Travel and Packing Tips From Olympic Skier and Nomad Troy Murphy

Troy Murphy skiing 2013 Nationals
Photo by Kirk Paulsen

When 25-year-old skier Troy Murphy isn’t training for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, he’s globetrotting to off-the-grid mountains in Alaska, France, and beyond, miles away from any resort or chalet, carving fresh lines dusk till dawn and adjourning to a shared van with his buddies come nightfall.

He recently did this with friends Hunter Bailey and Keaton McCargo (fellow U.S. Ski Team members), Jannick Fjeldsoe (Danish Ski Team member), Blake Wilson, and Columbia Sportswear. This type of van-cation can typically roll on for weeks at a time, until training calls Murphy back to basecamp.

Next week, Murphy is setting out on another multi-continent adventure taking him through South Korea — where he will compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics freestyle division — Japan, Switzerland, France, then back home to Utah to  spend some “down time” relaxing (aka backcountry skiing and powder surfing … more on that later).

His approach to packing? Highly minimalist.

Toiletries? Close to none.

Murphy’s method may prove you’re taking too much for haul, so we asked him to pass down these medal-worthy travel and packing tips so we can land feeling fresh and ready to shred the day.

The Manual: What is the No. 1 item you pack for long flights?

Troy Murphy: It may sound simple, but a Columbia puffy. You can wear it around town, use as a pillow on the plane; it’s compactable and versatile. I suggest any Titanium, Omni-Heat puffy, preferably without a hood (which bugs me when it’s under my main jacket). I’ve become attached to the Columbia Men’s Mogul.

What’s the No. 2 item?

Hah, honestly another jacket. I can cozy up with that and use another as a pillow, or one as a lower back support. I’m sitting in a stiff chair for hours and all my Columbia layers make it comfortable.

Do you use any grooming products, vitamins, etc. to feel refreshed after a long travel day?

Sleep. That’s the biggest thing for me — to stay refreshed and healthy. I bring melatonin on me and take maybe two on super-long flights, but I don’t take it often. For grooming, I bring a regular trimmer, but I like to rock the beard. I clean up more when I’m home between trips.

You’re about to spend a full day on the mountain. What’s in your pockets?

An avalanche pack, extra puffy layer if it gets cold — we’re out there late into the night sometimes — water, and a couple granola Clif bars for easy nutrition that doesn’t take up weight or room. Lastly, a camera or GoPro.

Speaking of protein bars, what else do you like to eat while traveling?

Nothing in particular, but I try to eat as well as possible. If the team is traveling and the only option is McDonald’s, it’s McDonald’s. As long as I’m eating something. As athletes, we’re burning so many calories, we need something.

Do you wind down with any TV shows or movies?

On my last big trip to Alaska, we would get down to the van around 11 p.m., and once you put the gear away, you’re trying to figure out what to do for a quick dinner. Then you’re out. A couple nights we went outside to brush our teeth and the Northern Lights were happening, so we stayed up late to watch those. But no, I don’t watch TV. I’ll watch some shows, but definitely not TV.

Traveling with Team USA, how do you pass the time between competitions?

There’s a ton of cards, cribbage, and any weird game we can find.

Packing for your upcoming trip and the 2018 Olympics, what do your bags look like?

Since I’ll be doing fun and moguls: two ski bags with two mogul skis and two powder skis. A powder surfer. Lighter on the clothes and heavier on equipment.

Wait, what’s a powder surfer?

It’s a throwback to the early origins of the snowboard, with a 150 cm board that looks almost like a surf board. It’s a minimalist way to surf down the mountain without bindings. You’re just standing on it with the resistance of the board.

One thing that Murphy doesn’t have to worry about is what he’ll wear when he gets to Pyeonchang, South Korea. Check out the awesome Ski Team uniforms by Columbia Sportswear here.

Feature image by Kirk Paulsen.