How To Pack & Fly With Your Skis Or Snowboard
Tips & Intel For Packing & Traveling With Winter Gear
Packing is already enough of a trip in itself that adding ski or snowboard gear into the mix can easily become a tricky process. Here’s everything we’ve learned along the way to give your gear the best shot at smooth travel.
You can absolutely bring your skis or snowboard on a plane, but you’ll need your own ski or snowboard bag
There are plenty of bag options, ranging from super-long duffel designs, hard-cased containers, and roller bags. We recommend a rolling ski or snowboard bag because it’s easier to move around and won’t need to be carried. They’re easier to manage with any other bags or gear you’ll be dragging in and out of the airport, too.
When buying a ski or snowboard bag, think about how much room you’ll need, how many skis or boards you’ll usually be bringing, and whether you’ll be packing your other snow gear in there as well.
Some riders like to pack their boots, outerwear, helmet, goggles, and whatever else they can fit in their ski/boot bag all together. Just remember that your gear could get tossed around during transportation, and without protection inside of your bag, you risk damage to fragile items like helmets and bindings.
One packing approach if you’re stuffing all your gear in one bag is to add foam or bubble wrap to protect certain items. You can also wrap those fragile items in your outerwear to add protection without adding weight. Ultimately, it’ll depend on which bag you have, which airline you’re on, and whether you have other luggage options like a boot bag.
What are boot bags? Simply put, they’re just backpacks/duffels designed specifically to carry ski or snowboard boots. Usually, they’ll have room to fit accessories like a helmet, goggles, gloves, and maybe a few extra layers, too.
Many airlines will group ski/snowboard bags and boot bags under one cost, but be sure to check with your airline to avoid any surprise fees.
Boot bags are a great option for longer trips that require more gear, or if your ski/snowboard bag doesn’t have room for your full snow kit. Just be aware that you’ll likely want another backpack or duffel for your street clothes and personal items, too, and that additional carry-on bag fees could apply.
Another approach is to simply tie or strap your ski/snowboard boots to your carry-on bag, or to just throw them over your shoulder as a carry-on. It might feel a little less organized, but knowing that your boots will arrive at your destination (even if your ski/board bag doesn’t) adds peace-of-mind. Plus, having your own perfectly fitting boots makes renting simpler and more comfortable.
We've had great success fitting street and mountain gear in a ski touring bag or small hiking bag. Before you invest in new travel gear, it's worth considering if packing a backpack you already own with your boots attached externally is a good option for your trip.
Our Go-To Boot Bag:
If you’d rather not go through the process of buying luggage and hauling tons of weight around during your travels, you can ship your gear to your destination beforehand. It’ll definitely cost more, but it’ll simplify the process at the airport and lighten your travel load.
- Alaska Airlines will waive the oversize and overweight fee for ski/snowboard bags less than 62 inches long and containing only one pair of skis + poles or one snowboard. They’ll include a boot bag with no extra charge, too, but they’ll check and make sure that all items in your bags are snow related (I.e. no street clothes in your ski bags).
- American Airlines counts one pair of skis, or one snowboard, as well as one “equipment bag” (boot bag) as one checked item. If your ski/board bag weighs more than 50 pounds or is longer than 126 inches, an overweight fee will apply. Your equipment bag also needs to be less than 50 pounds and no longer than 62 inches or it will be charged as a separate checked bag.
- Delta also considers one ski or snowboard bag and one boot bag as a single item with a single charge. The combined weight of your ski/snowboard bag plus boot bag cannot weigh more than the standard 50-pound weight limit. Otherwise, additional charges will apply. The outside linear dimensions of your bag (length + width + height) cannot exceed 115 linear inches.
- Frontier will include a boot bag with the cost of a ski/snowboard bag as long as the boot bag does not exceed 25 pounds. Otherwise, it’ll be considered a separate bag with a separate fee. An overweight fee will apply if your ski/snowboard bag weighs more than 50 pounds, but there is no size restriction.
- Southwest counts a boot bag and ski/snowboard bag as a single item, too. Oversize charges won’t apply to your snow gear, but excess weight charges may apply if your bag weighs more than 50 pounds.
- United Airlines allows up to two pairs of skis or snowboards, and a separate boot bag is included with their checked bag fee. Similarly, only ski/ride-related equipment can be in those bags, and they are still subject to the 50-pound weight limit.
- Use ski straps or Voile straps to secure your gear in your bag. This will help prevent it from shifting around and getting damaged.
- Wrap your bindings or other fragile items to protect them. You can use bubble wrap, towels, or even your outerwear to avoid added weight.
- Pack soft goods like your outerwear with your skis or snowboard both to save room in your other bags and to keep all your snow gear together.
- Protect your ski or snowboard edges by separating them with soft goods or wrapping other hardgoods in your bag with bubble wrap, towels, etc. This will prevent your edges from coming into contact with other gear in your bag that could damage them.
- Label and lock your ski or snowboard bag. You can use packing tape to secure a label with your name and phone number on it, or you can grab one at the check-in counter for your airline. Some bags come with security locks built-in, so you may want to consider those. Or you can use a padlock to secure zippers or the openings of your bag.
Q: What are the best ski and snowboard bags for traveling?
A: The best ski or snowboard bags for traveling will depend on the needs of your trip and your gear. We prefer a rolling ski or snowboard bag that protects and has room for multiple skis or boards—and for other winter gear, too.
Q: Can I take skis on the plane?
A: You can absolutely fly with skis. You’ll just need a ski- or snowboard-specific bag, and you'll need to comply with your airline’s baggage policy.
Q: How much can my ski or snowboard bag weigh?
A: Generally, your bag must weigh less than 50 pounds to avoid added checked-bag fees. However, some airlines will allow ski or snowboard bags to be heavier, so it's best to check your airline’s rules before your trip.
Q: Can you pack skis and a snowboard in the same bag?
A: You can pack skis and a snowboard in the same bag, just be sure to follow your airline’s checked-bag weight limits.