It’s finally happening, your flights are booked, your rental car is waiting, and it’s dumping. It’s time for that dream trip to Japan. But before you can shred bottomless pow, you need to pack your bags, make sure you don’t forget anything, make sure you meet the weight requirements and make sure nothing gets damaged in transport. Don’t worry though, we’re here to take the stress out of packing for your trip to Japan. Just follow these handy tips, and all you’ll have to worry about is which onsen you’re visiting after your best day of skiing ever.
You’re going to be traveling with a lot of gear, airlines hate people with a lot of gear, and like to charge them extra. So figure out what gear you actually need, and what you can go without. Can you bring shoes that are good for traveling and apres? Then wear those onto the plane. Make sure you need everything you pack, and try to make sure not to bring anything that you’d only wear once. Aside from packing light, packing versatile is a great way to save space and weight. For example, a Gore Tex jacket will be good on and off the mountain.
“…packing versatile is a great way to save space and weight”
Japan’s weather is stormy and wet, so place a priority on waterproof gear, and bring extras of things that might get wet and need time to dry. That’s especially important for ski socks and base layers. Make sure your ski jacket and snow pants are waterproof, if yours isn’t anymore, it’s worth investing in a nice one, a new Patagonia ski jacket will keep you warm and dry in Japan, and for many years to come. We also highly recommend bringing waterproof mittens, with a liner glove. This allows you to adapt to changing conditions and will guarantee your hands stay warm and dry. A spare pair of mittens or gloves isn’t a bad idea either.
Packing light is key but spare socks and underwear are never items you want to cut corners on, make sure you have enough for the entire trip, and consider technical underwear. Merino wool socks and underwear will really help manage odors, and keep you feeling fresh till the end of your trip. Will you be able to do laundry on the trip? If so, you can pack less casual clothing and just wash it partway through.
Your skis or snowboard are the most important thing you’re bringing, and also probably the heaviest. It’s worth trying to just bring one pair of skis, or one snowboard to Japan. It will save you weight and hassle. A good pair of powder skis, or a good powder board, that can still handle the occasional groomer back to the base are your best bet. It’s generally pretty snowy in Japan, so you’re better off with one pair of powder skis, instead of wasting valuable space on those groomer skis you won’t even end up using.
If you follow those guidelines, there’s a good chance you can pack everything you need into a good wheeled ski bag and a carryon. This is where packing smart comes into play. Pack your clothes in your ski bag, they’ll help pad your ski gear. Fold or roll them carefully so that they take up less space, and try to pack them methodically, just wadding everything up and stuffing it in won’t work well with irregularly shaped bags. Some airlines count a ski or snowboard bag and a boot bag as one piece of luggage, which can give you some bonus space, too, check your airline’s specific policy before flying. Japan has great infrastructure for travelers, too, like the Ta-Q-Bin luggage services who will deliver your bags directly to your destination – no carrying your ski bag around!
For many years, the quality of rental ski and snowboard gear in Japan was not very high, this is changing, however. So, you can also decide to leave your skis or snowboards at home and rent at your destination. If you are choosy about your gear, make sure to look into the specific makes and models available.
The most important piece of advice we can give is to always pack your boots and helmet in your carryon. Baggage handlers are rough, and they can compromise your helmet’s integrity before you even arrive in Japan. It’s important to keep it with you and make sure it doesn’t get beat up. And your ski or snowboard boots are the most important piece of equipment you have. In the off chance that your bag gets delayed and you arrive without it, it’s easy to find skis or snowboards to rent in Japan, but it’s impossible to find your favorite boots that have been punched or molded to your feet. So use your boots as your personal item and carry them onto the plane. That way even if you skis don’t arrive on time your trip won’t be ruined.
So get packing, your trip of a lifetime starts soon, and if you follow these simple guidelines, you’ll be ready and prepared for it.