This blog post was updated on January 16, 2019.

Are you clueless about what to pack for your upcoming family ski trip? Or did you get one of those last minute flight deals to a winter wonderland, and need to pack in a jiffy?  Don’t stress. There’s plenty of gear to consider, but common sense should prevail. If there’s snow, it will be at least moderately cold. But, it could be frigid so don’t forget to check the forecast.

If the temperature averages below zero, more layering will be required. To help your family have an extraordinary and safe time on the slopes, we recommend this ski-packing list so that you and your kiddos will remain warm and dry.

Base Layer

Decades ago, cotton long johns were the norm. Nowadays, check out high tech base layer clothing designed to keep the wearer warm and dry. Avoid purchasing heavy ski socks that don’t wick away moisture from the feet and that will be uncomfortable inside boots.

Mid Layer

Since everyone handles cold temperatures differently, the mid layer will vary from individual to individual. Some wear turtlenecks and wool sweaters while others use fleeces, vests, lightweight polyester sweatshirts or possibly a lightweight jacket. Avoid cotton since it will not keep you warm or absorb any moisture.


Quality ski jackets and snow pants can be expensive. Consider ski outerwear as an investment and choose items that are lightweight, waterproof-breathable, and sufficiently insulated to match the ski climate. The coat should fit comfortably and have enough room for base and mid layer clothing and have adjustable cuffs and a drawcord hem. To avoid cold fingers, buy ski mittens or gloves that are warm, durable, and waterproof. The neck is another vulnerable spot. Consider a neck warmer or gaiter that is made out of polyester microfibers and/or fleece.


When you’re walking around the resort or possibly sledding, you’ll need a comfortable pair of insulated, waterproof boots. It may be slick so make sure the boots have soles with a good grip for icy and snowy conditions.  You may have practically tripped right over one of those last minute flight deals to a great skiing destination, but we know you don’t want your holiday to be filled with unexpected spills.

Non-Skiing Clothing

Remember to include clothing for the evening and non-ski days. Blue jeans, corduroy pants, and sweaters should suffice. Since you’ll most likely be skiing with a helmet (you should be), bring a hat and an extra pair of gloves or mittens for the frigid evenings.

Sunscreen and Lip Balm

High altitude skin care is essential. The air will be dry and the sun’s rays will be intense. Pack a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher and a lip balm designed for an arid environment with an SPF 30 level of protection. Add a quality hand and body moisturizer to your bag as well.

Ski Gear: Helmet, Goggles/Ski Sunglasses, and Hydration Pack

While a helmet can’t prevent a traumatic brain injury, it may lessen the effects of a nasty fall. Some people choose to purchase their own ski helmet while others rent one with their equipment rental package. Appropriate goggles and sunglasses provide protection against UV rays and glare. Look also for anti-fog technology. Dehydration is common in mountainous regions. A durable hydration pack will provide water throughout the day.

Ski Equipment: Skis, Boots, Poles, Bindings, Ski Bag, and Ski Rack

Most first timers usually rent equipment at their destination. Less expensive rental packages near your home may be tempting. But do you really want to schlep your equipment to the destination or have to deal with equipment malfunctions?

Don’t wait until the last minute to pack. Winter clothing and boots take up more space than summer apparel. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of your family’s stuff. Every packer should check off an inventory list to make sure nothing is missing. Ideally, each school-aged child should pack and be responsible for his or her own suitcase. But make sure a parent double-checks the contents before departure.

Were you lucky enough to get one of those last minute flight deals to Denver for some spur of the moment downhill racing?  Then check out our post on budget hacks for skiing in Colorado.

First time family ski adventures are filled with a plethora of unexpected events. Can you share one of your stories? Let us know in the comments below!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

About The Author

Sandy Bornstein lived as an expat in India. Her award-winning memoir, May This Be the Best Year of Your Life, highlights what she learned as the only American teacher at an international Bangalore school. After living abroad, Sandy continues to explore the world and write about her travels. You can follow Sandy's adventures at