Sports & Outdoors

The ultimate ski checklist

Can’t wait to hit the slopes? Take a look at our checklist before you pack your bags.

Whether you’ve been skiing since before you could walk, or you’re planning your first foray onto the slopes, our ultimate ski checklist will have you covered.

The ski season

As far as Europe goes, the ski season doesn’t really kick off until December, but if you find yourself unable to wait that long, you can still hit the slopes in the early season during October and November. Generally, early season skiing is limited to glacier areas, and can be a bit hit-and-miss due to the unpredictability of the weather.

If you do manage to get lucky with an early snow fall, however, you’ll benefit from much quieter slopes. It also tends to be cheaper in the early season, for both accommodation and lift passes. You may even be lucky enough to spot national ski teams in training, as they like to get out there as early as possible, and will drop everything for that first dumping of fresh powder.

Landscape shot of snow-covered mountains overlooking a small village with a dusky sunset skyline.

Austria and Switzerland are best for early season skiing, as there are several resorts open from the beginning of October. In fact, in Austria, the glacier areas of Sölden and Stubai have been known to open as early as September, providing the conditions allow it. In France, Tignes is the only resort to open at the start of October, and is considered one of the most reliable areas for early snow. It’s suitable for all levels of skiers and snowboarders, catering to everyone from beginners to experts in equal measure.

From December, it’s a different story, with ski resorts all over Europe open for business, welcoming skiers and snowboarders right up until April, so there’s plenty of opportunity to carve up those slopes.

What to pack

When you go on any sort of trip, it’s a good idea to plan ahead and make a list of everything that you’ll need to pack. But when it comes to skiing, it’s even more vital. Ski clothing and equipment can be quite pricey, so you’ll kick yourself if you end up having to buy twice!

2 men and 2 female friends dressed in ski/winter coasts and clothing, loading ski gear and snowboards into the boots of a car

Clothes

  • Warm knitwear – layering is key, and natural fibres tend to be best
  • Warm socks – bring more than you think you’ll need
  • Base layers – it’s up to your preference of traditional thermals or modern layers
  • Gloves, scarves and hats – remember it’s cold even when you’re not up a mountain
  • Comfy shoes – there’s no need to exacerbate any blisters you might get from your boots
  • Wellies – or other suitable waterproof footwear
  • Slippers – for padding around your chalet
  • Swimwear – in case you fancy a dip in a hot tub
  • Smart-casual outfits – in case you fancy treating yourself to a nice dinner one evening
  • Coat – you may not always want to wear your ski jacket

Ski equipment

  • Skis or snowboard – you’re not going to get very far without these!
  • Ski poles – don’t forget to take them with you to and from the slopes
  • Ski boots – make sure they fit properly, otherwise you’ll be incredibly uncomfortable
  • Ski socks – at least three or four pairs
  • Helmet – make sure you get it professionally fitted
  • Goggles – you can’t rent these, so make sure you buy before you go
  • Ski jacket – or any warm, waterproof and breathable jacket
  • Salopettes – these should also be warm, waterproof and breathable
  • Ski gloves – or mittens if you prefer
  • Glove liners – for when it’s very cold
  • Balaclava – essential for extremely cold conditions
  • Neck warmer – the more layers the better, really

2 skiers heading down an isolated mountain pass at low light with fog.

Useful extras

  • Backpack – for carrying all your essentials around
  • Lip balm with SPF and sun cream – you can easily get sunburn on your face and lips whilst skiing
  • First aid kit – make sure it’s well stocked with all the essentials
  • Deep Heat – your aching muscles will thank you for this one
  • Insurance papers – always keep your paperwork somewhere safe and accessible
  • Passport photos – in case you need them for your lift pass
  • Lift pass – check and check again that you have this on you
  • Avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe – essential if you’re heading off piste
  • Map and compass – so that you can always work out where you are
  • Multitool knife – you never know when you might need a blade or tools
  • Hand warmers – cold fingers make everything so much more difficult
  • Ankle, knee or wrist supports – in case you need extra support or strain something
  • Water – make sure you’re always well hydrated
  • Snacks – for a little pick-me-up energy boost

A general rule of thumb for skiing is that it’s always better to be over-prepared rather than under-prepared. There are no restrictions or fees on luggage when travelling with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, so you can load up, hit the road and enjoy more quality time on the slopes

If you’d like more tips and packing inspiration, take a look at our video with Brogan Tate, in which she shares some of her favourite tricks, including packing cubes and a handy supply of sweets for when you need that much needed energy boost after a long day on the slopes.

If you’re already mentally packing your bags and loading up the car, don’t forget to book your tickets early to take advantage of the best offers on fares.

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