Skier on trail

After many years of skiing, I've learned there is a short of list of essential things I bring on any ski trip.

When you start out skiing, it's easy to find a ton of things you think you might need to go skiing. This is especially true in this age of the internet, when there's all sorts of lists out there.

Over the years, I bought plenty of extras for my ski trips and some became staples of any ski day, while others were "one and done".

Everyone knows the basics in terms of gear, such as goggles or gloves, but what about the things you don't need to fundamentally ski, but would really improve your day?

Here's my list of 10 must-have things to bring on any ski trip that I go on.

Something to stay hydrated

Skier drinking water

I remember when I was younger, I would always come back after my ski runs feeling like I could drink a gallon of water.  I later realized how dehydrating skiing can be.

Ideally, you'll have a bottle of water with you, but it can be pretty bulky.  I've tried flasks as a way to keep enough water to keep me going, although every time I'd take the flask out, plenty of people thought I was drinking booze.

Another option is a sleek Camelbak Hydration Pack (contains affiliate link). You wear this like a backpack, but it's svelte enough to avoid being too bulky, especially on the chair lift.

Someone I met on the chair lift once told me about sport hydration tablets (contains affiliate link) that you can take once or twice a day and work well to combat dehydration without the bulk of a bottle.

There's all sorts of flavors and I definitely feel less parched than I did before.

Balaclava/Neck gaiter

Neck gaiter

If there's one area of your body you can easily overlook when getting dressed to ski, it's your neck.

I've tried relying on zipping my jacket all the way up, or a run-of-the-mill scarf, but a neck gaiter is a game changer for keeping yourself warm.

Not only can a good neck gaiter keep your neck warm, you can even pull it up to cover your mouth up to your goggles.  On windy days, a neck gaiter is essential.

Smartwool makes a great neck gaiter (contains affiliate link) that matches everything and does the trick.

Hand warmers

Hand warmers

Once you ski with hand warmers, it's hard to ever go back.

If there's one concern I have any day I go skiing, it's if I'll have to come in early because I'm too cold. Hand warmers (contains affiliate link) are an easy way to keep your hands and feet warm no matter how cold they get.

They work very easily: open them up when you're ready to use it, shake it a bit, and then stick them in your gloves or ski boots.  Some ski gloves actually have pockets for them!

They're so cheap that I take them with me every day I ski, just in case.

Lip balm

Woman with lip balm

Likely the worst chapped lips of your life are after a day of skiing.

Between the wind and cold, my lips usually get chapped after just a couple runs. Worse is when you realize it's happening and still don't apply any. 

Ski socks

Ski socks

It's so easy to think any pair of socks will do for skiing, but you want to spend the money on socks designed for skiing.

Ski socks are all about keeping your feet warm and comfortable while on the slopes. Regular socks don't have the insulation to keep up with cold temperatures, primarily because ski boots aren't well insulated.

Do yourself a favor and buy at least two pairs of ski socks: one to wear, and one to let dry out until the next day. That way, you always have a dry pair ready to go.

There are plenty of good ski socks out there, but Smartwool's are highly recommended (contains affiliate link) from lots of other skiers.

Band-aids for blisters

Band aid on blister

I don't get blisters every trip, but sometimes ski boots wreak havoc on my heels and one bad blister could end your ski runs.

Hydroseal bandages (contains affiliate link) are terrific for quickly dealing with a blisters, and they stay sealed on pretty well.

I make sure I have a box in my ski bag for every trip, just in case.



I'm always amazed how much my nose can run when skiing, so keeping a pack of Kleenex with me is essential.

Avoid using your sleeve as a snot rag and keep a pack of tissues with you in one of your jacket pockets.

Winter boots

Boots in the snow

Before or after skiing, it's super important to have a good waterproof pair of boots you can wear around.

I used to wear sneakers when I wasn't skiing, but my feet were always cold and with all the snow and slush around, it was too easy to get them wet.

Waterproof boots (or even shoes) makes a world of difference.

I've always liked Columbia's line of boots and shoes, such as these waterproof hiking boots (contains affiliate link).