What to Pack for a Winter Trip to Tahoe

Travel Tips — By christinanellemann on December 12, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Lake Tahoe’s winter weather can range from sunny and warm to a blizzard with 40 mph winds. One day you could be sitting on the beach having a picnic, the next you will have to stay indoors by the fire. However, weather predictions are usually pretty accurate and winter storm warnings come with enough time to get ready. If you have decided to take a winter ski or snow-play trip to Lake Tahoe, there will be a few necessary (and a few fun items) to throw into your suitcase.

If you are skiing or boarding…

Long underwear

On those really frigid days on the slopes, long johns or silk underwear will keep you warmer than just your ski pants.

Hat, gloves, cowl or scarf

Sitting for about 20 minutes or so on a ski lift can get really cold if there is any wind. Bundle up with a good wool or fleece hat, waterproof ski gloves and a fleece or wool cowl or scarf that you can put over your face.

Waterproof jacket and pants

Don’t be caught with a denim jacket on the slopes. Get a good, waterproof ski jacket that zips up the front and it long enough at the back to cover your bum in case you fall down in the snow. A pair of waterproof pants in a neutral color will keep you warm, dry and stylish.

Polar fleece

Polar fleece is very popular at the lake. You can even wear it out to dinner at the more casual restaurants.


If you are walking around in the snow or on icy streets, you want a good, warm pair of boots with soles that grip. The clunkier versions are fine at the resorts, dive bars and most restaurants. Bring a more trendy pair for dinner out.

Long, warm socks

Socks like Wigwam and Smartwool are perfect for skiing and boarding. Choose the longer lengths that go up to your knees so you won’t have to spend your time always pulling them up. Bring an extra pair to the ski resort in case the ones you are wearing get wet.

Sunscreen and lip balm

Most of the Tahoe ski resorts are over 9,000 feet in altitude, and if it’s a sunny day, you will get burned. Wear sunscreen on your face and bring lip balm with you while skiing.

If you are going out at night…

Lake Tahoe is fairly casual, so for going out at night, you won’t need to dress up. For a nice dinner out at the Chart House or Edgewood women should wear a nice sweater and a stylish scarf or shawl with some nice boots and men should wear a nice sweater and blazer with smart casual pants. Dark jeans are fine in all but the fanciest restaurants. Wear a skimpy cocktail dress and you will be sure to freeze.

If you are going clubbing or dancing…

If you are heading out to the bars or the casinos, you can dress a little more trendy with some skinny jeans or pants, a glittery top or cool T-shirt and some high heels or ballet flats. Be sure to bring a warm coat and your hat and gloves. These can be checked at the club or bar.

What to avoid…


Don’t wear jeans in the snow. They sop up water and freeze. They are not waterproof and you will look like a snow nube.

Cotton socks

Cotton socks don’t hold in heat like wool or wool blends. You will just end up with wet, cold feet.

Tennis Shoes

Tennis and hiking shoes don’t do as well in the snow as waterproof boots. If they are paired with cotton socks, you will be asking for trouble.

Flip Flops

Even if the sun is shining and it is 60 degrees out. Don’t do it. Save the flip flops for summer.


Ski photo courtesy of dpstyles/Flickr

Tags: bring, luggage, packing, tahoe, trip, winter