Preparing for your family ski vacation can seem like a job — just because winter ski trips to the mountains require so much stuff, right? Yes, there are some essential ski items to pack when you are heading out for your next ski trip. Whether you are hitting the slopes for the first time ever or just the first time this year, it is hard to know what to pack for a family ski trip. I’ve made it easy for you!
When you have forgotten something from your what to pack for a ski vacation packing list, ask your resort for help!

Ski resort hotels are often super helpful when it comes to forgotten items. Photo: Maria Smith, TravelingMom of Many

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13 Absolutely Essential Ski Items to Pack

1. Gloves
2. Base Layers
3. Balaclava
4. Ski Socks
5. Sled
6. Ski Goggles
7. Hand Warmers
8. Snow Pants
9. Ski school
10. Vest
11. Fleece
12. Warm Pajamas
13. Foldable Water Bottle

My family and I recently spent a couple days at Beech Mountain Resort in North Carolina. It was absurdly cold but such a great time. My kids spent the day at Ski School and the oldest two were zooming down the mountain by lunch. Me? Not so much.

But at least we were all prepared for the weather.  There are essential ski items every family needs before their next family ski vacation. If you are wondering what to pack for a family ski trip, I’ve got you covered! Here is what I found absolutely essential.

When thinking of essential ski items, don't forget to consider the kids!

My kids love the snow! Photo: Maria Smith, TravelingMom of Many

What to Pack for a Family Ski Trip: 13 Essential Ski Items

1. Gloves

Don’t kid yourself with those $1 knit gloves from your local Dollar Store. They will do nothing for you. You need waterproof gloves that will keep your hands warm and dry. The best ones keep snow from getting up your sleeve. I bought these Mashed Clothing Kids Waterproof Winter Ski Gloves and they included clips so you can keep them together.

2. Base Layers

This is what old school thermal underwear is called now. They should be thin and water and sweat resistant. Make sure they are long enough and they should keep the snow and cold out and your body heat in. I bought these 32 Degrees base layer shirts and pants for my husband and I and loved them.

3. Balaclava

This balaclava or ski mask is one of the essential ski items you need to pack.

Be sure to protect your face from the wind and cold when skiing. Photo: Maria Smith, TravelingMom of Many

You think you don’t need this, but it is one of my top essential ski items I recommend. I bought six of these Balaclava Fleece Hoods for my whole family.  I loved that they were very thin and kept us so super warm. You can wear them seven different ways so you can change them as needed.

4. Ski Socks

If there’s one thing you want while you’re skiing, it’s for your feet to be warm and dry. Your everyday average socks probably won’t cut it. You need ski socks that are knee high and not too thick so they fit under your ski boots. This two-pack of ski cotton socks worked really well for my husband and me. They were breathable and have a moisture-wicking capacity to feel your skin dry.

5. Sled

Why do you need a sled when you go skiing? Because skiing is hard! You might want to take some time off and let loose on a local sledding hill. I think these Parigan Flying Saucer Sled 3-pack is a great buy and they don’t take up too much space. You will want one for each child.

6. Ski Goggles

Goggles will help to protect your eyes and are essential ski items for the whole family.

Don’t forget to protect your eyes! Photo: Maria Smith, TravelingMom of Many

When deciding what to pack for a family ski trip, ski goggles are necessary — and they have several functions. They keep the snow and wind out of your eyes as well as protect your eyes from the harsh glare of the sun. I bought these Cooloo goggles and loved how functional they are as well as how cool I think they look.

7. Hand warmers

If you have anyone in your family who complains about being cold, these HotHand warmers are the must-have items. Just throw them in your purse or in your pocket and when someone complains about being cold, just hand one over!

8. Snow pants

We rented snow pants and snow jackets on our recent trip to Beech Mountain. It was simply easier for my family of six. However, if you plan to go more than once, you will probably want to buy your own. Also, you can get the exact fit you want. I suggest going up at least one size when you order them because you don’t want them to be too tight. These Arctic women’s insulated bib overalls keep the warmth in and cold out. Just the way it should be!

9. Ski School

Even when skiing in the South there are essential ski items every family needs.

Beech Mountain in North Carolina is one of the best places for skiing in the South. Photo: Maria Smith, TravelingMom of Many

Ok. So Ski School isn’t a “thing” and you can’t pack it, but I believe firmly that it is absolutely essential for your next family ski vacation. It made the world of a difference to us that our kids were being taken care of and taught to ski while my husband and I learned on our own. Just having someone else do the heavy lifting on the slopes for a day was amazing! it can be expensive but it’s worth it! The instructors at Beech Mountain were fantastic…firm but caring. And my kids actually can ski now!

Check out Catherine Parker’s top tips for learning to ski and snowboard.

10. Vest

While you should be prepared for the cold during your family ski vacation, you should also be prepared for when you start to get all hot and sweaty! I found a down vest to work really well. It keeps your core nice and toasty warm while leaving your arms free to ski to your hearts delight. This Columbia down vest is water resistant and really keeps you warm.

11. Fleece

A good fleece is one of the essential ski items you should pack.

This fleece kept me warm on and off the slopes. Photo: Maria Smith, TravelingMom of Many

One of the essential ski items you will need is a thin fleece sweater. The best ones will keep you warm without adding bulk. I really like this RBX sweater jacket as it is lightweight and has thumb holes so it keeps you from getting cold.

12. Warm pajamas

Essential ski items don’t just mean things you use on the slopes. When you are figuring out what to pack for a ski vacation please don’t forget some nice, warm fleece pajamas for the whole family. My favorite pajamas are Karen Neuburger pajamas. They are so super soft and after a hard day on the slopes you will need their softness.

13. Foldable water bottle

High elevation and dry, cold weather mean you need to drink way more water than you usually do. I didn’t drink enough and had to deal with a dehydration headache. That is not good. Instead of paying for lots of water bottles at the resort cafeteria, pack a foldable water bottle. You can refill it throughout the day and stay hydrated. When it is not full, you can fold it up and keep it in your pocket.
Even when skiing in the South there are essential ski items every family needs.
If you miss the window of time of ordering these essential ski items online, then be sure to look up a General Store in the resort town. Or ask at the hotel you are staying in. My family stayed at the Pinnacle Inn in Beech Mountain and they were super helpful with helping me things I had forgotten. I’ve found most ski towns to be filled with friendly knowledgeable people, so if you have a question, be sure to ask away before you get up in the chairlift.
Or you could always as a TravelingMom! Judy Antell has a comprehensive article about what you need to know before you go skiing for the first time.