Ease the Season With These 15 Winter Packing Tips

If there’s one thing that can take the fun out of winter activities, it’s the effort in packing for them. From large-scale items like skis and snowboards to forgetting a simple pair of gloves, it’s easy to be unorganized and lose sight of the spirit of the season. Fortunately, we’ve compiled 15 tips to help ease your winter packing woes.

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Start With the Suitcase

"Use a hard-sided suitcase to save the day during winter, as they can resist water when snow melts," says Travelzoo Head of Publishing Tara Kraft. She adds that you’ll save space in your luggage by packing only high-quality items that can stand up to repeated use on your trip. Merino wool base layers are lightweight and a great starter for any winter pack.

Invest in Packing Cubes

Especially with the volume of winter gear, being able to compress as much as possible is a huge packing advantage. Eagle Creek’s Pack-It line offers a variety of sizes and styles that’ll help cut down the bulk of your bag.

Pack Like an Athlete

Professional snowboarder Robin Van Gyn travels to several competitions each season and has to be smart about what she brings. "Function first, everything else later," she says. She thinks about every possible scenario on a trip and packs accordingly. She uses the "rule of 3s": wearing the same three outfits in different combinations over an entire trip.

Check Airline Baggage Allowances

"Many count a ski and boot bag as one item," says Ski.com CMO Dan Sherman. He adds that packing snow pants, gloves, layers and your jacket in your ski bag offers extra protection for your skis while freeing up valuable space in your regular luggage.

Check With the Hotel Ahead of Time

Many winter resorts have ski rental and concierges onsite stocked and ready for a day on the slopes. In Vail, Colo., the Sonnenalp Ski Concierge has more than 500 demo skis available from all of the top makers for enthusiasts to test out. They also rent jackets and pants along with a host of other amenities, which makes traveling light a real possibility.

Keep Gifts Unwrapped

Since airport security is growing tighter by the day, don’t bother wrapping gifts until you arrive at your destination. What’s the point in spending all that time on the perfect bow if it just has to come undone at the checkpoint?

Keep Things Accessible in the Car

"The best thing is to pack an emergency kit of car care essentials, an extra down jacket and some easy-to-eat food in a plastic tote," says The Manual’s Outdoors Editor Austin Parker, who lives in Salt Lake City. He and his wife also always carry a Jetboil so warm drinks are available at a moment’s notice. A little pre-planning will help make unexpected roadblocks that much easier to handle.

Think Ahead When Packing Wet Gear

Romio Home Expert Jamie Hord suggests traveling with plastic gallon bags to keep wet clothes separate from the dry. Also remember to keep a small hole in the opening at the top of the bag to let air escape and keep sour smells at bay. They’re also a great, waterproof way to carry toiletries to your destination.

When Packing the Car, Safety Matters

"Put heavier items on the bottom of the cargo area and toward the front, and avoid loading SUVs beyond the height of the rear seat backs," says Kelley Blue Book Senior Director, Executive Analyst Rebecca Lindland. It’s important to keep all lines of sight open and clear, especially in trickier driving conditions.

Find a Great Tire Shop

This one matters if you’ll be driving over the mountain passes (or anywhere with dicey weather conditions, really). Check which traction devices fit your car’s tires and buy a set (most stash easily in the trunk). Many reputable tire shops will refund you in the spring if your device is unopened and unused. The peace of mind is worth the investment alone.

Really Think About What’s Necessary

Oversized winter coats are great, but they also take up a ton of space. Consider packing thinner layers to meet your need for warmth, but not weight.

Travel Like an Olympian

2018 Olympic Skier and Dale of Norway ambassador Brad Spence has seen how ski bags are handled, so he packs accordingly. "I also ensure that my helmet and goggles are protected amongst the softer layers in my bag," he says. "I don't need my brain bucket getting damaged!"

Winterproof Boots Before You Go

There’s one quick way to ruin your day on the slopes or the trail: soggy boots. Even if your boots have built-in hydrophobic protection, it doesn’t hurt to add an extra layer, especially for long days outside.

Pack Moisturizers in Carry-Ons

Winter air is notoriously drier and that can wreak havoc on your skin, nose and eyes. Pack mini lotions, eye drops and saline spray into your carry-on to stay fresh during air travel.

Don’t Forget Sun Protection

The winter sun can be just as brutal on the skin as in summer. Pack a solid SPF in face cream and lip balm.

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