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Packing Heat: What's in my Kit Bag

I'm just under a week away from my first outing on the slopes of the season ...


... and I'm at the point where I'm beginning to sort and pack my gear. I thought I'd take the chance to run through my kit bag noting what I take with me for a few days on the slopes.


This time I won't be taking my skis with me, as I'll be out testing kit with one of the major ski manufacturers. Furthermore, I'll only be away for five days, and skiing for just three. This makes it easier as I know I can fit everything in one duffel bag, perfect for hauling across airports and throwing into the back of a transfer van, as well as focusing my packing - a perennial problem as someone who can't travel light.


So, without further ado, here's what I pack for a short break on the slopes!


 
 
The Missing Links ...

Okay, there are a couple of things missing from this picture, either because I don't have them immediately to hand - they're currently at a friend's house - or I am an idiot and forgot to include them.


This includes the following bits:

  • Goggles

  • Helmet

  • Shovel

  • Probe

  • shades

I ski in goggles over sunglasses but keep shades to hand in case we stop or are touring and it is sunny out. Helmet is an obvious one, I strongly encourage everyone to ski in a helmet; frankly it's a bit of a no brainer as you can very well end up a "no brainer" sorry I don't know where that went ... Finally, shovel and probe - an avalanche transceiver is useless without the kit to dig people out if they get caught, but I'm keeping everything crossed the ones I've ordered turn up before I leave. I will cover them more on a piece on "what's in my backpack" later.


I have had a The North Face Basecamp duffel for about seven years now. At size medium (around 70 litres in volume) it is the *perfect* size for all of my kit. The material is also tough as all hell - there is perhaps little wonder that my entire family has received one for Christmas at various points over the years!

 

Ski Jacket & Trousers

D'uh. I ski in shell jacket and trousers as I find I massively overheat in kit with built-in insulation. This does mean that they are thin enough to go in my bag - if you have a kit jacket with insulation built in, consider wearing it when travelling to save space.


The jacket that is, you will look a bit silly going everywhere in ski trousers.


Not having built in insulation will make more of my kit choices make sense later





 
Ski Boots

Also d'uh.


I have a good quality pair of alpine downhill boots. Nothing massively fancy, but perfect for me and my boring feet.


The best bit about my kit bag is I don't need a separate bag to take them in - they fit perfectly into the bag I have, meaning I can bring them on a weekend or short break without having to worry about the space I take up.


 
Mid-Layer

So, without having insulation built in, how do you keep warm on the mountain?


With a mid-layer! These are standalone pieces that add warmth. The benefit of having this as a standalone piece is that you can vary your layers, say if it gets warmer throughout the day or you do a bit of touring, and often you won't compromise breathability in the same way you do with built in insulation.


I may consider wearing this to travel to save weight, but I will save this for something else.




 
Base Layer

No, these are not pyjamas.


Your base layer is the first "next to skin" layer; it's designed for wicking sweat away from your skin so it doesn't freeze when you stop and get cold.


I almost universally use a merino wool base layer - there are several reasons why, but in this instance you only need one for your three days' skiing. This is because merino wool is naturally anti-bacterial, meaning you can get away with wearing it for longer.





 
T-Shirts

I know I'm breaking a cardinal rule of the layering system, but I always chuck a t-shirt on over my base layer.


Mostly this is for style - I can tell you this for certain, I do not look good in just a base layer! This acts as a layer and something to wear when in the cafe for lunch.









 
Fleece

Normally I would be too warm skiing in a fleece, even a thin one such as this, so it tends to live in my backpack as an extra layer for cold days.


Thin is always better - thick fleeces like your The North Face polartech 100 weight will be too much here.










 
Ski Socks

I cannot tell you the number of times I have forgotten to pack socks and have had to pick some up in resort!


Similar to base layers, merino wool socks are excellent at wicking sweat and you only need one pair for a week - saving you weight and space.











 
Gloves

Keep your fingers warm. I use leather racing gloves as they are so super comfy and the extra padding is very useful when bouncing off trees off piste.


Leather needs a little bit of TLC, so before my time out each season I rub in some leather wax, normally beeswax based, to help preserve and enhance the leather.










 
Down Jacket

So I will admit this is a bit of a weird one.


I don't generally ski in down; it's too warm and not really breathable enough for skiing. Down tends to be for when you are going somewhere cold and aren't moving, and therefore aren't generating your own bodyheat.


Well, that's exactly why I have it. It sits in my backpack, stuffed into its compression sack, as an emergency layer; if an accident happens or the weather really closes in, this is on hand to really keep me warm.




 
Avalanche Transceiver & Harness

Critical for safety when skiing off piste, but don't forget your shovel and probe - each is useless without the other.


Notice how I said harness too; you should never keep your transceiver in the pockets of your jacket or trousers. Instead, keep it in its harness under at least one layer of clothing. This limits the risk of anything happening in the event of an avalanche.




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