Knowing what to pack for a family ski vacation can be a bit tricky because winter clothing is big and bulky, making it difficult to get everything to fit into your bags! But staying dry and warm is the number one key to a successful family ski trip- so you don’t want to miss out on packing anything on our family ski trip packing list!
Family Ski Trip Packing List
1. Base Layers
The key to staying warm on the slopes is to layer your clothing. You always want to start with a thermal base layer on the top and the bottom. Some people call these “long johns” or “long underwear”. Whatever you call them, you’re looking for something thin and tight fitting that will go under all your other layers of clothing. If you’re skiing for a few days in a row, it’s a good idea to pack at least two sets of thermal base layers per person.
2. “Street Clothes” Layers
Over your base layer, you’ll wear your regular clothing- generally track pants or sweat pants and a sweatshirt or sweater. You want this layer to be warm and comfortable but not too bulky- as you still have layers to put on top of it! Depending on how many days you are skiing, you’ll want a couple different options for tops and bottoms for this layer. These pieces can also double as your lounge wear for hanging around the room or even walking around the lodge or resort.
3. Fleece Layers
On top of your regular clothing you’ll want a fleece jacket or vest for extra warmth. It’s a layer you can add or remove based on the temperature each day. On warmer ski days you may decide to skip the fleece jacket, but on days when the temperature dips down low- you’ll be glad you have this extra layer for warmth! A quality lightweight fleece jacket can also serve as your jacket for hanging out by the fire pit or at the coffee shop in the resort- so it’s a pretty versatile piece when it comes to keeping warm on your ski trip. Again, keep this layer thin. Fleece doesn’t need to be bulky to help keep you warm!
4. Ski Socks
Ski socks should meet two main criteria. They should be tall, coming up to just under the knee as that’s where the top of your ski boots will land. And they should be moisture wicking so they help keep your feet dry. You’ll also want socks that are a bit thicker as they’ll provide not only warmth but a bit of cushioning in your ski boots- which are known to be pretty stiff and uncomfortable! Merino wool is a popular material for ski socks, but there are lots of synthetic blends that will keep you warm and dry as well. Pack 2 to 4 pair of high quality ski socks per person, depending on how many days you’ll be skiing.
5. Ski Jacket
Now that we got all the “underneath” layers taken care of, it’s time for the outer layers! Investing in a high quality ski jacket is really important. You’ll want something that will keep you dry and warm- look for a jacket that is water proof yet breathable, check for temperature ratings, and anything with zippered vents is always a good idea! A “snow skirt” or elastic waistband can help keep snow out of your jacket and keep you warmer, as well as tight inside cuffs on the sleeves. You’ll want a jacket with a few zippered pockets as you’ll need a place to keep your cell phone, some tissues, lip balm, etc.
6. Ski Pants / Ski Bibs
Ski pants or bibs are your outer, waterproof layer on the bottom. While traditional ski pants are easier to get on and off, bibs often have higher waists which can help keep snow out if you take a tumble! It’s a personal preference as to which kind you wear. With kids, it’s a trade off between keeping them extra dry and warm but also being able to get them undressed to go to the bathroom! Which ever style you go with, make sure they have some elastic banding around the ankles to help keep snow out there too!
It doesn’t matter how good of a skier or snowboarder you are- a helmet is incredibly important for safety. Kids and beginners will fall frequently and more advanced skiers tend to take more risks on jumps and in terrain parks- and all of these situations put you and your family at risk of a serious head injury. Look for a winter sports specific helmet as it will come with ear coverings to keep you warm. Some popular bike and skateboard helmet brands actually sell winter inserts so you can convert your bike or skateboard helmet into a winter sports helmet. Helmets can be big and bulky to travel with, but that doesn’t mean you should skip them. Strap them to the outside of your carry-on bag, or if you really want to avoid packing your own helmets- check with your resort because chances are they rent helmets and you can grab them once you arrive.
8. Ski Goggles
Not everyone skis with goggles, but they’re a really good idea for a couple of reasons. First- they help keep your face warm! The less skin that is exposed to that frigid air, the better! Equally important- they can help keep the snow from blinding you. Tinted goggles help with that bright sun reflecting off the fresh white snow so you can see more clearly without squinting on the slopes.
It’s really a personal preference when it comes to mittens or gloves- but mittens with a pair of liner gloves underneath do tend to keep hands warmer on those chilly days. If you’ll be skiing for more than a couple of days, you might want to consider two sets of mittens for each child- as kids tend to spend more time playing in snow, which will mean wet mittens. Many ski resorts have boot and mitten dryers- but just in case you don’t have access to one, an extra pair of mittens for kids will ensure they have a dry pair for the next day on the slopes!
10. Liner Gloves
Whether you’re wearing mittens or gloves on top, always wear a thin pair of liner gloves underneath. Not only will this provide extra warmth, but you won’t be exposing your bare hands when you need to slip your mittens off to grab your phone or take a picture! Be sure to keep these tight fitting and grab a pair of liner gloves with the touch screen finger technology so you can access your phone without taking this layer off!
11. Neck Gaiter
A neck gaiter or a scarf is important for keeping cold winds and snow out of the top of your ski jacket. Neck gaiters tend to be more popular as they’re easy to pull up over your face when it gets cold, and they’re less bulky than traditional scarves.
12. Winter Hat
Though you’ll wear your helmet for skiing, you’ll want a winter hat or headband to keep your head warm when you’re not on the slopes. We lose the most heat from our head, so pack a winter hat for walking around town or for other outdoor activities.
13. Winter Boots
You’ll be wearing your ski boots when you ski, but you’ll want a regular pair of winter boots for walking around the resort. Winter boots are another bulky item to pack, but you’ll be glad you have them when you’re walking to dinner or going shopping in the snow. While we generally recommend wearing light, easy to slip on and off shoes when flying- if you’re flying to your ski vacation it might be a good idea to wear your winter boots on the plane so they don’t take up half your suitcase. If you have a boot bag for your ski boots, sometimes winter boots can also be stuffed in there (try putting them upside down) as another option for packing winter boots. If don’t want to wear them on the plane and don’t have a boot bag you can stuff them into, at least take advantage of the space inside them by stuffing things like socks and underwear in each boot to help save space!
If you’re not skiing with goggles, sunglasses are a great idea for protecting your eyes from the reflection of the sun off the snow. If you do ski with goggles, it’s still a good idea to bring a pair of sunglasses for other activities like tubing, ice skating, or even walking around the resort or village.
15. SPF Lip Balm / Sun Screen
Anyone who has forgotten to pack this item for a ski trip will tell you it’s the most important item on the list! We generally don’t think of getting sunburned when it’s so cold outside that we’re bundled up in 14 layers of winter clothing. But the sun reflecting off the snow can be wicked- and your lips will be the first to suffer. Keep an SPF lip balm in a pocket of your ski jacket and apply it numerous times throughout the day. While much of the rest of your face will be covered by your goggles and neck gaiter, it’s also a good idea to apply sunscreen to your entire face each morning before you hit the slopes.
Cold weather means runny noses! Be sure to pack a travel size pack of tissues in your jacket pocket each morning so you can wipe your runny nose. Teach kids to use tissues to wipe their noses instead of their sleeve or gloves- because eeeeew!!! Every mom who skies is always thankful when their kids are old enough to keep their tissues in their own pockets- but until then, make sure mom and dad have extra!
If you’re taking your own ski or snowboard equipment, you’ll obviously want to pack your skis and poles, snowboard, and boots. If you’re flying, it’s wise to invest in padded travel bags for all your own equipment. If you’re renting, you don’t have to worry about all this bulky stuff. Just pack the essentials listed above and you’ll be ready for a fantastic family ski trip!
Be sure to check out our 8 favorite family-friendly ski resorts before planning your next ski vacation!