How to pack for a ski trip

Travel like a pro with these packing tips.

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Has the terrain become mundane at the nearest mountain resort? Tired of heading to the same hills in your hometown every weekend? Going on a ski (or snowboard) trip is a good way to become better and your winter sport of choice and explore new places. Even if you don’t stomp that 180 on the first go-round, you can try again tomorrow. And there’s always aprés. Always. Pack your bags using these pro tips and feed your winter wanderlust.

Choose your luggage carefully.

Because puffer coats are, well, puffy and ski boots take up more space than Jupiter, your luggage choice is important. No one wants to schlepp seven suitcases through the airport. Look for large pieces with multiple compartments to keep your stuff organized and accessible. A clamshell opening makes it easy to get bulky items in and out. If you opt for wheels, make sure they are durable and agile enough to handle curbs and cobbles. A waterproof exterior and rust-resistant zippers are musts in mountain towns—you never know how long your travel bag could be sitting on the tarmac in the snow waiting to be loaded on the plane or how many puddles are in the parking lot. Wandrd, Ogio and Eagle Creek all make duffels designed for ski trips and other outdoor adventures, as well as packing accessories. Pro tip: Use compression cubes to shrink that puffer and (magically!) maximize space.

Don't bring every piece of equipment you own.

Unless you are an expert skier, don’t pack your planks and poles. This saves you the struggle and the extra airline charge. An added bonus? You can try out different skis/snowboards, suited specifically to the conditions of the resort you’re at that you may not be able to afford to buy. Many resorts also offer discounts when you purchase lift tickets and rent skis, poles and helmets together. Some even include overnight storage so you don’t have to wait in line at the rental counter again the next morning. But bring your own boots because they are almost always more comfortable than rentals. Pro tip: Pack your wool ski socks inside the boots to save space and protect your goggles and extra lenses by doing the same. You may want to bring protective gear like wrist guards and knee pads if you plan to try some new tricks.

Load up with layers, layers and more layers.

You probably don’t want more than three layers on at a time. But you do need to pack multiples of each, especially those body-hugging baselayers that inevitably get sweaty. Make sure they are constructed from performance fabrics that wick moisture away from your skin. Warmer, insulating mid-layers (like a long-sleeved fleece) are a must for the slopes and lighter layers (think vest) are nice when you’re walking in and out of heated shops on Main Street. A waterproof ski coat and pants/bibs are also a necessity. Outer layers should have a minimum waterproof rating of 10,000 mm. Pro tip: Never put your coat in checked luggage. Wear it or carry it on. If your luggage gets lost, you’re still warm while waiting around filling out forms and you don’t have to buy an overpriced shell in the airport. Additionally, you might want to wear a pair of lightweight liners underneath your gloves or mittens on really cold days, a beanie or ski mask under your helmet, and a neck gaiter in conjunction with your mid-layer.

Pare down après attire.

The after-hours dress code is mountain casual. Jeans can be worn with pretty much everything and go just about anywhere, but you probably still want a lightweight baselayer underneath. Bring a good pair of snow boots for those slippery streets (leave the heels at home, ladies). Sweaters, pullovers and hoodies are also appropriate for après. But do you really need a separate sweater for every night of the week? Or can you style it in different ways to save space? Pro tip: Stick to basic colors that you can mix and match. Lay everything out before putting it in your suitcase to see what pieces coordinate and what to eliminate. A pair of mountain slippers like Pakems are handy for transitional times when you’re having drinks on the patio or keeping your feet warm back at your hotel or vacation rental. Speaking of which, be sure to pack your swimsuit and flip flops. Because … hot tub. Yeeeesssss.

Bring a few little things.

A few small items make the difference between misery and mastery. Dominate the slopes with a small tube of sunscreen in your pocket as well as lip balm with SPF in it. Bring some medicated lip cream to slather on at night to prevent chapping. Toe and hand warmers are also a good idea. And if your fingers are cold, chances are your nose is running. Keep a travel pack of tissues in your pocket, even if your gloves have a nose wipe on the thumb. Like to listen to tunes or use an action camera while bombing down the hill? Bring along a portable power bank so you don’t miss a beat. Throw in some goggle cleaner and you’re good to go. Don’t want all this in your pockets? Use a small backpack, which can double as your personal item on the plane to save space in your suitcase. Pro tip: Include everything on your packing list (right down to that lip balm!) so you don’t forget anything.