Lessons From Last Chair — Packing tips with Kalen Thorien

Lessons From Last Chair — Packing tips with Kalen Thorien

Kalen Thorien lays out what you need (and don’t) for a successful trip


FOR PROFESSIONAL skier and adventurer, Kalen Thorien, life on the road is just that–life. Never staying put in one place for more than a few days, Thorien lives by the seat of her four-wheeled camper, affectionately named Francis. Between trips to Utah’s Buckskin Gulch and Victoria, Australia, we caught up with the licensed nomad for her best travel hacks. For your next big trip, pay attention to what she’s bringing, what she deems a waste of space and how she manages to keep herself healthy when she’s constantly on the move.

What are the essentials you never travel without?

Headphones, thermos and my camera.

To bring or not to bring. What have you learned to let go of in order to save space?

Extra clothing and toiletries (besides the essential toothbrush and toothpaste). It’s much easier to wash clothes or be a little smelly than to deal with a bunch of items. When I go backpacking it’s next level, I love it. I’ll bring one shirt, one pair of pants, one long sleeve, two pairs of socks and a jacket for a week or more trip. There’s something extra special about walking into a clean establishment after being in the wilderness for an extended period of time. That’s when you realize just how much you stink and you think, “yeah, that was a good time!”

How do you maximize space in your ski bag?

Figuring out proper placement of hardgoods, then using your soft goods to absorb any empty space. Puffy jackets are especially good for this. You can stuff those little guys in all types of nooks and crannies. My ski bag looks like a big outerwear burrito when you open it up, but peel away the clothing and there’s all my equipment.

Every girl’s packing nightmare, shoes. What’re you bringing for your feet?

Oh shoes, that one is always a fun debate. Nothing worse than being stuck in Los Angeles with winter boots, or Whistler with a light pair of running shoes. I usually like to bring both, especially if there’s any down time on a trip, having some running shoes lets me go to the gym or at least a jog. But if I really have to save space, the Salomon S/Lab XA Alpine 2 is a hybrid running/alpine shoe that is fine for the gym, fine in snow and, yes, even stylish when you’re just out and about. It’s the one-quiver shoe and a hell of a space saver.

SKIER: Kalen Thorien | PHOTO: Oskar Enander | LOCATION: Kiroro, Hokkaido, JPN

What’s your trick to getting through airport security without a hitch?

Get status sucka! [laughs] Sorry, but I recently was upgraded to Gold Status and oh man, that changed the game. There’s no such thing as a security line anymore. But I do remember the days of that bullshit so a good pair of headphones, iced coffee and your favorite tunes is a life saver. I have no shame dancing in the security line, tweaked out on cold brew.

Speaking of, what’s the soundtrack to your travel day?

It’s either a combination of psychedelic rock and metal, or hip-hop. Derek Pope has been number one on my playlist for the last six months. A lot of stand-up comedy, too, especially on long drives. The NPR app has been a nice addition as well.

From point A to point B, nutritious food options can be few and far between. How are you staying healthy when your home is basically the road?

My life is like a box of gas station snacks–you never know what you’re going to get. This is always a tricky one. I make myself eat less for starters, since traveling doesn’t particularly burn many calories and healthy options are limited. I’ve found relief in beef jerky, the mediocre fruit selection, sometimes the few sliced up veggies and iced coffee. I always bring a water bottle too, so I never have an excuse not to drink water.

The age-old debate. What’s harder: packing or unpacking?

Unpacking. I swear packing takes longer, but unpacking is the last thing I want to do after I get home. Then I put it off and it just turns into this explosion of all my stuff because I start picking through it looking for things. It’s one of those tasks that is so daunting, but once you do it you realize it’s not that bad. Kind of like exercising… or dating. Well, dating is still annoying. So maybe just exercise…

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