The 6 Greatest (And Most Underrated) Winter Travel Essentials


Winter, you ol’ devil. To the untrained eye, you make the roads slippery, the air frigid and our socks wet. But we know better. We know that all it takes is a little preparation to love you the most. That’s where this list comes in. You won’t find an insulated jacket (very important) or waterproof boots (also a game changer) on here, but you will find six winter travel essentials that deserve a spot on your ski trip packing list. 

  1. Traction Cleats

When trouncing through the not-powder, not-asphalt, super-slippery, somewhere-in-between land, you’re gonna need some grip. That’s where traction cleats come in. The same way you chain up your car for snowy conditions, you can chain up your shoes. 

There’s all kinds of traction cleats out there. We love Yaktrax for managing to be one of those rare products that’s both inexpensive and perfectly functional. They’re lightweight, packable, super easy to slip onto your shoe and most importantly, extremely effective. We’ve tested these in all sorts of slick, icy conditions and they always seem to perform. 

Plus, the Yaktrax tread pattern is a little more pavement-friendly if you run into any melted patches along your path. When there’s tons of snow on the ground, you don’t have to worry about these so much. But in springtime conditions or partially melted terrain—they’re genuine life-savers. 

  1. Balaclava 

Not only fun to say and reminiscent of my favorite Greek dessert, a balaclava is an unfathomably practical accessory on those cold winter days. Already an important weapon in the skier’s layering arsenal, the balaclava might make you look weird on a morning dog walk, but it’ll make you feel great. 

It’ll make you feel warm and, more importantly, like the odds of keeping your nose are actually pretty good. 

If you’re looking for something with a little less aggressive of protection, opt for a neck gaiter. It serves the same purpose while looking slightly less ninja-like. Either way, you’re gonna want something to protect the face. Whether skiing, snowmobiling or putting on snow chains, this is one item you will regret leaving behind. 

  1. Touchscreen Gloves 

Gloves, right. They’re a part of every sensible snow trip packing list. But we’re here to make the case for a very specific type of glove. One that is neither the woven, cotton glove of your childhood nor the bulky, waterproof glove you take skiing. 

The glove you need; the glove that will separate your winter weather tool kit from the rest of ‘em is the touchscreen glove. A black, slender, entirely inconspicuous touchscreen glove to be precise. 

Look, wearing a glove at all times will greatly enhance your snow trip experience. It’s bound to be cold. That’s the point. But when your hands freeze and you can’t feel your fingers and everything’s numb, it’s no longer fun to be outside. At the same time, wearing full-size snow gloves around town isn’t a great option. 

These gloves are the perfect happy medium. A black, form-fitting glove offers an unobtrusive layer of cold protection with the added bonus of still being able to use your gadgets. That’s the kind of utility you need for hanging around a fire pit, snapping photos on a hike or even checking loading groceries into the car. They’re the best. 

  1. Merino Wool Socks

Merino wool is an adventurer’s best friend. Thinner and softer than regular wool, merino wool isn’t just more comfortable than your average sock—it’s also temperature regulating (re: your feet will get neither too hot nor too cold), supremely moisture absorbent and odor-resistant. In other words; merino wool socks are the secret to warm, dry and fresh feet. 

They really keep your feet from becoming too much of anything. Too hot; too cold; too sweaty; too smelly; all a non-issue. Cotton just can’t make promises like that.  A little dirtbag bonus? Since they neutralize stink and sweat so well, you can use each pair for multiple days of adventuring without having to wash them in between. 

  1. Insulated Bottle

In the quest for staying warm when the conditions are cold, there’s nothing quite like a thermos. Because the contents—whether it’s coffee, a hot toddy or apple cider—will heat you up from the inside out. This is a task that no combination of gloves, socks and beanies can manage. 

And while we are indeed big fans of a warm beverage on a cold day, the real beauty of packing an insulated bottle along for your ski trip is that it encourages you to slow down, take a seat at the summit and enjoy the moment. This thermos may be nearly $40, but sipping coffee with your friends while the sun rises over a snowy peak is priceless. 

  1. Flask 

For the adult beverage drinkers in the crowd, this is a non-negotiable. It’s like a badge of honor, a self-heating system and an instant boost to the fun-meter, all in one pocket-sized package.

Much like its dear friend, the thermos, a flask has the ability to both elevate the moment and warm you up. Plus, it fits in your pocket. Meaning you can enjoy it mid-step, mid-glide, mid-anything, really. Most flasks, like this one, fit 8 ounces of liquor. If you split it with a friend, that’s just enough to raise your body temperature a degree or two without losing the ability to drive home. Adventure responsibly, people. 

Packed and ready? We’ve got a few ideas on how best to enjoy a Tahoe winter. Check out local snowmobile tours, Heavenly ski tips and all the other winter activities the basin has to offer.

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