Packing List & Essential Gear
Updated: 3 days ago
Skiing is a logistics heavy proposition. Between the travel and the gear, it can be daunting. Andrew Strong makes it easier by sharing a list of what he takes (and what he takes it in). We break it down into three categories: essential gear, essential clothing, good-to-have items, and luggage. As always, we like to minimize hassle, find value and maximize convenience.
Critical for protecting your most important asset. Hard to look cool, but provides excellent climate control and prime sticker real estate. Find a helmet that fits, is comfortable, and has a clip or other goggle retaining device. Pro tip - strap it to the outside of a backpack to save space in your suitcase.
Equipment rental packages typically include helmets, but helmets, especially for kids, pay for themselves in a matter of ski days and last for years. My Smith Variance is insulated so I don’t need another layer, has adjustable air vents I can open with a ski glove on, and has multiple adjustment straps to ensure fit so you don’t end up with gaper gap! Amazon has many cost effective options.
We recommend purchasing goggles with interchangeable lenses. This way you can switch between polarized low and bright light lenses as the conditions change. We also prefer polarized lenses, and of course, good airflow. Smith I/O's are one of our top picks, though there are cheaper alternatives on Amazon.
Ski boots are the most important piece of gear to own, they can make or break your day on the mountain. If you plan to take at least one trip a year, invest in boots, see our guide to ski boot basics here.
ESSENTIAL CLOTHING (FOR STAYING WARM & LOOKING GOOD)
The ideal jacket will keep you warm, protect you from the elements and be stylish enough to go directly to après ski. We prefer a lighter jacket, some insulation is ok or just a shell works well. Ventilation in the under arms can be huge for temperature regulation. Patagonia Triolet is a fan favorite. For a little more insulation we like the Arc’Teryx Cassiar or Spyder Brava.
Anything with side vents to the outside and zippers that are easy to use with gloves works. Verify they have elastic bands at the bottom to slip over the top of boots and keep the snow out. The Patagonia Triolet is again a fan favorite.
On colder days, these are a must. Think of it as a seal to stay warm and prevent windburn. We wouldn’t think of boarding the lifts without them (at least keep one in a pocket). Our favorites are Hoo-rag sleeve or Balaclava. Both are easy to adjust, comfortable under a helmet and dry out quickly during breaks.
Gloves vs. mittens is up to you but Hestra’s 3-Finger Gloves are warm. Their leather palms provide grip, removable inserts are easy to clean/dry and the elastic wrist straps on the Hestras prevents drops from chairlifts. Really, you can’t go too wrong with anything that is waterproof and rated for the cold.
Good circulation is the secret to keeping your feet warm. We recommend using warm boot liners with thin socks. Make sure your socks are moisture wicking and breathable (you may be huffing and puffing from the parking lot to the base of the lift). Navy SEALs wear Darn Toughs - a pretty great option.
GOOD TO HAVES (FOR MAXIMUM COMFORT/CONVENIENCE)
Put it everywhere on your face (even if it is fully covered), including around your eyes. The higher the SPF the better. Find an airplane size bottle at the pharmacy and stash it in a pocket.
Dry air, sun and wind will dry out any exposed skin. Vaseline is a great protectant and makes a mini-container to stash in a pocket.
Lips are almost always exposed and can quickly become dry and sunburned. Blistex Medex has saved us many times. Lip balms span the gambit in price and use case. Orsden’s Blog lists their top 5 choices.
Specifically, candy that can survive the cold - Starburst, M&Ms and Hershey's are our go to's, great for bribing children down the mountain after a long day at ski school or to satiate those who are deep into the hangry stage before lunch.
Any type of leg massager from a foam roller to a lacrosse ball does the trick. An afternoon stretch or massage session will ensure you are able to get out of bed the next morning.
Absolutely essential. If you don't have access to a hot tub, make friends with someone on the lift that does and bring a bottle of wine or sixer of beer. Plus, no one wants wet shoes so throw a cheap pair of flip flops in your bag for the trek to and from.
Colder temperatures can drain phone batteries so bringing your charger will make you standout as a pro and could be used to barter for free drinks.
Make sure to put this in your wallet, purse or even jacket pocket before you leave. While you can get a replacement at the slopes, standing in the lift pass line is for suckers!
LUGGAGE (WHAT TO BRING IT IN)
Anything with wheels does the trick. If you are not hauling your own skis/board, boot backpacks are popular and fit in most overhead bins. If you are renting skis, any standard duffle bag should suffice.
Again, anything with wheels but I prefer soft-sided bags as they are typically lighter and fit better in rental cars. With soft-sided bags, be sure to wrap equipment in old bath towels to dry equipment before heading to the airport and provide added protection from bumps and drops by baggage handlers. Combined bags offer the convenience of storing both skis and boots and hard cases are hard to pack into rental cars full of other gear and people.
Many skiers/riders will have similar bags. We like to use military nameplates. These are cheap, neon, and present an air of tactical superiority to those around the baggage carousel.
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