How to Pack for a Ski Trip


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As a senior photographer for Powder Magazine, I’m fortunate that I get to travel the world following snow.

With winter weather often chaotic, it’s not uncommon for me to have to zip over to the opposite side of the globe on a moment’s notice. Over the years, I’ve developed a few tips and tricks that make packing—and navigating busy airports and train stations—a snap.

How to Pack for Skiing

Stuff sacks are a traveler’s best friend. They allow me to pack for any trip anywhere in under an hour, and be confident that I am not forgetting anything. Each item has its own labeled stuff sack, and is color-coded to make it quicker to identify what’s for skiing and what’s for casual wear, such as orange for ski clothes, green for street clothes. Each set of items then has its own sack, in the appropriate color. For example, use a green sack for street socks, and a separate green sack for street shirts. Ski socks get an orange sack, and ski base layers get another orange sack.

How to Pack for Skiing

If embarking on a multi-week trip, it is way better to pack just 10 days’ worth of clothes. It’s easier to travel light with less clothing, and use your accommodations’ DIY laundry facilities or the concierge laundry service once a week.

I always bring just enough laundry soap to do a load or two. I also bring lots of dryer sheets. They help wick the moisture out of your gloves and boots at the end of the day, allowing them to dry more quickly. Plus, they’ll keep your gear smelling “spring fresh” even after several days of skiing.

How to Pack for Skiing

Over the years, I’ve probably seen every possible way to pack a ski bag, and 99% of the time it’s inefficient. Most people pack a ski bag by laying the skis in it base to base. This wastes a ton of valuable space.

A better way is to use ski straps to restrain the bindings, then place the base of each ski against the side walls of the bag. This method frees up a ton of space, and keeps the bag from sagging when you’re dragging it. When packing two pairs of skis, lay the second pair base-side down in the bag, creating a three-sided box.

How to Pack for Skiing

Invest in a luggage scale. They’re inexpensive and will save you a fortune on overweight charges.

How to Pack for Skiing

Always bring a set of long tie-down straps. It’s way more comfortable to tour around in a vehicle when ski bags are not taking up all of the interior space. The ones with padded buckles designed for kayaks work best as they won’t scratch the rental car.

How to Pack for Skiing

A good backpack is the best choice for your carry-on baggage because it will leave you with two hands to maneuver your ski bag and other luggage. Always put your avalanche transceiver, radios, camera, laptop and any other fragile items in your carry-on. Also, it’s best to carry your boots on the plane as well. If the airline looses your ski bag, you can always rent skis and still enjoy your trip in the comfort of your own boots. Connect the power straps together and you can dangle your boots over the backpack to keep your hands free.

In the market for new travel gear? Shop REI’s selection of luggage and travel accessories.

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