Eleven 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 gog­gles under the hairdry­er 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 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 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 are 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 the 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.