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Ski Tips: Packing for the next road trip

By Dan Egan

Dan and John Egan Packing at the Berlin Wall. PHOTO BY DAVID ROMAN

The “Road Trip” is part of the DNA of the winter experience. Skiers and riders love both new and familiar resorts, and these days if you ask the question, “Why go?” the answer is, because we can, especially with the multi resort ski passes that are available worldwide. The key to a smooth road trip starts with packing, whether it’s for a flight to your dream resort or loading the family into the car to the local hill, you want the right gear, clothing, accessories, personal items, electronics and a few things that remind you of home.

Let me tell you up front, I tend to overpack, and often I’m the guy parked in front of the departure terminal, with bags opened, gear in the car and on the curb pulling it all together. As a kid, I lived by the quote, “Never pack more than you carry on your back,” then I got a car, then I got a van, then a house, well you get the idea. We love our possessions. Simply said, luggage with wheels, changed my life and think about what you really need, a good base layer, dry socks, gloves or mittens, ski outfit, and gear.

For me it starts at home, being a visual person I lay out the gear on the floor. Equipment, clothing, ski outfits, workout clothing, and stuff spread out in front of me. It’s a bit of a chaotic approach but it works. Not everything that is on the floor will make the cut for the trip but it’s all items I typically want to bring. And that includes hats, goggles, sunglasses, headphones, ski tunning kit, the magazines I haven’t read yet, a book and a few gadgets such as, GoPro, boot heaters, phone charger(s) and associated cables.

Then I check my list from my last trip and the first item on the list is, “Things I didn’t use on my last trip.” I scan over the floor and remove those items, a sweater, two of the three magazines I thought I would read, extra hoodie, water bottle, that sort of thing.

The next step for me is grabbing the luggage and bags. I recently upgraded my travel bags which has made traveling easier. The upgrade included a soft carry-on bag designed for airplane overhead bins, a duffle bag with top and bottom compartments with side boot compartments and wheels, and a ski bag that can hold two pairs of wide skis and some gear, and yes it has wheels.

This is a multipart equation for me. I pack checked items first, skis, boots and helmet and any other bulky items first. Skis in ski bag, boots, and helmet in the appropriate compartments of your duffle. My goggle and lens are in my helmet. Then I pack those compartments full of socks, underclothing, t-shirts, and other items that can be stuffed in and around them. Next my street cloths, pants, shirts, sweaters, and lastly extra warm clothing such as a puffy jacket vest.

I hold out my ski outfits for the ski bag. Skis go in the bag first then shovel, probe, beacon, then I go with ski jacket, pants around them with my pole and gloves.

My carry-on packing goes like this: camera gear, two-way radios, travel gloves, down vest, hat and books and magazines. In my backpack I put in my computer, coat, and personal items.

Gone are the days of carrying either ski boots and helmets, onto a plane in or out of a bag. In my opinion that is so “1980’s.” Relax, trust the system, and cut down the weight and bulkiness of your carry-on for ease of boarding the plane. Every time I see people slinging boots and helmets outside of or within luggage into overhead bins on planes, I cringe for both the owner of the gear and the people around them.

In all my years traveling to resorts around the world, rarely if ever have my checked-in bags and skis not made it. Plus, we live in a service-based economy where the customer rules and reviews matter. Give the airlines a chance to provide their services and solutions.

Most of the items I’ve lost traveling are the ones I forgotten and left behind on the plane or in a hotel. Years ago, on a trip to the Alps, I did leave my entire backpack with my street clothes in the door of my friend’s house, it was just one bag of many, and it got overlooked. In the end it made for a fun trip collecting new items in Europe during the trip and as always made for a great story when the film came out.

These days I really do try and travel light, less is more as they say, and the adventure is all in the people and the places, not what jacket, hat, and or sweater were in my luggage. Look for me in the mountains this winter as I am hitting the road and traveling light this winter with trips to Zermatt, Engelberg, Laax, Val d’Isére, around New England and of course Big Sky, Montana.

Extreme Skiing Pioneer, Dan Egan coaches and teaches at Big Sky Resort during the winter. His 2022 steeps camps at Big Sky Resort run Feb. 24-26, March 10-12 and March 17-19. His newest book, “Thirty Years in a White Haze” was released in March 2021 and is available at

This article was originally published in Explore Big Sky

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