Torn up about the lack of après ski options this year? Or maybe you’re just nostalgic for your usual slopeside parties at the resort? All is not lost in this strange and altered pandemic ski season. There is still one relatively safe and responsible way to hang out with your buddies after a day of carving turns: tailgating.
This year, more than ever, your vehicle will become your locker, lunch room and base lodge as several resorts strip back amenities to comply with regional Covid-19 guidelines. So, how can you turn your car into a one-stop café, coffee shop, bar and lounge? Perhaps we here at Kulkea can help with some insider tips on planning a (responsible and low key) parking lot party.
And while you're at it, check out Kulkea's favorite bags that will upgrade your mobile ski lodge: Our iconic Boot Trekker organizes everyday ski essentials. The Thermal Trekker delivers toasty boots slope side. The wide mouth Tandem Ski Boot Duffel has enough room to stash gear for two kids or more.
Master the basic plan
If you want to meet up with your friends or family in the parking lot throughout the day, it will be much easier if you’re parked side by side. That may involve synchronizing your arrival or simply picking a location less likely to fill up – just make sure to plan in advance. Next, you’ll need to ensure you have some essential tailgating gear, including a cooler, your choice of food and a dry change of clothes (we know you’re a black-diamond skier but, hey, bails happen!). Be sure to pack some extra blankets and hand warmers if you’ve got kids, plus some lawn games (think cornhole) if space allows. When you’re ready to get going, simply open up the trunk and use it as a bench to lay out your goods. If you need some inspiration on what to bring, try these simple pack-and-go ski meals. Or, better still, bring a portable gas grill to cook something hot on the spot. Oh, and make sure that cooler is stocked with your favorite beverage!
Take tailgating to the next level
So, you’ve already got something like a Yeti hard-sided cooler? That’s a good start, but you’ll also need a few additional items to bring your tailgating experience to the next level. For example, you’ll no doubt want a warming midday drink, so consider packing a Thermos of hot tea or cocoa (coffee lovers should also invest in a portable Wacaco nanopresso for on-demand hand-pumped espressos!). Oh, and how about somewhere to set up all your supplies, such as a Tailgater Tire Table? You’ll also need a comfy place to sit down, like some bum-warming Chaheati heated chairs. Want to get fancy with the food? Consider investing in a portable propane pizza oven like Pizzacraft’s Pizzaria Pronto. And you can’t forget the tunes. Try a mobile Bluetooth option like the LG PK5 Xboom, which is water-resistant, has grab-and-go handles and offers up to 18 hours of playback on a single charge.
Want to simplify things? Why not jump on the #vanlife bandwagon and rent a tricked out camper van to bring to the slopes? With a fully-equipped VW California or Peugeot Rifter waiting for you in the parking lot, you can visit at lunch to cook a hot meal and return with your buddies at the end of the day to crack open bottles around a pop-down table. Plus, the opportunities for Instagram-worthy shots are endless. Just make sure you get a small enough vehicle to fit into the main parking lots!
Do your research
Resorts have been carving out their own policies for tailgating due to the ongoing pandemic, so be sure to do some research before you rock up with a full cooler and nowhere to open it. Most ski areas ask guests to congregate only in small groups, adhere to social distancing policies and wear masks when not eating or drinking. Some also forbid alcohol, glass bottles and open flames in the parking area, so it’s best to do a deep dive on the resort website and call ahead if you need further clarity. Above all, remember to be as respectful as possible. It’s been a weird year for everyone, and the last thing you want to do is make fellow skiers and boarders feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
Extra tailgating tips
Tip 1: Bring trash bags and paper towels. Not only will you keep your car clean, but some resorts this year have implemented carry-in, carry-out rules.
Tip 2: We all love cold beers (and sodas), but no one wants to hold something icy when they’re standing in the snow. Keep your hands warm and pack some koozies! They’ll also serve the dual purpose of helping you identify your beverage from those of your friends.
Tip 3: It can be tempting to overdo it on warming coffees, refreshing sodas and muscle-relaxing beers, but don’t forget to hydrate with good old-fashioned water throughout the day – especially if the sun is out.
Tip 4: Cold air can zap phone batteries, so a power bank to charge electronics is always a smart move – particularly if you plan to document the action!
Tip 5: If you want to make your car stand out in a sea of others just like it, consider bringing a flag or some other marker that will make it easier to identify every time you return to the lot. This will also help when trying to direct friends or family to your tailgate location.