dehydration.
They often forget to stay hydrated because they’re not hot, but drinking plenty of water will help improve your performance and is essential for fighting off altitude sickness.
If you have a big pocket or backpack, carry some water with you to drink throughout the day.
If not, plan frequent breaks to go into the lodge and make sure that everyone drinks enough.
Ski Essentials for Young Kids
If you’re with really young kids who are still learning how to ski, I highly recommend bringing an Edgie Wedgie and a ski harness with you.
Research how to use both of these before your trip, so you can help your kids learn and to know what to avoid when they’re using these training tools.
Harnesses and edgie wedgies are great for younger kids, but only when you know how to use them the right way.
Après Ski Essentials
While you’re probably not going to use these much on the hill, you’ll absolutely want to pack them for when you’re NOT skiing!
Pack a pair for everyone in the family, even if you think that only the kids will need them.
Put them on whenever you’re walking around the resort so that you’re ready to act like a kid whenever you see a snowbank that needs to be jumped in!
While we don’t recommend wearing one while skiing (stick to just the helmet), you’ll want one as soon as you get off the hill.
Not only do they keep your head warm, but they work wonders for hiding your helmet hair and are completely acceptable to wear anywhere in a ski town.
Helmets are perfect for skiing, but a beanie is a MUST HAVE for your trip.
Thermos for Hot Chocolate
If you have a good thermos or insulated bottle, make sure to bring it on your trip.
Hot chocolate at the ski resort often costs $6–7 per cup, so having your own is always a great idea.
We bring enough for everyone and have it waiting at the car at the end of our day.
If you’re driving to your snowy destination, put sleds on the bottom of the car and all your ski gear on top.
Don’t have room for a sled? Buy one when you arrive.
Sleds are the best inexpensive way to stay entertained and have fun after the hill closes.
Since you already have all your winter gear with you, take full advantage with some evening sledding!
Sleds provide hours of fun and are easy to pack in the car.
Tips to Make Packing for a Ski Trip Less Overwhelming
With the big list of essentials I just shared, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of things you need to pack for your ski trip.
Here are my top 4 tips to make it easier and make sure you don’t forget something…
Use a checklist.
A checklist will ensure that you bring all the gear you need for each person.
Ask for help.
Enlist the whole family in the packing effort to make things easier.
There are plenty of helping hands in our family!
Rent some gear.
Bigger pieces of gear can be hard to transport if you’re traveling far. Skis, boots, helmets and poles can all be easily rented.
Remember, it gets easier with time, so don’t give up.
The first ski trip you pack for might be really hard to organize. Luckily, it gets easier each time you go, so keep them coming!
Whether you’re planning a snowy couples’ getaway or a big family vacation, all the work you put into packing will be worth it once you’re skiing down the mountain.
Don’t forget that you can make it easier by saving and printing my packing checklist for when you’re ready to get started.
SAVE PACKING LIST
Now that you know what to pack for your ski trip, feel the stress melt away and just focus on the important memory-making that’ll happen while you’re there.
Our guest bloggers are compensated for their writing contributions and honest opinions.
All information is subject to change. This article is a curated guide and is neither sponsored nor considered an official endorsement. Please be sure to check information directly with any/all tours, guides or companies for the most up-to-date and direct details.
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