How to Pack For Your Next Ski Trip With Just Hand Luggage
Ski Clothing

How to Pack For Your Next Ski Trip With Just Hand Luggage

How to Pack For Your Next Ski Trip With Just Hand Luggage

Ski holidays can be expensive. So why not save yourself cash and hassle by travelling with just hand luggage on your next trip?

Forget dragging your bag through a packed airport or up to your chalet when you arrive. Yes, there’s plenty of stuff that might make your ski trip packing list. But let’s face it, in the mountains you end up skiing, partying and sleeping in your ski gear anyway. Let that dream of checking the ski forecast on Thursday, booking a last-minute trip on Friday and being on the slopes on Saturday become a reality.

So follow these nifty tips below to make packing for next season’s ski trip quicker, simpler and cheaper.

1. Hire Skis in The Resort

Hire Skis in The Resort

Hiring skis is great because you don’t have to lug them on the tube, through the airport or squeeze them into your hire car. You can also try out the latest models and switch them up depending on the conditions.

You can normally change your skis as many times as you want when you’re hiring. Fancy trying to ski backwards? Get some twin tips. Want to try some slalom skis? Go for it.

There’s a foot of fresh stuff coming tomorrow? Swap your piste skis for some fatter ones. It just makes sense. Have a look online before you go to snap up a good deal.

Photo: © Snowberry Val d’Isere

2. Use Your Boots As a Packing Device

Use Your Boots As a Packing Device

If you have your own ski boots, pack them. They’re going to take up most of your limited space but it’s well worth it. There is nothing worst than having an ill-fitting pair of ski boots to wreck your week on the mountains. However, if you don’t have any boots then packing just hand luggage is a cinch.

Now this is a tip you won’t get anywhere else (and it is actually possible to fit ski boots into the largest sized hand luggage): first unclip your boots and then stuff them with your gloves, ski socks and thermals. Then use your boot clips to pack them as tightly as possible.

Maybe give your boots an airing a week before you head off though, otherwise you might end up with interesting smelling thermals!

Photo: © Vadim Ponomarenko/Shutterstock

3. Wear Your Ski Jacket

Wear Your Ski Jacket

Ski jackets are pretty bulky so don’t fill your hand luggage allowance with something that you can wear. This same principle can we applied to hats, and any mid-layers you want to take.

Make use of all the pockets on your jacket by stowing away all the things that you will need on the flight, like your iPod/iPhone, headphones, passport etc. Also, if you have a nice pair of ski goggles put them in one of your jacket pockets. Then there is less chance of your ski boot cracking your lens.

A novel idea is to buy (and wear for the flight) a Stuffa One gilet, which has 12 pockets inside the jacket, each of them able to carry various necessary personal items and even clothing when travelling. The men’s version comes in black and the women’s in red.

Photo: © Shutterstock

4. Pack Smart

Pack Smart

How much stuff do you actually need for a skiing holiday? Ski gear: check. Pack one set of thermals and ski socks then wash them midweek if you need to (see below).

The trousers you wore at the airport will be fine for the week, a few different tops and flip­flops are great post-ski-boot wear in the chalet.

Photo: © Ski Blanc

5. Wash Your Stuff During The Week

Wash Your Stuff During The Week

There is always an abundance of launderettes in ski resorts, or if you’re lucky you might have a machine in your place.

Save yourself from bringing two sets of thermals and socks and just wash yours during the week. Also handy when your one going­-out shirt gets vin chaud spilled on it.

Photo: ©

6. Travel In Your Outdoor Shoes

Travel In Your Outdoor Shoes

A pair of decent boots is essential for walking around the resort but are heavy and cumbersome to carry.

Wear them on the flight, so you’re ready to head out for après-ski as soon as you arrive.

You don’t really need any other shoes, unless you want to take something to wander in around your chalet like flip­flops as suggested above.

Photo: © Ellis Brigham

7. Save On Toiletries

Save On Toiletries

We’re big fans of just buying toothpaste and deodorant on arrival at a resort. When you think about it, it’s pretty stupid for a group to each pack and carry a tube of toothpaste and a can of deodorant when you can just buy and share when you get there.

If you’re staying in a chalet, shampoo and soap are provided and otherwise Travel Minis (35-100ml) of everything from shampoo to deodorant are also available at Superdrug. Companies like Clarins, Dermalogica and Nivea make pocket-sized suncreams, too.

8. Invest in Packing Cubes

Invest in Packing Cubes

These are smaller bags that pack inside your hand luggage and are great for organizing and compressing your kit. If you haven’t got any you can pick up the Upptäcka set of four for next to nothing at Ikea.

With these you will be a packing pro and if you need to unpack your gear at security then repacking will only take a minute.

Photo: © Ikea

9. Clip Your Helmet to The Outside of Your Bag

Clip Your Helmet to The Outside of Your Bag

Self­-explanatory and a last resort for space in my opinion. If you’re not sold on this either, then make sure that your helmet is jam­-packed with soft stuff when you pack it in you bag.

Roll up your pants and stuff them in there with your gloves, or something similar.

Photo: © Lowe Alpine

10. Get The Right Bag

Get The Right Bag

There are lots of bags out there designed to maximize your hand luggage allowance. Look for something that is big enough to fit in all your stuff but is designed so it can be easily carried; a ski resort is no place for a dainty wheelie bag. Invest in a decent one because it’s going to pay for itself within two trips.

There are some different options out there, but for a long time I’ve felt there hasn’t been a solution that really gets it. Which is why my friends and I recently developed our own. Affectionately dubbed the GOBAG, it’s a new carry­-on sized duffel bag designed so you can travel compact with all the gear you need. Its killer feature is the Max Pack Bag, which allows you to vacuum-compress your soft items, enabling you to carry enough for a long trip in a 35-litre bag.

ARVE Error: The Vimeo endpoint located at returned a 404 error.
Details: Not Found

If All Else Fails…

Another option is using one of the companies that offer luggage carriage, collecting from your home and delivering skis, boards and bags directly to your resort. They also collect from Alpine resorts and deliver back to your home. More details here, but they can work out cheaper than airline charges for similar items.

As a last resort, you could always try wearing your goggles and ski pants. Might get some odd looks at airport security though. 😉

Any insider tips for heading to the mountains with just a carry on? I know there have to be a couple of diamonds out there I’ve missed. So let me know! Just head to the bottom where it says ‘leave a reply’, and I’ll see you in the comments.

Who knows, you could inspire a feature of the GOBAG 2.0…

About the author

James Fyfe

James has always been a keen skier and uses the majority of his holidays to ski abroad or in Scotland. He developed the GOBAG in every spare moment he could find outside of his day job, working as a product engineer. After putting various prototypes through their paces everywhere from Aviemore to the Alps, James is now ready to share his product with the world. For more information, head to


Click here to post a comment

  • Or even drive there and take what you wont have to get up at 2am to catch that 6am flight wait 2 hours at the other end for the Glasgow/Gatwick one that fills up the coach ..and you can take your own skis and not pay £xxx for the privilege only to get them lost in the airport.Driving on continental roads is a pleasure and if you have more than just you in the car it is certainly cheaper.Also you are not stuck in one resort ,you can try others nearby ..and stop for as long as you want .