What to pack for a ski holiday if you’re a complete beginner

Ski holidays are a classic winter getaway, but if you’ve never hit the slopes before it can be quite daunting.

After all, unlike a beach holiday where you can throw clothes in a bag and hope for the best, skiing and snowboarding both require the proper equipment.

The good news is that as long as you have a few basics covered, you should be fine for your first time on the slopes.

To give you a helping hand, we’ve teamed up with ski instructor and Mountain Expert for Neilson Holidays, Simon Cook, who has revealed his top tips on what you need to pack.

For an extra helping hand, he’s also revealed the daily essentials to keep in your backpack for when you’re actually on the slopes.

See the full checklist below – as well as a few handy extras even seasoned skiers don’t always remember!

You can also check out our round-up of the best ski resorts for beginners for extra inspiration.

What to pack for a ski holiday

Lots of socks: If you’re tight on space, take a few good pairs and some travel wash. It’s worth buying a couple of decent ski socks, as you’ll be amazed at the different they make. Do not wear big thick woolly socks – good ski socks are thin but tight fitting.

Thermals: Both tops and bottoms, its colder than you think and it’s better to be too hot and open zips on your jacket than be too cold because you’re not wearing enough layers.

Big jumpers: This might sound silly but classic Christmas jumpers have their place on and off the slopes – big, thick and very warm!

Tech gear: By this I mean your ski clothes. Think a waterproof outer jacket and salopettes, gloves, goggles for bad weather- sunglasses for good, and a helmet (unless you’re renting one of course).

If it’s your first time skiing, ask your friends to lend you these things. Ski gear can add up in price, but you’d be amazed how many of people you know have skied who will have lots of gear they’d be happy to lend to a new enthusiast.


Toiletries: Include the usual toothbrush, toothpaste and shampoos but also take painkillers, Lemsip and a plaster or two – just in case. Most ski holidays are a week long, so that’s six days’ worth of skiing. Make them count: don’t let a blister or a small cold hold you back- take what you need and crack on up the hill!

Lip balm and suncream: Even though it may look cloudy, you’re pretty high up on a mountain and the UV rays will get through. Blistered lips and burnt cheeks are an all too common sight!

Phone and charger: Phones don’t like the cold, so take a portable charger and remember to keep your phone in an internal pocket when you’re on the mountain near to your body for warmth. Ideally don’t get it out when you’re on a chair lift!

Adaptors: So many things need charging on a ski holiday from phones to cameras and tablets; packing a bar extension means you just need one adaptor for multiple sockets.

Boots for the evenings: Ski resorts are great places to explore in the evening, but it’s cold, snowy and slippy so take practical footwear. Even if you’re going out dancing, or for a fancy dinner, generally it’s a more relaxed dress code that prioritises safety and practicality over fashion; it’s very rare to see high heels or deck shoes up the mountain!

Swimwear: Often forgotten but ski resorts will commonly have spa, pools or hot tubs that you don’t want to miss out on.

What to pack in your backpack for a day on the slopes

These items are aimed for beginners, but they’re basic essentials that even seasoned skiers should take with them.

Spare inner gloves: There’s nothing worse than cold, wet hands when you’re trying to enjoy the mountain. Take a spare pair in case your first pair get wet (or worse, lost!).

Hand warmers: Keep some hand-warmers in your pockets to keep fingers toasty on the lifts, in lift queues or any other time you’re hanging about.

Water: Dehydration sneaks up on you in the mountains. With the cold mixing with adrenaline and fatigue it’s easy to forget to put essential water back into your body. If a water bottle is too bulky consider investing in a ‘bladder’ water bag instead.

Spare eyewear: Sunglasses are key if you’re enjoying a beautiful alfresco mountain lunch on a bright blue sky day. Plus, sometimes goggles can mist up and it’s tricky to de-mist them, so take a spare pair of sunnies just in case.

Spare thermals: It can be colder than you think. Take a spare thermal top to add to your layers if it gets too cold, or replace any wet clothes that occur from taking a tumble whilst learning.

Snacks: It’s always important to keep your sugar levels up, especially for that last run of the day.

Neck warmer: As with other spare layers, keeping all exposed skin covered and dry from the elements is essential if, or when the weather turns.

Lip balm & sunscreen: Even if it looks cloudy, being so high up a mountain means the sun will get through and the light bounces off the snow. You’ll look like more of a pro if you’re not sporting burnt cheeks and blistered lips.

Phone and portable charger: Phones don’t like the cold and extreme temperatures can drain the battery. Keep mobiles them in an internal pocket and try not to use them on chair lifts.

Cash: You always face the possibility of going off course, so it’s wise to keep cash on you in case you need a taxi from a neighbouring village.

Map: A no brainer to make sure you don’t end up in an area where a steep black run is the only option down.

Hat: You never know what might happen – mountain weather changes and suddenly you need the extra layer on your head to keep you warm. Plus, a hat can cover up ‘helmet hair’ when it comes to lunch time and après ski!

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