Skiing used to be different. Back in the day avid skiers would purchase a season pass to their favorite local mountain & that would be where they skied all winter. Now a days, however, skiers have much better options. Instead of purchasing a single mountain pass they can pick a pass that gets them access to 17 resorts (Mountain Collective), 19 resorts (Powder Alliance), 36 resorts (Ikon Pass), or even 65 resorts (Epic Pass); just to name a few options. As multi-mountain passes have became more & more standard in the skiing community it has triggered a shift in how skiers participate in the sport. Now more than ever skiers are traveling to destinations outside of their localities to add a bit more adventure to their ski outings. As this trend advanced skiers began looking for new products better suited to their needs. Several companies, noticing this trend, have stepped up to the plate with fantastic new gear & products that are specifically designed with the needs of traveling skiers in mind.
Essential Pieces of Gear for Traveling Skiers:
The most valuable piece of any traveling skiers gear collection is without a doubt their ski bag. Ski bags not only hold your skis & poles but often times have ample extra space to store many of your other pieces of ski gear. I have personally seen many skiers pack everything they need for their entire ski trip inside their ski bags. In my opinion this is the absolute best case scenario and should be your target when preparing for ski travel.
Picking the Right Size
The most important step in attaining the above goal is obviously picking a ski bag large enough to fit everything you will need. As such I would almost exclusively suggest you purchase a double ski bag versus one designed to hold a single pair of skis. For those of you thinking “but I only have 1 pair of skis & travel light so idk…”; trust me, you will not regret having the extra space. Also, if you are an avid skier it will probably not be long till you pick up a second set of planks. Plus, with a double ski bag you can always stow away a travel companions skis who might not have as nice of a bag because they didn’t check Snowmad.life for a suggestion before purchasing. If you plan on bringing a lot of stuff with you or going on a ski trip with your whole squad you should consider a quad bag designed to hold up to four pairs of skis & poles.
After you decide which bag size is right for you there are many other features to consider before purchasing. First & foremost you should do yourself a solid and opt for a ski bag with wheels. After all if you take my suggestion & load your bag down with as much gear as possible it could get quite hefty. When you are lugging your bag through the airport, hotel, or anywhere in between you will definitely be grateful you at-least have the option to roll it.
Hard Case, Fully Padded, Partially Padded, or Non-Padded:
The final feature to consider is the amount & style of protection you want for your skis.
Non-padded ski bags are not ideal for air travel in the slightest. First, they offer zero protection from mishandling. Also, this style doesn’t have a solid structure or hold it’s shape making packing extra gear & actually carrying the bag extremely awkward. These bags are best for storage, road trips, or very light travel.
Personally I am not really a fan of hard case ski bags either. While this style offers the most protection for your skis they are also heavy, bulky, & generally do not leave much room for packing extra gear. These bags do have some serious benefits outside of protection, such as extreme durability & the ability to be easily shipped.
When it comes to padded ski bags our biggest piece of advice is to find one that is fully padded. Many companies make bags that only have padding around the tip & tail areas which is a nice thought but really just leaves you wanting more. These partially padded bags suffer from many of the same downfalls as non-padded bags without any real added benefits over their fully padded counterparts.
Thule RoundTrip Ski Roller Bag – $$$
– Rating: 4.3/5
High Sierra Deluxe Wheeled Double Bag – $$
Select Sportbags Double Ski Bag with Wheels – Fully Padded – $$
5th Element Bomber Double Wheeled Ski Bag – $$
For those who are not aware many airlines accept 1 ski bag and 1 boot bag as a single checked bag. With this fun fact in mind I would strongly suggest all traveling skiers to get a boot bag in addition to their ski bag. After all with the fees airlines are charging for checked bags now-a-days it is just plain silly to give up any free extra baggage space. Speaking of fees one thing to keep in mind is that both bags combined weight is subject to standard airline weight restrictions. If you do happen to run into problems with overweight luggage most boot bags are also approved by the TSA as a carry on.
The first feature to consider when shopping for ski boot bags is straps & handles. Personally, I am a fan of backpack style shoulder straps as these provide the most comfort in carrying your boot bag. If you plan on traveling with an additional backpack outside of your ski bag & boot bag then you may wish to opt instead for a simple singular shoulder strap.
As with ski bags it is paramount to evaluate your storage requirements when deciding on the appropriate size of boot bag for your travel needs. Unlike ski bags bigger is not always better. Go too big and you will run into problems trying to check your boot bag along with your ski bag or even carry it on. On the flip side, go too small & you will have trouble trying to fit extra gear in with your boots. I would recommend picking a boot bag just big enough to fit both your boots & helmet, plus a couple small items.
Top ski boot bags for traveling skiers:
Dakine Boot Bag – $$
If you have spent much time in ski towns then you are probably familiar with the small straps many skiers use to bind their skis together when transporting them. If you are not, let me enlighten you. Ski straps are exactly what they sound like, small elastic straps with velcro that wrap around your skis & strap them together. They are extremely useful not just for traveling but also for regular ski outings at your local mountain. Ski straps make carrying your skis a breeze without having to worry about them popping apart. Plus, as an added benefit I personally think they simply make you look like a better skier. For traveling skiers, however, they serve an even greater purpose by protecting your skis. Without a strap your skis will bounce around and smack together risking scratches & chipping!
Picking a ski strap is pretty straightforward largely coming down to which companies logo you wish to rep. Sure straps vary slightly with different padding on the inner side & some even having different sizes, but velcro adjust-ability makes most straps versatile enough to fit any skis & padding is fairly standard in some form.
My favorite ski straps:
Puffy jackets are any skiers best friend, but are especially useful for traveling skiers. I’m sure by now you have seen enough of these around for me to not have to explain exactly what a puffy jacket is. Instead let me just tell you how all they can benefit you when traveling. First, they are incredibly pack-able. You will not find another another style of jacket that provides as much warmth in such a small package. After all most puffy jackets take up as just about as much space as a pair of socks when condensed. On top of this they are exceptionally versatile. Not only do puffy jackets make a remarkable mid-layer for those colder days on the slopes, but they are also water resistant enough to act as an outer-layer on the warmer days. Plus, as an added benefit they are stylish enough to function as your go to après jacket.
Puffies come in many different styles with varying stitching methods being used to alter the look. They can either come with or without a hood & even as a vest. Puffies also come in pretty much any color you could possibly want. With so much variation available on the market choice of puffy generally is going to come down to personal style preference.
My personal favorite puffies:
(Don’t agree with my picks? Browse over 2000 options to find the puffy that fits your style here)
ZSHOW Men’s Lightweight Stand Collar Packable Down Jacket
Columbia Men’s Frost-Fighter Puffer Jacket
XPOSURZONE Men Packable Down Quilted Puffer Jacket Lightweight Puffer Coat
Nautica Men’s Down Packable Puffer Jacket
Rokka&Rolla Men’s Lightweight Water Resistant Hooded Quilted Poly Padded Puffer Jacket
Cheering Men’s Packable Down Jacket Weatherproof Winter Coat
Hydration Packs & Fold-able Water Bottles
Anybody who has spent time on the slopes knows just how important it is to stay vigilante on hydration throughout the day. The easiest way to accomplish this is to carry water with you while skiing. Sure you could bank on relying on hydration stations provided by the resort, but this requires you take many unnecessary breaks throughout the day. Plus, you have to plan your runs around these aforementioned hydration stations.
My primary recommendation for carrying water with you on the slopes is to bring a hydration pack. Not only are these bags incredibly convenient allowing you to sip on water whenever. They are also particularly versatile for travelers as they can easily double as your carry-on bag. When picking a hydration pack it is important to give consideration to size. If you plan on skiing with your pack it is generally better to opt for a smaller bag. This way it is not restrictive of your movement on the slopes. If you think you will double-down using your pack as a carry-on bag, however, you need to make sure it has enough storage space for your other travel items.
Best Hydration Packs for Traveling Skiers:
InnerFit Hydration Backpack with 1.5L Water Bladder, Durable Camel Backpack Hydration Pack Versatile & Lightweight Hiking Backpack
Hydration Backpack Pack with 2L BPA Free Bladder – Lightweight Pack Keeps Liquid Cool Up to 4 Hours – Great Storage Compartments – Outdoor Sports Gear
Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Backpack 2L BPA Free Bladder – Keeps Liquid Cool up to 5 Hours – Waterproof Pack (Orange)
Besiva Tactical Hydration Pack Backpack 3L Water Bladder, Durable Lightweight
Tactical Hydration Pack Backpack with 2.5L Water Bladder -Outdoor Black
Source DUNE X-Fit Ultra Endurance Low Profile Hydration Pack with 2L Widepac Low Profile Hydration System, Black-Red
Fold-able Water Bottles
If you don’t particularly like the idea of skiing with a pack on then I would instead suggest a fold-able water bottle. This simple bottles are an excellent alternative for travelers over traditional hard plastic bottles. They are more lightweight & take up less space when packing. Fold-able water bottles are also ideal for skiers as they can fit comfortably inside a jacket pocket.
Top Folding Water Bottles:
Telescoping Ski Poles
Frankly I had a little trouble including this one on the list. As a traveler I can certainly see the benefit of anything that saves you space, but I’m just not sold on telescoping poles. The way I see it your ski poles are going to fit alongside your skis in your ski bag whether or not they are telescoping & I can’t imagine that using such poles allows you to pack too much more in your bag. Personally I have never used telescoping poles so this is all just speculation but I just don’t think they are as sturdy or durable as standard poles. I mean all it takes is a little bend in the pole & the telescoping feature is going to be rendered useless. In theory this is an excellent innovation that should be appreciated by travelling skiers such as myself, but like I said I’m just not sold… I would love to hear from skiers who have used telescoping poles as to what your experience has been & what your thoughts on the topic are.
Despite my prejudice I have done some research to narrow down the best telescoping ski poles. As I’m sure there are some traveling skiers out there who would be interested in giving them a try.
Best Telescoping Ski Poles:
Bonus: World Map / Compass Neck Gaiters
Once again, I shouldn’t really need to tell you the many benefits of a neck gaiter. Instead I will simply show you my favorite travel inspired designs that any traveling skier is sure to love.
Like these, but want more designs? Don’t worry here is 101 Travel Inspired Neck Gaiters where you are sure to find one or 20 that you like.
Click on images for more information
Tips for Traveling Skiers
We know you’ll look good in that dress or those slacks, but will you really wear them? Mountain towns are typically very casual (and cold), and there’s no reason to lug around three pairs of shoes. For a long weekend trip, you can probably get away with wearing the jeans you wore on the plane to most dinners. Ditch the elaborate wardrobe in favor of practical and recyclable clothes.
Squeeze out all the air
It sure looks bulky hanging there in your closet, but most snow gear is very light and moldable. Slowly fold jackets and pants, being sure to squeeze out all of the air. Pants can be rolled into the size of a coffee can and jackets can be folded down significantly. One trick: fold the jacket a few days before and put your suitcase on top of it. This will allow all the air to escape over time and prevent it from rising back up once placed in your suitcase.
Fill your ski bag to the max
Boot bags generally aren’t allowed to contain anything else, but ski bags are fair game for extra items. Put as much of the little things in with your skis as you can—hats, gloves, socks—all the small things that would bulk up a small suitcase. If you put your jacket in the ski bag instead of your suitcase, fill the pockets with the above items to take advantage of unused space (but leave the pockets empty if you’re putting it in your suitcase. Filling the pockets will add bulk and prevent it from flattening out).
I know you are probably fairly attached to your personal planks, but leaving them behind can save you a lot of hassle on short ski vacations. Every ski town in the world is going to have a local rental shop where you can pick up a pair of skis at a fairly reasonable price. Most rental skis are going to be in good shape & get the job done on the mountain. If you opt for this route I would still advise bringing your own ski boots though.
Ask your hotel for checked bag credits
Be sure to check with your hotel to see if they offer any reimbursements for costs associated with ski and snowboard gear or baggage fees in general. Some hotels offer “checked bag credits” in the form of a discount at the hotel to help guests cover the costs of traveling with their gear.
Know your airlines baggage policy!
- Air Canada: Ski equipment counts as one piece of luggage toward baggage allowance. One boot bag is permitted per traveling skier and won’t count as a piece of checked baggage if it’s carried along with skis or snowboard and it contains only boots. There is no extra charge to check skis or a snowboard when traveling between Canada and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (between Nov. 1, 2016 and April 30, 2017). Baggage fees may apply for travel within Canada, between Canada and the U.S. and all other destinations.
- One or more sets of skis carried together in the same container count as one piece of checked baggage. Skis and poles must be packed in a rigid and/or hard shell case specifically designed for shipping. If carried separately, a set of ski poles will count as one piece of checked baggage. No oversize charge applies to skis or snowboards, but overweight charges may apply to skis.
- Air France: Ski equipment is considered as a standard checked baggage item and is included at no extra charge in the baggage allowance (except for Light and Basic fare tickets) if it is the only baggage that a passenger wants to check (or one out of the two pieces of baggage allowed for the Business and La Première cabins). Fees to check an extra bag vary by route, but cost 20 percent less when purchased online.
- One piece of baggage includes one pair of Alpine or cross-country skis, one pair of poles, and one pair of boots, or one snowboard and one pair of boots. Items must be in a travel case that does not exceed 300 centimeters or 118 inches in length. Ski or snowboard boots can be packed in a separate bag and are considered as one standard checked baggage item and their transport is included at no extra charge in the baggage allowance.
- Alaska Airlines: Ski equipment counts as one piece of luggage toward baggage allowance. A fee applies to equipment over 50 pounds or 115 linear inches.One piece of baggage includes one pair of skis with poles or one snowboard, plus one boot/helmet bag. If boots and/or the helmet are checked in a bag that also contains clothing or additional items, standard checked baggage fees will apply to the bag.
- Ski/snowboard equipment may exceed 62 linear inches but no more than 115 linear inches without incurring an oversize fee.
- Allegiant Air: Ski equipment is considered a checked bag with all applicable fees applied per person, per bag, per segment. Applicable fees are applied for bags exceeding the 40-pound weight limit and 80-inch size limits. Baggage weighing more than 100 pounds is not accepted.
- One piece of ski equipment includes one pair of skis or one snowboard, one pair of poles and one pair of ski or snowboard boots encased in a proper container.
- American: One pair of skis/snowboard and one boot bag containing only boots/bindings will be treated as a single item with the applicable checked bag charge, unless you have reached a certain status with the airline or have another means of waiving bag fees, such as an airline credit card. Boot bags must not contain other items or exceed 45 linear inches (length + width + height) to be grouped as a single item with skis/snowboard. Boot bags that contain other articles will be subject to the excess baggage charge for a single piece.
- Skis and snowboards up to 126 inches (320 cm) are allowed without an oversized fee.
- British Airways: Ski equipment counts as one piece of luggage toward British Airways’ free checked baggage allowance. Passengers travelling on a hand baggage only (Basic) fare or whose checked baggage allowance includes one bag only, the passenger will need to pay extra to take the ski equipment. Items over 23 kilograms may incur an overweight baggage charge.
- Traveling skiers can check ski and snowboarding equipment up to 190 centimeters or 75 inches in length, provided it is packed in a recognized ski or snowboard bag, ski poles are packed with the skis and boots are packed separately from the skis or snowboard.
- Delta Air Lines: Ski equipment counts as one piece of luggage toward baggage allowance. Fees apply if the combined weight of the ski/pole bag or snowboard bag and boot bag exceeds 50 pounds, then an excess weight charge will apply. If linear dimensions exceed 203 centimeters or 80 inches, then excess size charges will apply.
- Ski equipment counts as one piece of luggage toward baggage allowance that contains one ski/pole bag and one boot bag or one snowboard bag and one boot bag.
- Frontier: Skis (or snowboard), ski poles and ski boots all count as one checked bag. A pair of boots may be checked separately from the ski bag so long as it does not exceed 25 lbs. (if it does, it will be considered a separate bag). For example, one piece of luggage, one ski bag and a boot bag less than 25 lbs. equals two items, but a piece of luggage, one ski bag and one boot bag over 25 lbs. would equal three.
- Checked, carry-on and overweight fees (for a bag over 50 lbs.) apply; oversize charges do not apply.
- JetBlue Airways: There is no additional charge for ski and snowboard equipment; however, one item of equipment counts as one checked bag. Skis and snowboards are exempt from the standard size requirements of 62 inches but should still follow weight and other equipment guidelines. Traveling skiers are charged an excess baggage fee if the ski gear exceeds the checked baggage weight requirements. Ski and snowboard equipment are not accepted on flights to/from the Dominican Republic.
- One checked baggage of ski equipment includes one pair of skis, one pair of poles and one pair of ski boots or one snowboard and one pair of snowboard boots. Ski boots or snowboard boots, if packed separately from skiing equipment, must be in a ski boot bag to be considered part of the one piece of checked baggage.
- Southwest Airlines: Ski equipment counts as one piece of luggage toward baggage allowance. If the ski equipment exceeds 50 pounds in weight, excess weight charges may apply. One checked baggage of ski equipment includes one pair of skis or one snowboard, one set of poles and one pair of ski/snowboard boots packed in up to two proper containers that contain one set of snow skis, ski poles and ski boots. The ski equipment counts as one item, even if the equipment is packed and tagged separately.
- Spirit Airlines: Ski equipment is charged as one standard checked bag. Ski equipment that weighs more than 18.1 kilograms or 40 pounds is considered overweight and excess weight charges will apply. A limited liability release form is required to be signed when traveling with skis or snowboards.
- One checked baggage of ski equipment includes one pair of skis or one snowboard, one set of poles and one pair of boots.
- United Airlines: Ski equipment counts as one piece of checked luggage. If the combined weight of the ski bag and boot bag is more than 50 pounds, applicable overweight charges apply. A boot bag without an accompanying ski bag is considered one bag and baggage fees apply. Ski and boot bags that contain other items in addition to or in place of appropriate ski equipment are subject to the applicable overweight checked baggage service charge.
- Traveling skiers can check one piece of ski or snowboard equipment per person. Ski equipment includes up to two snowboards in one bag or up to two pairs of snow skis and associated equipment in one bag plus one ski boot bag.
- Virgin America: Ski equipment counts as one piece of luggage toward baggage allowance as long as the skis, poles and boots or snowboard and boots are enclosed in a single container or travel bag. Checked bags cannot exceed 62 inches (calculated by adding the length plus width plus height). Excess size bags cannot exceed 80 linear inches or weigh more than 45 kilograms or 100 pounds.
- Ski equipment, including poles and boots, must be enclosed in a container or travel bag.
- Virgin Atlantic: Ski equipment is transported as part of a traveling skiers checked baggage allowance for all tickets purchased after August 31, 2016. Ski equipment is transported for free in addition to the checked baggage allowance for bookings made prior to August 31, 2016 as long as the gear doesn’t exceed 50 pounds.
- Ski equipment is considered as one pair of skis, poles, a mask or helmet and one pair of ski boots. Snowboard equipment is one snowboard, a helmet and a pair of boots and bindings.