I’m Moving to a Ski Town With Just Three Suitcases—Here’s What’s on My Packing List

From ski gear to home goods to apparel.

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HALFDAYS Aston Belted Ski Jacket
Photo:

Nordstrom

I move often. I’ve lived in Hawai’i, Florida, Virginia, New York, and soon-to-be Utah, shuttling around my favorite belongings in the capacity of just two (okay, three) checked suitcases plus a carry on. Despite the stress, as a product reviewer, I actually relish the challenge of determining my top essentials with each move. What makes the cut for each short stint? 

This winter, as I head out to a top skiing destination for three months of snow, my cold-weather packing list—and suitcase room—are crucial to my comfort in the low temperatures. Even with renting the main equipment (skis, poles, helmet, boots), ski gear is staggeringly expensive, so I took extra care in researching my purchases, saving up, and investing in pieces over time.

While considering the home goods, apparel, fitness gear, tech, and more that would drastically improve my standard of living yet still fit in the 50-lbs capacity of a hardshell, here’s what made the cut for my winter living in a ski town.

Ibex womens wool aire vest

Ibex

The Cold Weather Packing List for Skiing Gear:

  • Splurge Checked Suitcase: Monos Check-In Large, $345 (was $383); monos.com.
  • Budget Checked Suitcase: American Tourister NXT Hardside Large Checked Spinner Suitcase, $135; target.com.
  • Carry On Suitcase: Monos Carry-On, $245 (was $272); monos.com.
  • Personal Item: Monos Metro Duffel, $210; monos.com.
  • Ski Jacket: Halfdays Aston Belted Ski Jacket, $425; nordstrom.com.
  • Ski Pants: Halfdays Alessandra Pants, $245; nordstrom.com.
  • Base Layer Top: Athleta Foresthill Ascent Seamless Turtleneck, $50 (was $79); athleta.com
  • Base Layer Bottoms: Athleta Rainier Tight, $39 (was $98); athleta.com.
  • Mid-Layer Vest: Ibex Women’s Merino Wool Aire Vest, $235; ibex.com.
  • Mid-Layer Fleece: The Colorblocked Plush Fleece Pullover, $75 (was $150); eddiebauer.com.
  • Ski Gloves: Women’s Midmountain Ski Gloves, $34; italic.com.
  • Ski Socks: Women’s Ski Full Cushion Over the Calf Socks, $29; smartwool.com.
  • Ski Goggles: Spy Marauder Elite Snow Goggles, $280; spyoptic.com.

My Monos Check-In Large has never steered me wrong. I get endless compliments on how sleek and roomy it is, while the luggage itself is nestable—so you can store the carry-on within the larger case. While pricey, the coordinating Metro Duffel fits practically everything I want to take onto the plane with room to spare; the modular external pockets are especially helpful in fitting those pesky last-minute forgotten items without having to gate-check. To make it (slightly) more affordable, I supplement my setup with two other cheaper suitcases

For my ski jacket and ski pants, Halfdays is my favorite; an Olympian-founded ski brand bridging technicality and style in fun colorways. Its brand ethos is all about encouraging women to get outdoors together no matter their skill level, and the jacket includes choice details like a phone leash, pass pocket, and built-in goggle wipe. Athleta base layers will get the job done, as they’re fleece-lined but easy to move in. For mid-layers, a 50-percent-off fleece jacket and merino wool vest are the name of the game in keeping insulated amidst frigid winds and snow, and high-quality ski socks will keep your feet warm and dry throughout the day. Finally, Italic at-cost gloves perform just as well as the name brands for me, while Spy Marauder Elite Snow Goggles are crafted for ultimate visibility and alertness—a must while I’m hurtling down a mountainside.

Heathered Cashmere Core Sheet Set

Brooklinen

The Cold Weather Packing List for Home Goods:

  • Projector: Toptro TR23 Outdoor Projector, $170; amazon.com.
  • Fire Stick: Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote, $25; amazon.com.
  • Coffee Maker: Nespresso VertuoPlus Deluxe, $149; nespresso.com.
  • Bed Sheets: Heathered Cashmere Core Sheet Set, $263 (was $309); brooklinen.com.
  • Pillow: Coop The Original Pillow, $72; coophomegoods.com.
  • Alarm Clock: Hatch Restore Personalized Sleep Solution, $130; target.com.
  • Electric Blanket: Westinghouse Plush Electric Throw Blanket, $74; amazon.com.
  • Surge Protector: Philips 7-Outlet 2-USB Surge Protector, $22 (was $25); target.com.

The second suitcase is all about home goods that drastically increase my quality of life. What makes my day-to-day routine that much better? I start off the morning (especially on snowy, overcast days) with a sunrise clock that will get me going, since I’ll start working at 6 A.M. mountain time. And yes, I bring my Nespresso with me each time I move. The quality of my morning coffee is much more luxurious, and this one-stop machine is so easy to use, so the space it takes in my suitcase is worth the daily return on joy. Except those ultra-warm, never-stifling heathered cashmere sheets and that sinkable, supportive pillow are so comfortable I may not want to get up…

I first discovered this packable, portable projector during my stint in New York City while navigating the challenge of the smallest room I’d ever lived in. Its picture is bright and crisp, while its sound quality is clear rather than grainy in the way many other projectors are. With a Fire stick plugged in, it acts like a television without the footprint of one. Nights curled up to watch a movie under a cozy electric blanket? Bliss. Oh, and we can’t forget a surge protector for bedside charging. They’re a pain to rebuy but always come in handy.

OLUKAI Pupu Mua Genuine Shearling Scuff Slipper

Nordstrom

The Cold Weather Packing List for Apparel and Post-Ski Lifestyle:

  • Sweater: Aubrey Cashmere Turtleneck, $70 (was $148); freepeople.com.
  • Jeans: Madewell Instacozy Mid-Rise Stovepipe Jeans, $83 with code ITSAWRAP (was $138); madewell.com.
  • Beanie: Vortex Rib Pom Beanie, $58; freepeople.com.
  • Swimsuit: H&M Padded Bikini Top, $18; hm.com.
  • Waterproof Boots: Keen Women’s Revel IV Polar Boot, $143 (was $190); backcountry.com.
  • Slippers: Olukai Pupu Mua Genuine Shearling Scuff Slipper, $130; nordstrom.com.

A default pair of jeans—like this mid-rise stovepipe pair, brushed on the inside for extra comfort—will get me a lot of use this winter. As a tall girl, I also love that Madewell provides such a sizing range. Similarly, I’ve become a cashmere fiend, head over heels with its enduring quality and unparalleled warmth, so I love that this Free People find is over half off. And a pom-pom beanie? Say no more.

I’m a klutz, so I love that these polar boots from Keen have an intense grip on snow and ice that will keep me secure during my adventures. When I’m safe and warm back in my home, I’ll slip into these snug slippers from OluKai—a brand I love for both its consistency and its giving-back initiatives to the Hawaiian islands. And shearling’s been all the rage this year anyway!

I do hope there will be a hot tub in my future (a girl can dream), so having a go-to swimsuit on hand isn’t a bad idea. I’ve been buying these simple bikinis from H&M for years. I own the top in about eight different colors, and I have yet to find another swimsuit that flatters me as well as this one.

Hyperice Vyper 3 Massage Device

Target

The Cold Weather Packing List of “Life Hacks” That Make My Trip Even Better:

  • Lip Balm: MDSolarSciences Hydrating Sheer Lip Balm SPF 30, $20; dermstore.com.
  • Moisturizer: Clinique Moisture Surge 100H Auto-Replenishing Hydrator, $42 (was $82); amazon.com.
  • Hydration Mix: Liquid IV Lemon Lime Hydration Multiplier, $25; liquidiv.com.
  • Water Bottle: Stanley Quencher H2.0 Flowstate Tumbler, $40; stanley1913.com.
  • Sunscreen: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Sunscreen Lotion, $11; target.com.
  • Fanny Pack: lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag 1L Fleece, $58; lululemon.com.
  • Headphones: Ultimate Ears Fits Custom Fit Earbuds, $160 (was $250); amazon.com.
  • Neck Guard: Helly Hansen Polartec Neck Warmer, $20; hellyhansen.com.
  • Glove Liner: Ibex Glove Liner, $50; ibex.com.
  • Action Camera: GoPro Hero8 4k Waterproof Action Camera, $200 (was $300); bestbuy.com.
  • Sweater Shaver: Nori Trim, $59; nori.co.
  • Vibrating Foam Roller: Hyperice Vyper 3 Massage Device, $150 (was $200); target.com.

Finally, I have to include some items that feel like “life hacks;” products that improve my experience but aren’t top of mind. For example, Real Simple’s top-rated moisturizer of 2022 will do wonders for dry, high-altitude skin—and it’s currently 49 percent off. We also often forget about SPF, but snow reflects sunlight, so a sun-protective lip balm and sunscreen are more important than ever. Similarly, because of the cold, we tend to forget how much you’re exerting ourselves in chilly weather, so an electrolyte-replacing hydration multiplier in a chunky yet convenient tumbler is a must. 

On the slopes, I’d try a cold-weather cute belt bag, like this Instagram-beloved edition from lululemon, to hold it all. Oh, and I can’t forget glove liners for extra warmth and a neck warmer to protect against the chill; I have made that mistake before. Personally, I enjoy (safely) listening to an audiobook or music while on the lift or taking an easy run, but I’m not about to lose a white AirPod in the snow! Because of the custom fit, these 36-percent-off headphones will stay in my ears—and even have a warming setting—to keep me comfortably listening.

At home at the end of the day, rolling out sore muscles with a 25 percent off vibrating foam roller keeps my recovery time limited and allows me to maximize my time outside. A sweater shaver keeps my knits in good condition since I’ll be wearing them everyday. Finally, I’m considering splurging on a crowd-favorite GoPro, because what use is a ski vacation if I don’t document it all?

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