Planning a winter getaway is always exciting – especially a ski or snowboarding trip. And journeying into snowy mountains adds a sense of adventure. But what do you pack?
As you start dreaming up perfect outfits for slopes and après in picturesque mountain towns, jamming all those puffy pieces into your luggage may not be top of mind – until you’re sitting on a suitcase that won’t shut, hours before flight time. Not to worry – you can stay stylish without bringing an entire second wardrobe. We’ve packed for many ski trips; this blog shares our ski trip packing tips!
Essential equipment & gear
Whether you ski or ride, you’ve either already got gear, or you’ll need to rent it. It’s always a big question: should you rent your skis when you travel? Or bring your ski equipment with you? The answer is: it depends.
Do you have specific skis that you feel so comfortable on, you really can’t imagine skiing something else? Are they waxed just right for the season? And do you have a great carrier case to transport your gear if you’re flying to your destination? Then yes, by all means bring your skis or snowboard.
We have, however, had friends who brought their gear on a long haul trip (from Colorado to the Alps) and claimed it was a huge mistake – that they were constantly having to cart their stuff around through the public transportation system and would have preferred to travel light. So dedicate a little time scouting out your destination and then decide on a plan of action.
What you'll hear
Step one: identify your base... layers
Whether you plan to cut corduroy, ride powder, skin up, hop a cat, glide over ice…or any cold weather activity, really…it’s easiest if you start at the base. Your base layers, that is. You’ll want them for winter walks, and time in the ski village too.
First things first: comfy undies that you’ll forget you’re wearing. It’s not necessary to wear a sports bra, which you may find binding after many hours on the slope. It’s not like a quick run or soul cycle class – one hour and you’re done. Unless you’re doing some serious jumps or park skiing, a sports bra is overkill. Also: it is not recommended that compression, encapsulated, or even underwire sports bras be worn over extended periods of time. Their binding qualities can restrict circulation, and even breathing. We recommend that you closely monitor your comfort level whenever wearing a sports bra.
Socks are the next step: Pack enough pairs to cover each day you’ll be out on the mountain, with regular socks fine for in town. We like to pack varying weights because you never know what turn the weather will take. Also worth noting: compression ski socks exist! These are an option to consider if you want full calf support during your day on the mountain. And if you end up having to wear that extra-warm pair for two days in a row, it’s okay. We won’t tell anyone (as long as you don’t tell where we stow our ski pass! ;)
Warm knee- or over-the-knee-highs, preferably with some wool or cashmere in them. Important: Don’t sacrifice the cute feet factor! There are so many color combinations and patterns on the market. And think local! Many brands knit their socks at mills in the US. It’s super-easy to get this part right! These guys are especially recognized for bringing the mountain vibes to stateside manufacturing:
- Smartwool (Colorado)
- FITS (Tennessee)
- Farm to Feet (North Carolina)
- Darn Tough (Vermont)
Tops & Bottoms:
If the term “long underwear” makes you squirm, shrug it off. Those bunchy button-ups are so last century! They’ve been smoothed and shaped into their new, svelte selves. From breathable silk to heat-tech, your extra skin awaits. Ask a local sports shop pro to point you in the right direction, or do searches for “base layers for women” (or men), and then prepare to spend hours on your computer because there are just SO MANY options.
You’ve got your Hot Chillys, your Cold Proof, your Kari Traa, your Mons Royale and Icebreaker…the list goes on and on. Top and bottom sets – bring ‘em. These are GOLD when the temps drop or wind whips up. You’ve either already got them, or you’ll want to pick them up. The one thing to avoid is cotton. As much as we promote natural fibers, we cannot get behind hypothermia. And if your cotton long-johns get wet, there’s no recovering from that icy situation while you’re out there in it. Tech fibers are best for the layer closest to your skin.
You can wear a clingy, tech layer right next to your skin, then a light merino wool layer on top of that. The more layers, the more you cocoon in the warmth. Think thin, light, and layered for the win!
Step two: build it up
What goes over base layers? More layers, of course – often referred to as mid-layers. Some times of year, some mountains, and some altitudes may require a second base layer under that sweet ski sweater. Second, yes, but not the same. You began with “gear”, with or without wool. Now add another layer, with or without wool, perhaps a bit heavier than the base-base layer (the first layer.) Find pieces that move well and stack up nicely under your treasured ski sweater.
And on that note: the sky’s the limit with ski sweater designs, so definitely have fun. Whether you’re rocking vintage Dale of Norway, classic Obermeyer or brand new Neve, it’s an opportunity to boost your ski town fashion game. Are you a city kitty? No problem! Transform warm streetwear pieces to mountainwear with the right styling. Do you love being a mountain kid, but not sure how to upscale your look? Again, it’s in the styling. In either case, accessories go a long way. Take a look at what you plan to pack, then zero in on accents. If you want to go mountain-y, add plaid. If you want more upscale, check your fibers. Natural wool, cashmere, silk and leather will up your game more than any synthetics ever can. This is true.
We love wearing Kari Traa, the Norwegian Olympic freestyle skier-turned skiwear designer. From bright bursts of color to punchy patterns, these pieces will warm you at first glance. You’ll be dying to show off your true mountain style when you unzip at the lodge.
Step three: top coat
Some ski/snowboarding jackets seamlessly transition from cute on the mountain to cute on the street. Others…not so much. A short, smart ski bomber would look as great with jeans as it does with ski pants, but might not lend itself to a longer skirt. One versatile overcoat/jacket solves it. Whether you plan to step out in denim tucked neatly into stylish winter boots, pull on some cashmere sweats with fun muck boots, or doll it up in a buffalo plaid wool mini and high boots, pack a parka. A longer top coat, like a parka, has a higher likelihood for outfit compatibility. And it need not be heavy. With enough layers below, a lighter parka will style just fine, and fit nicely into your suitcase. Polish off the look with a coordinated scarf.
Now for the lower layers…
Step four: bottoms up
Denim, corduroy, cashmere, wool, down (synthetic or real) …whatever your preference, bring along something cute & comfy to strut your stylish self. From long pants to short skirts, pack what you need to be you when off the mountain. You know what you feel most comfortable in. For us, there’s almost always one skirt in the mix, with thick tights (wool or wool-silk blend), and tall boots.
If you’re headed to ski or snowboard this winter, we hope you have loads of fun and make lasting memories. Playing on a snow-covered mountain is just magic. Stop and enjoy the views, breath in the mountain air, leave your daily life behind and recharge!
Let Rocket Closet Pickup, Store, & Deliver your gear year round, plan ahead for your next trip and let us make your travel lighter!