I recently went skiing to Thredbo and was just struck by how different it is to skiing in countries that are actually known for snow sports.
I’ve been skiing four times before in my life – first in Australia (Perisher), then to New Zealand (Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Treble Cone), and then twice to Austria (St Anton).
Going skiing in those other countries had totally made me forget what it was like to ski here – and so I foolishly Googled ‘what to pack for a ski trip’ and did what the internet told me to do….without realising that most of those lists are absolutely not geared for Australian conditions. I spent a lot of my trip being too hot, too wet, with sore feet, or too cold.
I mean here’s the thing – unlike a lot of other places you might visit around the world, Australia is hot – some days it literally feels like beach weather. But it also gets cold. Especially in the evenings. And it can rain unexpectedly. And the weather goes from hot to cold very quickly and also unexpectedly. And, even if you’re staying right next to a lift, you’ll have to walk a decent distance going between road and snow and possibly lots of puddles if it’s been raining.
So, in preparation for the next time I visit the snow in Australia, I’ve written up a handy dandy little Australian packing list.
If you have your own gear, bring it, obviously. If you don’t have your own gear, rent it in Jindabyne (or whatever towns are outside the fields you’re visiting) – it’ll be WAY cheaper than renting at the slopes.
- Skis, bindings, and poles/snowboard
- Ski/Snowboard Boots
- Helmet – Some of my friends are really confident and don’t wear a helmet because they’re like ‘this is Australia, you can’t get injured’ – but one of the dudes in my group got a concussion on the very first day…. and then had to get a helmet. And I’ve heard similar stories from so many other people. So, you know, it’s your choice but I’d say just get a helmet.
Even if it’s cold, you get incredibly warm when skiing or snowboarding. But then there’s apres skiing – and it’s always freezing in the evenings!
- Thermals – you only really need a pair or two, because this is Australia, and you probably won’t actually need to use them – but it’s good to have them just in case the weather suddenly turns.
- Casual shirts, preferably quick dry (one for each day of skiing) – for the most part, I always get really hot and sweaty when I ski and overheat. I had a bunch of quick dry tank tops and they were awesome to wear because even if you’re warm when skiing, being in something wet when you take a break and aren’t moving is guaranteed to be uncomfortable.
- Skins or other exercise tights – I love skins because wearing them makes me feel like someone is gently massaging my legs and butt at all times, and compression wear helps recovery which means less soreness after a day on the slopes! Plus they’re comfy regardless of whether you’re hot or cold.
- Ski pants
- Ski jacket – Okay, look, if you have one, that’s great. However, if you don’t, you can get away with a fleece and a raincoat. I found mine waaaaay too warm almost all during the day, but it was great in the evenings.
- Raincoat – It’s Australia so there’s a very high chance that it’ll rain at some point during your visit to the slopes. A raincoat is also AWESOME for really warm days when you don’t want to wear your ski jacket – it’ll block out the wind and keep you dry if you fall in the snow. If you don’t have a ski jacket you can also just make do with a fleece and raincoat.
- Knee-length opaque nylon stockings/pantyhose – This was a tip someone gave me ages ago and I dismissed at first, then tried and it changed my life. Your boots will be warm enough to keep your feet toasty, but the socks you wear will not insulate as well. And socks mean the boots can’t be fitted to your feet as closely. Opaque nylon stockings are actually super amazing at keeping your feet warm AND your boot fits nice and close to your feet so there’s less movement. Wearing just a pair of stockings might seem weird, but almost all my friends (especially the male ones) have gotten converted and love it.
- Thick socks – For the evening!
- Snow shoes – Also for the evening. It gets cooooold and your feet will freeze if you’re planning on wandering about. If you’re not planning on being outside much in the evenings though you can just get away with thick socks and regular boots (or whatever your warmest shoes are).
- Inner gloves and outer gloves and a carabiner – Your extremities get the coldest out of all your body parts, and it’s especially bad when it’s really windy. But it also gets incredibly warm sometimes! Wearing inner and outer gloves means that when it is warm you can pull off the outer ones, and when it’s colder you can put them on again. And boy, does that vary a lot when you’re skiing in Australia! My outer gloves have little loops so I can attach them onto a carabiner and hang them from a belt loop on my pants.
- Neck warmer – Mainly for when you’re on the chairlift, because it’s super windy.
- Beanie – for the evenings only, you don’t need this while you’re on the slopes if you’re wearing a helmet.
- Thongs – If you’re using a shared bathroom.
- Regular clothes – For bottoms, I carry one pair of jeans and one pair of tights, then cycle between them. You can carry whatever tops you want because you just wear your ski jacket (or fleece and raincoat) over it when you’re out in the open, but then take those off when you get indoors since it’s always toasty AF indoors.
- Swimmers – if you’re planning on visiting a spa, pool or sauna.
- Sporty clothes – if you want to visit the leisure centre/gym (just for really hardcore people)
- Shampoo, conditioner and hairbrush or comb – If you’ve got long hair, the cold weather and wind will almost definitely make it tangled and dry, and wearing a helmet will make it sweaty and greasy.
- Soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss
- Moisturising Cream and lip balm – the cold weather and wind will make your skin really dry and if you don’t moisturise it’ll get really itchy and cracked.
- Sunscreen – use this all the time.
- Nailcutter – not to cut your nails, but to cut the little bits of skin around your nails. You’ll need this, trust me.
To Carry with you while you ski/board
- Sports headphones and music – Because having a soundtrack to your skiing/snowboarding makes you feel like you’re in a movie.
- Thermos flask with hot tea – Completely optional, but sooo nice when you’re chilling at the top of a slope.
- Shoes – Walking on roads and gravel with your ski boots damages the bit that fits into the bindings – and it’s pretty uncomfortable. Packing shoes that you can slip into to/from the chairlift is waaaay nicer on your feet and the boots.
- Small sports backpack – To carry all these things in!
- Camelbak – Skiing/snowboarding is thirsty work! And it’s such a pain pulling a bottle out of your bag. Using a Camelbak means you don’t even have to take of your gloves and can easily reach around for a quick sip.
- Snacks – Snow sports are also hungry work, and buying anything on the slopes is super expensive. Pack lots of muesli bars, carrots, chocolate, nuts and other things – don’t buy them from the local stores though, the Foodworks at Thredbo had every little thing at Scandinavian prices.
- Food and drinks – If you’ve got a kitchen or a microwave at your accommodation. Eating out at the snow is all well and nice, but the meal prices at the slopes tend to range mostly from the mid-20s to early-50s so eating in some nights will save you a bunch.
- Typical first aid kit stuff – bandaids, tweezer, antiseptic cream, paracetamol, immodium, antihistamines.
- Strapping tape – if you’ve got bad knees. Which I do.
- Ice gel – to rub on your sore or injured bits.
- Ibuprofen – if any bits of you get inflamed.
- Pseudoephedrine – in case you get a cold or flu.
If it rains, there isn’t a lot to do at the snow resorts around Australia. So stock up on books and games to save yourself from boredom!
- Bag for dirty clothes
- Cards and/or other boardgames
Hope that helps! Let me know if you think anything else should be on this list.