Photo courtesy Celeste Pomerantz

How To Pack For Your Next Ski Trip, According to a Pro Skier

Technology + Gear
by Tim Wenger Oct 7, 2023

Packing for a ski trip can be anxiety-inducing. Few other common reasons to travel require so much stuff, and while it’s possible to rent much of what you need for a ski vacation once you get there, if you already own your gear, stepping back into a pair of rental boots is rarely a positive experience.

Even knowing what to pack for a ski trip and what to leave behind can quickly become overwhelming. Cotton or wool? Puffy or parka? And, do you really need that Polar BUFF tubular, or will simply tightening the hood of your jacket suffice? While much depends on the weather forecast for your destination, the last thing you want is to show up without what you need. There’s no app for that, but fortunately, there’s a pro here to give her advice. Celeste Pomerantz is a professional skier based in British Columbia and sponsored by Black Crows. Active year-round on skis and mountain bikes, her winters are particularly far-flung – she routinely drops big lines from Squamish to Switzerland and knows a thing or two about effective gear preparation.

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Start with the basics

“The nice thing about skiing is that as long as you have your basics, like your clothes, your skis, and your boots, you’re probably going to be okay,” Pomerantz says. The key, she notes, is proper preparation. “Typically I’ll start packing maybe a week out just checking off all the boxes.”

This starts with a proper ski bag with wheels, which Pomerantz explains makes transport easier everywhere from the airport to the hotel. Options online range from $65 to above $300, but the Dakine Fall Line Ski Roller Bag does the trick at $165 and will last for many years. Your skis and most gear will fit in there, and despite their size, ski bags can typically be checked at the same rate as a standard suitcase, as long as it’s not above the airline’s weight limit and especially if you’re flying with a major airline in and out of airports that frequently handle ski traffic. Note, however, that the ski bag will likely be dispensed at the oversized luggage counter at your arrival airport rather than the typical turnstile.

One important piece of gear that may not fit in the ski bag is your boots. For these, Pomerantz suggests taking one of two routes. Either opt for a dedicated ski boot bag that includes backpack straps, or bring your boots onboard the plane as your “personal item” and put them in the overhead bin. Pomerantz has developed a hack that incorporates both.

“I usually just bring my boots with me on the plane, and instead, in the boot bag I’ll put my helmet, my gloves, and a couple of other hard goods,” she says.

Speaking of boots, Pomerantz notes that it’s always better to bring your own rather than rent, even if you leave your skis at home, and pack them separately from the rest of your gear. “You really don’t want to be using rental boots,” she says. “And if for whatever reason your luggage gets lost or damaged on the flight, I just don’t want to take that risk. So I usually just toss them on top of my backpack. I’ve even known people who, if the airline does have a problem (with that), they’ll just wear their ski boots on the plane.”

Don’t forget the hard goods

skier on steep mountain

Photo courtesy Celeste Pomerantz

From there, the gear to bring on a ski trip effectively comes down to what you’d bring for a normal day at the ski hill. This includes gloves, goggles, ski pants, poles, a helmet, and outerwear.

“People will often overlook bringing a couple of different lenses for their goggles, depending on the conditions, or a couple of pairs of gloves,” Pomerantz notes. Also, don’t forget your ski pass if you have one and are traveling to a partner destination. While the resort may be able to look you up, they also might charge a fee to print you a ticket if you don’t have your pass.

For base layers and clothing, Pomerantz recommends merino wool and typically wears options from Mons Royale, another of her sponsors. She’s a big fan of the company’s base layer options, and its gear ranges from ski socks to balaclavas and beanies. The most important factor to consider is what the weather will be like – consider not only temperature but also whether or not it will snow, what the elevation is like at the top of the resort, and how hard you plan to push yourself. While it’s better to be overprepared and dress warm, keep in mind that you may wish to shed a layer as the day proceeds, and bringing a backpack to put that layer in is essential.

How to pack if you plan to travel into the backcountry

skier in couloir

Photo courtesy Celeste Pomerantz

Of course, you’ll need avalanche safety equipment if you plan to embark on a ski tour. Again, it’s best to bring your own gear instead of depending on a rental shop to have what you need. “When it comes to beacon, probe, and shovel, I try to put those in with the skis,” Pomerantz says. “I’d rather not have to rent those things as well just because I trust my equipment typically more than a rental place.”

Pomerantz is also a fan of keeping small items – from snacks to backcountry-specific first aid materials – together in one place. “For organization reasons, I like to have a bunch of dry bags and I’ll have my touring specifics put into a dry bag and it’ll fly like that,” she says. Beyond these things, all of the stuff you’d bring for a normal ski day is required, save for the resort pass. Another extra Pomerantz recommends is an extra pair of ski pole baskets, in case yours get lost while in transit or when skiing in the trees.

Extra stuff to bring and hacks to ease your anxiety

Even if you’re confident that you have everything you need, the night before departure may still see you stressing about the travel experience. “I bought a pack of AirTags, and I put one in with my skis just so that I know where they are when I’m landing in different places,” Pomerantz says. “I found that supports my peace of mind, even though typically they probably won’t lose your luggage, but in case they do at least I know where it is.”

Putting all this stuff together for efficient packing

When packing everything in the ski bag, Pomerantz recommends practicing a few times before you leave to make sure everything fits, and then doing it the exact same way each time. “It’s like a poem,” she says. “It’s the same thing that I say to myself when I’m about to go to the ski hill — boots, gloves, helmets, goggles, pass. Those are the really important things. And then it’s like ski poles, clothes, and extras.”

Put them in the bag (and the clothes in your backpack or suitcase) in that order, and you’ll never have to worry about being unprepared when it’s time to head to the lift line.

Celeste Pomerantz will be traveling with the Black Crows team this winter – keep up with her travels via Instagram.

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