One of the challenges of a ski vacation is packing. Especially if you’re traveling with a family, the amount of stuff you have to take can be overwhelming. If you’re traveling by car, its tempting to load it to the gills. If you’re traveling by airplane, you’re limited by how much you want to pay in baggage fees and how much you can handle as you trek through the airport. Either way you go, you need a strategy for limiting the stuff and maximizing the use of what you bring. Today, I cover the “soft stuff” — clothing. Tomorrow, the “hard stuff” — ski gear.
Carry-On Size Suitcases — The Perfect Size
For many years, even before the advent of baggage fees, our family has had a carry-on only policy. We started because our airport sometimes closes or has delays because of weather — not only in our town, but in connecting cities such as Denver or Salt Lake. If we’re carry-on only, we can easily switch flights, and carriers, and get to our destination. While you can’t carry on both your ski gear and all your clothes, it’s still a good idea to try to limit yourself to carry-on size bags. Packing takes time. The less you pack, the more time you have.
Some of my favorite ski clothes do double-duty and are perfectly serviceable for going out to dinner and rippin’ through powder (usually in that order). For years, I had boring black base layers. Then a couple of years ago, I discovered Neve Designs’ vintage print 1/2 zips. Well made from wool, silk and lycra, these tops are too cute to cover up and look great with jeans when you’re not skiing. If you’re not into vintage, Neve has more up-to-date baselayer designs as well.
I also have some new striped baselayers from Columbia Sportswear’s Omni-Heat collection and bright pink wool from Icebreaker (and while the Omni-Heat is great on cold days, ultimately wool baselayers will smell better day after day, which means you don’t have to pack as many).
While these are my favorites, lots of outdoor companies make baselayers that look like street clothes. Let your long undies peek out from under a cute sweater (or rock the bottoms with a skirt and boots). Speaking of boots, take one pair that’s good indoors or outdoors and travel in them. Boots take up tons of space, and while I agree that you can’t have too many pairs of boots, let one pair do it all on your ski vacation.
Warm the Core
Another double duty item to take is a vest. I’ve tried wool, soft shell, fleece and now down. And for compact packing, warmth and style, I’m going with down this season. While you probably wouldn’t want to go out to dinner in your ski pants (they make too much noise when you walk, if nothing else), a down vest easily moves from slope to condo to restaurant.
My husband has skied with a vest under his coat on the coldest days for year. Why? Because a vest will keep your core warm. And when your core is warm, so are your extremities, like your hands and feet. A warm core, helped out by a vest, will keep your fingers and toes warm much more effectively than any number of liners, handwarmers, or extra socks.
While I like the thin profile of softshell under a jacket, I think down vests are ultimately much warmer. Down squashes pretty well and fits under most coats, so adding a vest underneath will keep your body temp up without constraining your arms or shoulders.
Of course, if you’re going to wear the vest on the street and off the slopes, it needs to look good. While many companies make low profile, quite warm down vests, they often look too functional to go out to dinner. This season, I’m wearing Patagonia’s Down With It Vest. This Patagonia vest is not too puffy and has a detachable, furry lined hood, that is adjustable. The waterproof shell is made of recycled materials and filled with light goose down. There are two outside zipper pockets and one interior zipper pocket. The vest comes in four different plaids, from a creamy neutral that I wear to a more bold black, magenta or teal plaids. I wear mine all the time, indoors and outdoors — anytime I want to look good and feel extra warm.
Tomorrow: The “Hard Stuff” — Traveling With Your Ski Gear and The Brave Ski Mom Packing List
Patagonia Down With It Vest Giveaway
Win your own Patagonia Down With It Vest! To enter, please leave a comment sharing your tips for packing light and how you get double duty out of your ski clothes. One winner will be chosen from all comments in a random drawing on January 17, 2012 at 8:00 a.m. MST.
This giveaway is co-sponsored by St. Bernard Sports and Effective Spend, an internet marketing agency in Austin, TX, who manages St. Bernard Sports’ search engine optimization and online marketing efforts. To facilitate a product review, I received a Down With It vest. As always, all opinions expressed in this post are my own and are exactly what I would tell me family and friends.
This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Christy!
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