The Ultimate Ski Trip Packing List and Expert Tips for the Mountain

From layers to accessories, here’s everything you need for a ski vacation.

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The Ultimate Ski Trip Packing List, and Expert Tips for the Mountain

REI / Amazon / Sorel

Whether you’re hitting the slopes with your family at Snowmass or taking in the breathtaking views of the French Alps at Courchevel, you’ll want to make sure you’ve packed everything you need for a ski trip.

Growing up 20 miles away from Oregon’s largest ski resort, I spent every weekend training with the local alpine racing team my dad coached. Before heading to the mountain, he would have my sister and I repeat a packing list (albeit begrudgingly) while rummaging around the truck to ensure we had our skis, poles, gloves, jackets, helmets, goggles, and snow pants in sight. It wasn’t until moving to the French Alps when I was 19 that I appreciated how much easier it is to pack ski gear when you use a thorough packing list to ensure smooth travels during a ski trip.

We chatted with several snowsports experts to get their advice on the best clothing, equipment, and luggage to bring on your next ski trip so you’ll arrive prepared from head to toe for the exhilarating runs to the rejuvenating après.

Packing Checklist for a Ski Trip

Here is everything you need to know about packing for a ski adventure in the mountains. From jackets to goggles, our experts weighed in on the best brands and provided helpful tips and travel hacks.

Ski Clothes

 Off-slope Clothes

Equipment and Accessories

Luggage and Bags

T+L's Top Picks and Tips

Best Ski Clothing

Before you hit the slopes, you’ll want to make sure you have all of the gear you need to stay warm and dry while skiing. Ski jackets, snow pants, and gloves will ensure you stay warm, but the most important thing is that the materials are completely waterproof. Even if it’s a sunny spring day, the weather conditions can change rapidly in the mountains.

President of the Denver-based ski club Ski Noir 5280, Quincy Shannon helped co-found the group with the mission to diversify the snowsports industry after recognizing the lack of BIPOC community members with access to snowsports. Shannon, who has visited most of the ski resorts in Colorado, shares that the first thing he thinks to pack when embarking on a ski trip is plenty of layers. “I would say layers, layers, layers are your friend when doing anything snow- or cold-related because you can always take things off. But if you go somewhere and you don't have the right layers on even from the beginning, your core will get cold and then everything else is downhill from there,” he says. After packing layers, travelers can begin to think about outerwear like waterproof jackets and snow pants.

Best Ski Jacket: Patagonia Insulated Powder Town Jacket

Patagonia Insulated Powder Town Jacket

Patagonia

While our experts can’t stress layering enough for staying warm, your outer layer is the next most important piece of clothing for skiing. An insulated and waterproof jacket like Patagonia’s Powder Town coat is essential for skiing. Not only will it protect you from all types of weather, but if you take a spill, your upper body will also be protected from the damage that ice and snow can cause if your skin comes in contact with it during impact. When it comes to a shell versus a jacket with more insulation, Ian Levine, the wax technician for the U.S. Snowboard Cross Team, says, “I've [used] a lot of both and see the merit in both, but I like the insulated jacket just because I'm usually pretty cold. So that keeps me warm, and then if it's extra cold then I can also, like, throw another down jacket on underneath.”

Price at time of publish: $349

Best Snow Pants: Patagonia Powder Town Pants

Patagonia Men's Powder Town Pants

Patagonia

Chair lifts can often be damp or icy, so you’ll want a pair of waterproof and insulated pants to protect the bottom half of your body from the climate. Patagonia’s Powder Town snow pants have two layers of waterproof recycled polyester shell and insulation material that allows enough structure to stay warm while still having an optimal range of motion.

Price at time of publish: $269

Best Gloves: Hestra Gloves Fall Line Gloves

Hestra Gloves Fall Line Gloves

REI

Leather ski gloves have gained popularity in the last few years among professional athletes, and Hestra’s newest leather ski gloves focus on sustainability and dexterity for snowsport pros. Made with Fair Trade Certified materials and labor, these leather gloves come with removable polyester liners and outseam stitchwork on the Leather Working Group-sourced outer material for added comfort.

Price at time of publish: $165

Best Thermal Underwear: Thermajohn Long Johns Thermal Underwear for Men Fleece Lined Base Layer Set for Cold Weather

Thermajohn Long Johns Thermal Underwear Fleece Lined Base Layer Set

Amazon

All of our experts couldn’t stress enough that layers are key. This set of men’s and women’s thermal underwear is an ideal place to start underneath ski jackets and snow pants. The long sleeve top and legging-style pants are made with a moisture-wicking polyester material so when you break a sweat after a run, the layers will keep you nice and dry while staying warm, too.

Price at time of publish: $24

Best Fleece-lined Leggings: 90 Degree By Reflex High Waist Fleece Lined Leggings

90 Degree By Reflex High Waist Fleece-Lined Leggings

Amazon

For a versatile pair of cozy leggings, you can’t go wrong with this pair from Amazon. The interior is lined with soft fleece material and the exterior has the same stretchy and compressing fabric as a regular pair of leggings. Plus, there’s an option for a pair with pockets to hold your phone or keys after you take off your snow pants.

Price at time of publish: $25

Best Fleece Layer: Helly Hansen Daybreaker Half-zip Fleece Jacket

Helly Hansen Daybreaker Half-zip Fleece Jacket

Helly Hansen

Once you’ve packed your base layers, you’ll want to throw in a cozy fleece for extra chilly days on the mountain. The Helly Hansen Daybreaker Half-zip is a solid option for a warm and breathable layer thanks to its 100 percent recycled polyester material. And even though you may end up not needing it, it’s wise to keep one in your ski bag just in case.

Price at time of publish: $55

Best Vest: The North Face Winter Warm Insulated Vest

The North Face Men's Winter Warm Insulated Vest

The North Face

Stifel U.S. Alpine Team member Tommy Ford recommends wearing multiple layers under your outer shell or jacket, like a thin vest that can be easily taken off if you get too warm. “You think it's cold, but when you're actually skiing and moving, you get pretty warm, so it's nice to have layer options,” he says. I like these lightweight vests from The North Face, which boast an insulated interior and stretchy nylon and polyester shells to keep your upper body toasty.

Price at time of publish: $99

Best Ski Socks: Smartwool Ski Targeted Cushion Over-the-calf Socks

Smartwool Ski Targeted Cushion Over The Calf Socks

REI

A pair of high-quality socks that don’t bunch up and pinch your shins are crucial for a comfortable skiing experience. “As far as my socks, I probably won't wear any other socks outside of Smartwool. They're a Colorado-based company and they just feel really great,” Shannon says. These Smartwool socks are designed for snowsports with a seamless fit made with cozy midweight Merino wool.

Price at time of publish: $27

Best Off-slope Clothing

Whether you’re planning to end a day of skiing with an après at the bar or tailgate barbecue, you’ll be much more comfortable if you pack a few extra pieces of clothing and shoes. There truly is no better feeling than taking off a pair of ski boots and changing into a pair of comfy snow boots — and it’s much easier to walk around in the snow with them. Just in case your ski jacket gets damp, a cozy parka will feel nice after wearing a shell all day, and consider packing a pair of heated glove liners to warm up your finger when it gets extra cold.

Best Snow Boots: Sorel Explorer Boots

Sorel Women's Explorer Joan Boots

Sorel

Again, there is no better feeling than taking off a pair of ski boots after a workout on the slopes. These waterproof Sorel Explorer boots feel luxurious and cozy even without the sweet relief of taking off ski boots thanks to the 100 grams of insulation and high-traction rubber sole.

Price at time of publish: $155

Best Parka: Eddie Bauer Superior Down Stadium Coat

Eddie Bauer Superior Down Stadium Coat

Eddie Bauer

Chances are the temperatures will be chilly in the mountain town you’re staying in during a ski trip, so you’ll want a cozy winter parka like the Superior Down Stadium Coat from Eddie Bauer. These 650-fill down jackets can endure temperatures as cold as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and they’re seam-sealed for maximum waterproofness.

Price at time of publish: $399

Best Glove Liners: Day Wolf Heated Gloves Liners

Heated Glove Liners

Walmart

If I had a dollar for every time I had cold fingers while skiing, I’d be able to afford ski passes for a lifetime. Day Wolf’s heated glove liners are the perfect solution for keeping your digits warm on and off the mountain. We tried these heated liners and loved how quickly they heat up your hands in just 30 seconds. While they’re not waterproof, you can easily wear them with a pair of ski gloves or mittens, or for loading up the car with ski gear.

Price at time of publish: $120

Best Equipment and Accessories

When it comes to skiing, safety should be your top priority. The best way to protect your noggin is by packing a sturdy helmet and a pair of goggles to avoid impaired eyesight from wind or snow. It’s surprising how painful snow or rain can be when you’re going down the hill at 10 or 20 miles per hour, so you might be thankful to have a neck gaiter tucked away in your pocket for such occasions.

Best Helmet: Smith Vantage MIPS Snow Helmet

Smith Vantage MIPS Snow Helmet Women's

REI

The most important safety accessory you can purchase is a helmet. This Smith helmet is thoughtfully designed with all types of skiers in mind with a lightweight shell, breathable ventilation, and full coverage low-friction layer slides that will prevent your head from rotating in the event that you crash and hit it. Plus, if you have a pair of Smith goggles, you won’t have to worry about an awkward gap between the top of the goggles and the forehead of the helmet, since they are designed to integrate seamlessly.

Price at time of publish: $270

Best Goggles: Smith 4D MAG Snow Goggle

Smith 4D MAG Snow Goggles

Smith

As someone who has tried tons of Smith goggles for ski racing over the years, I can confidently say these Smith 4D MAG Goggles are worth every penny. The ability to have clear vision is crucial for safety on a mountain for spotting other skiers, rocks, or obstacles that can cause injury. They come with incredibly clear fog-proof lenses that can be changed out for bright and low light conditions.

Price at time of publish: $300

Best Neck Gaiter: Smartwool Merino 250 Neck Gaiter

Smartwool Merino 250 Neck Gaiter

REI

You can’t always predict the weather at high altitudes, so it’s best to come prepared for anything Mother Nature throws at you. This Smartwool midweight gaiter is made from soft merino wool designed to protect your neck and chin from cold and wet weather conditions, or it can act as a barrier from the sun.

Price at time of publish: $32

Best Sunscreen: EltaMD UV Sheer Broad-Spectrum SPF 50

EltaMD UV Sheer Broad-Spectrum SPF 50

Dermstore

Whether it’s cloudy or sunny, being outside at a higher elevation means stronger UV rays leading to a greater possibility of getting a sunburn while skiing. To prevent an unwanted goggle tan, the EltaMD SPF 50 sunscreen is an excellent option for an outdoor-specific sunscreen. And it’s only 3 ounces so it can easily fit in your pocket or backpack.

Price at time of publish: $28

Best Beanie: Carhartt Men's Knit Cuffed Beanie

Men's Knit Cuffed Beanie

Amazon

Beanies are a must-have accessory for keeping your head warm and hiding post-skiing helmet hair. There are 34 colors of Carhartt cuffed beanies to choose from for your next ski trip, and they’re made with 100 percent acrylic material to keep your noggin extra warm in the outdoors.

Price at time of publish: $20

Best Water Bottle: Takeya Actives Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle

4.7
Takeya Actives Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Takeya

A reusable water bottle like this option from Takeya can help prevent dehydration after a workout from skiing. We tested this bottle and found that the ice water actually got colder in temperature after we left it in the bottle for nearly six hours. On top of that, it’s easy to drink from and can fit in a daypack.

Price at time of publish: $35

Best Women’s Skis: Head Pure Joy Skis with Bindings

Head Pure Joy Skis with Bindings

REI

If you’re looking to purchase a pair of skis before your trip, a set of all-mountain skis like these lightweight graphene Head ones are a great pick. This pair is designed for begining or intermediate skiers who generally stay on groomed or packed-down runs. Plus, the V-shape design is ideal for all types of skiers, as it improves control and stability so you can turn easier while skiing down a slope.

Price at time of publish: $549

Best Men’s Skis: Rossignol Experience 86 Basalt Skis with Bindings

Rossignol Experience 86 Basalt Skis with Bindings

REI

The perfect pair of men’s skis for a trip to a ski resort, these Rossignols are your best bet for smooth turns on groomers or powder days. “I really like Rossignol…It's just like a good all-mountain [ski]. It'll work in powder, It'll work on hardpack — all kinds of stuff. Pretty much every ski company has a ski that's gonna work for that,” Levine says. This pair does come with bindings already built onto the ski, but you’ll want to always double-check if a pair of skis come with bindings before you buy a pair.

Price at time of publish: $900

Best Snowboard: Burton Process Flying V Snowboard

Burton Process Flying V Snowboard

REI

In my family, we have one member who prefers snowboarding instead of skiing, so we have several boards stacked next to our skis, too. Levine, who works closely with members of the U.S. Snowboard Cross team, shares that you can never go wrong with a snowboard from staple snowsports equipment brands like Burton. This model is designed for all-mountain use, thanks to its symmetrical twin tales and lightweight recycled wood grain materials.

Price at time of publish: $550

Best Luggage and Bags

If you’re planning to fly with your ski gear, durable bags for your skis and boots are essential. And for those planning to rent equipment, it’s likely that a checked bag will be needed for packing ski clothes that often take up space in a suitcase. A piece of luggage with wheels is a must-have for traveling with multiple bags full of gear, according to Ford, who spends most of the year traveling internationally for ski races. “I bring a carabiner and hook it onto the top of the loop [of the] handle there so you can drag both with one hand and you can use your phone for navigation on the other hand,” Ford shared.

Best Ski Bag: Thule RoundTrip Ski Roller Bag

This Thule ski bag will give travelers flying with a pair of skis peace of mind. The sturdy polyester bag includes two removable padded sleeves, self-repairing YKK zippers, and it has two wheels on the bottom. Plus, there’s a large interior zipper pocket to stuff your gloves, socks, and neck gaiters into for maximizing storage space and adding an extra layer of protection.

Price at time of publish: $300

Best Boot Bag: Thule RoundTrip Boot Backpack

Thule RoundTrip Boot Backpack

Amazon

Chances are your ski boots won’t fit in a traditional suitcase along with your regular and ski-specific clothing. This spacious Thule boot bag can fit up to 60 liters, and it has thoughtful pockets to maximize packing space, including a pocket on top for a helmet and a protected pocket for goggles, glasses, or other easily breakable items. And if your ski boots are wet, the bag has drainage in the bottom.

Price at time of publish: $170

Best Checked Luggage: Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Luggage with Spinner Wheels

4.8
Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Luggage with Spinner Wheels, Charcoal

Amazon

Depending on how much ski gear you’re planning to pack, a checked bag might be the way to go. Our favorite piece of checked luggage we tested, this Samsonite bag is extremely easy to move around, especially if you’re in a busy airport setting. The interior compression straps allow travelers to separate clothing items and compress the bulkier items (ahem, all ski gear) so you can fit more.

Price at time of publish: $310

Best Duffel Bag: Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled Duffel Bag 100L

Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled Duffel Bag

Backcountry

Equipped for bulky ski gear thanks, this wheeled duffel bag from Patagonia has a spacious 100-liter interior and a weather-resistant exterior. Levine and Ford both recommended using a large duffel bag to easily pack ski gear. “I make sure I put my helmet in there and boots [and] racing gear. I try to pack my helmet with my jacket or whatnot to use all that gear to protect other gear that's less sensitive,” Ford shared.

Price at time of publish: $419

Best Day Pack: Osprey Daylite Pack

Osprey Daylite Pack

Amazon

A small, lightweight backpack like the Osprey Daylite Pack can be helpful for skiers looking to pack a few small items with them while out on the slopes. The bag is thin enough that it won’t feel too noticeable when you lean your back on a chair lift and it can fit snacks, sunscreen, or extra gear like gloves or neck gaiters.

Price at time of publish: $65

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How do I pack skis and other gear for a flight?

    In terms of packing your ski clothes, travelers might find it easier to pack using compression or regular cubes to efficiently pack bulky gear. “I really like packing cubes for ski trip packing, I think it's really helpful. I put all of my base layers and my ski socks and stuff in a packing cube. And then that way it can all just kind of go back in there once you're done and it’s dirty,” Levine shared. Ford, who also travels internationally as a member of the Stifel U.S. Alpine Team, likes to use a duffel bag for apparel and a wheeled soft-sided bag for skis. To safely pack away your skis, Ford recommends “wrapping your tips and tails, especially in your clothes, or even get some cardboard or some extra protection [to] wrap them a little bit or [strap them] down…so it's like [a] compact unit.”

  • What should I wear while skiing?

    When it comes to skiing, you should be prepared with extra layers to keep in the car or a backpack just in case the weather takes an unexpected turn. Shannon is a firm believer in packing multiple layers to wear under a ski jacket. “I think it really depends on where you are, what time of the year, and kind of what's going on. If it's spring skiing, and it's going to be a bluebird day, you may not need to pack as many as if it was a cold day in the middle of winter and maybe potentially will be a whiteout day. But I would say, generally, my rule of thumb is I start with three [layers],” he says.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

T+L commerce writer Anna Popp grew up ski racing in Bend, Oregon, spending every winter skiing with her dad as her coach. Anna has lived in Grenoble, France where she got to travel with her ski gear overseas (nothing was damaged!) and ski in the heart of the French Alps. To put together the best packing list for a ski trip, Anna drew from her travel experience, spoke with three experts, and used insights from T+L-tested and approved products.

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