Packing Tips for Salt Lake City

It’s time to think about packing your bags!
Packing tips for the 2022 SWR Institute Winter Conference
Tips from Toph!

Dress for the City
As “winter cities” go, Salt Lake City winters are rather mild.  When the sun is out it can be downright warm.  When the Lake Effect switch is turned on, the city can look like the inside of a snow globe.  To the locals, a “frigid day” means the nighttime low dropped to 25F.  Most February days are sunny with temps in the mid-40’s to 50 degrees. 
Packing tips:
  • Bring light layers
  • A winter hat is always good to have with you
  • A fall jacket with light layers underneath
  • The uniform of the West: “jeans and a jacket” 
  • Salt Lake City is more like Denver than Billings or Boseman: no need for cowboy hats or boots
Dressing for the Slopes
When dressing for the mountains, think about “dressing to stay dry.”  The Wasatch Mountains are not Big Sky Montana or Winter Park Colorado.  Just like the Salt Lake Valley, the weather in the mountains is mild compared to other resorts you may have visited.  Dress in layers beneath a normal to light weight winter jacket that has vents.  The ideal temperature skiing is between 18-25 degrees.  As the thermometer approaches 30 degrees, you are going to be hot.  If it’s a “Utah Bluebird Day”, you might wish you were wearing a t-shirt. 
Packing tips:
  • If you have ski/snowboard boots, bring them.  Skiing starts with your feet.
  • Unless you really love your gear, consider renting skis or a snowboard in Utah. (Stay tuned for another message on equipment rentals)
  • If you have a helmet, bring it.  If you don’t, buy one now or plan on renting one.
  • Goggles with both low light and high light lenses: not optional.  Get some!
  • Ski jacket and pants with vents
  • Consider buying some hand warmers at the resort ski shop just in case your hands get cold
  • Boot bag with storage: you can buy a wide range of boot bags that have storage for all your winter gear on Amazon for not a lot of money.  Make traveling easier and you can jam some extra contra ban in your bag for your trip home.
Dressing for the Sleds (Snowmobiling)
You may be shocked to learn that snowmobiling is hard work.  You are going to get hot, sore (the good kind of sore) and stinky.  Some people think the smell of snowmobile exhaust is an aphrodisiac.  I’ll let you decide that one.  If you are planning to do some snowmobile touring on the Wasatch Back, here are some things to consider.
Packing tips:
  • Bring winter gear that you don’t mind if it gets smelly or that you are willing to wash when you get home
  • Put a plastic yard bag in your suitcase to encapsulate your outerwear for the trip home
  • As with skiing, dress in layers.  Like snowboarding, it might look like you are just sitting there but the fact is snowmobiling is physical and takes work.
  • Boots – you will want warm boots and socks.
  • Helmets, beacons and other safety equipment should be supplied by the tour operator.
  • Camera – the Wasatch and Uinta Mountains are beautiful.  Be prepared for a selfie. 
Dressing for the Trail
Downtown Salt Lake City is nestled into the northeast corner of Salt Lake Valley, wrapped on two sides by the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains.  Great hiking trails that quickly get you up above the city are just minutes from the hotel.  From City Creek Canyon to Ensign Peak to the Living Room to countless trails in Emigration Canyon – its all at your toe tips. 
Packing tips:
  • As with skiing, hiking starts with your feet.  Hiking shoes or trail runners are highly recommended.  “There are a lot of rocks in ‘dem ‘der hills.” 
  • Comfortable clothing – jeans, hiking pants and layers on top.  It can be cool to cold in the shade, very warm in the sun.  You will encounter both conditions when you hike in the Wasatch. 
  • Bring water – even though it is winter, it is still a desert.
  • Avoid the snowpack – the snowline in February should be around 8.000 feet so snow should not be an issue when hiking out of the city.  If you do encounter the snowpack – turn around!  Falling through a snow bridge or into a tree well is on nobody’s bucket list. 
It’s time to start firming up your plans.  Get your boot back ordered.  Double check your gear and stop skipping leg day in the gym.