How to Fly with Ski and Snowboard Gear

At ASO Mammoth we help people visiting Mammoth Mountain from all over the world rent ski and snowboard gear every day, but we see even more people flying to Mammoth Lakes with their own gear.

If you’re new to skiing and snowboarding, or have just had a bad experience with a bag being declared overweight by an airline, you may be wondering how on Earth people fly with their heavy and oversized gear. Fortunately, we know a thing or two about flying with ski and snowboard gear, so we’ve put together a quick guide on how to do it for skiers and snowboarders flying with their gear for the first time. Check it out below and start packing for your next trip to Mammoth!

You’ll Need A Ski Bag

If you’re completely unfamiliar with flying with ski and snowboard gear, then you’ll need to be introduced to ski and snowboard bags. Ski and snowboard bags are long, padded bags designed to not only transport and protect your gear.

Only you know the price, brand, and features of the perfect bag for you, but there are a few important universal tips. The first is to get a bag with wheels. Gear is heavy to start with, and it only gets heavier when you’re maneuvering it through a crowded airport so do yourself a favor and get a bag with wheels. Second, though there is a few brands on the market that have a bag that is suitable for both skis and snowboards, there is generally a difference between ski and snowboard bags so don’t think you can use your friend’s ski bag for your snowboard. Ski bags are narrower and longer than a snowboard bag which can affect how you pack your gear and ultimately how well your gear is protected, so make sure you use the right type of bag for your gear.

You’ll Need to Know How to Pack A Ski Bag

When you’re packing your bag, you should try to reduce the chance of gear moving around during transit and damaging itself. We’ve written more about how to pack your gear for air travel here, but the basics are to keep all your items as flat as possible to avoid damage in case something is put on top of your bag and use your soft items to create extra padding. If you do that, then your gear should survive the worst turbulence and airline baggage handlers.

You’ll Need to Know What and What Not to Put in Your Ski Bag

Although the size of a ski or snowboard bag may seem like a problem at first, you can actually use it to pack much more than just your skis or board.

For example, long underwear, your ski jacket and pants, and even your street clothes can be packed into your snowboard bag. In fact, it’s common for skiers and snowboarders to only travel with their ski bag and a backpack. Your board or skis, will take up most of the space, but if you roll your soft items then they will not only fit into tight spaces but will also act as another layer of padding.

Leave your helmet out of your checked bag. Airline baggage handlers are not specifically know for handling your bags with care. Because your helmet can easily get damaged or ruined it is better to take the helmet with your carry on.

Another thing to consider leaving out of your snowboard bag is your boots. Boots have the biggest say in how comfortable you are on the mountain, and if they’re in your ski bag and the airline loses it then you could be stuck in rental boots that don’t fit how you’re used to. Since boots can be attached to a backpack and carried with a carry-on, we recommend taking them out of your bag and carrying them with you onto the plane. However, if you are certain your bag won’t get lost, or you’re ok with using rentals the first couple of days, it is way more convenient to find a good ski or snowboard bag that will fit your boots as well.

You’ll Need to Research Your Airline’s Policies

Each airline has their own policy for ski and snowboard bags, so check out this article that breaks them down in more detail before packing your bag!

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