Updated: Dec 20, 2021
Skiing is a logistics heavy proposition. The Avant Ski team shares our tips for a seamless ski travel experience. We break it down into five categories: gear, clothing, small conveniences, recovery/après comfort and luggage.
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In addition to its obvious safety benefits, helmets are warm, comfortable and great for displaying stickers. Make sure your helmet fits and has a clip to retain your goggles device. For style, fit and function we recommend the Vantage Helmet. 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 days and most have adjustable settings enabling them to last for years. Giro and Smith have great options in junior sizes. Kids will especially love putting stickers from different resorts on their helmets.
We recommend 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's I/O Mag and 4D Mag goggles are 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.
Demoing Skis: We are big fans of demoing skis for shorter trips or if you only plan to ski/ride a few days a year. When demoing, you can try multiple skis in a day, optimize for current conditions and even allocate demo costs to the purchase of a new pair of skis. Learn more with our Guide to step-by-step demoing considerations and ski recommendations.
Outerwear & Clothing
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. The Helly Hansen Alpha Liftloft is a fan favorite for men and we like the Helly Hansen Powderqueen 3.0 If you run a little hot, or plan on hiking at all, consider a shell jacket. Flylow has great options for both men and women.
Anything with side vents to the outside and zippers that are easy to use. Verify they have elastic bands at the bottom to slip over the top of boots and keep the snow out. Black Diamond has a few different models, we are big fans.
Face coverings are indispensable on colder days and remain essential for health and safety. Think of them as a seal to stay warm and prevent windburn. We are huge fans of Turtle Fur Neck Gaiters and especially like Turtle Fur Balaclavas because they fit well, stay in place, and never freeze. Moisture wicking, antimicrobial, and rated to UPF 50+, this is the ultimate in face protection. Also available in a kid's sizes!
Gloves vs. mittens is up to you but Hestra’s 3-Finger Gloves are straight up warm. Their leather palms provide grip, removable inserts are easy to clean/dry and the elastic wrist straps prevent drops from chairlifts. A better value alternative, the Flylow Tough Guy Glove for $40 is made with hand-treated, triple-baked pig skin and is both warm and incredibly dexterous.
Good circulation is the secret to keeping your feet warm. We recommend using warm boot liners with thin socks. We’re big fans of the Smartwool Lightweight Socks, available in both men's and women's sizes. The Navy SEALs wear Darn Toughs — also a pretty great option.
LITTLE COMFORTS & CONveniences
Make sure to put this in your wallet, purse or even jacket pocket before you leave. Resorts have made it harder to secure a pass in person.
Sun glaring on the snow can be very bright. It's important to have protection when you are not wearing goggles. They are great to have at lunch and essential for après on bluebird days. Also quite handy for driving to the mountain in the morning. You cannot go wrong with Goodr sports sunglasses and they are only $25.
Put it everywhere on your face (even if it is fully covered). The higher the SPF the better. Find an airplane size bottle at the pharmacy and stash it in a pocket. We like the Neutrogena Sport Face and Sun Bum.
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.
Colder temperatures can drain phone batteries so bringing your charger will make you stand out as a pro and could be used to barter for free drinks. For a portable option you can use anywhere, check out the BioLite Charge 40.
Hothands disposable boot and/or glove warmers are great for little ones in ski school or for rental boots that have lost their insulation. These are easy to slip into a side pocket for a moment of need. Best to buy them ahead of time as resorts tend to charge a premium.
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.
Unfortunately, many of us have had skis wander off. Pro tip is to separate your skis, especially at the base, but it can't hurt to take this easy, extra pre-caution and get a ski lock.
Recovery & AprÈs Comfort
Absolutely essential. If you don't have access to a hot tub, make friends with someone on the lift that does. No one wants wet shoes, grab some flip flops for the trek to and from.
Track your vertical feet, speed and make sure you've covered the whole mountain! The Apple watch has built in ski functionality. Many Garmin models also have built in programs, which are great if you are a Strava fanatic (like our founder) and want to share your performance/map with your fitness friends. Slopes is another popular tracking app (currently iOS only) and Ski Tracks is reliable too.
As warm and comfy as your helmet is, it still feels great to take it off and the end of the day. We love everything from SHxT THAT I KNIT for their bold, beautiful colors, creative designs and comfort.
Comfortable and practical, a good pair of boots is perfect (and fashionable) to wear around the base village and into most ski towns (which tend to be slushy). Save your other shoes —Uggs and Sorels are our go-to's and come in a variety of colors and styles.
Hydration should start on the way to the mountain (whether driving or flying). Staying hydrated will help with acclimatization to higher altitude. We like to bring a Swell Bottle and are shameless in asking flight attendants to refill. A water bottle is also useful during après ski (and easy to store in locker for the day). It's environmentally friendly too!
There's nothing like reading by the fire. E-Readers are particularly important for ski travel, given all of the other gear to keep track off. The Kindle has never been easier to use.
Card games help ensure that even on vacation, your group can enjoy a friendly fight without having to haul the full version of Risk. We like Uno Cards and standard playing cards are great for games like gin and hearts. Citadels has a short-learning curve and you can drink while you play.
Backpacks are helpful for hauling extra gear and snacks up the mountain. Many packs have straps and hooks to hold helmets, gloves and poles to free up a hand. For storage and a lightweight pack we like the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 15 or the Osprey Talon 22. The Osprey Talon 44 is a good option for something a little larger with similar functionality. For hauling your skis up the mountain too, try the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 25.
Boot backpacks are convenient for carrying boots and other gear; most fit in the overhead bins. If you are renting skis, any standard duffel bag should suffice.
For transporting skis and boots, we love the convenience of Dakine's Fall Line Ski Roller bags which have space for storing skis and boots.
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