The Ultimate Ski Trip Packing List
What do I need for a ski trip?How much is enough? What is too much? What do I need and what’s superfluous? With the prospect of a week-long powder shredding bender, turning off your email, and après awaiting, you shouldn’t be deterred by packing for a ski trip.
If you’re flying for your ski vacation, then what you cart along is at the mercy of baggage weights and fees. Road trips can be much easier, since you can typically stuff it in all in your ride and roll out. However, the more challenging task is knowing what to bring on a multi-day trip which may involve some resort skiing combined with either a yurt trip, helicopter, snowcat or snowmobile to zip into a backcountry lodge.
The 4FRNT Team Riders have spent quite a bit of time straight up powder chasing throughout North America as well as in backcountry lodges, and sledding around the woods looking for features. The emblematic vagabond lifestyle of the ski bum culture thrives with this bunch – allowing us to take advantage of their insight.
We tapped into the crew to hear what they have to say about creating the most efficient ski trip packing list for whatever you may encounter on your trip. And while other influencers on social media may post pretty photos of their ski gear all neatly assigned on the floor, we know that never really happens. It’s usually a cluster of ski equipment tossed around on the floor with piles of laundry on the bed.
Photo: Jorden Rosen
Ski Trip Essentials
It sort of goes without saying that you’ll need your ski gear, and if you’re planning on heading into the backcountry—beacon, shovel, probe, climbing skins and a backpack are all essentials for your safety when skiing in the backcountry. You can check out our '5-Steps to get Ready for Winter' blog HERE.
Outerwear, like ski pants and jacket are also a necessity. However, don’t go packing every mid-layer. Often times you can wear your warm puffy jacket while traveling, pack one mid-layer, and then toss in a flannel or two for roaming town or the bar—which can also be utilized as extra warmth on the mountain.
You’ll also need basic essentials like phone chargers, toothbrush, spare contact lenses, and set of street clothes, deodorant and the sort. But do remember to always double check yourself. Sometimes it helps to have a ski trip checklist for the basics.
Photo: Mary McIntyre
Ski Trip Checklist:
1. Outerwear: Ski Pants, Ski Jacket, Down or Synthetic Down Puffy, and Mid Layer
3. Backcountry Gear: Pack, Avalanche Transceiver, Shovel, Probe, BC Essentials and First Aid Kit.
5. Accessory Items: Two warm hats and a cap for touring. We're slightly biased... but we trust our friends over at Skida with this category. Ski goggles with a spare lens. Warm mittens and a pair of gloves. If you’re heading into a backcountry hut, bring two sets of gloves to alternate with; that way you never have to use a wet pair. A water bottle to save on single use plastic and if it’s going to be cold, a lightweight thermos is invaluable for touring days.
6. Bags: A rolling ski bag for your skis - padded with some of your outerwear items, and a Tote bag for clothes and loose gear, along with your backpack is all you need. Keeping things minimal here will cut down on extra items and will help keep weight down for baggage fees.
7. Snacks: If you bring some bars or homemade snacks you can save some loot on food during the day. FYI, beer in Canada can be expensive - carry that stuff through the border if possible.
9. Personal items: Phone charger, toothbrush, deodorant, spare contacts, etc.
Photo: Mary McIntyre
Ski Tips, Tricks and Essentials From the Team
SKIDA Founder and 4FRNT Team rider Corinne Prevot is often on the road during the winter. Between trade shows, photo shoots for SKIDA, then into the backcountry to recharge the soul she notes that, “packing for a hut trip has become more simple over the years. The typical outcome is that you'll wear the same set of layers while managing levels of moisture for the duration of the trip, switching between dry tops. There's no better feeling that dumping the contents of your bag into the washing machine afterwards, knowing each layer served an important purpose… Knowing that you packed just the bare essentials is the best feeling in the world. No unnecessary weight to carry around equals good spirits on the skin track.”
While many lodges and yurts have different amenities, it’s important to get some intel on the particular hut you’re traveling to so that you can pack accordingly. No matter what is there, Corinne’s essential list includes the following.
Bare Ski Essentials
Headlamp, Leatherman or multi-tool, dry socks and hat, a dry baselayer to stuff all the clothes in as a pillow... (my hack is a Skida Tour, inside out), toothbrush (for an overnight, it's sometimes easy to forget when you're packing all the ski gear!), and slippers… Cold floors will not be a bother!
Fun Ski Essentials
My go-to is a small notebook for doodles, recounting the days route, journaling, a game of sorts. There are often dice or cards stashed in the shelves of a hut or cabin, but if you have a favorite, pack it in! Depending on the vibe of the crew: a little speaker can go a long way!4FRNT Rider Ian Hamilton is often on the move for backcountry kickers and explains, “I'm honestly a nervous packer, always super excited for the trip but petrified of forgetting something essential. I usually jot down a checklist, everything I need broken down into categories: clothes, ski gear, food, camping gear, etc.”
Photo: Dan Cardon
Powder Chasing Road Trip
Riders Mark Erickson and Corey Nugent are typically riding around the pacific northwest on powder chasing trips and have a list of items that are always thrown into the truck. “We always have a cooler with food, beers, etc. just so we can bring the stuff we like to eat, and also a parking lot chair for putting on boots and for après beers in the lot.” And since road trips can sometimes turn into white knuckle driving in a raging storm… We’re looking at you Interstate 90 in Montana, Nugent and Erickson bring the bare essentials like a sleeping pad, bag, etc. just in case things hit the fan and get stuck or need to pull over.
“Lastly, we always have multiple pairs of poles and skis just in case, and one of the most important things I have is orange straps,” says Erickson noting how a few simple voile straps can get a skier out of most jams.
Photo: Sam Watson
Backcountry Lodge Trip
Like Prevot, athlete, Pilot, and Guide Keree Smith, notes the importance of a headlamp on any backcountry lodge trip - either for reading a book as you doze off or for scrambling to the outhouse at 2am. Smith also says, don’t forget the face-paint, glitter or costume to spice up the evening dance parties.
Smith also notes, if your backcountry ski trip requires you to be light on weight, “I highly recommend the boxed wine blow up pillow. You just have to make sure your party finishes a bag of wine the first night then blow the bag back up to the desired density and wrap with a soft piece of clothing. Voila, custom pillow for your trip. General creativity with your ski packing will go a long way. Stuff socks in your boots, roll up things in your helmet, avoid bringing food items with a lot of packaging. Like it or not, turning your underwear inside out both allows you to pack half as many and gives a fresh perspective on life if you’re in a trip for the long haul.”
Photo: Sam Watson
Backcountry Camping Trip
Lastly, if a hut trip or ski resort powder chasing trip is still too fancy for you, photographer and rider Sam Watson also notes the importance of an extra set of warm and dry boots for backcountry camping. “I also pack a zero degree sleeping bag, Jetboil, a nip of Scotch whiskey, and waterproof floor tent.” A tip Watson has, and one that should be in everyone’s backcountry pack or ski pant pocket while touring, yet never seems to make it in, is a plastic ski scraper. The simple plastic ski scraper can turn around an otherwise horrible ski day plagued with variable weather and avoid the inevitable glop on the skins or icing on the bottom of your skis.
Following a year of travel restrictions and uncertainty, we’re all pumped for ski trips to unique and faraway places, as well as off the cuff road trips to chase storms. As with any trip, make sure not to over-do-it with gear but rather making sure to have a simple approach to help you remember all the ski essentials.
KEEP LEARNING 👇