Colorado is home to many ideal vacation destinations. If you want postcard-worthy views, bucket list adventures, and memories that will last a lifetime, the Centennial State is the place to be. That’s why many people choose Colorado as the place to visit for their first ski trip. Go all out by visiting some of the best ski resorts in the country, such as Breckenridge, Aspen, or Vail. Alternatively, avoid the tourist crowd by heading somewhere a little more out of the way, like a resort in Steamboat Springs. No matter your destination, a successful ski trip relies on bringing the right gear. Make sure you’re ready for your winter vacation with this guide on how to pack for your first ski trip to Colorado.
Bring Your Layers
If you’re going to spend time in the extreme cold of the Colorado mountains, you need to dress for the weather. Layers are an important part of any winter packing list, but they become even more crucial when you’re out on the slopes. When you spend all day playing hard in the snow, it’s important to stay both warm and dry. That’s why you need a base, middle, and outer layer of clothing to protect you while you’re out and about.
The main objective of the base layer is to transfer moisture away from your body. Wet clothes make you colder, faster, so you want a base layer that consists of moisture wicking fabric. Look for thermal shirts or leggings made of merino wool or synthetic fabrics. Your base layer should also be stretchy and comfortable, as it serves as a cushion between your skin and the zippers or buttons of heavier outer layers.
The middle layer also helps transfer moisture away from your body so it can evaporate in the air. That said, the middle layer is mostly about insulation. A cozy sweater or your favorite Colorado sweatshirt acts as a great barrier between you and the cold air. A good middle layer will help you retain body heat even in the coldest conditions.
Finally, you want a durable outer layer to keep out the worst of the elements. A waterproof, windproof coat will help you stay warm and dry whether you’re soaring down the mountainside or sliding through the powder. Keep in mind that skiing makes you work up a sweat. By wearing layers, you can easily shed your outer coat and cool off without immediately freezing.
Warm, Dry Accessories
No outfit is complete without the right accessories. Warm pants and coats aren’t enough to keep you comfortable in a Colorado winter. You’ll also want gloves, boots, socks, and other accessories to keep you warm and dry. When choosing a pair of gloves, make sure you look for waterproof materials that won’t soak through the first time you come into contact with the snow. You also want a pair that are flexible enough to let you grip your ski poles or adjust the rest of your gear. Socks, like a base layer, should be comfortable, able to transfer moisture, and keep your feet dry. Don’t double up on your socks, either. Instead, choose a quality, thermal pair that will keep you warm without cutting off circulation or making your boots too tight.
Don’t Forget Your Helmet and Goggles
As with any sport, you need the proper safety gear to go skiing. A helmet and goggles are essential when hitting the slopes, even if you never go past the bunny hills. If this is your first ski trip, you can expect to fall down a lot. That’s okay! A helmet will keep your head safe—and warm—no matter how many tumbles you take. Goggles are another essential safety measure. Cold air and harsh winds can be damaging to your eyes, but you can keep them safe with a quality pair of goggles. Try to look for a pair that also offer UV protection, since snow glare can prove both hazardous and obnoxious.
Supplies for the Slopes
When you spend hours out on the slopes, you need to come prepared. Bring a bag that you can comfortably and safely wear while going up and down the mountain. This will allow you to carry essential supplies like a water bottle, painkillers, and healthy snacks to keep you going throughout the day. You should also bring along lip balm and lotion to help prevent cracked skin or lips in the dry winter air. Sunscreen is also a good idea. Colorado is a sunny place, and the glare from the snow can cause sun burn if you’re not careful.
Do You Need Skis and Poles?
Of course, figuring out skis and poles is a huge part of how to pack for your first ski trip to Colorado. Before you set off on your ski trip, it’s important to decide whether you want to rent or buy skis, poles, and other essential gear. Since it’s your first-time skiing, you might want to stick to renting equipment; purchasing skis can prove expensive, especially if you only use them on one trip. If you choose to rent, make sure you research providers at or near your resort. Just because you’re renting your equipment doesn’t mean you should miss out on quality gear. Check availabilities and recommendations to make sure you’re getting good equipment for a great deal.
As important as a sturdy pair of ski boots, you’ll want some comfortable walking boots to change into when you’re done for the day. Just because you leave the slopes doesn’t mean you leave the mountain. Your lodging, dining areas, and other attractions around the resort will still require a snowy walk. Make sure you can get around comfortably by packing appropriate footwear—and overall outfits—to wear at the end of the day.
A Backup Plan
Skiing is a fantastic experience to cross off your bucket list, but it’s not for everyone. You might want a day of downtime partway through the trip to recuperate. There’s also a chance that temperatures and conditions are simply too extreme to hit the slopes one day. Don’t let this ruin your trip. Come prepared with a list of things you can do when you’re not skiing. If you still want to be outside, many resorts offer sledding, snowshoeing, or hiking on their mountains. You can also get cozy by lounging around a fire or finding somewhere to enjoy a warm, delicious meal. Having a backup plan will help make your trip a success no matter what happens.