Whether it’s Vail, Aspen, Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge, or Keystone that is your ski or snowboard vacation this winter, packing for such a trip isn’t always as fun as picking the destination. Colorado is known for having some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the United States. Yet, the gear you need to be comfortable, safe, and to enjoy these world-class resorts tends to be bulky and heavy, and getting it onto a plane or even in your car can be a hassle.
Don’t worry about getting your packing list exactly right. If you forget something or simply decide lugging your equipment cross country is not for you, any of our Christy Sports locations can save the day! Most locations offer both rental and retail shops, where you have the ease and convenience of renting equipment, as well as purchasing any clothing that may have been left behind. Simply follow our packing list and tips below and you won’t feel like getting to the mountains for your ski / snowboard vacation takes a covered wagon – it doesn’t!
Packing for Your Colorado Ski Trip
Layers . . . Layers . . . More Layers
Any local will tell you to “dress in layers!” The diversity of elevation and climate here in Colorado means temperatures can shift on dime. Don’t underestimate the importance of layering up and packing clothes for all seasons year-round if you’re going to be exploring our great outdoors.
Leggings & Long-sleeved T-shirts:
Start by packing leggings and long-sleeved t-shirts made of moisture-wicking fabric like polyester. That means NO COTTON. Cotton is your worst enemy as it holds in moisture and can cause a chill layer. Wear these pieces as a base layer to keep you dry and warm.
Fleece Pants & Sweatshirts:
Pack a second layer of fleece pants and sweatshirts to wear over the base layer. These items will protect you from the icy chill and whipping winds you may experience on Colorado’s mountains, some of which have elevations of 10,000 feet or more. Lightweight merino wool items also make great base and mid layers. Keep in mind, though, heavier weight wool fabrics can become quite heavy and take a long time to dry if saturated.
Parka & Ski / Snowboard Pants:
TIP: Try these items on over your bottom two layers to be sure they fit without being too bulky.
This may be one of the most important items you pack and can make or break a ski / snowboard trip, so choose carefully. Socks for skiing or snowboarding should be warm but thin. Preferred fabrics include either thin woolen socks, silk socks (although these tend to wear out quickly), a wool-silk blend, or socks made of a wicking fabric. REMEMBER: A thick sock will collect sweat and hold moisture close to your foot, while a thin sock moves sweat from your foot to the liner, which is designed to wick moisture away from your body. Bulky ski socks also tend to bunch up and can easily reduce circulation to your feet, making them very cold.
Hat, Gloves & Scarf / Neck Gaitor:
Pack a hat and scarf or neck gaitor made of fleece or wool. Neck gaitors with Omni Heat are preferred as they easily slide over your neck and the Omni-Heat technology works its magic by reflecting your own body heat back toward your skin.
Snow/waterproof gloves or mittens composed of a Goretex shell and fleece liner are best options for skiing or riding. Gloves allow for unlimited dexterity because your fingers are able to separate. Gloves also make it easier to grip ski poles, zip up jackets, and pick up small objects. Mittens, on the other hand, are the warmest option because your fingers are together to share heat and maintain blood flow. Combine either one with a warm pair of glove liners and you are good to go!
Basic Everyday Clothing Items
Pack basic clothing items – underwear, personal toiletries, cozy flannel pajamas, your favorite pair of slippers, as well as other socks for when you are not on the slopes. These can be thicker socks made of wool or polyester to keep your feet warm and dry while walking around Colorado’s resort towns.
Jeans & Sweaters / Casual Attire & Comfy Footwear:
Toss in a few pairs of jeans and sweaters to your bag to wear when you get off the slopes. As far as footwear, choose comfort over fashion. Wear shoes and/or waterproof boots that can cover mileage — whether it’s snow trekking, snowshoeing, shopping, or perusing art galleries – after a day on the slopes.
TIP: While jeans are almost always welcome and accepted as formalwear by the locals, some Colorado ski towns like Vail, Aspen, and Telluride are a fairly swanky, so you may also want to bring evening clothes for dressy nights out.
Sunscreen & UV Protective Eyewear
Here in Colorado, we love to brag about more than 300 days of sunshine a year. Be sure to pack a bottle of waterproof sunscreen, hydrating lip balm, sunglasses, and a pair of ski goggles with interchangeable lenses to protect your skin and eyes from the bright sun you’ll encounter on the slopes, even in the height of winter. Interchangeable, anti-fog ski goggles are also advantageous for different lighting conditions while skiing or riding.
Packing for Families
It’s hard enough to pack for yourself when going on a ski vacation. Add in a troop of kiddos – or even just one – and all the unpredictables of Mother Nature can make packing a bit overwhelming. The good news is, you and the kids will need roughly the same items from the list above. REMEMBER: As with adults, it’s also important to layer your kids so they can best regulate their heat. Some helpful tips to keep in mind however are if you have toddlers bring a stroller. No matter how pedestrian-friendly your chosen ski-resort is, toddlers are notorious for refusing to walk at the most inopportune times. So gate-check it if flying or find room in the car if driving.
TIP: While at the slopes, many Colorado ski resorts provide wagons to haul ski gear and kids from the mountain to the car.
Toys & Books:
Even though there’s plenty of entertainment at the resorts, you’ll be grateful to have some familiar toys and books at the condo or hotel to keep the kids occupied during downtime.
Packing Your Ski Equipment
If you have your own equipment and you choose to bring it with you, you can pack your skis and/or snowboards, poles, boots, and helmets in bags designed for these items. If traveling by car, these bags can be stowed away either inside the vehicle or on racks on top. If you’re flying and feel strongly about using your own gear, a hard ski / snowboard case is highly recommended to protect your skis and poles or snowboard.
Try bringing your boots on as a carry-on item. You will need to contact the airlines for rules regarding flying with sporting equipment. Or, you may choose to leave all your gear at home and rent once you arrive. Christy Sports provides quality rental equipment and experienced rental techs for all your ski and snowboard needs. Let our friendly, experienced staff help you make the best of your ski vacation.