Family Ski Gear Checklist

For better or worse, skiing and snowboarding are gear-intensive sports, even if you are a kid.  There is nothing worse to arrive at a ski resort and realizing you’ve forget things you should have brought. You cannot blame your kids — they are taking their cues from you. Having a simple checklist of the gear your kids will need can help you reduce frustrating mornings on the slope, frantic runs to the ski shop, and spending more on gear than you need because you have to buy extra gear at inflated helemt

Packing Tips for Your Ski or Snowboard Trip

When it comes to ski trips, the biggest mistake families make is that they pack the day (or night) before leaving. This is not the right thing to do, as you are more likely to forget the things you’d desperately need in the resort when you rush your packing. The best thing to do is to pack two days before the trip. Doing this, you will have and extra day before leaving to think about anything you might have forgotten to pack, and can make a run to the local ski shop to get the gear you need at regular prices. Keep in mind that it is useful to categorize your luggage into three sections. For example, warm clothing, ski equipment and essentials.

If you live in an area like Vermont, Colorado, Minnesota, Montana or other states with local ski areas, you might not be packing for a long trip.  Still, it is good to have a checklist, as sometimes the gear you assumed was in your ski or boot bag somehow made its way to a kids closet, hamper, or back seat of a car.

Ski Trip Checklist

To save you from the frustration of forgetting something at home, and the costly situation of having to buy marked-up gear on at the resort, we have created a list of items that you should take and pack on a ski trip, both for you as well as your children

Suitcase. This is a one-time investment for your trips and getting a bigger suitcase is the most sensible thing to do. The reason is quite simple, because your kid is going to fall in love with skiing and will ask for a ski trip every holiday. Through trial-and-error from many trips, we have found that the best approach is one individual bag– per person — with the clothing for each skier, and then one or two huge suitcases (definitely to be checked) with all of the ski helmets, boots, etc.  Note that most airlines have a limit on on how large that suitcase can be.  We like this one from Briggs and Reilly.  They make great suitcases, provide a lifetime guarantee (we have used it, and it is truly “no questions asked”), and it is within the size limits of all airlines as of this writing.

Warm Clothes. This one is pretty self-explanatory.  When you go to the beach in the summer, you pack your swimsuit.  When you go to the mountains in the winter, you pack warmer clothes.  Note that the exact level of cold depends on the season.  In North America, you can usually bet that late December, January and February will be cold on the slopes.  Early season, and especially late season, or often more mild and might require less warmth.  When most people think of warm ski gear, they think of a heavy ski jacket (outlined below).  The inner layers, such as a good ski base layer, are equally important.  It’s important to insulate your kids as the temperatures can be well below freezing on the tops of a mountain and you don’t want your children to fall sick in the middle of an adventure.

Underwear top and bottom. Many companies who specialize in cold-weather active gear have underclothing especially for both adults kids to keep them warm in the roughest of weather.  They are often marketed as base layers.  These clothes are warm and don’t need regular washing so you can rely on them for a longer period. They are often made from wool which is a excellent body warmer.  If you don’t find wool, go for a synthetic.  Avoid cotton, as it becomes ineffective when wet.

Jackets and Sweatshirts. When it comes to skiing, don’t get too fancy.  You want everyone to have a good-quality ski jacket or all-purpose active coat.  It should provide great range-of-motion, be warm yet breathable, and offer some level of waterproofing in case you find yourself skiing in snow or sleet (which will happen).  A hood can come very handy in the cold but some skiers and snowboarders find it to be a hassle. However, sweatshirts made of fleece worn with wool jackets are great for holding onto body heat and prevent your kid from catching a cold.

Trousers/Pants. Two pairs of thick pants are enough for your trip.  These are for before-and-after skiing, not for the slopes themselves.

Snowsuits. These are for the little kids as they need to keep covered in cold weather.  A snowsuit can provide simplicity and full covered.  The downside is that they might actually get too warm for warmer-weather skiing, when it is best to have layers you can pile on or take off.

Gloves. Ski or snowboard gloves are some of the most important things to take on a ski trip. It is good to have backup pairs because children are more likely to lose them.  Be sure they are meant for skiing, meaning they can provide warmth as well as some level of water and wind-proofing.  If your gloves are on their last leg, bring a backup pair. The first thing that usually goes is the waterproofing, and wet hands are no fun.  As for your kids’ ski gloves, buy good ones and then make sure your child’s name is written all over them.

Scarves. Taking a scarf is useful for your non-ski activities.

Socks. Bring one pair of ski socks for every two days of skiing.  If you expect temps to be very cold, bring more as you might find it is useful to double-up on the socks in order to keep your feet warm.  Also, bring whatever socks you want to wear after skiing — you will want to change out of ski socks as soon as your ski or board boots are off.

Equipment. Now for the main event.  You obviously want to remember your ski gear, very important so you don’t have to buy expensive equipment while on the mountain or at the resort.

  • Skis.  If you are renting, you can cross this off your list.  If you want to buy skis, check out our pieces on the best skis for adults and for kids.
  • Ski boots.  Many people bring their own ski boots even if they are renting skis.  We say if you have them, bring them.
  • Ski poles.  Note that young kids sometimes do not ski with poles.
  • Snowboards.  If you have a snowboard, bring it.  If you are looking to buy one, we did a piece on the top snowboards out there.
  • Snowboard boots.  Same story as the ski boots.
  • Carrier Straps.  carrier strapsIf you will have much of a walk from your lodging to the lifts, consider .  They are also great to use while loading and unloading your vehicle.  They don’t cost much and really lighten the load.
  • Boot heaters.  Some mechanism to keep your feet warm is useful if you expect temps to be below 32 fahrenheit or 0 celsius.
  • Helmet.  Don’t forget your ski or snowboard helmet.  So important to protect that head.
  • Goggles.  A good pair of ski or snowboard goggles is very important, and sometimes we like to bring a backup pair just for good measure.  If you want to go take it up a notch, you can consider getting a special pair of goggle for flat-light conditions, which will help you see the bumps on days when the sun is concealed.
  • Neck Gaiter.  Having something that can provide warmth for the neck and chin area is very important in keeping both you and the kiddos comfortable.
  • Sunglasses.  Especially if you expect milder ski days, sunglasses sometimes are better than goggles.  Just make sure they are durable and wide enough to keep wind out of your eyes.

Of all of this equipment, the item people most often forget to pack their ski poles or goggles.  Check twice for those.

Walkie Talkie. Walkies — two-way radios — whatever you want to call them.  If you have them, they can be very useful, especially for families who tend to split up during the day due to varying skill levels.  Most two-way radios will work where cell phones sometimes do not, plus cell phone batteries often die on the slopes due to the cold weather.

Medicines. Bringing a small first aid kit, antibiotic creams, inhalers, and Benadryl for your kids can prove very beneficial. It can also be useful to pack some pain reliever and cold medicine just in case, to avoid a run to the local drug store. You never know what’s around the corner, so it is better to be prepared.

Snacks. With children, you may never know when they become hungry, and slope slide food can be quite spend. It is better to pack some snacks and chocolates just in case.

Sunscreen, chapstick, and lotions. In the cold weather, skin becomes dry and starts to chap.  Your lips may begin to chap in the first 24 hours.  Children have very sensitive skin and bringing lotion can prove beneficial.  The sun can be intense while skiing, and at high elevations has the ability to burn even in winter.  Bring a small tube of sport sunscreen and keep it in your jacket pocket.

Flashlights. We are always amazed how often we need a flashlight, often for walking around a resort at night or finding your way through a condo with a power outage.  Just pack a small one in your suitcase, and you’ll have it when you need it.  Perhaps you have a light on your phone as well.

Credit Card and ID.  You can forget nearly everything on the list above, and still survive if you have your ID and a credit card.  Be sure not to forget these things, and don’t forget to let your credit card company know you will be traveling if you are usually not one to stray far from your hometown.  You could be racking up charges quickly in a place where you normally are not, which is a fraud flag for the credit card companies.

Glasses or contacts.  using glasses vs. contacts when you skiIf you wear glasses, consider your strategy for .  Whatever your decision, just make sure you don’t overlook the need to pack for the slopes.  It is easy to forget your contacts if you usually wear glasses 90% of the time.

Chargers.  This goes for any trip, not just a ski or snowboard vacation, but chargers are one of the more common and annoying things to forget.  Keep in mind that you might be draining your batteries a little faster due to the colder conditions, so you will want to be charging things often.  Make sure you have chargers for your phones, tablets, laptop, walkie talkies, and any other ski-specific gear that you might be bringing on your trip.

Ski Pass.  If you invested in a ski pass — like an Epic Pass, Ikon Pass, Max Pass, or Mountain Collective Pass, don’t forget it!  Perhaps you prepaid for some discounted lift tickets and have them on your desk.  You spent all of that money so that you could come out a few dollars ahead on lift tickets.  Don’t forget it!


Skiing is a sport that involves lots of gear, and it is easy to forget something — people do it all the time. They don’t understand how important they are until they need them and don’t have them. So before going on a ski adventure, follow this checklist and leave home prepared with the right gear.  It will make your slope-time more comfortable and enjoyable!