Ski Trip Packing List
If you live in a locale that doesn’t experience true winter weather, meaning bitterly cold temps, wind, and big powder like you see at ski resorts in the western United States, this packing list is for you. Having planned our annual ski trip to Big Sky Resort, Montana for eight years now, we’ve managed to create a packing list that ensures everyone will be warm and comfortable while enjoying the snowy winter wonderland.
For the sake of this list, we’ll assume that you are renting ski equipment and helmets at the ski resort. Note: Some of the links provided in this list are part of Amazon’s Associates Program. See our Disclosures for more information.
Even though you may have mild weather at your local airport, wear your snow boots on the plane. It will save lots of packing room in your suitcase, and your feet will be warm and dry as you traipse through the snowy parking lot to retrieve your car rental upon arrival.
Snow boots are also key for those days when your kids are tired of skiing and want to make snow angels and build a snow fort.
A well-insulated, waterproof coat is another “must have” item that you’ll carry on the plane with you. We have been super pleased with Lands’ End’s waterproof Squall® 3-in-1 Jacket. It has a removable waterproof shell, so you have the flexibility of just wearing the shell, the insulated jacket, or both layers for cold days whether at home or on your ski trip. It’s rated for cold temps of -3° to +28° Fahrenheit. As a bonus, it comes with innovative “Grow-A-Long™ sleeves” that extend up to 1.5 inches to fit your kids as they grow. We’ve been able to use the same coat for two winter seasons. Look for super sales on these in January and February.
Warm Winter Hat
Don’t forget to pack your favorite winter hat or beanie for walking to restaurants or playing in the snow.
We’ve used both snow pants and bibs but definitely prefer the bibs for the kiddos. Bibs seem to do a better job of keeping the snow from sneaking inside and stay in place no matter your waist size. Make sure they are insulated and waterproof.
Base layers are one of the most important clothing articles for skiing. We recommend non-cotton, winter-weight tops and bottoms so they wick sweat away while keeping you warm. Thick leggings and long-sleeved performance gear will be a life saver. Under Armour Cold Gear has worked great for our family. We usually take two pairs of leggings and tops for a week long trip.
This is an extra “just in case it’s crazy cold” layer that we put on over our base layer leggings and under the ski pants. Fleece pants work great for this.
Quarter-zip Fleece Pullover
A fleece pullover with a zippable neck collar is a warm skiing staple that keeps you cozy on and off the slopes. Pack two if you are going for more than a few days.
Wool Ski Socks
Keep your feet warm with socks designed specifically for skiing. Your feet will be warm, and the right socks will keep your ski boots from rubbing uncomfortably. You don’t need to double up and wear two pairs of socks in an effort to stave off the cold. With one good pair, your feet will actually be warmer because your toes will be able to move. We use knee-high SmartWool ski socks and our feet feel great. Pack three pairs.
You might think mittens seem a bit childish once you reach a certain age, but believe us when we tell you that your hands will be way warmer in mittens than gloves. Find mittens that are insulated and waterproof with a cuff that is long enough to pull over your coat sleeve to prevent snow from sneaking inside. Scrimping on cheap gloves/mittens is one of the fastest ways to ruin a ski vacation.
We’ve just started using these in recent years, and we love them! To put it on, you pull it over your head until it rests at your neckline. Its beauty is that it’s so easy to adjust. Pull it up over your nose for added coverage on a cold ski lift and slide it back down when you’re breathing more heavily skiing down the mountain. They also come in lots of fun colors and patterns. The gaiters are pretty thin though, so you’ll need to add a balaclava for more protection if it’s super cold and windy.
As mentioned above, you’ll need a balaclava for those really windy and cold skiing days. Your nose suffers the most in these temperatures and anything that keeps it covered will help. A balaclava will also add another layer of head insulation under your helmet.
Don’t buy thick fleece balaclavas, because you want it to be able to fit under your helmet. Also, make sure it has flat lock seams for optimal comfort. Bang for your buck, this is one of the best things you can add to your ski wardrobe for warmth.
Hand Warmers and Toe Warmers
You will want these! For such a small cost, your comfort level will greatly improve on the slopes. The toe warmers are an especially wonderful invention! Be sure to get the real HotHands, not knockoffs. We have tried several varieties of hand warmers, and the HotHands stayed the warmest for the longest.
Swimsuit, Flip Flops, Cover Ups
This is the easiest item to forget as you are consumed with packing to keep warm! After skiing all day, nothing is better than a warm soak or swim in the resort’s hot tubs and pools.
This skin care ointment has been a lifesaver for sensitive cheeks chapped by the mountain’s cold winds. Hint: Apply before and after skiing.
Remember to keep your lips moist and unchapped with an SPF chapstick.
It’s winter, but you’d be surprised how those blue bird skies can still pack a punch. Between the reflection of the snow and the thinner atmosphere at altitude, it is easier to get sunburned than you think. Apply before hitting the slopes.
Remember to pack these from home. You’ll need them when driving or walking around the village on sunny days.
For really cold days or when the snow is falling, goggles are key. It is no fun skiing when your eyelashes are frozen. This is another item that you can often find on super sale.
Go! Go! Go!!!
Make sure you are ready to depart immediately to the slopes after gearing everyone up in ski boots and all accompanying layers. You will practically be in a full sweat in your hotel room while wrestling tight ski boots on your kids. Believe me, you will welcome the cold air!
Make sure everyone is ready to go on your cue. Have your money, snacks, key card, etc. collected and ready before you put on your ski pants/bibs and ski boots. Save your ski jacket for right before you walk out the door.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
Remember that you are at a higher altitude, and it will take your body time to adjust. Make sure the kids drink plenty of fluids and take it easy the first day or two to allow time to acclimate. Wear a small backpack that carries a water bottle, some snacks, and extra hand warmers and you will be set.
Use the Humidifier
Most resort rooms offer a humidifier. Use it! The winter air is really dry, and you will miss the moisture from your humid air back home, especially if you live on the east coast. If you happen to wear contacts, bring along moisturizing eye droplets as well.
Boot Shoe Warmer/Drier
These are relatively inexpensive and small enough to squeeze in your suitcase with all of your other ski gear. Plug them in and place them inside your wet ski boots overnight, so they will be dry and toasty in the morning. This is a great Christmas gift if you need ideas for any ski lover.
Because you are wearing your ski clothes for the majority of the day, you don’t need to pack a daily outfit to wear. You can honestly get by with one airplane outfit and one casual apres-ski outfit.
Big Sky Resort, Montana
If you’ve never been to Big Sky Resort in Montana, it is a fantastic family ski destination. For more information including lodging recommendations, where to eat, nearby activities, and how to save money on lodging and ski rental, visit our simply awesome Big Sky Winter Itinerary.