What’s in My Bag: What to Bring on the Ski Slopes

pouch holding ski supplies like granola bars, kleenex, laneige, trail map and sunglasses

You know how Rory Gilmore always has a paperback book stashed somewhere on her person, just in case she has time to read? I can relate. I always want to have a book. And a journal. And all the little extras, just in case. But when you’re skiing, you don’t have much space for all that stuff. I have a strategy for what to bring with you on the slopes, and I want to share it with you.

You can carry all this stuff in your pockets, in a fanny pack, or in a small backpack, all of which I’ve done and worked out just fine. (If you’re carrying a backpack, add as few things as possible — that way, you won’t have to take it off on the chair lift, and there will be plenty of room inside in case you get too warm and want to drop a layer.)

Disclaimer: I am not an expert! I very much still consider myself a beginner. This is just what works for me; I’m sure other people have different recommendations and tips.

What I carry on the slopes:

What to Wear: There are a lot of specifics on the gear you’ll want while skiing (bib, mittens, goggles, etc.), so I put that in a separate blog — read it here.

Sunscreen: The sun reflects off the snow, so you’re getting more sun than you normally would, and you can get super sunburned because you’re at altitude. I really like to bring a powder sunscreen (I use Supergoop Mineral Powder), because it’s easy to reapply throughout the day. (And I don’t have to add it to my liquids bag at the airport.) The powder works super well — I reapply once or twice during the day, and I’ve never had a burn while skiing.

Contact lens case with Aleve and Advil: The contact lens case is just a super convenient way to carry things without taking up too much space. I use a contact lens case as a pill case for Aleve and Advil, both of which you’ll probably want easy access to. (Keep full bottles at your AirBNB and refill as necessary.)

Caffeine pills: Okay, don’t go crazy with these! Caffeine can have an impact on how you handle the altitude, so you can really go overboard easily. If possible, I get coffee with my lunch instead of taking a caffeine pill. But if the lunch spot doesn’t have coffee, I’d rather spend my time skiing than putting all my equipment down and hunting down a coffee. If I skip caffeine in the afternoon altogether, I can get cranky (that’s just a normal thing for me; it’s not to do with skiing.) So I put a couple pills in a contact case so I’ll have them in a pinch.

Chapstick: I use the Laneige Lip Mask, which I think is a cold weather miracle. (It’s called a mask, but it just looks like chapstick.) I scoop some into a contact lens case, so I don’t have to bring the little pot it comes in. Normal chapstick is fine, but your skin and lips can get very dry on the slopes, so bring something.

Rosebud Salve or Vasoline: Again with the dry skin! I like to put this on my hands, and it really helps protect them. (I actually use Rosebud Salve, which I love, is pretty cheap, and lasts forever. But you could use vasoline if you want.) This could also go into a contact case, of course!

Small Protein Bar: I like to get the half-size bars they have now, because I usually don’t need a whole protein bar — just a couple of bites to make it until lunch. I usually get the small size Kind Bars, but RX Bars and One Bars make small sizes, too. It’s just nice to have a little something if you’re starving. There are plenty of places to eat when you’re skiing, but you’ll normally have to put your skis down and tromp around to order, and sometimes you’d rather just be skiing!

Water bottle: I use a collapsible Platypus water bottle, and I love it. In Colorado, there are lots of places to refill the bottles both at the slopes and at airports. These collapsible bottles are great because they’re flatter than a regular water bottle, so you can stuff them in your jacket pocket if you’re not bringing a backpack on the slopes. Staying hydrated helps fight the exhaustion you might feel at altitude, so it’s important!

Hat: I wear a helmet when I ski, but when we stop for meals or coffee, it can get chilly, so I throw a hat in my bag or pocket. (It also helps with the hat hair you’ll get from wearing your helmet.)

Sunglasses: You’ll be wearing goggles while you’re skiing, but it helps to have sunglasses ready during lunch breaks because the reflection of sun off the snow can be strong.

Kleenex: A lot of blogs I read about skiing recommended bringing Kleenex, and it can come in handy. I don’t always bring a whole pack, but I do put a couple in my pocket. (If you forget, just stick toilet paper from the bathroom in your pocket.)

Phone: You don’t need a waterproof case. I was worried about this, but most phones are waterproof enough to be fine if you drop them for a moment in the snow. (I was also afraid of crushing mine when I fell, but don’t keep it in a back pocket and you should be fine.)

Paper Mask: Most places still have some form of covid policy, and you’ll want to have a face covering handy. I normally pull my Buff gaiter over my face when I’m on the mountain (most people do). But if I’m breathing hard and my gaiter gets wet, I find it uncomfortable to have over my face, so I like to bring one paper mask just in case. Here’s a blog I wrote on what skiing during covid is like — skip all the way to the end for the pandemic-specific stuff!

If I’ll be hanging out at the lodge: If I think I’ll be sitting for awhile, I’ll also bring a small paperback book, a pair of small headphones, a phone charger and/or charging block, and either a small journal or a few pieces of folded paper I can write notes on — but I generally leave these in the lockers. If I’m not sure if I’ll be skiing all day or at the lockers, I’ll put these things that I don’t need on the slopes in either a small pouch or a freezer bag when I put them in my backpack so it’s easy to just lift that out and throw it in the lockers instead of hunting through my bag to find the things I’m not taking outside.

If you’re like me and get nervous about not having everything you need, especially on a trip you haven’t taken before, I hope this helps! I’m far from an expert, but knowing I have what I consider essentials helps me to relax and have fun when I’m skiing. And if you go with other people, they will definitely be wanting to steal your snacks and your Advil! If you’re looking for a blog that has more information about what to expect when you’re brand new to skiing and what the lodge will be like, I wrote one of those, too! It’s right here.

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