Ski Holiday Packing List
Even the most seasoned skiing enthusiasts may let something slip their mind when packing - but don’t let daydreaming about the pistes distract you too much. Forgetting important gear will result in needing to buy costly replacements at the resort, or miss out on the reason you’re there in the first place.
Whether you intend to spend all of your time out on the slopes, or consider the après-ski the main event, you’ll want to be prepared for any scenario. Here we’ve compiled our own ski holiday packing list, focusing on why the essentials are so crucial for enjoying your trip, and how to pack them ergonomically.
Let’s start with the obvious. Whether it’s gear that you’ve accumulated over the years through love of the sport, or more recent purchases to help avoid the ongoing cost of rentals - if you have your own skis and boots they’ll be the first things on your packing list. If you’re a long-time skier you may already have an idea of how to pack a ski bag, but if you’re newer to bringing your own skis abroad with you we have some useful tips.
The right bag
A bag that is easy to manoeuvre is worth its weight in gold, and makes the most tedious part of your ski holiday - the airport - run a little more smoothly. Many people opt for a roller bag for this very reason. They tend to be bigger than non-wheeled bags, but this can also be a benefit; whether you need the extra space for another pair of skis, or to carefully pad around your more delicate equipment.
As your largest item it’s almost universally agreed that your skis go in the bag first. Depending on your bindings you’ll want to stow away your breaks as best you can, to avoid them snagging on anything you tuck in beside them. If packing ski boots in your hold bag (we’ll go into why they might make better hand luggage later) it’s best to put them at the foot of the bag, as they are often the heaviest item you’ll be packing.
Use soft items of clothing to cushion around your breaks, and save space by tucking them inside of your boots and helmet. Inside of your helmet is also the perfect place to safely stash more delicate items, such as your goggles.
On any flight that involves checking bags, there is always the risk of your luggage going missing. To limit the chances of this ruining your holiday, you may prefer to try and fit your helmet, goggles, and boots into your hand luggage. That way, should your skis get lost, you still have some of your essentials with you - and less things to rent once you reach the resort.
Skis secured, it’s time to think about the other pieces of specialised equipment necessary for a successful trip.
You may already intend to use your hand luggage for this purpose, but we recommend bringing a lightweight, waterproof rucksack to keep your essentials close to hand when out on the mountain. Use this bag for snacks and water, but also your gadgets and tools. Especially important if you’re planning to go off-piste, here is a list of items that are helpful for navigating any pitfalls that you may come across:
- A compact multi-tool; for carrying out quick fixes and adjustments to any of your equipment.
- A transceiver; to help rescue services find you in the event of an avalanche.
- A shovel; for testing the snow and potentially digging yourself out of sticky situations.
Again, these items are more of a requirement for backcountry skiing, but even if you’re not planning to venture away from the runs it can be useful to familiarise yourself with how to use them. It’s important to note that if your multitool has a blade it will need to go in your checked luggage, as will your shovel.
A love of skiing doesn’t necessarily translate to a love for snow - and even those of us that do enjoy colder climates probably don’t enjoy being freezing cold and soaking wet. While there’s plenty to do in Zermatt, Crans-Montana and Verbier when the weather is hot, you’re more likely to be there for the slopes than the sunbathing.
Dressing appropriately for the snow is a big part of skiing, and something that can leave you unhappy and uncomfortable if not done correctly. We’ve broken down how to dress for snow into four main categories; make sure you have space for all of these items when thinking of what to pack for a ski holiday.
Thermal base layer
Your underwear, long underwear, and a thin long-sleeved shirt comprise your base layer. These must be made of a sweat-wicking material - usually synthetic or wool. This is to prevent sweat from cooling on your skin and making you cold beneath your layers - because no matter the temperature on the mountain, you will most definitely sweat.
Fleece/down mid layer
Layers are better at trapping heat than simply pulling on one huge jacket. Your top half is also more likely to get cold than your lower half, as your legs will be doing almost all of the work. A thin fleece or down mid layer will help to keep you warm, and are usually very easy to compact and pack away.
Waterproof outer layer
Also known as the ‘shell’, your outer layer has a lot of jobs to do, and this is why they will likely be the costliest items of clothing. They need to be waterproof and well-insulated, but also breathable. If you ski or snowboard often then it’s worth investing in these pieces, as the comfort will be worth the price tag. Think carefully about sizing, as both your salopettes (high-waisted ski trousers with braces) and your ski jacket will be worn over multiple layers. Also consider the possibility of wearing your ski jacket to and from the airport to save on packing space and weight.
Feet, hands, and head
The further away from your centre of mass a body part is, the more it takes to keep it warm. For your socks we recommend specialised ski socks - not only will they be the right material, but they’re also padded in key places to prevent blisters. Gloves or mittens don’t need to be specifically made for snowsports, but if you do opt for a bulkier pair you might also want to pack a second, lighter pair for casual wear at the resort. Lastly, for headwear, while we don’t advise wearing a hat underneath your helmet (as it may compromise the fit), a neck warmer will help ward off cold winds.
As well as clothing, we also consider high SPF sunscreen and lip balm to be vital snow gear. The glare on the mountain can be powerful, and it’s very easy to burn if you’re not mindful of sun protection.
With lots of your luggage space taken up by skiwear, you might want to pack on the light side when it comes to casual clothing. That being said, the aprés-ski (the socialising that comes after a day’s skiing, for the uninitiated) is a big part of a ski holiday, and you’ll want to look good and feel comfortable. Pack swimwear, because most resorts do have hot tub and pool facilities, and at least one smart outfit for dining out - Zermatt is famous for its alpine dining options and food festival.
There’s lots of small things that can take your ski holiday packing list to the next level. Here’s a quick roundup of some of the extras that we think you’ll appreciate:
- Muscle warmers, either as a spray or a gel, for post-ski pains.
- An action camera, such as a GoPro. These can also be affixed to your helmet.
- Spare carabiner clips, to keep things handy and secure.
Looking for a luxury chalet for your ski trips?
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Low altitude, with good travel connections, and a prestigious history of winter sports and tourism, we think the skiing in Switzerland is some of the best in the world. Talk to our expert alpine real estate team to find your perfect chalet and experience it for yourself.