Having been on many ski trips we’ve experienced the pain of forgetting to pack something crucial. Resort prices are eye-wateringly expensive, so a bit of planning goes a long way – especially if this is your first time skiing.
Here is a rundown of why you need to consider the following essential items, along with a ski holiday packing list for everything you need below.
Essential Clothing for a Ski Trip
Keeping Warm and Dry
Selecting the most appropriate layers is key to ensuring a comfortable time out on the slopes. You may not know it yet, but it can feel uber warm at the bottom of the resort – once you get on those lifts and hop off at the top that could soon change. Layering is therefore extremely important, if you get too warm you can always take remove one. There are three layers to consider:
- Thermal base layer
- Mid layer
- Ski jacket
Thermal Base Layer
This is the first layer you will be wearing and is perhaps the most important. Merino Wool is a great material for this – it provides warmth, breathability, and softness and is perfect as a base layer. Most thermal tops that are ‘quick-drying’ should be suitable.
Cotton (bad idea) will not wick sweat away and you’ll be left feeling cold, clammy, and uncomfortable. And believe me, no matter how cold it is you are still likely to be sweating.
You’ll need at least two base layers – one to wear whilst the other is washed and dried. Long sleeves with thumb loops to eliminate glove gaps are the best.
Mid-layers are made from carefully selected technical materials and feature designs that take into account areas of the body that get hotter and therefore sweatier. These can be made from fleece, synthetic, down, or polyester fibers but must be worn under a jacket as will fail to do their job if it gets wet through either rain or snow.
Consider whether you would like a hood for extra protection from wind chill, zips, pockets, or thumb loops.
Many people mistakenly choose a thick winter jacket to provide warmth for the slopes, but a ski jacket should be light and is meant for layering rather than providing insulation on its own. It should be breathable to allow cooling down and can come with a variety of specifications such as pit vents, Gore-Tex for waterproofing/weather resistance, or a snow skirt for reducing the amount of snow getting up your back should you take the occasional tumble.
It really is worth investing in a good quality ski jacket, particularly if you plan on skiing every season. Some white jackets look great but beware as they will stain very easily (plus no one should have to avoid that well-earned mountain hot chocolate!)
Consideration needs to be given to size when trying out your jacket in the store. You are potentially going to have another two layers on underneath and pockets full of accessories – you may need to go for one size up!
Ski Pants / Salopettes
Your choice of salopettes will be determined by the type of functionality you prefer. If you choose to ski without a backpack then you will value all the pockets you can get. Cargo-style pants with large knee pockets can be useful, just make sure they can be securely shut with zips or velcro. Some come with padding for extra warmth, some are thin and elasticated and some have braces to help hold them up.
Whilst a onesie / ski suit / all-in-one may look fashionable, there can be practicality issues that only become evident during rest breaks – you have been warned!
Have you skied before? If this is your first time skiing then hiring is probably the best option. Ski equipment is expensive and purchasing before you know whether you’ll go back or what level skier you’ll be next time can be a costly mistake.
Ski equipment can easily be hired in the resort – you can pre-book and pop in to collect it once you arrive. Alternatively, if you are staying in a chalet then they can normally arrange for skis to be delivered there so that they are ready upon your arrival.
You will need to be fitted into your boots and skis by providing the store details of your ski level, weight, height, and shoe size.
I really wouldn’t purchase skis or boots online. Visit a specialist store such as Ellis Brigham or Snow and Rock for a personalized service and fitting.
Considerations for Ski Equipment:
Skis: Choose the right type of ski for your preferred terrain and level. All mountain, powder, cross country, carving, or piste. The height of your skis should generally be between your nose and your forehead.
Ski Boots: Foot profile can be quite important, especially if you normally suffer from achy feet. You can have custom-made insoles molded to provide the best fit, particularly recommended if you have over or under-pronation. You can also buy heated insoles with battery packs to ensure your tootsies stay warm on the slopes. Make sure to purchase a boot bag so that you can save space in your holdall if you need to.
Ski Helmet: Whilst you can hire your helmet I would suggest purchasing one if you are worried about hair hygiene! They aren’t too expensive and will last forever providing it’s not knocked about. Store it inside your boot bag if you have one and it fits.
Ski Goggles: Again, I would consider purchasing my own pair rather than hiring as there are many variables. Personally, I would opt for one with transition or interchangeable lenses for different weather conditions. There is nothing worse than wearing high visibility lenses when the sun’s out, to then drop into a valley with low visibility and you can’t see a thing! Check that they provide good all-round vision, if they are too small you may struggle to see from the sides.
Ski Gloves: Definitely a must-purchase! The type of glove will be dependent on practicality and taste. People who regularly suffer from cold hands or fingers might prefer mittens – your fingers remain in contact with each other to keep them warmer. It is also far easier to stuff them with hand warmers for that extra toasty feeling. Heated gloves are available – but I would be careful as they are fairly expensive and prone to developing faults.
Try to make sure they come ready with loops to hook around your wrist. Trust us when we say we have seen many people lose their gloves on chair lifts whilst reaching for their phones!
Backpack: Most people you see on the mountain will not have one, but if you are short of pockets or carrying extra layers/cameras/sunglasses/water then it’s a must. Some even provide straps to carry your skis.
Hand / Toe Warmers: I call them little lifesavers! Once your fingertips are frozen it’s difficult to continue to enjoy skiing. Keep these in your pockets and when needed place them into your gloves – usually in the afternoon post-lunch.
TIP: I wouldn’t worry about matching the color of your skis or boots to your outfit as a comfortable fit is far more important. Plus, you are likely to keep your equipment for longer than your jacket or salopettes before they need replacing.
For a more detailed packing checklist see – The Ultimate Holiday Packing List
Ski-Specific Packing List
- Ski Jacket
- Ski Trousers / Salopettes
- Base Layers (minimum 2)
- Mid Layer
- Leggings (for extra warmth)
- Ski Gloves
- Ski Goggles
- Ski Buff/Neck Warmer
- Ski Socks
- Ski Boots
- Ski Poles
- Ski Helmet
- Ski Backpack
- Ski Carrier Strap
- Hand / Toe Warmers
- Swim Shorts
- Flip Flops
- Warm hat/beanie
- Hair Bands
- Warm Coat (for traveling/evenings)
- Snow Boots or Yaktrax
- Comfortable clothes to wear in hotel/chalet
- Poker Set
- Small bag of washing powder
- Day / Night Nurse
- Pocket Tissues
- Lip Balm
- Packing Cubes
TIP: If you are taking your own skis then use the additional room in your ski luggage to pad out and protect your equipment, the bags are rarely checked for additional items and they go straight to oversized baggage.
Wrapping up our Ski Holiday Packing List
And there you have it! No need to worry about leaving anything behind, go enjoy your awesome trip with this ultimate ski holiday packing list!
If this is your first time skiing, then you will love our handy (and humorous) 12 SKIING TIPS FOR BEGINNERS