Montana Reflection #1 – Packing and Gear

We had a fantastic trip at the end of December visiting Montana and the Big Sky Ski Resort.  Our family is reflecting on the fun times as we do laundry, head back to work and school, and jump into our normal routines.

I just finished reading my post from December 7th entitled “Thinking About Montana on a Monday,” where I discussed our plans and our gear. Here’s how it worked out.


We rented skis right at the Basecamp of the resort.  We were really happy with the service.  You can find all of the information on the Big Sky website.  We picked up the skis the night before.  I wish we had known that we could have valeted the skis for $6 a pair right after renting them…then we would not have had to schlep them back to the hotel that first night.  But we did we did discover the service after the first day of skiing and the freedom was lovely.

This was the only time we had to carry skis.  Once we discovered the ski valet, we were hands free!

We brought our own boots and helmets, for which I was grateful.  I came across another family that had rented boots only to find that they were wet (not sure where they rented).  Wet feet are not good.

So, if you read the last blog post, you’d know that we wore several layers. The temperatures were in the single digits, which even for seasoned Montana skiers, was a bit on the chilly side.  We ran into a lot of veterans who were just as cold as we were!  The day after we left, the temperature went back into the 20’s which is much more comfortable and normal for Rocky Mountain skiing.

The girls and I were grateful for the layers and they were the key to our fun.  My husband didn’t wear his down sweater layer and was fine…but he wears shorts and t-shirts all winter.  So, I don’t recommend that people use him as a gauge!  Lol!  The biggest issue was our extremities, which we had planned for.  We had some hits and misses in the gear department.

For faces, balaclavas were a MUST.  I also liked having the turtle fur for my neck.  I think the best gear item was the “Thick-n-Thin Headliner” we bought for my younger daughter that had the fleece neck with the headpiece attached.

For hands, the Hot Hands hand warmers were our life blood.  The Montana Mittens from North Face that we all had received from Santa worked for me, but not for my daughters.  The winner was a Burton GORETEX mitten that we bought instead for my oldest daughter.  They came with separate liners and a zipper on the top of the mitten (over the fingers) for hand warmers.  She didn’t complain about her hands the entire time.

For feet, the Therm-ic electronic boot warmers were 50/50.  My younger daughter, and arguably the colder one, said hers didn’t work at all.  My older daughter was satisfied with hers, but I’m not sure if they made much of a difference.  With a $80 price tag, I think we will stick with just putting toe warmers in the boots for next time.  With toe warmers, my youngest daughter was able to go two hours without a cocoa break, which suited me just fine. 🙂


How does one pack all of that clothing and gear when traveling by plane? “Very carefully” is an understatement.  We had four boot bags stuffed with ski pants, ski boots, snow boots, gloves, helmets, goggles and other accessories.  Also, since these bags were checked, I put the shampoo and other liquids that I couldn’t take on the plane, which made packing toiletries so much easier than normal. (we are usually a carry-on crowd)

All lined up and ready to go!


Honestly, it was super pricey ($25 a bag each way) to take our boots, and as I mentioned, I’m so glad we did, but I was not interested in giving the airlines any extra money for the rest of our bags.  In rolls our favorite travel item…the 19 inch, 360-rolling, hard-case suitcases we bought last year (each family member has their own).  Ours are Delsey, but other brands make them.  The 19 inch size is a must…big enough to fit a good amount of clothes, but small enough to fit in the overhead compartment with wheels first/handle out (instead of length-wise).  The 360 degree rolling is key, especially with kids.  I cannot stand walking behind one of my kids and tripping over the bag they drag behind.  The 360 rolling allows the girls to keep the bag next to them, control the speed, and weave in and out of people as we race to catch a flight!  As far as the hard case, I am surprised that I like it so much.  I thought the hard case would be less roomy or expandable, but we aren’t having that issue (and ours have the zippered expander).  I feel like my items are safer with hard case, and it has weathered a lot of travel so far.

My 19 inch bag, with my favorite down sweater! Both traveled very well.

So my reason for sharing about suitcase was related to my issue of being cheap with baggage fees.  Instead of packing two large bags, everyone had their own smaller rolling bag that whizzed through security.  Once we arrived at the gate, the crew offered to check people’s bags free of charge. (which we still didn’t, much to my husband’s dismay).  You unfortunately have to learn to work the system.  While we easily saved ourselves $50 each way by having the smaller rolling bags, next time will use use a large rolling duffle for all of the boots, etc.  That will save us even more.


Stay tuned for Reflection #2 – Transportation and Lodging.


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