11 Life Hacks for Ski Season

Between lift tickets, meals, and gear rentals, your trip to the slopes this ski season is pricey enough. Luckily, there are a few tricks using everyday items, or “lifehacks,” that can improve your trip without weighing you or your budget down. Maybe you’ll never be mistaken for Lindsey Vonn or Shaun White, but with these ingenious hacks, people might just think you’re MacGyver on vacation.

©istockphoto/Courtney Keating

Pack Clothing in Boots and Gloves
This trick is simple enough, but few have actually thought of it. Packing your clothes into your gloves and boots saves valuable space in your luggage, with the added bonus of protecting fragile items like ski goggles or glasses. It also helps preserve the shape of your boots or other clothing, since packed gear won’t be as easily smashed during rough luggage handling. Chances are you might also remember that crucial piece of gear hiding in your boot, that might have otherwise been forgotten.

Take Tea Bags
Place a few tea bags into a musty boot after a long, sweaty day on the slopes and it will absorb most of the stench. Your hotel room will be a much more tolerable place to stay for you and your ski buddies. You can also apply a hot tea bag to a newly forming blister to keep it from bubbling up. Keeping tea bags on hand will allow you to make an impromptu hot and caffeinated drink anywhere—just don’t mix up your boot and beverage supply.

Defog Goggles with a Hand Dryer
There are countless tricks to defog goggles that many swear by, from saliva to custom store-bought solution. But the simplest and perhaps most effective trick is right in the bathroom. Simply hold your googles under the hair dryer and watch the magic happen. As a small bonus, you’ll have nice warm goggles on your head when you head back outside. As a preventative measure, you can also try gluing a silica gel pack, the kind you’d find in electronic packaging, to the inside of your goggles to soak up moisture.

Use Cable Ties
Cable ties are lightweight, cheap, and can be utilized to fix a myriad of things that can break on your ski gear. Use them to patch together boots or bindings that may break apart, secure your lift ticket to your jacket, or replace zip pulls. Break them out to secure ski equipment to your car’s roof rack, or even as a temporary last minute security for your gear when you go inside. Just don’t forget to also bring along a knife to cut the ties after they’ve been secured.

Carry Duct Tape
Of course the handyman’s go-to tape also has its place at a ski resort. No need to pack a bulky roll, just unfurl a little and wrap it to your ski poles or wrap it around an old credit card and stash it in a pocket. The uses are nearly endless. Wrap it around holes that can form in gloves or to tighten up frayed boot laces. If a tear forms in your jacket, you can put a piece of duct tape on each end and use a hand dryer to fuse them together in a tight seal. You can even mark your board or skis with it to ensure no one accidentally walks off with your gear.

Make a Shoelace Belt
Loose snow pants falling down on the slope? You don’t have to spend all day hiking them up, or waste your money in the resort ski shop on a new belt. You can simply use the shoelace on your boots or shoes. You’ll save both cash and the embarrassment of having hundreds of people see you careen down the mountain with your trousers around your ankles. For best results, learn to tie a double fisherman’s knot, which can be used to easily tighten or loosen your belt throughout the day.

Step Into Wool Insoles
Boots, particularly rental boots, usually come with hard, uncomfortable insoles. You’ll be much happier on the slopes by making your own wool insoles. Simply find a good, thick piece of wool, such as an old sweater, and trace the old boot’s insole. Then cut it out and jam it in your boots. You’ll have an added insulation from the cold, and a bit more cushion for hard landings. Your feet will thank you in both instances.

Insulate Your Feet with Oven Bags
Don’t want to shell out for the latest and greatest waterproof socks? Simply grab some oven bags and put them on your feet before putting your socks on top. Your feet are much more likely to stay dry and warm, even if snow seeps through your boots and socks. You can also use a similar trick by implementing nitrile exam gloves under your winter gloves. You may feel a bit ridiculous at first, but at least you’ll be able to feel your fingers and toes by day’s end.

Use Straps to Keep Your Items Close
We’ve all seen that lonely glove below the ski lift. Avoid being that guy or girl and secure your gloves to your coat sleeve with sheet straps, also known as sheet suspenders, which can be bought in the home section of most retail stores. You can easily take them off without worrying about tucking them under an armpit or losing them forever. As an alternative, you can use lanyards and carabiners to tie your things to your pants or jacket, ensuring your belongings don’t slip off during a run or fall from a chairlift.

Raise The Freezing Point of Your Water Supply
Carrying a water bottle or hydration backpack with you? There’s certain brands dedicated to keeping your water from turning solid, but if you have something more standard, you can raise the freezing point of your water by adding a small amount of vodka or sugar. Be warned, both these things also contribute to making you dehydrated, so use in moderation. If you use a hydration pack, a simpler trick is to remember to blow water back into the reservoir after use, so that a small amount of water doesn’t freeze in the tube.

Apply Chapstick to Almost Everything
Lip balms like Chapstick are a must for a skiing trip to protect and heal damaged lips, but they also have other uses. You can apply it to your face to prevent windburn, or inside your nostrils for a dry and irritated nose. You can also rub it on blisters to keep them from getting huge. If you get a small cut on a particularly rough run, Chapstick can even be used to stop bleeding. If the zipper on your coat is being particularly stubborn, rubbing Chapstick on it can also lubricate the zipper teeth and allow it to open and close smoothly. In some cases, it can even be used to plug a leak in a waterproof surface.  Not bad for something you were planning on bringing anyway.

All in all, you have a list of things that fit in your pocket, and which you may already have lying around the house. They’ll give you a little peace of mind without breaking the bank, allowing you to spend a little more on drinks at the lodge, or that hotel room with a hot tub you always dreamed of.