Ski Trip Packing Checklist

List of essential items to pack for a ski trip, including clothing, equipment and gear, and accessories.

Skiing is perhaps the most customizable recreational sport, and so it is important to plan ahead in order to ensure a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable ski trip. Regardless of one's experience level, a checklist can come in handy time and time again. Let us address some of the skier's main concerns and needs in an anatomically organized fashion.

We begin with the head region, an area that must be protected and comfortable. The most basic skiing need is a good hat. The majority of one's body heat is lost through the head, and so a warm hat can easily prolong the skier's day without compromising visibility, aerodynamics, or comfort. There is an endless variety of options, but a classic wool snow hat is a timeless standard. As skiing can become quite costly, one need not search for anything "special" as far as the hat is concerned; look for a snug fit, inoffensive style, and ear coverage if desired. A growing school of skiers, particularly advanced ones, have come to favor a ski helmet, which comfortably harnesses a pair of goggles and offers uncompromised cranial protection.

Next are ski goggles, which run the gamut of pricing. While not an outright necessity, any decent pair of ski goggles will enhance visibility, cut glare, reduce windburn, accommodate contact lenses, and prevent the skier from squinting his or her way down the mountain. Again, no need to break the bank; my $20 Uvex goggles are more than sufficient. The tint hue, typically rosy or yellow, is simply a matter of personal preference.

Depending on where one plans to ski, other items can ensure facial warmth and further reduce windburn. "Ear gear" is essentially a sleek, nylon, headband-style set of earmuffs. It is stretchy and unobtrusive, and guarantees that one's ears will not be agony. Similar face shields of the same material are also available. These face shields typically feature a Velcro closure behind the head, and cover one's nose, mouth, and cheeks without hindering respiration. Depending on the skier's mettle, experience, and fortitude, ear gear and a face shield can easily make or break a skiing trip. The mountain's lodge and/or pro shop will likely offer them, but at a considerably greater cost. Relevant to these facial considerations, lip balm, tissues, and eye drops can also come in handy.

Moving downward, a scarf always comes in handy for protecting the rather sensitive neck region. It can be of wool, cotton, fleece, or any other preferred fabric. Most households own scarves and need not shop for anything overly special. Of course, it is ideal that the scarf complement one's coat, the next checklist item. The coat should ideally be filled with goose down, and should feature elasticized waist and wrist cuffs to prevent snow from violating one's warmth and dryness.

Next is an integral component of any true ski trip, the ski bibs. These resemble your basic snow pants, but feature additional durability and insulation, as well as an interior lining that fits snugly into one's boots to form a makeshift seal. One may opt for pants instead, which are typical of snowboarders and play the same role, though I have always preferred the additional support and dryness offered by the bibs. Again depending on where one plans to ski, thermal underwear is a good item to consider. Ski bibs and coats are bulky by nature, and a thin, durable, cozy layer of long johns can go a long way toward the skier's comfort. A thermal shirt and pants should be sufficient.

As far as feet are concerned, wool socks cannot be stressed enough. Ski boots are drafty and cold, and so a double layer of socks is a worthwhile thought. Hot pockets can also be of benefit, both in one's boots and in one's gloves, another checklist item. Gloves come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles, but a waterproof shell is really the only necessary feature.

There are a number of miscellaneous items for a skier to attend to, as well. Skis and boots are, of course, important to check off of a list (unless one plans on renting), as are credit cards, cash, any desired sustenance, traveling directions, etcetera.

Skiing offers a seemingly endless number of considerations and customizations, but careful consideration and foresight can ensure a safe and enjoyable time. I urge you to make yourself a checklist about a week in advance and add items as necessary. Happy trails!

© High Speed Ventures 2011