How to Pack for a Ski Trip in a Carry-on Bag

With a three-night ski trip to Park City, Utah, on the docket, I had a challenge on my hands. How to pack for a ski trip in only a carry-on bag? I had no interest in coughing up the cost in baggage fees I’d incur if I checked my luggage on my hour-long Delta flight from Grand Junction, Colorado, to Salt Lake City, so I turned to my new secret weapon in packing: Ziploc Space Bags with a vacuum seal.

How to pack for a ski trip in a carry-on bag

Here’s a shot of all the clothing and winter-weather gear I packed in my carry-on bag during my stay at the Washington School House Hotel in Park City.

Note the items include snow boots, tennis shoes, hats, mittens, several base layers, a couple of sweaters, goggles, thick socks, bathing suit and pajamas.

How to pack for a ski trip in a carry-on bagAnd here’s how I fit it all in my 22-inch Travelpro rollerboard (admittedly the largest of all the rollerboards I own): I crammed all of the soft-sided stuff into two medium-sized Ziploc Space Bags that I’d bought at Wal-mart. This is what one of the bags looked like before I vacuumed the air out of it:

vaccum seal space bags

And here’s how it shrunk down several inches in “height” after I vacuumed the air out:

space saving compression bag

I used two of these, and put one in the “top” of my carry-on rollerboard, and one on top of my boots and other small, rolled items in the “bottom” bottom of my carry-on. You can see the bottom one here; it fits perfectly in my 22-inch-tall rollerboard!

space bags for travel

Now, some of the Ziploc-brand bags I’ve seen on the market (or at least online) are meant to be rolled to squeeze all the air out. (Like this set of five, compressible travel bags-pack I found on Amazon.com.)

However, the particular box of two, medium-sized space-saving bags I bought at Wal-mart, weren’t really supposed to be used for travel; they’re meant for long-term storage.

So, I didn’t have the “roll up” option when I needed to re-pack my bag for my return trip home after my stay at the Washington School House Hotel.

Thankfully, housekeeping there had a vacuum with a hose that I could use to suck the air out of my compression bags. (And the accommodating front desk staff didn’t even blink an eye when I made the strange request to borrow such a vacuum!)

Many travel-related and luggage companies make these compression sacks, like Pack Mate, Eagle Creek and Samsonite. I’ll likely purchase some “roll the air out” bags if I’m ever traveling to a location where I think I might not have access to a vacuum.

But until then, my vacuum-seal bags from Ziploc will do just fine when I want to make all of my clothing (or ski gear) fit in my carry-on bag.

UPDATE: I cannot seem to find any vacuum seal bags available any more on the Internet! Keep an eye out for the vacuum-seal types at stores like The Container Store or Bed Bath & Beyond, since I think sucking the air out with a vacuum works better than rolling.

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With a three-night ski trip to Park City, Utah, on the docket, I had a challenge on my hands. How to pack for a ski trip in only a carry-on bag? I had no interest in coughing up the cost in baggage fees I'd incur if I checked my luggage on my hour-long Delta flight from Grand Junction, Colorado, to Salt Lake City, so I turned to my new secret weapon in packing: Ziploc Space Bags with a vacuum seal.

9 Comments on "How to Pack for a Ski Trip in a Carry-on Bag"

  1. All Talk Entertainment | February 19, 2014 at 9:41 am |

    So those vacuum bags really work??? Now the question is what about coming back home? Does the vacuum fit into your travel bag without adding weight? If so, I’m getting one.

    • Kara Williams | February 19, 2014 at 10:33 am |

      I used the hotel’s vacuum! I wouldn’t travel with a vaccum. Would only use in places where I KNEW there would be a vacuum to borrow for my return trip.

  2. I did a similar thing skiing over new years. I didn’t use the vacuum packs but lots of downward pressure on my bag!! Those vacuum packs sound brilliant though.

  3. Wow…great idea ;))) My feet are 48 (US14) therefore I have my suitcase full with just a pair of shoes 😉 I will definitely try this trick next time. Thanks for sharing

  4. Wow, that’s a lot of clothing to fit in a carry-on bag! I’ve usually done carry-on only on trips to warm weather destinations, where I don’t need to pack many clothes like this.

  5. This is great and would so love to do this!!! But where are your ski pants and ski jacket? And your makeup/toiletries/hair supplies?

    • Kara Williams | February 29, 2016 at 2:51 pm |

      Ski pants are on the bed. (Folded, black.) I wore the ski jacket on the plane. Toiletries went in my OTHER carry on – my “personal tote”!

    • I see the ski pants now. Much more compact than my ski bibs LOL This is why I think the vacuum bags are the perfect solution – so I can fit those big fluffy things in my carry on! Thanks for the tips!

  6. Walmart sells travel space bags now…no need for a vacuum. You roll the air out of it. It has one way valve….roll out air and good to go. Found these January 2016 while looking for the vacuum bags. In travel…luggage section. Worked perfectly. Bags are very sturdy…size of a 2 gallon baggie and very strong. Able to put a ski jacket and ski pants in 1 bag with small accessories like socks and hats. Rolled down to less than 1 inch thickness. Be aware though too many space bags does allow more to pack and does increase luggage weight.

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