So you’ve made your reservations and you’ve booked your ski or snowboard getaway. If you’re not a ski-trip pro, getting ready for the trip can be overwhelming. Cold weather means heavy, bulky items – and plenty of them! If you’re not renting at your destination, you’ve got transporting ski equipment to think about. And do you really need that extra item, or can you get by without it and simplify your packing?

There are some things you’re not likely to forget: Your skis or snowboard, for instance. Or your ski boots (although to be honest, we remember a hiking trip where a certain pre-teen forgot hiking boots, leading to a rather expensive detour to an outdoors shop, but that’s a story for another day).

You’ll probably remember your parka, gloves, goggles, and hat. But here are 14 essential items to pack for a ski or snowboard trip – things that you might not think of – or things you might forget in the heat of the vacation packing frenzy:


Sure you’ve got that heavy parka that’s rated to -20 F, and you figure you’re all set. What’s better is a lighter jacket covering several layers, including long underwear, turtleneck, sweater etc. Depending on the weather, your body during a day on the slopes can alternate between cold, hot and cold again. If you dress in layers, you can remove layers as needed – and put them back on as needed.

Snow boots

Where there’s skiing or snowboarding, there’s snow. And while you’re not likely to forget your ski boots, do you really want to be clomping around in them when you’re done on the slopes? If the weather’s wet and snowy, you probably won’t want to slog around in wet sneakers. So snow boots, it is. Pack them. You’ll need them.

Neck gaiter

A neck gaiter is a must-have: it keeps your neck warm and you can use it to cover your face when the weather gets really wicked.

Comfy shoes

Once you’re indoors for the day, be sure to have a pair of comfortable shoes to slip on. You can’t overstate the delicious feeling of slipping off your ski boots and slipping into something a bit more comfortable during leisure hours.

Extra glasses (or contacts)

Vision is critical to a successful day on the slopes and if you lose or break your glasses, or a contact falls out, never to be found again, you’ll be happy you brought the extra pair. And while we’re at it, pack your sunglasses. When you take off your goggles, there will be snow glare to contend with.

Lip balm

When it comes to lip balm, more is better. Have one in the car, your parka, your purse – lip balm is a key item for a slope side vacation. If the sun doesn’t get you, the wind will. And there’s nothing worse than having an après ski cocktail with chapped lips.

A beanie or baseball hat

Two words: helmet head. Not a problem while you’re on the slopes, but afterwards you might want to cover up that Edward Scissorhands ‘do with something more suitable for indoors.


Skiing and snowboarding require energy and energy requires protein. Slip a couple of granola bars into your pocket before you set out for the day.


Hydration isn’t important just during the summer: Humidity is lower at higher altitudes, so you lose more body fluids when you exert yourself. You lose water through respiration at high altitude twice as quickly as you do at sea level. Bring a small water bottle with you, or if you’re planning to be out all day without a break, slip on a hydration pack.


Just because it’s cold, doesn’t mean you’re not susceptible to the sun’s rays. In fact, while UVB rays are less intense in the winter, UVA rays are as intense in the winter as the summer – and, because they have a longer wavelength, they can penetrate deeper into the skin and cause damage, which can lead to skin cancer. So bring the sunscreen and cover any exposed skin, like your nose and cheeks.

Alarm clock

If you’re staying in a condo or don’t trust a wake-up call from the front desk, don’t forget an old-fashioned, wind-up alarm clock. It works when the power goes out and, unlike your phone, doesn’t require charging. After all, you’re paying to hit those slopes. You don’t want to sleep the day away.

Phone charger

Because you can’t make phone calls with that wind-up alarm clock.

Your ski pass

If you have a season pass, don’t leave home without it.

Ski or snowboard boots

Sure, we said we don’t need to remind you to bring ski boots, but if there’s one piece of ski equipment you don’t want to forget, it’s your boots. Boots are central to your comfort on the slopes and your boots are tailored to your needs. If you forget your skis or poles, you can rent, and things will be fine; if you forget your boots, you can rent, but chances are you won’t have the comfort or performance of your own pair.

Got any other suggestions? Let us know in the comments!