Travel Tips: Luggage – How to Pack so You Don’t Pay.

November 29th, 2023
Snow travel is a wonderful thing. Silvretta Montafon, Austria Photo: Tony Harrington

 Mountainwatch | Travel

Now that the pandemic induced international travel restrictions are a not-so-distant memory, more Australian’s are heading off on a snow holiday this northern hemisphere winter and numbers are reportedly at pre-covid levels.

An OS trip is a serious investment and one that requires more luggage than seven days in Indo. We’ve done the math, and it doesn’t matter which way you slice it, travelling with ski or snowboard gear puts you at or near the baggage allowance limits for long haul overseas travel.

Everyone has war stories. Whether they be lost luggage spoiling trips, overweight baggage charges that cost more than the cost of the flight, or half-marathons towing the skiing equivalent of a dead body between concourses on impossible connections.

Travel light

To some it’s probably all too hard, and in most overseas destinations you can hire really good stuff. But if you’re going to spend all that cash – and emotional investment – on a trip overseas; we honestly can’t see why you wouldn’t want to take the gear you love, know and cherish.

Thankfully, you can prepay an extra bag, or an extra few kilograms with most airlines, which is way better than taking your chances at the airport. It’s also more economical in the end than renting overseas. But that only gets you part of the way.

If you are going to lug your gear across the planet you may as well do it properly and if you follow our steps, it is not that hard.

Drew Jolowicz, peace of mind in the powder knowing his own equipment will do the job. Nozawa Onsen, January 2023. Photo: Picture: Dylan Robinson

 Here’s how: 

 Ski/board bag.

— Make a label and cable-tie it to your bag – if you’ve ever had a bag lost, you will know exactly how important this is. Make it durable – laminate it if you can, use coloured paper. Make it obvious.

– Place your skis flat. Use elastic bands to hold the brakes up. It’s a better use of space and will travel better. If you have two pairs of skis, place one pair flat and the other pair together through the middle or split the second pair, placing one on its dieon either side of the bag. This will create a skeleton that makes it more stable on its wheels. If you are packing your boots in the ski bag place them at the wheel end.

– Boards should be stacked on top of each other, on the bottom of the bag, with the bindings removed – placed next to each other on the top board.

– Roll your outerwear and place it at the base of the bag. This will fill out the base of the bag. Alternatively, you can spread it through the bag if you are extra keen about protecting your equipment.

– Poles go through the middle between the skis.

– Leave everything else out. Otherwise your bag is just too heavy and a pain to lug around.

All major brands do good ski bags these days, but the DB snow roller is the lightest wheelie ski/board bag on the market. It is ribbed to increase rigidity, is adjustable to various ski and snowboard lengths, and is low profile so you don’t look like a heavy traveller as you roll up to the check-in counter. In the below video Nikolai Schirmer shows how he packs the snow roller.

Carry-on bags.

Don’t pack your boots into your check-in luggage. Use a carry-on wheelie – it’s more sophisticated than carrying them or strapping them to your backpack and staff can’t tell how heavy it is, plus, you can stuff in all your socks and undies (let’s face it, socks, undies and ski boots are essential).

And if you look at the rules, most airlines allow a ‘carry-on bag’ and a ‘handbag’ – which loosely translates to a backpack – so effectively you are giving yourself another piece of luggage for nothing. Do it.

Luggage bag

– Pack only the ski gear that you will need to last you four days – regardless of how long your trip is going to be. Any more and you’re over-packing.

– Roll everything that you pack. It makes better use of space, is quicker, and preserves your clothing better.

– Pack light. You’ll be in your snow gear all day and if you’re heading out at night you can wear what you wore on the plane, but maybe just an extra shirt/top. And of course, at least four pairs of extra undies and pairs of socks. And if you are extra smart, you’ll multifunction ski wear and mid layers that double as casual wear.

– If you feel the need to pack more, see rule three.

Cull the unnecessary casual gear

You can pack light all you like, but if you don’t have lightweight luggage you may as well just sign a cheque to your favourite airline. Make the investment and make each kilo count. It will pay itself off quickly in excess baggage savings. A number of brands have designed luggage with the specific purpose of reducing weight for overseas travellers and you should be able to find a large 105L bag weighing only 3.7kg. Check your closest snow retailer.

With air travel you can never be 100% sure how it’s going to play out. But travel, like luck, favours the prepared. Make it easy on yourself and pack intelligently.