SYNC Staff Member + Former NCAA Athlete Rachael DesRochers uses her years of summer ski travel experience to offer  three tips and stories to help you pack for summer training.

As every ski racing family knows, just because it’s summer doesn’t mean the skiing stops. As athletes head to glaciers, indoor ski areas, or down south for some on-snow training, the biggest challenge is packing all that gear efficiently. I have some tips and tricks for mastering the art of summer ski travel packing.

But why should you listen to me? Well, let me introduce myself. I’m Rachael, a retired D1 skier with 18 years of ski racing experience and 11 of those years traveling in the summer. I have traveled to New Zealand, Chile, Austria, Mt. Hood, and Whistler numerous times for summer ski training. Packing for a summer ski trip was always tricky until I figured out how to pack effectively and efficiently.

Here are the 3 key tips for packing for summer ski travel:
  1. Bring the essentials in your carry-on. 
  2. Keep ski bags under 50 pounds. 
  3. Don’t overpack.
#1: Bring the Essentials in Your Carry-on.

Frequent flyers know the struggle of having their luggage lost. As a skier, losing your luggage can impact your whole trip. The best way to avoid not being able to ski on your summer trip is to carry on the skiing essentials. Here is a list of what to pack in your carry-on:

  • Speed Suit
  • Training Shorts
  • Jacket(s)
  • GS Helmet
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Shin/arm guards
  • Ski socks and a pair of long underwear
  • Miscellaneous
  • Boots (on the outside)

    You might not think this can fit in your carry-on but I am going to show you how it can.

    First up, packing your speed suit. Instead of just shoving it into your bag without a care in the world, folding and placing your suit in a protective bag saves space and prevents it from getting damaged.

    Next, pack your training shorts. I chose training shorts over pants for two reasons, in most instances, places you travel to are warm (Mt. Hood, Whistler, Europe, etc.) and training shorts don’t impact your speed or mobility in courses. 

    Now onto a jacket. It is important to understand the weather of where you are traveling to. For instance, if you are staying in the Northern Hemisphere and skiing at a glacier, you most likely want something light and waterproof/water-resistant. Pack a rain shell or lightly insulated water/resistant layer into your carry-on so you don't end up soaking wet. If you are traveling to the Southern Hemisphere chances are the weather is going to be a lot colder and you’re going to want something a little more insulated but make sure it's not too bulky so it doesn't take up a lot of space in your carry-on.

    While some athletes might have two options for a helmet (SL or GS), I recommend packing a GS helmet into your carry-on. The reasons being that SL helmets are not as safe for high speed training/races and they tend to have chin bars that can be difficult to pack into a carry-on. So I always recommend packing your GS helmet into your carry-on.

    Gloves and goggles are next on the list. Pack a pair of gloves that will offer protection, broken hands are no fun, just ask the plate and 7 screws that are in my hand. For goggles, if you don’t have space to pack extra lenses in your carry-on be sure to have a lens that works in low light. Nothing worse than skiing in flat light and being scared because you have the wrong lens in. To save on space, be sure to pack both your gloves and goggles into your helmet. 

    If space allows, always pack your shin/arm guards. You don’t want to return from your ski trip and have people thinking you were in a street fight. If you have to choose between the two, pack your shin guards. 

    It’s always a good idea to bring a pair of ski socks and long underwear so you aren’t forced to ski in whatever you wore to the airport. Ankle socks are not ideal to ski in.

    As for miscellaneous items, these might include, a neckie, cut resistant calf sleeves, and a water bottle. 

    Lastly, attach your booster straps together so they can easily sling over the top of your bag. Once you have everything laid out and folded nicely, it’s time to pack your bag! 

    #2: Keep Your Ski Bags Under 50 Pounds.

    Probably the most difficult part about traveling with skis is keeping your ski bag under an airplane's nearly impossible weight limit of 50 pounds. Any ounce over 50 pounds and you might be paying exorbitant fees. Through all my years of ski travel, I figured out the perfect packing technique to keep my ski bags under 50 pounds. 

    1. Pack your GS skis together.

    2. Pack your SL skis and poles together. 

    Two pairs of GS skis weigh just about 45 pounds and once you add a ski bag it comes out to be right around 49 or 50 pounds exactly. Make sure you don't pack anything else in the bag with your GS skis. Also, a good trick I learned to have skis fit perfectly together in a bag is to have the tips and tails of each pair of skis opposite. When the skis are facing different directions, the bindings are able to fit together like a puzzle piece. 

    Since your SL skis weigh far less than your GS, you can pack both pairs of SL and GS poles in with the skis and still be under 50 pounds. Be sure to weigh your bags at home by stepping onto a scale, getting your body weight, and then stepping onto the scale while holding your bag and subtracting the difference. Knowing if your bags are under 50 pounds before arriving at the airport is important that way you don't have to take off bindings on the airport floor... and yes, that's happened to me before. 

    #3: Don't Overpack. 

    As a chronic over-packer, I understand how hard it is to not pack everything in your closet. To avoid packing way too much be sure to understand what you need for the trip and what you don't. If you are going somewhere just to ski and occasionally work out, you may only need one nice outfit for dinners but a bunch of ski and workout clothes.

    It's also smart to figure out if where you are staying offers a laundry service. If they do, you can bring far less clothing and wash it halfway through your trip so you don't end up smelling by the end. Plus packing only the essential clothing will allow space for tuning equipment, which isn't light. This can also help with keeping those suitcases under 50 pounds. 

    If you have made it this far into the blog I hope these tips and tricks were helpful for your upcoming summer ski travel! Remember, bring the essentials in your carry-on, keep your ski bags under 50 pounds, and don't overpack. 


    Hi, I love everything you’ve said. I’ve just got three questions: 1. What if we need to bring a laptop and/or school supplies? 2. What if our boot bag is too big for carry-on? 3. What about speed skis?

    I’m traveling to Chile, and am trying my best not to overpack. We might be doing speed training, so I need to account for bringing speed skis too (unless we’re told the speed training is off).

    — Cris