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Since we’re used to coastal California weather, it takes some time to think through all the things we’ll need for a snow or winter trip. And while I’ve got the basics down – like thermals and a warm coat – there’s always a few times throughout the trip where I think of something else I wish I would have packed.
After our last snow and ski trip, I added a few essentials to our winter packing list that we’ll be bringing every time.
1 Ski Balm
We never forget our sunscreen on a beach trip, and while we wear sunscreen every day, I hadn’t thought of purchasing a winter-specific sunscreen and balm before. That is until we went snowmobiling on our last winter trip, and Aaron’s nose got so windburned that it peeled off a few layers of his skin.
This Ski Balm is like a one cream fits all when it comes to protecting your skin in the winter. It’s SPF 40 sunscreen, wind protection and lip balm (my lips always get so chapped whenever we visit the snow). Plus, it won’t clog your pores. This ski balm will save your skin from getting dry and chapped or prevent you from ending up with that less-than-awesome goggle tan if you’re going to be spending a lot of time out on the slopes.
2 First Alert CO Alarm
While I think a lot about staying safe while we’re out doing things, it doesn’t cross my mind as much when we’re heading to bed. But we recently took a trip up to Sonoma County, and while we were there, the power to the whole area was shut off due to nearby wildfires and heavy winds. The Carbon Monoxide alarm that was plugged into the wall started beeping loudly around midnight, letting us know that the battery was now low. The power had been shut off for a few hours, and in that time the battery drained and was letting us now it needed to be replaced.
I searched around for a spare battery but just decided to turn the alarm off when I couldn’t find a replacement since it was the middle of the night. Although, this is not recommended because it leaves your family unprotected!
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is often called the silent killer because it is an invisible, odorless, deadly gas that can be produced by any fuel-burning device. That means stoves, fireplaces and water heaters, which are all likely to be on and used a lot more during the winter.
Rather than depend on every rental home or hotel we stay in this winter having a working and fully charge CO alarm, we’re opting to bring our own. First Alert makes a small portable tabletop Carbon Monoxide alarm that is easy to pack and doesn’t require any installation, so we can just put it on the nightstand wherever we’re staying.
This monitor has a 10-year battery included, which means no battery replacements for a decade and I don’t have to worry about plugging it in, or even dealing with a dead backup battery if the power goes out for a few hours. And because of the great battery life, I can use this alarm at home too and have peace of mind knowing that myself and my family are protected.
These next few tips are about the best ways to stay warm, which can be challenging when you’re stepping out into freezing weather and rolling around in the snow.
We have hats and gloves and scarves but didn’t realize how much we needed a balaclava until we went snowmobiling. I think our snowmobiling experience was a little intense because it was 12°F outside and the freezing air at that speed makes it feel like ice needles are shooting through you. Just the typical snow gear didn’t cut it, we needed something a little extra.
If you’re going to be spending a few hours outside doing something like skiing or snowmobiling, then a balaclava makes it so much more comfortable! You could use a scarf or bandana, but a balaclava fits smoothly under a helmet, doesn’t need to be adjusted very much, and covers your chin, cheeks, and nose.
4 Merino Wool everything
Thicker fabric doesn’t always mean better or warmer; I’ve found that by far, wool clothing is so much warmer and better in the snow. Merino wool isn’t just soft and cozy, it also has some pretty amazing properties that make it great for snow and cold weather. It’s breathable, odor-resistant, moisture-wicking and quick-drying. My new motto is that if it comes in wool, that’s what I’m getting. That means thermals, sweaters, and especially socks!
5 Insulated Water Bottle
I carry a refillable water bottle wherever I go to stay hydrated and not use single-use plastic bottles. During the winter, I’ll heat up some water and pour it into an insulated water bottle if I’m heading out for a day outside. That way I can sip on hot water throughout the day and warm up from the inside out. And every so often it’s fun to bring along some hot chocolate too!
Stay warm, stay safe, and have fun this winter! Let me know if you have any other winter packing must-haves in the comments below!