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Packing for a family ski trip can be one of the most time intensive tasks of going on a ski vacation (well, besides getting all the kids DRESSED with their ski gear on).
Every year, I’m amazed at how much time it takes us to pack our kids ski gear kids for the day, and the process seems to quadruple if we’re staying overnight.
Truthfully, there is so much gear to bring when skiing with kids, that even with our family skiing every weekend, we have to make a list of everything we need to pack, or we inevitable forget something. Like the time we showed up at the ski hill and forgot two of the kids coats (they wore mine and my husbands, so WE froze), or how just a few weeks ago, I asked one of the kids to grab everyone’s gloves and they forgot MINE!
Yes, forgetting things when we’re skiing happens. However, I’ve noticed that when we have systems and a physical CHECKLIST, I’m much less likely to forget something important. I just have too much going on in my brain to remember ALL THE GEAR. I do the exact same thing when we go camping in the summer.
What is the best way to pack for a family ski trip
When packing for a family ski trip, you can have everyone pack their own things, or you can pack everything of one type together. In our family, we do a little bit of both.
If just a few of us are going skiing, everyone packs their own things, and puts them in a car in a bag (yes, organizing your gear in bags is a lifesaver!). Last year, we fell in love with this bag when our oldest started going skiing with friends without us. He can keep EVERYTHING he needs (even his helmet and boots) in this one bag, so I never had to worry about him losing his ski gear, or getting it mixed up with his friends ski gear.
If we are skiing all together as a family, we typically have one person be in charge of each type of equipment (and THEY are the one responsible for making sure that we have gear for everyone). For example. I might ask my oldest to load everyone’s skis and poles, and my daughter to grab everyone’s ski boots, while another child might grab our tote full of helmets and goggles. This way, everyone can pitch in for ski packing, so that mom has time to help get all the little details ready. This bag has separate compartments you can add to keep gear separated, so it’s a life saver!
Organizing your ski gear for easy packing
One of the best things that we ever did was to organize all of our ski gear for easy packing. All of our helmet and goggles stay in a large tote on a designated shelf in the basement, so when it’s time to go skiing, all we do is grab that tote. In our bin of ski and snowboard boots, we only have what we need out, so the kids know that they have to take EVERY PAIR (instead of guessing about which pair fits who).
In our garage, we installed these amazing ski racks so that every kid could reach their skis, yet they’re still super organized and out of the way.
Gloves, hats, and neck gaiters are all stored in a clear shoe organizer in the coat closet. Every person has their own row, so when it’s time to go, we can quickly grab whatever people need by just grabbing their gear out of their row of organizers.
We also would be terrible at keeping track of ski passes, so we make sure that they are ALWAYS in our kids ski pants, and we just never take them out (these kids snow pants have a pocket that’s perfect for holding a ski pass, and they’re my current favorite snow pants for little kids). If your kids don’t have a pocket, attach their pass to their snow pants with a metal keyring.
Here’s a real life glimpse what a day of ski prep looks like for our family:
What do you need to pack for family skiing
Helmet for skiing
Every person in the family needs to wear a helmet. Consider it a non-negotiable. It should fit properly, and not wiggle on your head at all. Make sure to read where I talk all about choosing the best fitting helmet and check out our review of the top 10 kids ski helmets.
Gone are the days where you ski in just your sunglasses (unless that’s what you really want). Todays goggles are incredibly affordable and with so many options on the market, it’s easy to find good fitting ski goggles to pack. Our current favorite ski goggles for kids are these these reflective goggles, and these budget goggles for kids.
Read our full review of the best kids ski goggles.
One pair of good ski socks is all you need to wear, never two. We prefer wool ski socks, and these Smartwool kids ski socks are my all time favorite for kids with their excellent padding, and since they never seem to fall down.
Read our full review of the best ski socks for kids.
Coat and Snow Pants
Trust me – if you plan on spending much time outside with your kids, it’s worth EVERY PENNY to invest in good outerwear for them. Getting kids good outerwear will not only help them enjoy being outside more, but they’ll also be able to stay outside LONGER. The highest quality kids outerwear that we’ve found is from Shred Dog. It’s insanely waterproof, and it’s the gear my older kids grab for whenever they want to stay outside ALL DAY LONG without worrying about being wet and cold. Click here for a 25%-35% discount on Shred Dog Gear.
Ski gloves or mittens
We’re a family that’s split 50/50 on the gloves and mittens debate. If your hands get really cold, you’ll want mittens, but if your kids are more concerned about throwing snowballs than warmth, gloves are the way to go. We’ve done some pretty thorough testing of the top ski gloves for kids, so make sure to check out all our recommendations for the best kids gloves and mittens to pack on your ski trip.
Neck gaiter or balaclava for skiing
Even if the weather isn’t bitter cold, we always pack neck gaiters for everyone in the family. On really cold days, our younger kids love to wear a thin balaclava under their ski helmet. We’ve put together a list of the best kids neck gaiters and face coverings here, though this one my be my absolute FAVE.
Don’t forget this one. We’ve been there, though luckily the local rental shop saved us. If you’re looking for a great way to haul all your skis and poles, we absolutely LOVE this roof top ski carrier.
A few weeks before your family ski trip, make sure to have everyone in the family try on their ski boots to make sure they fit. Kids quickly grow out of their ski boots, and wearing ski boots that are too small, will make for a horribly uncomfortable day. Read all about how to know if your kids ski boots fit.
We typically introduce our kids to ski poles when they’re ready to start skiing blue terrain consistently. Before then, they’re not necessary and often turn out to be a distraction for kids learning how to ski.
Snacks for skiing
We NEVER ski without snacks. For our kids, looking forward to snacks on the chairlift ride is one of the most important parts of the day. We keep a few snacks in everyone’s pockets and always bust them out on the chairlift for extra fun. Our favorites are M&M’s, tropical TicTacs, LifeSavers, and Gummy Bears. Everyone gets one on every chairlift ride and it magically turns moods happy and excited (even after a bad run).
We also carry a few of these ClifKids bars in our pockets for moments when the kids really need a burst of energy, or start to get hungry before lunch. They’re packed with protein and don’t have much added junk, like lots of other kids bars do. These are our favorites flavors.
Chapstick (keep it in the coat pocket)
Our kids have really sensitive lips, and the sun and wind in the mountains always leaves their lips chappy after skiing. Our favorite Chapstick is always kept in everyone’s coat pockets, so they can reapply as needed. Just don’t forget to take it out before washing and putting in the dryer!
Also, if your lips get REALLY chapped (like mine), this lip mask is a life saver. It’s the only thing that can rescue my really chapped lips from cracking and bleeding. I lather it on at night, and my lips feel so good and healed by morning.
Knit hat/beanie to wear while not skiing
While we do recommend that everyone wear a helmet while skiing, we also take knit beanies for everyone to wear while getting dressed and to keep their heads warm while we’re eating lunch back at the car. Here are a few of our favorites.
Ski harness and Edgie Wedgie for young kids
We talk about it a lot here on Skiing Kids, but edgie wedgies and ski harnesses are the absolute BEST with young kids. You can find our favorite edgie wedgie HERE and our favorite kids ski harness HERE.
Base Layers for skiing
Often overlooked, base layers are the key to staying warm on a family ski trip. Not only do they help insulate you, but if you buy good ones, they wick moisture away when you start sweating as well. Head here for 20% off my favorite wool base layers for kids, and here for 25% off my favorite synthetic base layers for kids. (PS – this kid right here has super sensitive skin and these merino base layers are perfect for him!)
Mid Layer for skiing
This is the layer to really rely on during cold days. For a mid-layer while skiing, we typically have our kids wear a fleece, or if it’s really cold, a puffy jacket (down is the best, but all of our kids also love this synthetic ski jacket).
Always take a water bottle with you to the ski hill that’s totally full. Make sure that you take a big drink before you start skiing and also to drink throughout the day. Staying hydrated while skiing will help to fight off dehydration and altitude sickness and will give you more energy to ski throughout the day.
What to Pack For The Whole Family To Share On A Ski Trip
This is our number one must have for any family ski trip packing list. We ALWAYS take an insulated jug of hot cocoa and some cups to the ski hill with us. It’s the perfect way to end out a long ski day, and will save you a small fortune since you can avoid the $7 cups of cocoa at the ski lodge. This is our all time favorite insulated jug- it keeps our cocoa steaming hot for a solid 8 hours and we’ve never had any problems with leakage in the 7 years we’ve been using it, and with a 2L capacity, it holds plenty of cocoa for the whole day!
Don’t let the cold temperatures fool you, you need to be wearing sunscreen while skiing. Higher elevations combined with the reflective property of snow, put you at a high risk of sun damage while skiing. Our favorites are sunscreen sticks since they’re easy to throw in the pocket of your ski jacket and won’t run into your eyes if you start sweating. Taking a sunscreen stick also makes reapplication throughout the family ski day an absolute must!
Snacks for a family ski trip
When we ski as a family, we give everyone their own little treats to keep in their ski coat, however, having a few bigger snacks on hand is always a good idea. Our tried and tested best snacks for skiing are oranges and Clif Bars, so we always have a stash of each that we take with us when we ski together.
In the last decade, we’ve seen a major shift away from traditional cameras and towards using just a phone for a camera. If you are depending on your phone camera to take pictures while skiing, you’ll probably be incredibly disappointed. Phone batteries are not meant to withstand extreme cold, so often your phone will die shortly after you arrive for your family ski day.
Instead of using your phone camera for skiing, I can’t recommend getting a GoPro enough. They’re super compact and easy to stash in your pocket and they make the perfect camera for skiing. A GoPro does an excellent job at balancing the harsh lighting that you often find while skiing, and their video stabilization technology is out of this world. We take our GoPro with us EVERY time we ski, and feel like it was one of the best ski gear investments we’ve ever made.