(CNN) — Packing for a trip can always be a challenge, but a ski trip is an entirely different ball game, thanks to the substantial amount of gear you’ll need to bring along. In addition to your skis — and the perfect ski travel bag — you’ll still need clothing and ski accessories. This includes a ski jacket, snow pants, goggles, helmet, gloves, base layers, mid-layers, socks and a ski mask among anything else you take on a trip.
And with so many options to buy, it’s hard to even know where to begin — especially when ski conditions and the weather can change from one day to the next. You want to be warm on the slopes, but not too toasty. You want to stay dry, but still be comfortable. The old saying “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes” couldn’t be more true when it comes to skiing.
This is why having the right ski gear is imperative for enjoying your next ski vacation. We’ve put together some of our favorite essential ski products to help you on your next trip.
Our favorite ski jackets
Even though you might be all set with a winter coat, there’s a good chance you’ll need a separate ski jacket. Ideally, you’ll want one that extends below your hips (but not past your upper thigh) with weather protection, pit zips, sealed seams, a powder skirt and many pockets.
Some skiers prefer a down or insulated jacket, while others prefer a shell and the opportunity to add layers. That comes down to your own personal warmth preference and the temperature at the mountain. Oftentimes, the more waterproof the jacket is, the more expensive it will be. Here are some of our favorite options on the market.
$329 at Amazon
A fan favorite, the Obermeyer Women’s Cosima Down Jacket is the exact jacket I skied in all of the last winter and I wouldn’t think about skiing in anything else again.
With 550-fill down in the upper body and outer sleeves, I never felt cold — even during single-digit New England ski days. I also fully appreciate the 15K waterproof rating while skiing in the snow — or even the rain. Having the thumbhole wrist gaiters gives an added level of warmth protection while keeping the snow from entering your gloves. The jacket features two zippered waist pockets, a chest pocket, a pass pocket and an incredibly large interior pocket. All of the storage allowed me to carry anything extra I needed for the day, which is important when skiing with two kids.
From $333 at Back Country
This bestselling jacket offers a highly breathable yet waterproof outer layer with Primaloft thermal insulation. The jacket comes with a detachable and helmet-compatible hood, a stretch powder skirt and wrist gaiters with thumbholes. One standout feature is the “Lifepocket,” which will keep your cell phone or any other electronics warm to ensure its battery doesn’t die. It's available in 10 color options and sizes ranging from small to XXL.
$259 $208 at Amazon
The stylish Obermeyer Women’s Tuscany II Jacket will not only allow you to look the part on the slopes but will also keep you incredibly warm with its Thermore Classic insulation. It offers sealed seams, a powder skirt, a removable — and customizable — hood, stretch inner cuffs with adjustable hem and a fleece-lined collar. Plus, it's available in nearly 30 colors and designs so you can completely customize your mountain look.
$199 at REI
The REI Co-op Powderbound Insulated Jacket offers a two-layer nylon waterproof and windproof shell with 80 grams of synthetic insulation on the core and 60 grams of synthetic insulation in the sleeves. The jacket’s hood is big enough to fit over your helmet and has a high-lined collar to keep your chin warm. The jacket also offers pit zips, a removable powder skirt, lift pass pocket and a goggle pocket. There’s also a women’s version of the Co-Op Powderbound Insulated Jacket for $199.
$475 at Mountain Hard Wear
With its 3L Gore-Tex shell fabric, the Mountain Hard Wear Boundary Ridge Jacket is bound to keep you warm and dry all day. The jacket is helmet-compatible with a three-way drawcord adjustment and offers underarm zip vents, two oversized internal drop pockets and two large zippered chest pockets. There’s also a powder skirt and snow pants integration. There’s a men’s version of the Mountain Hardwear Boundary Ridge Gore-Tex Jacket also available for $475.
Our favorite ski pants
Ski pants are essential snow apparel — both on and off the slopes. Ski pants will not only keep you dry, but they’ll also give you that extra layer of insulation to keep you warm on the mountain.
There are two types of ski pants: ones with a bib and ones without. It comes down to personal preference, but bibs give you that added layer of warmth and keep the wind from getting underneath your jacket. Generally speaking, the more waterproof, the more expensive.
$169 at Dick's Sporting Goods
With 60 grams of insulation and a DryVent shell, these snow pants will keep you extra warm and dry on the slopes. All seams are sealed and the waist offers adjustable tabs and loops for the perfect fit. The pants offer multiple pockets, zippered vents and elastic gaiters at the bottom to keep the snow out. There’s also a men’s version of The North Face Freedom Insulated Snow Pants available for $169.
I ended up purchasing these ski pants after seeing the positive reviews and was incredibly happy last season. I tend to get cold on the mountain, so I appreciated the warmth they provided without having to wear an extra layer of pants to keep me warm.
$359 at Amazon
The Obermeyer Men’s Fairweather Shell Bib offers a 20K waterproof and 20K breathability rating, which is one of the highest you’ll find. The bib is also fully removable — a unique feature in bibbed snow pants — giving you the versatility you might be looking for.
$225 $113 at Amazon
Constructed with fully sealed seams, these pants will keep you dry for your entire ski vacation. The ski pants include 40 grams of insulation, inner thigh ventilation zips, an adjustable waist and reinforced ankle gaiters.
Our favorite mid-layers
A mid-layer will keep you warm on those single-digit days. However, depending on the insulation of your jacket, you may or may not need a mid-layer. For some, a mid-layer could make them too warm, while others may find it necessary to keep one on — especially on the coldest days.
$279 at Back Country
This 800-fill jacket is lightweight, but it will keep you incredibly warm in cold temperatures. The shell is made out of 100% recycled materials. The jacket comes in a variety of colors and features an adjustable hem, two secure handwarmer pockets and an internal zippered chest pocket. There’s also a women’s version of the Patagonia Down Sweater Jacket available for $279.
This is one of my favorite winter articles of clothing — both on and off the mountain. On those incredibly cold days, I throw this jacket on as a base layer under my regular ski jacket. And during the spring season, there are times I forgo my ski jacket and wear just the Patagonia sweater jacket.
$239 at Arc'teryx
The Arc’teryx Atom LT jacket provides an extra 60 grams of Coreloft Compact polyester insulation for those extra-cold days. The jacket offers a water-repellent finish, fleece stretch side panels, a mid-height fleece-lined collar and dual hem adjusters. There’s also a men’s version of the Arc’teryx Atom LT Insulated Jacket available for $239.
Our favorite base layers
A base layer, otherwise known as long underwear, is a must-have on the slopes. This is your first layer of clothing and on warm temperature days, you might find that this is all you need underneath your jacket and snow pants. For a longer ski trip, however, you also might want more than a single pair.
Top $79 at REI and bottoms $79 at Patagonia
This midweight base layer is perfect for layering with its smooth and stretchy material. The fabric wicks away moisture to ensure you’re kept dry at all times. This is my family's go-to long underwear for the entire winter season. There’s also a women’s version of both the Patagonia Capilene Midweight Top ($79) and the Patagonia Capilene Midweight Bottoms ($79) available.
Alternatively, if you like the Capilene material, a similar top is made with a hood, which can also be used as a balaclava, giving you extra warmth. The Patagonia Capilene Air Hoodie is available in both a women’s version and a men’s version.
Top $110 at REI and bottoms $110 at REI
The Smartwool Classic Merino Base Layer is made from premium merino wool to hold up in the coldest temperatures. The bottoms feature flatlock seam construction to minimize chafing and rubbing when you're making your way down the slopes. There’s also a men’s version of both the Smartwool Class Merino Base Layer Top ($110) and Smartwool Classic Merino Base Layer Bottoms ($110).
Top from $110 at Amazon and bottoms $120 at Amazon
The Kari Traa Smekker is made out of 100% merino wool, giving you a breathable and odor-resistant first base layer. With many different size and color options, you can mix and match the top and bottom to give you the best look and fit.
Our favorite ski helmets
A ski helmet is the most important piece of ski gear for a day out on the mountain. While it’s a smaller piece, it carries the utmost protection from head injuries on the slopes. From a safety standpoint, the most important feature to look for is MIPS, or Multidirectional Impact Protection System, which offers an added layer of protection for your head.
From $90 at Amazon
After trying on more ski helmets than I’d like to admit, I've ended up with the Giro Avera MIPS Snow Helmet as my go-to. Out of the many Giro and Smith helmets I tried on, this one fit me the best — like a glove.
At a more reasonable price point than the Giro Envi MIPS, the Avera offers the same MIPS technology, an adjustable vent, an easy-to-turn custom fit dial and a stack vent to help keep goggles fog-free. I also found that this helmet worked well with my Giro ski goggles, ensuring a gap-free fit.
From $95 at Back Country
As the name describes, this helmet includes MIPS technology to keep you as safe as possible on the mountain. The helmet also features removable ear pads, an antibacterial lining and adjustable vents that are great for providing your head warmth on the coldest days but also giving you airflow when the temperatures start to creep up.
$280 From $210 at REI
The Giro Envi MIPS includes everything you’d want in a helmet: MIPS technology, a thermostat control with adjustable vent to allow airflow on warmer days, a one-handed magnetic snap buckle and an adjustable fit with an easy-to-use dial. Plus, it comes in five different color options so you can match your headware to your outerwear.
Our favorite ski goggles
Typically when it comes to purchasing ski goggles, your best option is to get the same brand as your ski helmet. This will help alleviate a gap between your goggles and helmet, reducing exposed skin. Many ski goggles are also unisex, so you’ll want to look at the description to note their fit.
$270 at Amazon
These Smith goggles feature a magnetic lens, allowing you to easily swap out your lenses depending on the conditions and light. Plus, the lens features anti-fog technology so you'll keep a clear view of the slopes. This goggle set can be found in a unisex version, although this men’s set comes in a medium fit, while the women’s version offers a small fit.
$270 at Back Country
The Giro Contour Snow Goggles are eyewear compatible and also come with an extra lens for low-light visibility. Similar to the Smith goggles, the men’s version is a medium fit and the women’s version is a small fit.
Our favorite ski gloves
Warm hands are crucial for a fun and enjoyable day at the mountain. Nobody wants cold fingers, and a day can go from good to bad if your hands are freezing. Keep in mind that some skiers might prefer the coziness of mittens, which can often be warmer than gloves.
From $155 at REI
The Hestra Heli Insulated Gloves are fully insulated, made out of polyester, synthetic fibers and goatskin leather. The gloves feature a longer cuff along with a removable liner and cuff cinches. These are the gloves I sport on the mountain, as they keep my hands incredibly warm. I also love the removable liner, as it allows my gloves to dry quicker and not have to worry about wet gloves the following day. And on warmer days, skiing without the liners works well.
If you prefer a mitten instead of full-finger gloves, you can instead opt for the Hestra Heli Insulated Mittens ($155) or the Hestra Heli 3-Finger Glove (from $160).
$130 at REI
If you’re looking for a 100% waterproof glove, the Soloist Gloves are the perfect solution. With an outer shell and inner liner, the gloves offer waterproof protection and allow ultimate warmth with their 170-gram insulation on the back of the hands and 133-gram insulation on the palms. And, on warmer days, you can shed the inner liner and wear just the outer shell.
Our favorite ski socks
Keeping your feet warm and dry is imperative while skiing. You want to ensure that your socks fit snugly but aren’t restricting. It’s also a good idea to bring an extra pair — or two — depending on how many days you’re skiing.
$26 at Dick's Sporting Goods
The Smartwood Performance Ski Full Cushion is made out of 64% merino wool, 34% nylon and 2% elastane. The socks keep their shape over time and don’t loosen while also being extremely soft. These medium-weight socks are perfect for all conditions. There’s also a women’s version of Smartwool Performance Ski Targeted Cushion OTC Socks available.
These are the socks my entire family wears, including my kids. They hold up well during the entire ski season, never losing their shape — and they're comfortable during a long day of skiing.
$23 at Amazon
These merino wool blend socks are designed to keep your feet warm while also offering breathable features that are meant to wick moisture away and keep odors at bay. They're great for skiers and snowboarders, as they feature an over-calf design that will keep not just your feet warm but also your lower leg.
Our favorite balaclava ski masks
A balaclava will not only keep your entire face warm — including your neck — it’ll also serve as a barrier between your head and your helmet for added comfort. This is one of those items where you might want to bring a backup for your next ski trip.
$34.99 at Amazon
The BlackStrap Balaclava is typically one of the most popular on the mountain. In fact, each member of my family owns not one but two. With its many different colors and designs, this balaclava can fit anyone’s personality. The fabric offers UPF 50+ protection from the sun’s UV rays, is safe enough to wipe your goggles and has a four-way stretch to fit all face sizes. You can even put them straight in the washing machine after a day of skiing, although we lay them out to dry.
$25 at Amazon
This balaclava offers full coverage with a helmet-compatible liner on top and fleece material around the neck. It’s a one-size-fits-most, and the hood is designed to wick away sweat and moisture from the head. Plus, it's available in six colors to best match your helmet and ski jacket.
Out favorite ski accessories
On top of having the best ski clothes, you don’t want to forget about the odds and ends that will make your time on the mountain that much better. Of course, the extra accessories needed depend on your specific situation, but here are some of our favorites.
$40 at Amazon
For those skiing with kids, the Pure Mountain Fun Ski Pack is an ingenious concept — and one that gets rave reviews. Instead of a parent having to carry all of the skis to and from the mountain, kids can keep track of their own skis — with ease. This lightweight backpack offers a small reinforced opening at the bottom where you can slip your skis in and out, allowing your child to wear the bag — thus carry their skis — on their back.
$40 at REI
If your feet tend to get extra cold on the slopes, this boot glove is known to provide some extra insulation. The reviews on this product are very promising and should keep your feet much warmer, allowing you to stay on the mountain longer and reduce the annoyance of toe heaters. Plus, they're easy to remove if your feet get too hot during a full day out on the slope.