Yesterday, I wrote about packing light for your next ski vacation, covering clothing and getting some items to do double duty on the slopes and on the street. Today, it’s all about ski gear: what to take and how to pack.
Probably the biggest challenge for skiing families is figuring out how to get all of their ski equipment to the mountains for vacation. If you’re driving, it’s not so hard, but it can still be overwhelming. We drive with a cartop carrier, or rocket box, on our car because this enclosed, weatherproof carrier allows us to put any overflow on top of the car, where it will stay dry. The box is secure and protects our skis and poles nicely, too.
Flying? Well that’s a different story.Traveling with oversized baggage is costly and takes extra time. Here are some ideas for making the journey easier.
If Nothing Else, Take Your Ski Boots
If you love your boots, you should be all means take them with you. Earlier this season, I reviewed a couple of great boot bags, both of which are suitable for airline travel. Transpack makes a well-priced boot and gear backpack with lots of room for your helmet, mittens and other essentials. These packs come in adult and junior sizes. Skboot makes a rolling boot bag which carries boots, helmet, mittens and more and can easily be rolled by children. The Skboot is more of a splurge, but is well-made and sturdy. It is perfect for people who don’t like to carry heavy gear on their backs.
You can also try using a carry-on size rectangular suitcase. Put your boots in it and cushion them with soft gear like your coat and pants. Your helmet may not fit, but you should be able to carry this bag on with you (but check with your airline regarding any carry on weight restrictions) so at least you’ll know your boots will arrive at the same time you do. For small children, renting boots may be the best option and will lighten your load significantly.
What About Skis and Poles?
Skis are a different story. As airline fees have risen, so have the opportunities to rent and demo really good equipment at most resorts. Bring your boots with you, and leave your skis and poles at home. Renting isn’t just for beginners or one-time-a-year skiers anymore and ski shops have responded by upgrading their rental fleets and offering more demos. Some of them, like Ski ‘N See in Salt Lake and Park City, Utah, will also rent you a helmet and ski clothes, if your bags get lost. The downside of renting or demoing is that you may fall in love with your demo skis. Then you’ll have to figure out how to get them home.
If you want to bring your skis with you (or you succumbed to temptation and purchased new ones), you can always check them with your airline. You’ll need a good ski bag,a nd while I don’t have any first hand experience with the Transpack padded ski bag, it looks good online.
Another option is shipping your skis via carriers such as FedEx Ground. Ultratune.net has great information on packing and shipping your skis. The quick and dirty: Get a ski bag. Get some bubble wrap. Tape your skis and poles together into a single “unit.” Mummy wrap them in bubble wrap. Put them in the bag. Ship. No need for a special box or hard shell case. As Ultratune.net says, “FedEx employees treat your skis better than airline baggage handlers.” Rates at FedEx ground are reasonable. What you don’t want to do is go to UPS and ask them to pack your skis for you. Ka-Ching!
Also, plan plenty of time for your gear to get to the mountains and make sure that there is someone who can receive the packages for you if they beat you to your destination.
The Brave Ski Mom Packing List
If we are going skiing for longer than three days, we try to find lodging with laundry facilities. That way, we don’t have to pack as much. We have a master packing list and our kids are now old enough to pack themselves, which is amazingly liberating. Here’s our list (for a weeklong trip, with six days of skiing) pared down to the basics. It still seems ridiculously long, but there you have it.
The “Soft Stuff:” These items can go in a carry-on size suitcase.
- Two pair jeans (wear one in transit)
- Two sweaters/hoodies (wear one in transit)
- Street shoes/boots (wear in transit)
- Five Shirts to go under sweaters/hoodies
- Three or four sets of baselayers
- Midlayer Fleece or Sweater
- Vest for layering
- Five pair Ski Socks
- Non-skiing socks
- Slippers (these are a necessary luxury!)
- Swimming Suit
- Toiletries (if you are actually carrying on, make sure these are packed in a quart-size plastic bag and that no liquids are in containers greater than 3.4 ounces or 100 ml. See the TSA Regulations for more information.)
The “Hard Stuff:” Most of these items can go in your ski boot bag.
- Skis (if taking them)
- Poles (if taking them)
- Ski Coat (wear in transit)
- Ski Pants
- Neck Gaiter
- Glove Liners
- Face Mask
- Lip balm
Totally Optional: While this may be, in fact, the item that breaks the camel’s back, I love the convenience of skiing with a Winter Camelbak. Mine is low profile and fits into my suitcase. But if space is tight, it’s the first thing out.
What are we missing? What strategies have you discovered for dealing with all the gear necessary for a family ski vacation? Please share your ideas, tips and suggestions!
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