So you’ve decided to spend your next winter holidays in the magnificent mountains? Now, it’s time to think about what to pack for your vacation. Packing for winter can be tricky, as the gear is much bulkier than the swimsuits and sandals you pack for your summer beach holiday. So, to help you with this not so easy task of choosing what gear to take, we bring to you the Ultimate Packing List for Winter Holidays in the mountains. After spending probably more than twenty seasons in various winter resorts in Switzerland, I think I’ve got a pretty good feeling of which gear deserves a place on the best checklist for winter holidays in the mountains.
This packing list for winter vacation should easily get you through a whole week. A good tip from an experienced boarder: Buy your gear before you arrive at your winter destinations. The prices for winter gear on site are almost always horrendously high!
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Ultimate Packing List for Winter Holidays in the Mountains – Extended Version
Equipment for the piste
Skis/Snowboard/Snow-Shoes/other sports gear (if you don’t rent it at the resort): If you go skiing or snowboarding often, it’s worthwhile to get your own gear.
Ski/Snowboard Carrying Bag (if you don’t rent it at the resort): It makes transportation so much easier.
Ski/Snowboard Boots: Boots are something I never rent. One reason was hygiene and the other reason is that normally boots get more comfortable the longer you wear them. Buy your boots early enough and break them in first.
Poles (if skiing and if you don’t rent them at the resort): Rent them or buy them if you need some.
Helmet: You should always wear a helmet on the piste. Accidents happen and your head is precious. I recommend buying your own helmet because it’s more hygienic and you know exactly how many times it’s already kissed the floor. My favourite helmet is the Anon Helo 2.0 Helmet from Burton. It has a perfect fit and feels very comfortable.
Ski Goggles: My favourites are the Salomon Ivy Sigma. Not only do they look super stylish, but are also very comfortable and have a special lens which amplifies the contrast and the visibility in all light conditions by boosting blue and red wavelengths.
Multitool: Really useful for making minor adjustments to your skis or snowboards on the piste. I use the Dakine Torque Driver. It’s small, affordable and gets the job done.
Small Daypack: It’s great to store your multitool, water bottle and snacks, but also to carry all your freeride essentials with you. I personally love the DAKINE Heli 12L, especially because it’s easy to attach your snowboard or skis to it! Furthermore, you can combine it with the DAKINE DK Impact Spine Protector and make sure that your back is protected, important in case you have a rough landing.
Winter Clothing for on-piste:
Waterproof Ski/Snowboard Jacket: I love the Burton Men’s Covert Jacket! It gives you freedom to move on the piste, keeps you warm and cosy but still looks stylish off-piste. For women, there is the Roxy Women’s Ceder Snow Jacket, which doesn’t only keep you warm and dry, but also well dressed.
Waterproof Ski/Snowboard Trousers: Because nobody likes having a wet butt, right? It’s important that you have some good quality waterproof ski/snowboard pants on your packing list for winter holidays. They’ll also keep you warm and offer some cushioning if you take a fall.
I like the Arctix Men’s Snow Sports Cargo Pants. The Arctix Women’s Insulated Snow Pants are a great buy for women.
Waterproof Gloves: Don’t underestimate how quickly your hands will freeze on the piste without a decent pair of gloves. I recommend the Dakine Titans. They keep your hands warm and dry and even have a little waterproof stash/hand warmer pocket.
Warm Hat or Beanie: You should have a helmet for when you are actually on the piste. However, for the times when you’re outside and not actually skiing or boarding, then a hat or beanie will keep your ears warm. My favourite beanie is the Neff Daily Heather. It looks simple and stylish.
Warm Scarf or Buff: You may find a scarf too warm once you get going on the pistes – I certainly do. Because of that, I prefer the original Buff. It’s lighter than a scarf. It’s also awesome because you can wear it in so many different ways!
3-5 changes of base layer: A good base layer keeps you warm but lets the sweat dry out again quickly. I swear on the Icebreaker Merino Oasis. You can also get great Icebreaker shirts for women, like for example this long-sleeved Merino base layer (Icebreaker Merino Everyday Base Layer Long Sleeve Crew Neck Shirt)
1-2 changes of fleeces or second layers: Sometimes, when the weather is warm and sunny, you may find base layer and a snowboard jacket are warm enough already. On other days if it’s colder, you’ll want to have an additional layer like for example the Burton Hearth Fleece. The good thing? This fleece is available for women and men. Definitely a must for your packing for winter travel.
4-5 warm pieces of underwear: Trust me, you just don’t want to be cold on certain places of your body. It’s not only uncomfortable but you could also end up with an inflammation of your kidneys.
4-5 pairs of ski socks: To keep your tootsies warm on and off-piste, I recommend the SmartWool Ski Socks.
(For women) 2 sports bras: Especially practical on mogul slopes.
Winter Clothing for off-piste
1 pair of waterproof Shoes/winter Boots with a good grip: I only once made the mistake of going on winter holidays with only sneakers. I fell over twice and had completely wet feet the whole time. And this was only on the way to a restaurant! Don’t make my mistake.
A great shoe for winter holidays is the Timberland Men’s Chillberg for men or the Timberland Women’s Teddy Fleece for women. They both are cosy, warm, waterproof and have a great grip.
1 pair of everyday long trousers or jeans: Because walking around in shorts in the mountains during winter is not a good idea.
3-4 T-shirts or tops: It’s all about the layers. Also, in most restaurants, bars, and hotels it’s quite warm inside.
1 sweater or hoodie: Make sure it’s warm and snuggly. I always have a comfy hoodie on my packing list for winter holidays.
4-6 pair of underwear: Enough said.
4-6 pair of everyday socks: Trust me, your ski socks WILL smell after a day in winter boots.
Sunglasses: Adapt to your surroundings and stay “cool”. Also, the mountain winter sun can be deceptively bright, especially with the reflection of the snow.
Gloves: I really like the Agloves Unisex Sport Touchscreen Gloves, as you can still use the touchscreen of your phone when you wear them.
1 set of clothes for going out (optional): Some of the best parties are celebrated during winter holidays!
1 set of comfy clothes/pyjamas (optional): Seriously nothing is more comfortable to wear back in your room.
Slippers (optional): Sometimes the floors can be a bit cold.
Swim Gear (optional): You’ll often find facilities like an indoor swimming pool or sauna in a winter resort. Make sure you’ve got some appropriate gear in your packing list for winter holidays if you’re planning to use them.
Small Daypack: If you already have one for the piste, then you don’t need a second one.
Water Bottle: Tap water is safe in the whole alpine region of Europe, so make sure to be nice to the environment and refill your water bottle from the tap when you go out. I swear on the Insulated Kleen Kanteen bottles. They are leak proof, robust and are very well insulated, so you can even take a warm tea on the piste.
Toiletries and Make-Up: To feel fresh again after a day on the slopes.
Sunscreen and Lip-Balm with high SPF, Aftersun: You’ll only make the mistake of underestimating the mountain winter sun once, especially when the sun reflects in the white snow. I always put some SPF 50 Nivea sunscreen and Nivea Sun Lip Balm in my packing list for winter holidays when I plan to catch some sun in the Alps.
Any personal medication (+ Deep Heat and Painkillers): Packing Deep Heat for Skiing holidays was a game changer for me. There is nothing better for tired muscles after a busy day than to put some Deep Heat on them.
Travel plug adaptor: Make sure you know in advance which one you’ll need. I recommend the Skross World Adapter. You can even change the fuse in it.
Earplugs and Eyemask (optional): For a godd night’s sleep.
Camera/GoPro and charger (optional): Check out our post about travel cameras if you’re looking for inspiration. I love to have a GoPro with me when I go snowboarding. You can get some really awesome shots and video footage with it!
Hand warmers (optional): Once you used them, you don’t want to be without them anymore. A good brand is the Hot Hands Hand Warmers.
Sleeping Bag (if you plan to stay in a hostel): Check out our post about lightweight sleeping bags. Sometimes they might come in very handy in a hostel.
Passport or ID-Card: For obvious reasons.
Some cash in local currency: It’s always useful to have some change in the local currency with you.
Bank cards: Make sure your bank knows that you’re travelling to another country.
Booked Flight: We usually use Skyscanner to find great flight deals.
Organised transfer to your holiday destination: Sometimes it can be a bit tricky, especially for the mountains where most resorts are far from the airports. Check beforehand how you get to your desired destination.
Booked Accommodation: Need a resort hotel in the magical Swiss town of Zermatt or just looking for you an airport hotel for your last night before flying home? We normally use booking.com or Airbnb to find the best deals for hotels and other accommodation. If you’re using Airbnb for the first time, you can use this link to get $40 off your next stay.
Travel Insurance: As there is always the risk of an accident on- and off-piste, we highly recommend WorldNomads.com. With them, you can buy and claim online, even after you’ve left home. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities. Because you and all your travel gear matter!
Drivers Licence (if you’re driving): For obvious reasons.
Winter tyres and/or Snow Chains for your tyres (if you’re driving): The streets in the mountains are normally prepared, but you should still always have winter tires attached or snow chains on board. You’ll almost definitely need them and they are even mandatory in some places.
GPS navigation system and/or Road Maps (if you’re driving): We don’t want you to get lost.
Mobile phone and charger: Assuming you don’t want like to go off-grid.
Ultimate Packing List for Winter Holidays in the Mountains – Compact Version
If you just want a checklist of the above items in an easy-to-scan format, then here is everything in summary.
Equipment for the piste
- Skis/Snowboard/Snow-Shoes/other sports gear(if you don’t rent it at the resort)
- Ski/Snowboard Carrying Bag (if you don’t rent it at the resort)
- Ski/Snowboard Boots (if you don’t rent them at the resort)
- Poles (if skiing and if you don’t rent them at the resort))
- Ski Goggles
- Back Protector (if you like to freestyle)
- Small Daypack
Winter Clothing for on-piste:
- Ski/Snowboard Jacket
- Waterproof Ski/Snowboard Trousers
- Waterproof Gloves
- Warm Hat or Beanie
- Warm Scarf or Buff
- 3-5 activewear tops
- 2 Fleeces
- 4-5 Thermal Underwear
- 4-5 pairs of ski socks
- 2 Sports bras
Winter Clothing for off-piste
- 1 pair of Waterproof Shoes/Winter Boots with a good grip
- 1 Pair of Long Trousers
- 3-4 T-shirts or tops
- 1 sweater or hoodie
- 4-6 pair of Underwear
- 4-6 pair of socks
- 1 set of clothes for going out (optional)
- 1 set of comfy clothes/pyjamas (optional)
- Slippers (optional)
- Swim Gear (optional)
- Small Daypack
- Water Bottle
- Toiletries and Make-Up
- Sunscreen and Lip-Balm with high SPF, Aftersun
- Any personal medication (+ Deep Heat and Painkillers)
- Travel plug adaptor
- Earplugs and Eye mask (optional)
- Camera/GoPro and charger (optional)
- Hand warmers (optional)
- Sleeping Bag (if you plan to stay in a hostel)
- Some cash in the local currency
- Booked Flight
- Booked Accommodation
- Travel Insurance
- Drivers Licence (if you’re driving)
- Winter Tires and/or Snow Chains for your Winter Tires (if you’re driving)
- GPS navigation system or Road Maps (if you’re driving)
- Mobile phone and charger
So, you’re all set! I hope this packing list for winter holidays in the mountains helped you to prepare yourself for your next winter holidays. It’s always a lot more enjoyable if you don’t have to spend the little holiday time you have with shopping for stuff you forgot at home as it means you can maximize your time hitting the slopes. If you want to know what all you can do, for example, during the Swiss winter, then click this link to get to our post about the best things to do in Switzerland in winter.
If you have any items you think need to be on this packing for a winter trip list, then let us know in the comments. With these words, I wish you a fantastic time in the mountains!
And never forget: Don’t eat yellow snow!
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