Packing for a ski trip skier with arms up looking at the mountains

13 Essentials You Need to Pack for a Ski Trip

What to pack for a ski trip can seem like an impossible task. What to wear skiing is so bulky and your bag fills with just a few items. You certainly don’t want to forget something or opt to leave important gear at home. Because let’s face it. Skiing requires you to be comfortable and anything less will have you racing toward the lodge.

Pack for a ski trip ski slopes

Your only remaining option will be to purchase overpriced gear on the mountain or squander an entire trip. Whether you’re skiing in the Swiss Alps, Canada’s Mont Tremblant, or a mountain close to home you need to be warm and comfortable in your gear.

I’m a light and practical traveler who has worked and reworked how to get the most out of my bag’s space and the gear I bring. So, I focus on only the ski essentials and I thought it would be helpful to share my travel-tested ski trip packing list with you, as well!

13 Essentials You Need to Pack for a Ski Trip


1. Base Layers 

Effective base layers are total workhorses. They are the key to every warm ski ensemble and should be at the very top of your ski packing list.  

Layer up with soft merino wool Icebreakers or Omni-Heat tops and bottoms. These base layers are so warm and comfy you won’t want to take them off! They can be rolled up and squeezed into the tightest crevices in your bag.

Depending on the length of your trip, 1-2 base layer sets will suffice. Also, consider the temperatures you’ll be skiing in. The difference between lightweight, midweight, and heavyweight baselayers is significant, and choosing the wrong one can leave you feeling too hot or too cold.

REI Icebreaker Oasis Crew Top

2. Ski Jacket

The Patagonia Insulated Powder Town Jacket is a high-performance, two-layer shell for ultimate warmth and wind protection. And, when you’re figuring out what to pack for skiing and other snow fun, a rock-solid jacket is a must.

This cozy Patagonia jacket is waterproof to not only keep you dry but also wrap you in a shell of impermeable heat. You’ll feel absolutely no cold when you have this coat on together with your other ski layers.

Best of all, you can move in this coat! Good ski gear shouldn’t make you feel like you’re weighed down in layers unable to sport your snow carving skills! 

The bonus is you’ll be able to manage with just this coat for skiing and après-ski. So, you’ll be checking off 2 items on your ski trip packing list and saving space in your bag. Win-win 🙂


3. Mittens (Not Gloves!)

Be sure your ski trip checklist includes waterproof and warm women’s mittens and a flexible pair of glove liners. Your hands and fingers won’t even know they’re being pelted with cold air as you ski downhill.

I love how mittens maximize my own body heat by keeping my fingers together while the glove liners offer protection against the elements when I take off my mittens and tap away at my touchscreen!

4. Ski Pants

Columbia’s Bugaboo ski pants are stylish and perfect for cold weather conditions, not to mention the solid colors go with many different color fleece tops. During ski breaks, I like taking my coat off in the lodge and wearing ski clothes that actually match, contrary to the many other loud and colorful items of ski clothing.

Thinking about what to take skiing, I’m always tempted to pack more ski pants than I need. But, limit yourself to 2 pairs, even though that 3rd pair is literally screaming your name as you zip (and lock) your bag.

Source: Columbia

5. Fleeces

By now, you’ve probably realized how much of a winter gear geek I am! But I’m serious about warmth and comfort to maximize the fun on the slopes.

Fleeces make packing for a ski trip so easy because of their versatility. Wear them over a base layer for a day on the slopes. Layer them on their own as a jacket for a warmer ski day. After a day on the slopes, lounge by the fire wearing a fleece and yoga pants or match them with your favorite leggings (or even better favorite fleece-lined leggings!) for a casual après ski hang.

Because of their multi-uses, I’d pack 2-3 depending on the length of your trip. This way, you can have 1-2 for skiing, but an extra for après ski in case the others are sweaty or smelly.

Source: Columbia

6. Ski Goggles

Anon’s Women Snow Goggles are one of the best investments I’ve ever made in my ski gear.

I love the interchangeable, anti-fog lenses for different lighting conditions. They have a great fit and sometimes I almost forget I have them on!

If you’re wondering whether these are skiing essentials for beginners or you’re simply an occasional skier who needs a casual price point to match how many times you’ll wear a pair of ski goggles, these OTG goggles are best-sellers. I’ve bought several pairs as gifts for family members and they’ve worked like a charm!

7. Neck Gaiter

Scarves are so cozy for an après ski hangout but an absolute no-no when skiing. They can be a hazard should they flap around in the wind and often shift, opening up spaces where cold air can slip through to your skin.

neck gaiter slides over your neck and the fleece insulates against the wind, cold, and any wetness, be it from sweat or precipitation. It’s a definite when deciding what to bring on a ski trip.

Source: Patagonia

8. Ski Socks

What to bring skiing must include the right socks! Uncomfortable feet mean less time on the slopes and more time in the lodge.

Made from soft merino wool, these women’s ski socks will cushion your feet inside of your ski boots and keep your toes toasty and dry by wicking away sweat. Your ski holiday packing list doesn’t have to include foot warmers with the right socks. Bring 2-4 pairs depending on how many days you’ll be skiing.

ProTip: Sierra is also a great place to look for discounted socks and other ski gear on closeout!

9. Hydration Pack 

Essential ski gear isn’t only about the right clothing.

Stay hydrated with a sleek Camelbak Women’s Hydration PackIt’s compact and holds 1.5 liters of fluids. It’s also functional, storing small items like keys and money. The hydration chamber inside is replaceable, but the pack itself comes with a lifetime guarantee.

The hydration pack is also useful for other outdoor activities, like hiking and biking so you can really get your money’s worth!

10. Ear Warmer Headband

Hopefully, you always ski with a helmet. I never pack mine for ski trips where I’m flying to the mountain. It’s easy enough to rent one from the mountain where you’ll be skiing and save space in your bag.

But while your helmet keeps your head warm, it’s important to cover your ears and forehead, too. That’s where the Hot Headz Fleece Ear Warmer comes in.

Ladies, it actually works with your ponytail, rather than do everything possible to slide the elastic band out of place and thus cause hair havoc. The fleece is cozy around your head and face and thin enough to comfortably fit under a helmet.

11. Kleenex

Dare I state the obvious? It’s cold. Your nose is runny as you carve your way down the piste. This doesn’t feel good, nor is it a good look. Be sure to keep some Kleenex Go Packs in your coat pockets.

12. Winter Boots

 Sorel Women’s Caribou Boots are the perfect solution to already crowded suitcases. You can wear these boots on your way to the slopes and while out and about after a day on the mountain.

They’re snow boots, so they keep your feet dry and warm and have solid traction on the snow. They work perfectly with your favorite pair of jeans or leggings when the day is done. When deciding what to pack for a ski holiday, these are really the only shoes you’ll need.

I also love these Columbia boots! They are beyond warm, look great, and are a favorite winter boot to wear for a ski trip or even a packing essential for a city winter trip.

13. Winter Hat

Remember to pack a warm winter hatYou won’t always be wearing your helmet and you’ll surely want to let your hair down from that ponytail. I’m biased because I just love hats but it always baffles me when I see red-eared people walking around in the winter without one.

Here you have your ski trip packing list with only the absolute ski essentials and nothing else! What to wear to go skiing shouldn’t be overwhelming or time-consuming. Better to keep your suitcase light and save your energy for the slopes. Don’t you agree?! 🙂

Ski Essentials: Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about the best ski trip packing list.

Ski Essentials

What do you need for skiing?

Your ski holiday packing list should include base and mid layers, ski pants, a ski jacket, ski socks, ski goggles, ski mittens, glove liners, a neck gaiter, and a fleece headband. You will also need skis and poles, ski boots, and a helmet, but these can be rented from the ski mountain if you don’t have them or prefer not to travel with them.

What are the ski essentials to pack for a trip?

The skiing essentials you should pack for a trip are 1-2 base layer sets, 1-2 fleece mid layers, 1-2 pairs of ski pants, 1 ski jacket, 2-3 pairs of ski socks, a pair of ski goggles, a pair of ski mittens & glove liners, a fleece neck gaiter, and a fleece headband. For apres-ski, pack warm clothing like fleece-lined leggings, snow boots, a winter hat & scarf, and a cozy sweater.

What do I need for a first-time ski trip?

The things a beginner needs for skiing focus on warmth and comfort! Start with a base layer, ski socks, and a pair of ski pants. Then, layer a fleece on top. What to wear skiing also includes a ski jacket, ski mittens (for maximum warmth) & glove liners, a fleece neck gaiter, a fleece headband for your ears and to hold back your hair, and a pair of ski goggles.

Ski equipment like skis, boots, poles, and a helmet can be easily rented wherever you’re going to ski.

What to Wear Skiing

Are jeans ok for skiing?

No. Jeans are not ok for skiing. Jeans offer no warmth or range of motion. They also absorb sweat and water/snow which does not dry quickly and will make you even colder.

What should you not wear skiing?

Things you should not wear skiing include jeans, leggings, or any material like cotton that absorbs moisture from sweat or snow which will make you feel cold and wet. Also, ski clothes and layers need to allow for movement. Any piece of clothing or material that is too stiff will make it difficult to move your body appropriately and ski.

Is it better to have tight or loose ski pants?

Your ski pants should be just right, not too tight or too loose. A base layer should fit comfortably under your ski pants.

Can you just ski in leggings?

No. Don’t ski in leggings. They offer no protection from cold, wind, or moisture. Also, if you fall (which happens to the best of us!), leggings made of a thin material could rip.

Should you wear leggings under ski pants?

No, you should not wear leggings under ski pants. Base layers are designed to be thin and flexible, as well as reflect your body heat back towards your skin to keep you warm.

Should I wear sweats under my ski pants?

No, you should not wear sweats under your ski pants. Sweats are not designed for warmth or to repel moisture the way base layers are. In addition, sweats are bulky and could be uncomfortable under ski pants, as well as limit your range of motion on the slopes.

Should I wear a sweatshirt under a ski jacket?

No, you should not wear a sweatshirt under a ski jacket. Sweatshirts are b

Why should you not wear cotton when skiing?

Cotton absorbs moisture from sweat, rain, snow, sleet, and ice. Once wet, it does not dry quickly which will make you feel very cold. Cotton is also not designed for optimal warmth. Base layers, fleeces, and merino wool socks are much better at keeping you warm.

Ski Socks

Is it better to wear thin or thick socks when skiing?

Thin, warm socks made from merino wool are best for skiing. Thick socks limit your toe movement (which should always be able to wiggle in your ski sock and ski boot!) and could cut off circulation.

Should you double up on socks when skiing?

No, you should not double up on socks when skiing. Ski trip essentials include a thin, warm merino wool ski sock. Doubling up on socks could compromise the comfort of your ski boot and limit blood flow to your toes.

Do you wear ski socks over or under thermals?

Ski socks should be worn over thermals.

How tight should ski socks be?

Ski socks should be just right, not too tight or not too loose. If ski socks are too tight, they could cut off circulation to your toes. If ski socks are too loose, your toes and foot might slide around too much in your ski boot.

Are ski socks worth it?

Yes, ski socks are worth it! Your skiing trip checklist should include at least 2 pairs of ski socks. These socks are designed to be thin, warm, and fit comfortably inside your ski boots.

Did I miss anything? What essentials do you pack for a ski trip?

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14 thoughts on “13 Essentials You Need to Pack for a Ski Trip”

  1. I like your list. I’m ready to go skiing myself in a month and I’m surely going to pack some of these items for my trip. I never used a Camelback though. I usually buy a hot tea on the slopes.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks, Anda! Hot tea works, too. 😉 I like the Camelback for those times when I just want to keep skiing.

  2. I”ve never packed for a ski trip, but this list seems to cover it! As a resident of Boston, I know how important it is to be comfortable when outside, making sure you’re warm can make all the difference! I don’t even care if I look all that fashionable, hehe, if I’m warm and toasty on my daily commute to work on public transport, I’m a happy camper!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Absolutely, Bell! I live in NYC and walk around outside all winter. Comfort and warmth are the keys to arriving in a good mood.

  3. Great packing list. I am a fan of Columbia products, too, for all weather types. I live in Florida and pretty much my daily attire is at least 1 piece of Columbia clothing. FYI, one of your pictures is not loading. You are gonna stay warm with those choice pieces. 😉

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks, Melody! I will check on that photo. The Columbia products are just so comfy and durable, it’s hard not to wear something every day! 🙂

  4. Great list! I haven’t gone skiing yet, but recently moved to Colorado and finally bought some warm weather gear. Last weekend I actually went winter camping and snowshoeing yesterday. As I embrace winter more, I’ll need to continue to add to the warm weather clothes pile… saving this post, and will check out some of the products more! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks, Alyssa! Definitely jealous that you’ve been able to get out and enjoy some winter snow! Here in the northeast, it’s been dry and temperatures above normal. Glad the list will be useful and I’ll definitely be checking out your blog posts! 🙂

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Absolutely! Not having lip balm is no fun. Thanks so much for reading.

  5. You forgot sunscreen!!! Very very important! The sun bounces off the snow and back onto your face, even with ski goggles on,

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Sadie. You are right! Sunscreen is so important. I always wear it on my face so I didn’t even think of it. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

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