Getting Ready for Your Ski Trip

Planning a ski trip isn’t like planning a picnic. For one thing, it’s probably more expensive, and there are a lot more things to pack (and most likely forget). But all it takes is a bit of organization to plan the perfect ski trip. Get started with this simple guide.

So you’re ready to leave for that ski trip you’ve been planning for months. But just as you step onto the slopes, you realize you’ve forgotten something: your warm clothes, your resort map, your extra pair of skis.

If this situation sounds familiar, you’re not alone—ski trips can be a hassle to plan, especially for first-timers. Skiing is an equipment-heavy sport, so you’re always bound to forget something. If you’re planning a ski trip and want to make sure it all goes smoothly, here’s a quick guide to help you out.

What to pack

Skis: Easily the most important part of your luggage. You’re probably not likely to forget them, but it can spell trouble if you pick the wrong pair. Choose skis that are appropriate for your size, skill level, and the type of slope you’ll be riding. If you’re not sure which ones will work for you, you can ask your seller (or if you’re renting, the resort attendant) to help you find the right pair.

Ski boots: Ski boots are designed to transfer your weight efficiently from one ski to the other. This involves the use of special soles, which you won’t find on any other sports boot. Invest in a pair of sturdy boots—they’re more expensive, but cheap ones will end up costing you more in replacements or repairs over the years.

Ski bindings: Bindings secure your boots to your skis. It’s important that your boots and bindings fit well together; otherwise you’ll either have trouble balancing or risk tripping over. You can buy your boots together with the bindings to make sure they’re made for each other.

Ski poles: These help you keep your balance and serve as your brake mechanism on the slopes. Skis and poles sometimes come together, but sometimes you can save by buying separately. Get a nice, sturdy pair of poles if you’re a beginner, as you’ll be using them a lot more than experienced skiers.

What to wear

Warm clothes are essential to your skiing getup. Experts recommend the Three Layer System: a thermal base layer, a thick, insulating second layer, and a hard-wearing top layer.

Base layer: The base layer consists of thermal clothing, from thermal underwear to thermal pants and shirts. Insulating fabrics such as neoprene and polyester usually work best. Wear a thermal body shirt—a tight-fitting garment that looks much like a diving suit—to wick moisture away from your skin. Skiing or snowboarding socks offer specialized features, but any pair of thick socks will do.

Second layer: This one is made up of thick, warm fabrics such as wool and fleece. A thick sweater and pants usually do the trick. The point of this layer is to absorb the moisture transferred by the base layer from your skin. It also prevents your body heat from escaping.

Top layer: Finish off with a heavy-duty jacket made of windproof material. Also, don’t forget to bring quality head protection, whether it’s a thick beanie or a helmet (or both). Much of your body heat escapes through your head, so good headwear is essential. Other protective gear you might want to add include ski gloves, masks, and ski goggles. Goggles help reduce glare from the sun, which can be useful if you’re skiing in bright daylight.

Getting ready

Before making your reservations, check the weather and slope conditions in your destination. Look for a place with a beginner’s area if you’re just starting out—you don’t want to be racing with the pros on your first day out. If you have yet to buy your first skis, try to see if you can rent them instead. This can sometimes be cheaper especially if you don’t plan on skiing seriously. The same thing goes for boots, poles, and other equipment.

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