In this week’s JetSetter Series, we catch up with Trusted Travel Girl’s Valerie Wilson on packing tips before hitting the slopes for an adventurous ski trip.
Ski Trip Packing Guide:
Skiing is an expensive sport and going on a ski trip is a generally a costly investment in a vacation. Therefore, you want to be sure that you are well prepared. Lift tickets certainly aren’t cheap and neither are condos or hotels near the mountain. Ski gear is also pretty expensive, so it’s crucial to be sure you’ve got the right gear.
I’ve compiled a list of some must-have items to secure an amazing trip. Although some of these items may be no-brainers for expert skiers, for the novice skier many of these items can easily be overlooked. And, even if you have been skiing for years, there may still be a tip or two in here that you could use.
I have listed the below items in order of importance.
Custom Ski Boot
The boots that you are in are far more important than your skis. Let me guess, you are thinking “It’s called ‘skiing’, not ‘booting’, how could boots possibly be more important than skis?”. Allow me to explain. At the end of the day, skis are skis and unless you are an advanced skier, chances are you won’t know the difference if your ski has both a rocker, a camber both or neither. You will, however, notice if you are in pain from your ski boots; bad boots can ruin an entire trip, even for the most advanced skiers. It doesn’t matter how great of a skier you are, if your boots don’t fit properly than you aren’t able to activate and control your ski properly. This can lead to poor form on the mountain as well as injuries like torn ACL’s. Poor fitting boots will also lead to cold feet, which can be miserable. Ski trips aren’t cheap, so invest wisely and get a custom fitted boot. Boots aren’t cheap, and a custom fit boot does cost a little bit more, but it is well worth the investment, even if you only go on one ski trip a year. My custom boots are the Fischer Vacuum boot. They run between $500 and $1000 per pair, but are well worth it.
Ski Boot Packing Tip: Pack your ski boots last. If they don’t fit in your suitcase, an easy solution is to sling them over your backpack. I just Velcro mine together and sling them over my Big Ben backpack from Victorinox. Easy, and helpful if you are an over packer.
Almost everyone on the mountain wears a helmet these days, and the people that don’t just look like an accident waiting to happen. A helmet does not make you look lame. I don’t care how great of a skier/snowboarder you are, you are only as safe as the person next to you on the mountain and when they lose control and crash into you, you’ll wish you were wearing that helmet. Additionally, they are comfortable, they don’t fall off like hats, they keep expensive goggles secured so they aren’t lost and they keep your head warm. Most helmets even have a place for headphones to be put in. It’s a no brainer, keep your head safe.
You need goggles when you ski to protect your eyes from the elements and to help you see when it’s extremely sunny. For goggles, one of my favorite companies is Zeal. They never fog up on me. The peripheral vision in these goggles are incredible, and you will look like an all-around badass in these. Even if you don’t ski well, you can still look like you do.
You wouldn’t go to the gym for an hour without water, so why would you ski all day without it? Having water while skiing is completely necessary, and carrying a Camelbak water pack is the absolute best way to do that. The one caveat is that you absolutely have to empty and dry them out or they could get moldy.
Cold dry air will chap your lips faster than anything. I always keep chapstick readily available in a pocket of my ski jacket. Just separate the things you are accessing (chapstick, snacks, camera) from things that you don’t need falling out of your pocket on the lift, like credit cards, cash and keys.
When skiing, it’s all about the layers. Pack base layers, fleecy second layers and of course your ski jacket. The point of a base layer is to draw out any perspiration away from the body so that you don’t get sweaty and eventually cold. If you don’t dress appropriately you will be cold and miserable.
Bring an extra pair of gloves! They can get soaked from days when it’s dumping hard or if you sweat in them at the beginning of the day. I always have cold hands, so I look for top quality when choosing a pair of gloves. My favorite brands are Swany and Hestra, they are both top quality, and will last a long time.
Boot Dryer Sticks
Just how poorly fitting boots can ruin a ski trip, wet boots can be pretty miserable as well. You will need boot dryer sticks, they will not only dry your boots overnight, but they will warm them up on a chilly morning before you slide them on. They are inexpensive and extremely portable.
Pack snacks! When skiing all day you are bound to get hungry. Long days on the mountain burn a ton of calories and you will need to fuel up. I prefer to wait as long as humanly possible to go into the lodge for anything because when the skiing is good, you want to stay out on the snow, especially while everyone else is busy in the lodge. Chairlifts are a perfect place to pull out a pocket-sized snack. My favorites are granola bars and fruit snacks, however, one of my longtime ski buddies swears by having a bar of chocolate for the chairlift.
Sunscreen. You read that correctly. Unless you want a goggle tan, you may want to bring sunscreen if it’s sunny and you are at a high altitude. Especially for any spring skiing conditions.
You’ve got your ski pants, and coat, but do you have a neck warmer? You 100% do not want to head out the door without one.
The Right Socks
The rule with socks is the more the merrier. A thin, ski specific wool sock is key. Always bring a second pair for the day to keep in your day bag in case they happen to get soaked before lunch. Another secret is to wear a different pair of regular socks on the way to the mountain. Going between the cold outdoors and heated indoors while loading up your car and driving to the mountain can cause feet to sweat a little bit, and damp socks will get cold in your ski boots, fast!
Sadly, not everyone on this planet is trustworthy so keeping a ski lock in your pocket is always advisable. Additionally, for an additional charge some resorts have a ski check.
However, I always like to be sure that my gear is safe so I ski with a small ski lock in my pack or pocket.
Pro tip: If you forget this one, you can always separate your skis. You simply put one ski and pole on one rack and walk the other ski and pole to another ski rack area. This makes it more difficult for a thief to find both skis, and more difficult to steal a pair.
Velcro Ski Strap
You can purchase one of these at most ski shops. This simple strap will help you hold your skis together so they aren’t separating on you during transit.
Altitude Sickness Medication
Are you heading to high elevations? If you are, I advise that you talk to your doctor about a prescription for Diamox. I take 250mg 2x a day beginning 24 hours before arrival. I gradually work my way to 1/2 that dose. It helps you get acclimated, and prevents vicious altitude sickness.
Ski vacations are a whole lot of fun, but can be hell if the proper gear isn’t packed. Print out this list of tips above and you will be sure to be as prepared as the pros!
To learn more and connect with Valerie Wilson, visit TrustedTravelGirl.com or follow her on Twitter and Instagram @TrustedTravelGirl.