Ski packing list (blog)
A few tips from Lisa on what you need to take on your ski trip and what to look for if buying anything.

Skiing involves you being outside in a mountain environment in what could be extremely cold and windy conditions.  We all hope for archetypal “ski brochure” weather of fresh powder snow and glorious sunshine, and it the Dolomites this is quite often the case -  but, you must be prepared and dressed for the other possible extreme.

If you are an experienced skier then you already know what to take. If this is your 1st ski trip then you may use this list to ensure you have all the paraphernalia needed for your ski trip.  An important point to remember is that you don't need any "posh" clothing as the general evening dress code in ski resorts is very relaxed.

This page gives a personal opinion and so you may agree with it, or not.  But everything in the equipment section is needed - other "stuff" may or may not be, e.g. do you need a hair dryer, extra disks for your camera, a travel kettle or (if taking small children) is a pushchair needed, etc.

Unlike virtually all websites giving advice on ski equipment, we don't sell any of the items recommended, so it's as impartial as you'll find.

Download List    

  • Hand Luggage
    • Passport
    • European Health Insurance Card
    • Flight E Ticket
    • Ski Insurance Policy
    • Cash Sterling and  Euro
    • Camera, Mobile Phone, etc
  • Note
    • The European Health Insurance Card has replaced the old Form E111 and is available free from the Post Office and on-line.  More details >>>
  • Top Tip
    • Your ski jacket is the heaviest item in your luggage.  To reduce the weight of your suitcase you could wear your jacket at the airport.
  • Hold Luggage
  • Clothing
    • T-shirts
    • Socks
    • Trainers
    • Night clothes
    • Underwear
    • Jeans
    • Tracksuit bottoms
    • Warm Jumper or sweatshirt
    • Flip Flops or sandals >>>
    • Slippers for the hotel
  • Equipment
    • Thermal t-shirts or vests >>>
    • Thermal pants or Long Johns >>>
    • Ski Socks >>>
    • Fleece Jacket >>>
    • Ski Suit >>>  (your ski jacket explained >>>)
    • Boots & Poles (if you have them) >>>
    • Helmet >>>
    • Ski Gloves >>>
    • Ski Hat >>>
    • Ski Goggles and Sun Glasses >>>
    • Sun protection >>>
  • Others item you may want to take
    • Travel wash
    • Alarm clock
    • Small rucksack
    • Phone charger
    • Toiletries
    • Small medical kit
    • Power socket adapters
    • Hairdryer
    • Prescription medication

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Thermal T-shirts (your 1st layer)
In the olden days (around 5 years ago) many people simply piled layer upon layer of cotton T Shirts underneath a ski jacket.  The problem with this is that the fabric of the layers captured the moister that we all produce when taking part in any physical activity.  When you cool down so does the moisture within the material thus cooling you down even more than you would normally.  So, when choosing your base layer, ensure that the material has been specifically designed to transport moisture away from the body (this is know as Wicking).  If it’s going to be a cold day (check the forecast with the hotel reception at breakfast) you may want to wear a Thermal T Shirt.  There are many types of thermals but, in general they should be quite close fitting (but not too tight) so they trap the air next to your skin forming a warm barrier against the outside temperature.

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In addition to the Thermal T-shirt you may also want to consider a set of Thermal Pants (long-Johns), although if you have a reasonable good quality pair of Salopettes (see below) then these are not normally needed.

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Ski Socks
You “will” need an ample supply of ski socks (most experienced skiers pack enough for 1 pair per day).  These are not just normal socks that are thicker, but are specifically designed for skiing and to keep your feet warm and dry.  Some (good quality) socks have padded areas to help protect your feet against any hard knocks.  Some (excellent quality) socks have variable thickness.  As an example the thickness of the material will be thin under the arches and thicker over the end of your toes.  These socks are a good investment if you suffer from cold feet or even if you just want to ensure your feet are warm.

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Fleece (your 2nd layer)
This is what you wear on top of your base layer.  The reason for a second layer is that it will retain body heat by creating a (warm) layer of air trapped within the material creating a barrier between you and the outside environment.  Normally a second layer is either a fleece jacket or thick pile shirt.  Don’t wear anything too bulky as this will impede your movements and will not fit comfortably under your ski jacket.

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Ski suit
Think ..... Looks Good – Water/Snow proof – Warm - Windproof – Breathable
You will need a set of ski trousers (salopettes) and a jacket.  You can still obtain (in some old fashioned shops) a single full suit, but best not to get one of these - going to the loo is a real pain, also with a two piece suit you can remove the jacket if you get too warm, so a two piece suit is by far the best option.  Over the past few years ski suits have undergone rapid development in both design and functionality.  BUT, if you have a choice always go for functionality.  It is no good if your ski suit “looks” really good but you’re cold when on the slopes. There are vast differences in quality and cost in the range of ski suits available BUT don’t forget (if this is your 1st ski holiday) you can always hire a good quality suit for around 5% of the cost of buying one.  Many ski shops in the UK will hire you a suit or be able to recommend a local hire shop.  Don’t forget to try it on “before” you agree to hire it

What to look for in ski suit
For a start, don’t believe the words, shower-proof, rain-resistant, weather-proof, etc, etc (the list gets bigger as each marketing dept comes up with another phrase) and all the other phrases manufactures use to basically say, This suit is NOT waterproof.  Why do they do this, simple – there is a binding ISO standard that garments must have before they can call something “water-proof”, which is ISO 811 (and BS EN 20811). So make sure it’s Waterproof.

Gortex is OK but watch out for WayneTex, RainTex, SnowTex and any other Tex'es you can think of. Some of them work, most don't (especially WayneTex :-).

If possible get a jacket with a hood and “lots” of pockets.  You will end up carrying a vast amount of “stuff” whilst you are skiing.  Lip Balm, Sun cream, Mobile Phone, Camera, Woolly Hat, Money, Goggles or Sun Glasses (you will be wearing the other one), etc, etc so lots of big pockets are a major bonus.

Separate page explaining the points to look for where buying a ski jacket  >>>

If possible (when skiing in Europe) try and get a jacket with a small pocket on the left arm for your lift pass.  Most European resorts now have automatic barriers on all lifts which are opened by passing your lift pass over a large sensor (normally on the left).  Being able to simply brush your left arm across the sensor will mean you don’t need to continually scramble for your pass at each lift – and so there is no chance of forgetting to replace your “very” expensive lift pass back into your pocket. All lifts in Folgarida have the automatic barriers.

Your Salopettes should be large enough at the base to fit snugly over your ski boots. Most good quality Salopettes have in-built gaiters – these will stop snowing going up inside and then down into your boots.  Don’t forget, big pockets are a good thing.

There are many websites that will give you various reasons why clothing material is “breathable”.  The physics are quite complicated but the basics are simple.  You are warm and the outside world is colder.  This causes a difference in pressure that pushes warm air through the garment.  As the warm air contains moisture this is also pushed out.  The reason moisture can be pushed out whilst still maintaining the water-proofing is that water droplets are much bigger than moister molecules.  Water-proof garments are made from material with close knit fabric where the gaps between the fibres are small enough to stop the rain coming in but big enough to allow the moisture out.

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Ski, Boots and Poles
I am not going to say much here about skis, boots or poles.  I could fill many pages with the technical requirements for these items and the differing designs and shapes. Hopefully you will have got advice and bought the correct gear.  You don't really need to buy any gear as it is available in all ski resorts for a small charge (except in France where it's "big" charge) and in this case the experts in the hire shop will ensure you have the correct equipment.

The only advice I would give is that if you want to buy some ski equipment then ensure that you take advice from an expert.  Remember that “some” people in ski shops are experts and “some” don’t really understand what they are selling?  I really did over-hear a salesman in a branch of a well known national chain in the UK, informing someone that the Din settings printed on to ski poles were not really important and that is was something to do with the printing of the design.  Hmmmm – enough said.

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Dead (?) simple this bit, wearing a helmet may save your life.

A helmet will vastly reduce head trauma and brain injury if you hit something (or something or someone hits you).

A doctor friend of mine who works in a major casualty department, and so is used to all the scrapes, bumps and bends that happen to people when they bang into something, told me that he could fix most things that go wrong with the human body but once your head is dented (his words) you have a big problem that probably can't be sorted.  Anyone skiing without a helmet is just asking for trouble.

It is a legal requirement that all children skiing in Italy (and some other countries) wear a helmet at all times whilst skiing.  There is an on-the-spot fine for parents of children caught skiing without a helmet. If you have asked us to supply either skis or snowboard and you are under 16 on the date of arrival in resort we will provide you with a helmet for free.

If you buy a helmet.  Have a look at the label and ensure that it conforms to EN 1077.  You must ensure that it fits snugly so it will not swivel around whilst you are wearing it and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, when skiing make sure the chin strap is fastened.

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Ski gloves
It is important that you keep your hands warm (and dry) whilst on the slopes.  Ski gloves are specifically designed for skiing, so don't bring an old pair of woolly gloves.  Try and get a pair with a fleece or synthetic lining, so you can take them out to wash/dry them.  Unless you want to go racing around ski posts (like on Ski Sunday) you don't need Kevlar knuckle pads.  However some padding on the outside is a good idea but not too much.  Your gloves should reach up your arm past your wrists, this will keep the snow out.  Most modern gloves are adjustable with Velcro straps.

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Ski Hat
Not for skiing (you'll hopefully be wearing a helmet for this) but you'll need a warm hat for sitting around on the slopes, cafes, bars and also for the evening - it can get "very" cold at night in a ski resort.

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Ski goggles and sun glasses
It would be best to take both a pair of goggles "and" a pair of glasses.  Even when its overcast the extra UV light (due to the altitude and reflection from the snow) can cause damage to your eyes. If you can't afford both then get a set of goggles.

Ski sun glasses are not the same as those you may wear in the summer.  The lenses are fitted into the frames so they will "pop-out" in the event of an impact.  They offer a greater level of protection from UV than most summer glasses.  If you normally wear corrective glasses you must obtain a set of sun glasses from your optician.

If it's snowing or overcast you can have a situation known as "flat-light" which is where it is difficult to make out features on the slopes. Skiing (at any speed) requires that you can see where you're going, so modern goggles have lenses that will help to cope with this.  In the event of it snowing whilst you are up on the slopes, a pair of goggles will stop falling snow going into your eyes.  Try and get some "anti-fog" lenses.  These will be double glazed and have a venting system - this will normally be a thin gauze membrane at the top and bottom of the goggles.  The venting system will allow air to circulate and so reduce misting up.  Always carry a small cloth to wipe the inside of the goggles if they do get missed up.  Goggles are available that fit over corrective glasses.

Your ski sun-glasses and goggles MUST have plastic lenses, NOT glass.

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Sun Protection (block/cream and lip balm)
Get a high factor sun cream (VERY high for children).  The skin damage caused by sunlight is much higher on a ski slope than it would normally be elsewhere due to the light also being reflected upwards from the snow and the decreased atmospheric protection due to the altitude.  Apply the sun cream to "all" exposed areas, face, neck, ears, bald patches, etc.  Repeatedly re-apply the cream throughout the day.  If you are in any doubt about the factor you should get, go for total block.  Better safe than sorry.
You lips can become dry and cracked very quickly due to the wind and sun if you don't apply lip balm.

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Flip-flops or sandals
These are a good idea - if you have them.  When your come back from skiing you will place your boots in the boot room and this tends to have a wet floor - due to everyone's boots carrying in snow.  A pair of sandals are much easier to put on (over your thick skiing socks) than a pair of trainers.