Following an incredible ski season last year, multiple resorts across the West have already opened their lifts. With less than eight weeks until Christmas, one of the busiest periods on any hill, now is the time to rally the gang and book that ski-cabin rental you’ve had your eye on. Once you settle on a spot, be sure not to waste it: what you pack can be almost as important as the location and weather in making or breaking the perfect ski weekend. Here are the things that always make it into my bag.
W&P Design Carry-On Hot Toddy Kit ($18)
This classic spiced cocktail is perfect for warming up after a long, frigid day on the slopes. W&P Design’s portable kit comes with everything you need to make a great one, sans booze. The tiny carry-on tin comes with a muddler, recipe card, ginger syrup, cinnamon sticks, lemon packets, and even a linen coaster. Just pick up a mini bottle of whiskey on the plane or at the local liquor store, and you’re set.
I’m not quite sure how this four-player board game became the official ski-season entertainment among my friends, but it’s now a tradition. We bring it with us whether we’re backcountry skiing out of my buddy’s Aliner or splitting an Airbnb in a Colorado mountain town. A sort of combination between Tetris and Scrabble, it’s compact and easy to learn, which is important when you’re on your second or third hot toddy.
Rumpl Flannel Sherpa Blanket ($149)
Rumpl’s classic puffy blankets are great, but I prefer this version in the wintertime for its Sherpa-fleece lining and synthetic insulation. It’s cozy, rolls up nicely, and packs easily, thanks to compressible straps. Plus, flannel always looks at home in a ski cabin.
DryGuy Travel DX Boot and Shoe Warmers ($40)
There’s always someone in the group who forgets to bring their ski boots inside at the end of the day. You don’t want to be that person, but if you are, these portable boot warmers are a lifesaver. If you suffer from cold toes on the hill, use them in the car on the way up, or insert them at the end of the day to dry your boots overnight.
Stanley Growler Gift Set ($80)
Leave the shot ski at home and bring this sturdy growler and pint-glass set instead. Fill it up with 64 ounces of booze at one of your chosen ski town’s craft breweries and distribute the color-coded pint glasses to your friends. Not only is it more environmentally friendly than bottles or cans, but the insulation on both the glasses and the growler will keep your beers colder and your hands warmer.
Glerups Ankle Boot Slipper ($125)
If there’s a better piece of footwear for bumming around a cabin after a day on the slopes, I haven’t found it. These felt boots are made entirely of wool and have a soft rubber sole that makes them great for runs to the wood pile for another log. They’re warm yet breathable and a good antidote to having your feet jammed into ski boots all day.
Opinel Folding Corkscrew Knife ($33)
For some reason, my group always seems to wind up at a cabin that’s missing a corkscrew. Pack this handy knife and corkscrew combo, and you won’t have to resort to any alternative methods of opening a bottle of wine (read: scissors, or the old shoe trick) that are more likely to lead to disaster than a relaxing evening. Opinel’s knives are simple but sturdier than they look, and the blade makes the perfect pocketknife.
Ultimate Eears Boom 3 ($149)
Music is an essential part of any ski weekend, whether you’re trying to wake stragglers to snag first chair or hang out by the fire at night. This portable, 360-degree speaker fits in your carry-on, pairs effortlessly to your phone via Bluetooth, and has the best sound quality of any comparable speaker I’ve tested.
Nebula Portable Projector ($300)
If you rent a proper ski cabin, there will be a wood-burning stove in place of a TV. To still have a movie night, opt for this tiny projector. It’s the size of a soda can but provides a cinema-quality viewing experience and has a built-in, surround-sound speaker. Load up a few movies on a USB, or stream from your phone, laptop, or tablet. I’ve used the projector for everything from backyard to campsite film screenings.